Words and photos by Ged Camera.

You might as well expect to be told that you have just missed something spectacular at this exercise in self indulgence, for it is nigh on impossible to get around to every venue in time for all the “must–sees” without having you own personal jet pack. The upside of this event is that you will also be able to reply with your own list of “did you see?”

SFTOC does not just bring bands to a couple of selected venues; it’s an attempt to use people’s creativity to brighten up an area that is undergoing a significant amount of regeneration amongst the dereliction. From cafés to churches to outside tents, even using a medical centre, colourful, cheerful and thoroughly enjoyable occasions

Goat Girl were tipped in all the local press and web sites before the gig, and seemed to be name dropped by most people attending. Judging by the looks on the four women who took to the stage, they seemed to be a bit bemused by all the fuss, as though they would rather be elsewhere writing a song, so just having a drink. There did seem to be a bit of “Well, entertain us then” atmosphere amongst the crowd, which seldom helps the situation, especially when a band has barely been around for long and is still trying to find their musical heart, and they are away from “home” aka Peckham, where they will have been supported along the way. Still using pseudonym to protect their sanity, Lottie Cream acted as their main vocalist, also playing guitars. Her subdued vocals were sometimes barely audible over the raw, pulsing sounds. The music industry can be brutal but at least let them have some time to develop before exposing them to the blinding light or publicity

Now HMLTD have no such inhibitions when they are on a stage to be witnessed by many. The more witnesses there are, the more extravagant they will be. They seem to love dressing up, whether it be from a white leather jacked with frills on worn by one of the guitarists, to the seemingly Freddie Mercury inspired performance by front man Henry Spychalski, a name that is as dramatic as unlikely as it is to be real. Each song appeared to contain an amalgam of 3 different songs, with style changes a plenty, producing a restless, turbo charged demonstration of how to catch and hold peoples attention. And that was at only at 4pm.

So, after the storm, a contrasting change of pace was found over at St. Philips Church, in the form of Living Body. Sometimes a four-piece, the explanation for only appearing as a duo at SFTOC was put down to a combination of broken bones, staying in bed, or work. Pick any two from three. However, churches are designed for having music played in them, and if the artist understands this fact, then they can exploit it to the full. Jeff Smith (formerly, Juffage) stood alongside Katie Harkin (aka Sky Larkin) in front of the alter, and when they harmonised, did fill the venue with an array of delicate sounds, laced with Smith’s acerbic view on life, such as “Cash is king/then you’re gone”

It wasn’t just the bands that generated pleasure; there seemed to be a permanent queue outside the Old Pint Pot to get a picture with one of the 13 totems that were dotted across the sites, the one blew out bubbles. Some people are easily pleased and thanks for that. Then when the illuminated gloves came out, well, it was like Christmas has come early for some of the rather adult kids

The fact it is a functioning Church, with a no alcohol restriction, did not stop the sound of the pressurised fizz of a tinnie being opened at regular intervals during the performance by Ex Easter Island Head, with Laura Cannell & the BBC Philharmonic Ensemble at Salford Cathedral. Again, the unit exploited to the full the acoustics of the venue, generating fragile sound created with combinations of violin and guitar strings either being crossed with a bow or tapped with drum sticks.

Patty Hearst are an up and coming band from Manchester who quickly fill, though that isn’t too difficult, the Egerton Arms, mainly with people who have seen them before, but with a selection of local Salfordians listening on wandering what all the fuss was about . They channeled their youthful energy into a robust selection of fiery, snappy anthems that have enough hooks to please the listeners

Indeed another successful event, for the 13th year running, making it hard to believe that it almost folded a few years back. Soon the planning will begin for next year, so feel free to indulge


Sounds From The Other City took place in Salford on Sunday 30th April 2017.

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