Preview: new music at Sounds from the Other City

Julia Coulton

Salford’s festival of new music returns to the other city on Bank Holiday Sunday– we highlight what’s on.

Salford  may be the “other city” in question here, so often sitting in Manchester’s mightier musical shadow, but its Sounds from the Other City festival is arguably one of Greater Manchester’s finest. Now in its ninth year it remains a proper May Day Bank Holiday knees-up, a celebration of new music that uses some of the better and lesser-known spaces in and around Chapel Street. SFTOC is the brainchild of Islington Mill’s Maurice and Mark Carlin (Maurice is also an artist; we profiled him in February); the brothers set up the festival as a means of working both with independent promoters and such venues as St Phillip’s and Sacred Trinity churches, Islington Mill and the King’s Arms. More unusual spaces get a look-in too (a gig on a railway platform, anyone?) and the line-up is never anything less than eclectic: expect around 60 acts across 11 different venues, and expect too to come across future big names (previous festivals have featured the likes of the Ting Tings, Marina and the Diamonds and The Whip).

60 acts across 11, eclectic stages: from Deptford Goth to Warp Records’ Robert Gordon

With a broad range of musical genres (folk, dance, indie, country, rock, and some that go beyond standard labelling), everyone will have their own picks. For organiser Rivca Burns, must-see acts include  singer/producer of the moment Deptford Goth at St Philips Church – currently mentioned in the same breath as James Blake and XX – and Hiss Golden Messenger, who plays a fusion of country and soul, and has already featured in the Guardian’s New Band of the Day slot, playing in Salford at the tiny, 50-capacity New Oxford.

Mark Carlin’s top acts are House artist Robert Gordon, one of the original founders of Warp Records, here at the Faktion stage at the Old Pint Pot; and also the arty stuff programmed alongside the music, the art installations, people dressed in costumes and other quirky touches that make SFTOC that much more than a standard new music event. As for me, I’ll be hanging out at the Hey Manchester! Americana and folk stage at Islington Mill, but might also be seen catching Nashville guitarist William Tyler at the New Oxford. Whatever takes your musical fancy, you can’t argue with the ticket price: a May Day’s worth of live music and an after-show party to boot for just £18. There’s no better way to spend the Bank Holiday, surely?

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