Music mayhem swept over the Northern Quarter last weekend. Although a small festival, the (mostly) alternative and hardcore directed bands packed a real punch, rivalling its sister city festivals such as Live at Leeds and Sounds of the City. Over a hundred bands in selected venues are spread across Oldham Street and its side roads creating a nice hum under the paving stones for two full days. I turn up at 4pm to get my wristband and see my first band of the weekend to come.
Kraak’s loft-like structure gives room for bands to make big sounds in a small area. Great bands that filled this place with good vibes included the talented and tight three piece Bearfoot Beware and the emo-hardcore two piece Spanish Wives. I was surprised that one lead guitar and a drum kit could express the same emotion and depth as bands such as their obvious influences The Used but the feisty lead vocalist stomped around the stage, commanding his modestly sized audience. Both Leeds based, both worthy of a second listen.
Whisky Jar with its dungeon-esque music room provided an eclectic mix from dreamy folk to hardcore screamfest, the latter bought to us by Cattles. Acoustic wise, I felt this room was not suited to accommodate such a wall of noise coming from a band that featured two drummers… My fellow festival-goers seemed to enjoy what they heard, but maybe sacrificed their hearing until the end of time for it. Never the less, a great band who bought a bit of spunk to my afternoon.
Highlights at Soup Kitchen include the big and bold Bad Grammar who wowed the audience with their two piece grunge set, comparable to the buzz band Royal Blood. Alpha Male Tea Party with their mathy rock playfulness, succeeded in closing the festival with a big fuck you to Sunday evenings. Essential to see live; they have never failed to commit to every gig, even when woefully admitting they were full of cold. A must see Manchester treasure.
All in all, a celebration of independent music that fits well in the contemporary buzz of Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Comes as quickly as it goes, ACPF is little festival with a lot of bite. Go next year.