Fairly well organised: A Carefully Planned Festival #2

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I left the house. Oh yes, I did. I got out of my pyjamas, brushed my hair, and left my dark, dingy, and damp thesis writing cave, not only to go to the shop and buy some milk or a huge box of caramel short breads, oh no, I went into the centre of Manchester and spent a whole (GASP) 12 hours there. And it goes a little something like this:

After a quick (the eating, not the waiting) breakfast at Trof’s new place Gorilla on Whitworth Street West (ex The Green Room and is it just me or is Trof slowly taking over every single empty bar space in Manchester seriously this is a lot of Trofs just for one city right I mean the first couple were nice and then the Deaf Institute seemed like a good addition but now they’ve got the Sal and Gorilla and that huge place on Peter Street and WHEN WILL IT STOP?) we made our way into the depths of the Northern Quarter to hang out with some indie kids at “A Carefully Planned Festival”, which I had wrongfully titled “A Fairly Well Organised Festival” when mentioning it to friends the day before.

The first band on was “This Town Needs Guns” which is kind of a funny band name if you imagine they’re from Manchester, but it turned out they were from Oxford and I don’t think Oxford ever had the nickname Gunsford, so I guess that’s okay and they might in fact really need some guns in Oxford. Who knows. Oh yeah they play math rock which in this case is just another name for instrumental guitar music and those two songs that I managed to hear were actually quite good. The audience at 2022nq definitely seemed very excited, despite it being 1:52 pm on a Sunday afternoon. Not that you can’t get excited about a band at 1:52 on a Sunday afternoon, but, well, you know what I mean. I’ll stop now.

A short walk down the road we gatecrashed the Bad Language poetry session at the Castle Hotel where my favourite weirdo writer Fat Roland (bottom third pictured above)happened to be reading bizarre tweets by David Cameron (“David Cameron”), an epic diary of a failed marriage in list form, and other ramblings, followed by the strangely enticing Jemima Foxtrot who half* sang half* acted half* recited slam poetry about her life as an actress, and topped by the stupidly amazing duo Les Malheureux, consisting of the writers Sarah-Clare Conlon and David Gaffney, who entertained us with a rather brilliant performance of poetry reading set to a background of playful organ tunes. Yeah. That.

After the Bad Language session, we settled for a game of scrabble just round the corner at Nexus Art Cafe, which was packed with people sinking into sofas while eating cake and drinking tea. My kind of rock music festival. Having moved our armchairs to make room for Nexus’ faithful and utterly off-tune piano, we watched some of Ajimal’s set who happily alternated between his guitar and the piano. In combination with the still ongoing scrabble war, the arm chairs and the cozy atmosphere at Nexus, this made for a rather marvellous time. But even without scrabble and cake, he’s pretty good. You should listen.

The evening was concluded by a birthday dinner at Jamie’s Italian on King Street (recommendable if you want to eat a scrotum-shaped deep fried courgette flower stuffed with tons of ricotta. It’s an experience.) and half of Tall Ships‘ set, which was kind of okay but oh whatever, guitar bands, eh, before it was back to the cave for me. Thanks, Careful Planners. I enjoyed this festival quite a bit.

* Stylistic means.

We Love the City: Music for Manchester’s streets

Despite it being Bugged month and me having vowed to give my newly developed love for wearing noise-cancelling headphones on public transport a break, I still feel that it is the music that makes traveling through Manchester attractive, interesting and sometimes simply bearable.

I noticed how dreaded journeys like getting the Magic Bus (see previous post) in the morning or walking down Market Street on a busy* Saturday can almost turn into a pleasure when accompanied by the right music. It makes me relaxed, helps me bury my head deeper in my book despite the hoards of noisy students getting on in Fallowfield, makes me feel cooler than everyone else, parading down the street with my headphones, throwing presumptuous and omniscient smiles at people who don’t see me anyway while blasting out and bopping my head to whatever’s coming onto my little black iPod (5 years old and still going strong, bless!), unknown pleasures that only I can hear.

In the prospect of getting sued, here’s my playlist with ten songs for some of the situations you may encounter in the streets of our rainy city – ready to download as a handy zip file. Let me know if you like it. Let me know if you don’t.

2018 update: Here’s a Spotify playlist. Boom.

  1. American Analog Set – Punk as fuck
    Hangover music. Not too loud. Don’t ever remove from player. Good for getting on the bus around midday when it’s sunny and fairly quiet, won’t help covering the noise of loud mobile phone conversations in the seat behind you. Which will happen inevitably.
  2. Das Racist – Shorty said (Gordon Voidwell remix)
    Best soundtrack for busy Saturday afternoons on Market Street. Makes you think you’re down with the kids. Like, totally. Turn it up loud enough to drown out the guy with the creepy duck whistles and the crazy Christians shouting “JESUS CHRIST” at your face.
  3. An Horse – Horizons
    Good for the rare sunny days in Manchester. Leave the house and walk to the bus stop, wearing large sunglasses that look ridiculous. Feel bittersweet, but happy, but annoyed, but ah well never mind. Oh yes I’m doing so well.
  4. Talking Heads – Once in a lifetime
    Listen to nothing but Talking Heads for weeks. Go to Smile at the Star & Garter and get stupidly drunk on vodka while sitting downstairs and waiting for the first people to start dancing. Realise that you’re dancing on the benches two hours later. Ask yourself: how did I get here? Drop your drink on someone. Apologise. Drop your drink on someone, again. Fall down the stairs, blow a kiss at the bouncer, get nearly run over crossing the road to Piccadilly station and fall into a taxi. Same as it ever was.
  5. Roisin Murphy – Ramalama (bang bang)
    Walk down Burton Road through West Didsbury on a Saturday night. Witness the drunken messes staggering home and sing “Ramalama bang bang flash bang bing bang bing bong ding dong dum dum du dum” to yourself. Imagine you are in a Disney musical and do a little dance. Hope that no one has noticed you.
  6. Gui Boratto – Terminal
    Try to break your own personal record walking from West Didsbury to Fallowfield. Convince your house mate that it is absolutely possible to get to the post depot in 20 minutes. Take a deep breath and engage in 17 minutes of power walking while listening to Brazilian techno. Find a huge queue at the post depot. Swear.
  7. The Smiths – Half a person
    Coming from Piccadilly Gardens, walk down Portland Street on a very gray and rainy Saturday, towards the Temple pub and down the stairs. See your friend through the window at the bottom of the stairs, wave and take off your headphones. Wonder how you’ll ever manage to dry your soaked shoes.
  8. Tears for Fears – Head over heels
    Good soundtrack for a bus journey down the curry mile when it’s dark. Watch the people walking down the road outside the takeaways and curry houses. See the neon lights’ reflections in the puddles on the pavement and the rain drops on the window. Think about how 80s synth pop and neon go together so well.
  9. The Shins – Kissing the lipless
    Get off outside the Sainsbury’s in Fallowfield. Walk into the shop. Try and time your movements with the music. Feel sublime if you manage to pick up your bread the second the music gets louder. Block the way in the isle with the crackers, the one that has a pillar in the middle, and don’t hear people repeatedly saying ‘excuse me’. Notice them. Feel guilty. Turn the music down.
  10. Japandroids – Wet hair
    Walk home from Fuel after a far too boozy Tuesday night. Feel the warmth of the pavement that has been heated up by the sun. Remember the crazy hot summer in your home town. Think of your friends. Feel a bit upset. Hope that everything gets back to normal soon. Cross your fingers.

* nightmarish