Words and photos by Wes Foster

Curated by Salford based promoters Fat Out Til You Pass Out, the festival aims to bring some of the best in heavy, experimental, alternative and avant-garde to the area following a year long residency at Islington Mill. One of the most important features of this is that the best of experimental music is on show throughout the three days, without loosing the grassroots DIY feel of everything that goes on at Islington Mill, something that allows for spontaneous creativity as it should be.

I managed to catch the last of I Know I’m An Alien’s set opening up the Burrow stage, set up on the Mill’s main performance space, between a tangle of cold pipes and bare brickwork. Every act’s music was incredibly inclusive, whilst at the same time interesting, and that’s no different for the solo musician IKIAA, who uses guitar to create a mesmerising array of sounds and noises, creating and working with an incredibly diverse palette but pushing always towards breaking boundaries. Somewhat similar to this was the Glasgow two-piece Ubre Blanca’s set, on Sunday in The Burrow – their large palette takes an almost dance route to creating sounds in an innovative way, though always retains a John Carpenter-like driving force with the drums always being one of the absolute key parts.

The Caustic Coastal stage took place in a space that was the polar opposite to The Burrow – a large white warehouse that contrasted with the confinement of inside the Mill, though was managed well to not feel empty. Interestingly noise music seems to have seen a resurgence in brass, with saxophones accompanying many of the heavier bands, turning a more standard guitar bass drums vocals line up into something wholly more dynamic and with a uniqueness of sound.
Lake of Snakes, one of the first acts on the Caustic Coastal stage were one such band, and their heavy hitting hardcore music that uses a sax to give the ever present feeling of something lurking, something bubbling under below the surface. This attention to detail within the texture of sound was present across the weekend, with Cattle, who played The Burrow on the Sunday using an intensely heavy but layered sound to create something that is incredibly expansive, music that doesn’t allow you respite and is therefore completely immersive. It is easy to call bands like this visceral, though there is something more to the tangibility that their music displays, it is so solid – an absolute wall of noise – that it feels as if you could reach out and feel it.

One of the most well attended (of the bands I managed to catch) were local Manchester favourites ILL, who brought a more raucous punk-esque sound with them to the Burrow. Driven by keyboards this isn’t an all out onslaught of guitars but a somehow both angry and considered approach to discussing issues through noise and well put together lyricisms. Mums also had this slightly less experimentally driven sound, and delves somewhere into being a heftier version of pop punk, with vocals taking to the fore, supported by lots of guitar and beating rhythm.

A review of the festival can hardly scratch the surface when talking about a festival like Fat Out – boundaries are constantly being broken by the acts there, in pushing for a new musical vision, and for creating things which are genuinely interesting exploring new ideas without relying on the tried and tested ways to create music, Errant Monks were one such act, with their set being a savage mixture of noise, texture and sounds, playing constantly with what was being created to force ever evolving reactions and interactions within the sound, and push it to the very breaking point. Which is exactly what the more left field, experimental festivals like Fat Out should push for, and which this year has absolutely been nailed.

Here’s to the next one!

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Fat Out Fest 2017 took place at Islington Mill on Friday 14th – Sunday 16th April 2017.

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