Sounds from the Other City festival in Salford ushers in the new dawn with HMLTD and The Orielles

Salford is changing but the independent soul of the city is safe with Sounds

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The Independent Culture

Salford is changing. Last year, local Manchester press splashed about the new Salford bar where champagne is poured from chandeliers and cocktails are served with a burning £20 note.

But the ongoing gentrification ceases on the May Day bank holiday. Sounds from the Other City festival takes over the Regents Trading Estate against a backdrop of half-built high rises.

Behind the Islington Mill, the arts centre at the heart of the festival, Reform Radio host an outdoor disco for festival-goers in sequins and animal prints, their decks flanked by green and pink new age creatures made out of cardboard.

Around concrete dancefloor, independent food retailers Diamond Dogs and Dim Sum Su serve up hot dishes all day while Huddersfield’s Magic Rock brewery is selling three cans for £10.

Salford’s independent soul is in safe hands at Sounds. The festival is in its 13th year of turning venues including a church, an NHS walk-in centre, pubs and the Mill into a wonderland of art and music curated by local talent.

The 2017 edition is designed by IMPATV and called Sound of the New Dawn: all along Chapel Street, strange and fantastic totem poles have been erected outside venues to guide ticket holders to their next gig.

We start at the Now Wave stage for HMLTD, the glam-infused post punk outfit hailed by the NME as the UK’s most thrilling new band. The six boys are dressed to impress: from frontman Harry Spychalski’s blue mullet and striped sailor combination to the drummer’s white ruff. The keyboardist looks like he borrowed his dad’s suit for a job interview.

Even without the visuals, the noise is magnetic, veering between industrial guitar noise, horror-show keyboard refrains and electronic interludes, speeding up and slowing down at will.

Snapped Ankles compete for the prize for weirdest set in the warehouse opposite, which has been adorned with photos of tigers, including Tony the Tiger, Tiger Woods and Bet Lynch from Coronation Street in a tiger-striped outfit. The London-based band are dressed up like Stig of the Dump, with cavemen wigs and bare chests, beating drumsticks onto branches tied to microphones.

There’s gentler stuff at the Old Pint Pot pub, curated by Heavenly Records, with teenage sweethearts the Orielles and their C86-inspired indie. Hey Manchester’s Chris Horkan has his usual spot at the St Philip’s Church, where New Zealand’s Amelia Murray, who plays dream pop under the name Fazerdaze, enchants rows of punters in the pews.

A performance by avant garde composers Ex-Easter Island Head adds some weight to proceedings at the Salford Cathedral. They make surprisingly silvery melodies by hitting guitars with mallets, while the talented Laura Cannell serenades us from the aisles by playing two recorders at once.

The evening ends raucously with sweary husband and wife duo The Lovely Eggs at St Philip’s Church. We don’t stick around long enough to find out what the church attendants think of their song "Fuck It", instead decamping back to the Old Pint Pot for Bristol noisemakers Spectres and JG Wilkes, better known as one half of eclectic Glaswegian DJs Optimo.

If this is the new dawn, stick up your totem pole and usher it in. Here’s hoping Salford’s new high rises don’t stop Sounds from the Other City from being so much fun.

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