The first May Bank Holiday of 2018 once again saw Salford awash with discerning music lovers, taking over a vibrant host of venues to take in a sprawling bill of the weird and wonderful. This can only mean one thing – Sounds from the Other City is back.
Far Out has witnessed SFTOC shape shift, expand and evolve since we first covered the event a few years back. Perhaps the only consistency over this time is a guarantee that the toast of the underground can be seen performing in pubs, clubs, churches, community centres, industrial units and who knows what else?
This year was no different with an ever-fresh collection of promoters ensuring no-one can accuse SFTOC of resting on any out-dated successes.
First up, we head to the age-old failsafe of the Old Pint Pot pub, which as ever has offered up both its upstairs and downstairs venues to a smattering of guitar bands. We manage to catch The Foetals – a favourite of ours ever since hey unveiled their debut track ‘Fine’ a couple of years back now.
Their set is satisfying mix of garage-rock and melody, but slightly less comfortable on our ears is the bleeding of sound from upstairs as we try to find a vantage point in a room packed out many times over. Later on, the sweaty crush dies down a bit, however, and we’re left to enjoy an infectious display from former Temple Songs frontman Jolan Lewis and his band.
It was the sound of the hotly tipped Drahla upstairs who were probably also keen to avoid the sound bleeding, but a thoroughly impressed crowd are enthralled by their Pixies-esque onslaught. It’s been a great early evening for promoters Strange Days, despite news that another recently featured Far Out band Yowl have had to drop out due to illness.
The greatest joy of SFTOC is always something completely different being around the corner – as proves the case as we enter the no-booze zone of Salford Cathedral to witness Feminine Hygiene – a more than curious interpretive operatic collaboration between Laura Bowler, Rachel Goodyear and a BBC Royal Philharmonic ensemble. We leave equally absorbed and in wonderment, but ultimately thirsty.
After a healthy dose of punchy indie-rock from Brighton band White Room back at the Strange Days stage, it then comes time to spread our wings and head up to a far more industrial end of the site.
Here we find the festival’s largest space in the shape of the Now Wave stage. This huge warehouse venue is just about to welcome a headline set from Rough Trade signees Goat Girl, who have been one of the most celebrated groups of newcomers this year since the release of their self-titled debut LP.
For those who arrived late it’s almost impossible to get in, but lucky for them there’s an alternative just across the way at the Heavenly Jukebox stage.
Here 77:78 – the new project from members of The Bees – have just begun. Their arsenal of brand new tracks manages to maintain the same sun-blushed groove of their former band – despite the overly echoey sound quality in the venue.
Moving further out of the festival’s Chapel Street heart then takes us to FiveFour Studios, where the live music is rounded off by Werkha. He reproduces his trademark electronic swoon perfectly with a full live band – featuring serial vocal collaborator Bryony Jarman-Pinto. It’s a wonderful atmosphere at another packed out space – proving SFTOC still has the ability to lay on a bill to suit the broadest ranges of taste.
That’s certainly not to say this spells the end, however, with after-parties and DJ sets continuing to give ticket-holders their money’s worth way into the morning hours. Once again Salford’s Bank Holiday Sunday has been the best in the North-West.