Monday, 25 October 2010

Postcards From Manchester Festival and the Rise of the Independent Promoter.

The piece contained within was actually originally destined for a leading internet review site, but owing to an editing backlog it somehow got lost. So, just over a month since the festival itself, it sees the light of day.  Apart from a great day/night out with great people, it also demonstrated what a well run event by small, local promoters can achieve. I was going to write a summary of my thoughts on the matter, but I genuinely believe that I couldn't put it better, nor any more succinctly than my original concluding paragraph does.  Enjoy, and don't forget to check out the bands mentioned within, and indeed the organisers' other interests, all of which are awesome.

With the festival season winding down and the nights fast drawing in, it was good to see that the enterprising spirit of the Postcards From Manchester collective brought its second Postcards Festival to the Deaf Institute. The collective comprises clubnight/fanzine organisation Pull Yourself Together, and clubnights Underachievers Please Try Harder, You! Me! Dancing! and Young Adult Friction. The festival saw an ambitious smash-and-grab type schedule featuring 13 bands over 2 stages in 9 hours, with the collective providing a 3hr clubnight afterwards

As an opening statement, the raucous Brown Brogues make an arresting proposition. The simplified riffs and barked staccato vocals make comparisons to a scuzzier-sounding Fall inevitable, but they're also capable of more melodic songs recalling 60s surf pop with an overall feel not a million miles away from press darlings Best Coast. Along with Slow Club they also push the boundaries as to how much noise two people can make on stage. Making it a double bill of local bands were Patterns, whose driving basslines and chiming melodicism combine to produce a full rich sound reminiscent of The Chameleons. The urgency and confidence inherent in the songs suggest the band are ready to take the songs to a larger audience - an audience which the sons genuinely deserve based on this performance

D/R/U/G/S, an electronic two piece, continue the Postcards local bands showcase shortly afterwards. Their nocturnal sound was at odds to the level of light being let in by the venue's skylights early on in the day, the compositions nonetheless showed great promise and provided a fascinating insight into the local electronic scene. The eclecticism of the line-up continued with London's Internet Forever. Their short, sharp fuzz-pop songs seemed to encapsulate the frenetic (but never rushed) feeling of the day as a whole. Particular highlights were former single 'Cover The Walls' and an inspired cover of Dire Straits 'Walk Of Life'

Deaf To Van Gogh's Ear (another local band) sound like Foals hyperactive cousins, with their stabs of treble and simultaneously inventive and incredible tempo changes and timing signatures. While these unorthodox timing and tempo changes may not be to everyone's taste, they certainly command attention and respect. From math-rock to the experimental post-Electralane project of Verity Susman, Vera November. Haunting and beautific, the set worked whether playing at its most atmospheric (live saxophone played over a pre-recorded sample) or at its most accessible and pop-y. Certainly one to catch in future.

Golden Glow come armed with a sound suggesting a determination to progress, and certainly wouldn't have sounded out of place in an arena or an academy-sized gig. The infectious 'Adore Me' proved a set highlight, and although towards the end of the set the songs began to sound the same, it was reportedly only the band's 7th ever live performance, meaning there is still plenty of time for the songs to develop. Trailer Trash Tracys' nocturnal sound suited the darkened venue, their airy sounds and sense of melody making comparisons to The xx inevitable. A solid if unspectacular performance on this occasion. Americans Here We Go Magic provided the penultimate entertainment. Despite throwing in nods to David Bowie and Talking Heads, the songs seemed to go on for far longer than necessary and at the same time seemed to go nowhere. A frustrating listening experience.

'Allo, Darlin'end the evening with a stunning display that (following on from their Indietracks performance) only reaffirms what a formidable live act they are. Joyous, beguiling, and grin-inducing, they're the first band to have the entire venue on its feet, openly dancing, and singing along. Elizabeth Morris' way with a melody remains without question, while new songs show that the barrel is far from dry on the songwriting front. Singles Polaroid Song and If Loneliness Was Art pass through in a blaze of energy. Ignore them at your peril.

In closing, three things have come out of the Posctards festival. Firstly, you don't need to be Tony Wilson and have a So It Goes or a Hacienda to showcase local talent - the festival put on 5 acts from the Manchester area alone. Secondly, a dedicated team of enthusiastic people who actively promote can, with the right venue, do as much to promote and nurture new talent as say, a record label tour or an NME radar tour. Lastly, if this event is anything to go by, the professionalism, enthusiasm and dedication demonstrated will ensure that the Postcards collective will certainly be something to write home about.

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