On Saturday 7th October, Manchester opened up its popular music venues to house this year’s Neighbourhood Festival, showcasing today’s hottest indie and alternative artists. Although the weather did disappoint, the streets of the city were filled with 90s attire, complete with denim jackets and copious amounts of glitter in true ‘indie fashion’. This festival is a dream for any music lover, giving the opportunity to discover up and coming smaller bands, while having a major line up of already established artists in the industry, such as Ratboy and Declan McKenna.
The day began in the small venue of the Revolution Bar on Oxford Road to see four-piece indie band Bloxx, who had just returned from supporting Sundara Karma on the first leg of their UK tour. Although it was an early set, Bloxx managed to fill the venue with their infectious rhythms and their eager fans started a mosh pit, much to the delight of the band members. Playing tracks including their new single ‘Coke’, along with unreleased music such as ‘Novocain’, it is evident that this band is going to become pretty big very soon.
Arguably, the only disappointing feature of the Neighbourhood Festival was the stage clashes, with the most conflicting being that of The Amazons and indie favourite Peace. In the O2 Ritz, the growing Reading based band The Amazons put on a stellar performance to a packed venue, playing tracks from their debut album. Hits such as ‘Black Magic’ already foreshadow the success of The Amazons, and one can predict that its catchy riff is going to become a festival favourite, along with the likes of What You Know by Two Door Cinema Club. On the other hand, Peace truly rocked the Albert Hall to an avid crowd of long-time fans of the band. They played a mix of new and old hits, keeping the crowd on their feet and jumping to classics such as ‘Bloodshake’ and ‘Lost on Me’, as well as fresh track ‘Kindness is the New Rock and Roll’. Even after their hiatus, it is clear that Peace are as loved as ever.
Moving over to The Union, where the queues for entry into the venue wrapped around the streets for indie-alt band Black Honey. Beginning with fan favourite ‘All My Pride’, lead singer Izzy Baxter put on a truly mesmerising performance to the audience. Hits such as ‘Spinning Wheel’ and ‘Somebody Better’ got the crowd dancing, while an acoustic version of ‘Cadillac’ showcased the true talent of Black Honey.
Next it was the turn of four-piece all girl band The Big Moon, stopping off to play at Neighbourhood in the middle of their UK tour. The performance rightly screamed ‘girl power’ as they entertained The Union with a packed set full of their most popular tracks including ‘Cupid’ and a cover of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’. With tracks filled with infectious bass rhythms and catchy lyrics, The Big Moon are a pure joy to witness live.
Neighbourhood Festival ended with a visit to the special set of the young star Declan McKenna at Gorilla, where he arrived on the stage in true Declan tradition of his band wearing glitter on their faces. Performing his compelling lyrics about hard hitting themes, such as ‘Paracetemol’ and ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’, McKenna had the audience in the palm of his hand. Finishing on the popular ‘Brazil’, Blossoms lead vocalist Tom joined him on the stage, much to the surprise of fans, and this was followed by Declan jumping into his audience in an attempt to crowd surf. It wasn’t successful but he can be commended for his efforts, putting on an incredible set and bringing Gorilla to life.
A day at the Neighbourhood festival is guaranteed to be a great one, and it is an absolute must for any lover of indie music. Bring on next year.
Words by Jess Foster, photos Holly Marsden