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I wandered through a shimmering, iridescent tunnel and into the mothership of the festival – the Islington Mill. Its quirky artwork lining the walls of its stairwells seemed to ooze the Salford spirit. From here, I went about trying to navigate my way to the Hey! Manchester stage at St. Philips Church, where I was set to interview the incredible Hannah Peel. It was fascinating to talk to her about her latest album ‘Awake But Always Dreaming’, which addresses issues such as memory and the brain, as a consequence of her grandmother suffering from dementia.
Next I headed to The Old Pint Pot, a quaint little pub beside the River Irwell, where I was due to interview the Yorkshire three-piece The Orielles. Upon arrival, I saw Sidonie and Esmé from the band having an impromptu photoshoot by the roadside, before I got to chat to them about their obsession with Quentin Tarantino films. They gave an exhilarating performance on the Heavenly Records stage, a highlight being their monstrous new single ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’, which is almost 8 and a half minutes long.
Upon returning to St. Philips Church, I watched Hannah Peel enthral the audience with the help of her drummer Daisy, who also happens to be the drummer from the band Vaults. Her performance was evoked a lot of emotion with the aid of old family home movies which flashed as Hannah frantically switched between playing synths and the violin.
New Zealand native Fazerdaze received rapturous applause after her set in the church and even took the time to speak to members of the audience after her performance, which filled me with excitement for her new album ‘Morningside’ which is out this month.
At this point, I was absolutely starving, so I headed back to the courtyard of the Islington Mill, partly because they had some good looking scran* there, but also partly because I wanted to look like a massive hipster. So I stood, eating my vegan mac and cheese from the Mother May stall and relished in the beautiful contrast between the industrial mill and the greenery sprouting from the courtyard. I was also incredibly gutted that I couldn’t sample all of the seemingly delicious craft beers, because I was driving. Sad times.
The final act I saw that evening was Amber Arcades, whose performance contained psychedelic visuals of swirling greens and blues and every single one of her songs had a strong guitar-driven backbone, to which her beautiful vocals contrasted nicely. Her music has a positive energy which created a positive atmosphere in the room, satisfying the drunken masses and proving her to be a worthy headliner of the Heavenly stage.
My evening ended pleasantly, as I had a delightful conversation with her in the beer garden of the Old Pint Pot in complete darkness, which turned into a bit of a political rant about how annoying Nigel Farage and Geert Wilders are.
Sounds From The Other City shines a light on Salford’s potential and the abundance of excellent venues in such a small area. The area is experiencing huge investment and development, but it is vital that grungier creative spaces, such as the Islington Mill, stay open. Otherwise, the area will lose its vitality and its creative population. The festival stands up for what it wants Salford to be and makes you feel guilty for all of the years that you’ve neglected it.
*If you don’t know what this means, you probably aren’t from the North.