A rainy day in Manchester didn’t even slightly put a dampener (no pun intended) on this day. I managed to persuade my best pal to come to Neighbourhood, due to the fact it’s in her hometown and she was desperate for a trip home. I’ve only been to Manchester once before, and that was for a swimming competition, so I didn’t really get to see much of the city at all. Of course, Manchester is renowned as a breeding ground for musicians and bands, Oasis, The Smiths and The Stone Roses to name probably the most iconic three. Before it sounds like I’m just saying nice things for the sake of it, I’d like to preface this with the fact that I chose the bands we were going to see, so I knew they were all good live and that I liked them.
Putting a start to our day was Judas. This London-based band were a welcome, high energy start to our day. After walking across the city in the rain (because neither of us had any idea where we were going), we finally managed to find Refuge and hear the last three songs of Judas’s set, and it was worth it. Despite the fact that not many of the crowd knew their songs most people were still moving and enjoying the music which is a really good sign for these guys as they start to go on to bigger and better things.
We walked around the corner to Revs to see Oddity Road next. Now, I thought Oddity Road were pretty good and I do know a few of their songs. I think they’re a fab band with pretty solid prospects for the future. What really struck me about this was 1. The age of the crowd – there were honestly kids that can’t be much older than 13 who were absolutely loving it and 2. The size of the crowd – we were all completely packed into the venue which just shows how much these guys appeal to people and how their energetic indie rock is welcome to everyone.
We managed to find our way to Factory to see Outlya pretty easily. I’m pretty much always going on about Outlya, I honestly think they’re fab and I knew they were a band that Katie would love too. I honestly don’t think there’s anything that someone could dislike about Outlya. Their music is so positive and feel-good I can’t imagine anyone having a negative feeling about them. They’re particularly good live because a lot of their songs have easy-to-learn parts that the crowd can join in with even if they’ve not seen them before. I think they’re such good performers and I’m desperate for them to get more recognition for how good they are.
To my surprise, we actually managed to squeeze into the back of Bad Sounds, who – contrary to what their name might suggest – Make no bad sounds. I’m so glad we managed to get in, and I’m now beyond excited to see them in Notts next month. They were so good, they’ve got this kind of energy and sound that’s so individual which I absolutely adore. I love that there isn’t really anyone doing what they’re doing at the moment, which makes them really stand out. Everything they make has this kind of groovy sound to it, which is always a bit strange but it just works on every level imaginable.
I wouldn’t compromise on the fact that we were going to see Trevor Sensor. Since he’s US-based, I didn’t know when I’d next get to see him and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. I was so glad to see it was just him and his guitar because that’s how his songs sound best. He has such a cool voice and overall sound, it’s nice to just hear that completely stripped back and just hear his voice. Both of us were so impressed with him and I’m just so glad that I got to see him in such a small venue because I’ve no doubt he’ll soon move on to bigger and better things.
We stayed in the same venue to see Sam Fender and he was just as fab to be honest. I knew he was good, but he honestly surpassed my expectations and really impressed me. He’s not been playing with his current band long – or releasing music for that matter. He has a cool voice and I am obsessed with his overall sound. Greasy Spoon is just such a tune and seeing it live just confirmed it for me. As well as his incredible voice, I’d like to compliment him on his beyond amazing cheekbones, which I found equally impressive.
At this point in the day, our feet were well on their way to being dead so we decided to take a bit of a break in one of the quieter pubs for a bit of chill time and some rest. We found our way to watch Dan Stock, who was really nice to listen to whilst we had a rest and a drink. He just had a lovely voice which we really appreciated for a half hour chill.
I was excited to see Flyte, however I’ve just realised that I have a ticket to see them on Monday too, so maybe I should’ve branched out a bit and seen someone I didn’t know, but I knew Flyte were good live, so at least we’d definitely have a good time, which we did. After just releasing their debut Album, they graced us with a few of the songs from it. I loved hearing Cathy Come Home live, and it’s just made me even more excited to see them again. They were definitely worth seeing and everyone watching was absolutely loving them.
Someone else hot off releasing their debut album was Zak Abel. Now, at the start of this there were a few technical difficulties at the start of this set, which meant he had to cut his setlist short, and ended up cutting out Deserve to Be Loved, much to my heartbreak. However, that didn’t decrease the absolute quality of his performance. Zak Abel is a literal ball of energy and it’s so fun being in the audience at any of his shows, there’s no way not to have fun. I was hoping for a few of his old songs, but I guess in the short amount of time he really wanted to showcase the newer songs from the album, which is understandable. His voice really shines through live, and it’s so magical to see someone enjoying performing this much, it just fills your whole body with so much happiness it’s unreal. I really hope he’s doing more shows soon, he’s genuinely one of my favourite people to see live and I’d recommend it to literally anyone.
Now, next we saw Feet, who neither of us had heard of but at this point, we didn’t think we’d be able to get into any of the other venues and quite frankly we didn’t fancy walking anywhere either. I’m so glad we stayed to watch Feet because they were so bloody good (also meant that one of us said something along the lines of “yeah, I’m so into Feet,” which is always funny). They had so much energy and their songs were all fab, it’s just a shame that there isn’t more of their music available to listen to regularly. I’ll definitely be looking out for these guys over the next few months because I had such a great time watching them.
The big decision for me was whether we went to see Rat Boy or Declan Mckenna because I have tickets to both of their upcoming tours, so I’d get to see them both either way. I decided on Declan McKenna because I was meant to be going to see him in May, but I had to miss it for a competition (which turned out to be my last, so I probably should’ve just gone anyway like). I have nothing but love for Declan McKenna, I think he’s completely great. He’s got a great voice, great stage presence, and he’s just great (10/10 for variety of language). This has to be a highlight for me, because of the way every single person watching reacted. Everyone seemed to be captivated and loving it and even though they let on that there were some technical problems, if they hadn’t mentioned it, no one would’ve known. This was the first time I’d seen any of these songs live, and it seems that he’s really come into his own on stage, he looks so comfortable that it’s hard to imagine him doing anything else. All of his songs are so intelligently put together and I really admire the way he’s worked for this for so long. As a final flourish, he also brought out Tom Ogden of Blossoms for the end of Brazil, which was a pretty much perfect end to the night.
I had a few worries about the way this festival was going to work after reading a few complaints online about people not being able to get in to any of the venues or anything, but for me Neighbourhood didn’t disappoint at all and was well worth the journey to see all these acts in one place and to experience as many people enjoying them as possible.