Utopia Bag Thing blog

Words by Ian Pennington

Many musicians write about better places just beyond our reach; many write about worse places, whether currently tangible or inevitably lying around the next corner. That balancing of utopia and dystopia, of imagined parallel universes rich with the fruits of our wildest dreams or the rotting harvest of our grimmest nightmares, is one of the aspects of popular music that keeps us coming back for another eardrum tickling listen. This week, it’s what has led us back to the Bag Thing listings preview for Manchester shows, so go forth and explore, just as this canny piece of writing has done with a collection of failed dreamscapes.

The grass is greener is Savages’ garden, as exemplified by the limelight they’re commanding for a set of moody psych rock at Albert Hall tonight, Monday 22nd.

On Tuesday 23rd, pay a visit to the home of Matthew Halsall’s luscious tones. This time that’ll be Gorilla as part of Upclose, a showcase of trumpet, jazz and DJ also including the Manchester Camerata.

If that’s not your idea of endless streets of sunshine, then maybe Dan Stuart will be. The former front man of 1980s Arizonan post-punk rockers Green on Red will take his visions of (im)perfect futures to Gullivers.

The collaborative shenanigans of Yorkston Thorne Khan’s could be likened to Thomas More’s idealistic members-only public town, in which its rational citizens would swap homes at will – perhaps moving to Deaf Institute on Wednesday 24th for the aforementioned trio’s homogeneous onstage harmonies.

Thursday 25th achieves the sort of high-density performing population synonymous with Corbusian cities in the sky. We’ve picked out six storeys – from penthouse to ground floor, you can catch: easy listening indie folks The Wave Pictures at Night & Day Café; the most unGoogleable Manchester-dwelling melodians since Money, Wedding at Eagle Inn (who we interviewed here); a Levenshulme Carefully Planned jaunt at Fred’s Ale House, featuring Punching Swans, dbh, NASDAQ and Thomas Ragsdale; the next Songwriter Sessions at Strangebrew Bar, focusing on Jeff Buckley’s Grace as performed by Glass Tides and more; shoegazing dream weavers Flowers at Fallow Café; and finally a club night of You Dig? proportions crammed with similarly danceable soul, disco and funk for students and non-students alike – that’s Super Freak at Joshua Brooks.

The latest voice on the soulful hip hop grapevine is the towering development of Anderson.Paak, whose tour bus parks at the Ruby Lounge gates on Friday 26th.

Also that night we’ve spied the homely comforts of Easy Kill’s musical hugs at Deaf Institute, which marks the launch of their sophomore EP, Sermons.

On Saturday 27th, the ivory tinkling German electronische ambienteers Grandbrothers set co-ordinates for their new town in the shelter of Manchester’s famous dystopian himself, Anthony Burgess.

At the other end of the bravado spectrum, Shaking Chains seek to rattle the city’s cages at the condemned public house Star & Garter the same night.

The week ends with a bridge building opportunity for anyone looking for a path through the music industry. Deaf Institute hosts the 6th Manchester Music Industry Networking Event on Sunday 28th.

Looking ahead, there’s a bunch of the best new bands to discover at Dot to Dot 2016 (27th May) on a bill topped by established musical monuments Mystery Jets. Elsewhere, that most utopian of culinary treats, the taco, is the key ingredient of The Beagle’s Tuesday offer through February and March of ‘all you can eat’, available when you sign up here.

Our wildcard of the week goes to DERT MCR’s series of events across the city’s venues. With DERT standing for ‘Dancing England Rapper Tournament’, it’ll take place on 12th March throughout the day, presumably featuring the four elements along with sharp blades and sharper rhymes, spitting bars and swallowing swords. Head to their interwebs for more details.

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