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Nine bands, skinny jeans and Lily Allen

Confidential’s Tristan Welch gets around In The City’s gig circuit

Published on October 15th 2010.


Nine bands, skinny jeans and Lily Allen

I love In The City. The buzz around town, getting tips on new bands, then heading to the pub to catch up with friends and take in a few gigs.

It's a brilliant three days, but in the past, it's not been without its problems.

The real highlight was the feeling of running from bar to bar in such a small area, constantly bumping into friends, seeing street performers set up as fringe events and playing spot Lilly Allen over twitter.

The venues were spread out, occasionally making it hard to catch the bands you want without running for taxis. Gigs often start at the same time and relying on a book saturated with hyperbole invariably makes it difficult to work out which bands to actually see.

You had the fear that you were next door to the gig of the century by this year’s new top band. But that’s all part of the fun, and you sometimes stumble on an under-hyped band that end up coming away with the plaudits.

So it's always been great fun but could perhaps have been done better - and this year I think it has.

With the exception of Ruby Lounge, the venues are all fairly concentrated around Oldham Street, so you can quickly traverse bars with no taxi needed. They're properly geared up for live performances too (rather than just a bar with a stage shoehorned in like a couple of places in 2009); the new website and iPhone app making discovering and tracking bands a dream and the sessions seem to be well-staggered, meaning I could catch a massive nine bands in one evening. The £29 wristband turned out to be a brilliant deal.

Our night started with Thomas J Speight in Soup Kitchen - more house party than gig. Soup really suited the laid-back acoustic vibes. It was the first unsigned band I’d caught and the standard was clearly high this year. Across the road in Noho, I hit my first favourite - Poland's 'The Car is on Fire' were a ramshackle blast of fake moustaches, which I hated initially, but the sound was great and their melodies infectious and they soon had everyone dancing wildly.

Next was a quick walk to the Castle Hotel, a standout pub for 2010 which has just completed a huge renovation to become an immediate gem in Manchester's live scene. Kisses were on, an LA-based instrumental disco project and it was standing room only throughout. These guys might have gone over my head a bit, but they definitely had their fans.

Moving on, Sophie-Rose was just kicking off in the Mint Lounge; all Florence + The Machine with ‘incredible styling’ according to my better half. This gig stood out because it was here I noticed three things; literally every band I saw had a 'clap, clap clap' bit in at least two of their songs; and there was a massive proliferation of cow bell, everywhere. More problematically, the look that no man should rock; skinny jeans - what gives? If a bomb had gone off during Fixers, Nudie jeans would have had some work rebuilding their customer base that's for sure.

Realising how disgusting the toilets were in Mint Lounge, we moved on, this time to An Outlet for some band drama from 'Dinner Party'. Great venue, great music, but we had to get back to Soup Kitchen for the packed out set of 'Chad Valley'. Described as "Hot Chip on downers, a disco-infused summer joint featuring some shimmering synth.” If you missed him, you missed out, and much of the street was filled with people that just didn't get inside but danced on regardless.

Also of note were D/R/U/G/S, Danny Mahon and Mammal Club (probably the best band of the night), but the real highlight was the feeling of running from bar to bar in such a small area, constantly bumping into friends, seeing street performers set up as fringe events and playing spot Lilly Allen over twitter (I did - possible sighting in Fresh bites followed by definite in Soup Kitchen). Apparently Will Young was also seen in Gulliver’s but he didn't generate the same excitement.

With the last night kicking off from around 7pm this evening I'll be straight back out after work. You can still get a wristband for £16 and if you want to join in the fun, I'd definitely recommend it.

Meet you in The Castle?

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousOctober 15th 2010.

ITC has definitely picked up a gear this time around which is great because it was o sad seeming Tony Wilson's brain child start to slip. Sticking to venues to the northern quarter was a genius move, and wow the new Castle is definitely something special, when did that happen?

Hero
Temporary HeroOctober 15th 2010.

It's the app that's made it easy for me, quick check of the buzz every now and then and I get straight to where I need to be. Can't wait for Doves on saturday!

AnonymousOctober 15th 2010.

Haha, bang on about the fixers. Enough wax in their hair to make a thousand candles too.

John14798October 19th 2010.

"Standing room only" is a kind way of describing the Castle's gig room, "Black Hole of Calcutta" would be more apposite. The staff there were blithely letting insane amouts of people jam themselves into a room the size of a cardboard box. Myself and my companions did a runner before the band tried to do a cover of Zepplin's 'Trampled Underfoot'. Otherwise the band offering was the best since ITC started, great atmosphere in the whole Northern Quarter during the three nights.

AnonymousOctober 24th 2010.

So the verdict is some expansion of venues in the NQ but bands were sh...t. Sounds a bit like the weather grey damp turning into an early winter (-2C in country)

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