Manchester Psych Fest 2021

Part of our Music guide

Johnny James, Managing Editor
Steve Double

Manchester Psych Fest at The Ritz, Manchester, 4–5 September 2021, from £19.50 - Book now

Manchester Psych Fest, an all-day celebration of alternative music and art, returns in September 2021, following the postponement of 2020’s event. Topped by Stereolab, the line-up is super strong and wildly eclectic, ranging from abrasive Irish post-punks Girl Band to Afrobeat/jazz fusion outfit Kokoroko.

Taking over five stages at The Ritz, YESGorilla, Deaf Institute and the Dancehouse, the eighth instalment of the festival will be headlined by seminal Krautrock/avant-pop outfit, Stereolab. Formed in 1990 by analogue gear fanatic Tim Gane and French singer Lætitia Sadier, the band made some of the most extra-terrestrial music of that decade. Albums like Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1996) and Dots and Loops (1997) combined droning hypnotic rhythms with singsong melodies and Marxist lyrics – startlingly different to the zeitgeist, but massively influential to the many bands that swiftly followed in their wake.

Joining Stereolab near the top of the bill are Girl Band, an Irish quartet whose abrasive noise rock is refracted through techno and glam. Their 2019 album The Talkies was described by the Guardian as “the sound of pure, visceral panic”. More dark thrills come courtesy of Japanese psych/noise rock trio Bo Ningen, plus Scalping, an EBM band who fuse techno with gnarly post-punk. Much-hyped art-rockers Dry Cleaning are also making an appearance, alongside similarly acclaimed post-punk/electronica artist Billy Nomates and Nottingham post-punks Do Nothing. The latter’s EP Glueland is one of our favourite band releases of 2021; we can’t wait to catch their early set.

Offering up something very different are Tinariwen, a group of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara Desert region of northern Mali who perform a guitar-centric branch of Malian music known as Tishoumaren – a percussive, rock-oriented desert blues which often addresses social and political issues. From closer to home, we look forward to a set by leading lights of Mancunian psych-pop, Whyte Horses. Released to rich acclaim last year, their third album Hard Times pieces together gloriously individual pop strands – from the sunshine psych of the 60’s right through to 90’s Britpop. More northern delights come in the form of Stealing Sheep, PINS, Loose Articles, The Goa Express and Gary, Indiana, to name but a few.

There are a whole lot of great acts to talk about on this line-up, and we’ve barely made a dent here. Head to Psych Fest’s website for the full list, and to get your hands on tickets. Warning – following the full line-up announcement, they’re going fast!

Manchester Psych Fest at The Ritz, Manchester

4–5 September 2021
From £19.50