8 Things we learnt after Neighbourhood 2019

Another Neighbourhood festival has passed by with its customary heap of fun. For many indie music lovers, this Manchester city centre music festival is one of the year’s highlights.

Here’s 8 things we have learnt or remembered from this year’s festival.

1. Schedule a plan A, plan B and a plan C

Perhaps festival organisers could ask each ticket holder who they want to see and schedule acts and tickets sales accordingly (unfortunately no changes of mind allowed). Life fortunately isn’t like that but some venues end up rammed with impossible queues snaking along the pavement. This year it seemed we all wanted to see The Magic Gang.

Having a few options up your sleeve allows you to laugh in the face of those hopelessly optimistic queuing souls and go and find someone different or new to see. This year, it seemed Gorilla was rammed each time I went by. I saw some great alternative acts instead, as gutted as I was to miss The Lathums.

2. Pacing is king but wear cool underwear in case it does get messy

I think it was well before 4pm; a young skinny teen lad (perhaps aged 16) sprawled asleep on the busy main pavement near Gorilla. The tell tale pool of sick lay around him, and a kindly middle aged man with a medical background had stopped and was making sure the lad was safe.

Oh, this lad also had his shirt halfway up his body and his non-branded slightly tatty underwear were on show. Always wear your best brand knickers just in case, or find mates who will hang around and aren’t too squemish to rearrange your sick stained clothing.

3. Don’t mess around with your phone.

2.30pm and your phone is about dead? I saw the excellent melodic Far Caspian whom I really rather adore, while languishing with a quiet pint in a dark corner of the cellars of Refuge, while my phone charger was slipped into a socket more regularly used to powering a cleaner. I felt like I was violating the place. Worse for me, Far Caspian really were excellent.

Later on, emboldened by alcohol, I marched unabashed over to the plugs on the mosh pit wall, and helped myself to Jimmy’s electricity between bands. I don’t want to get a reputation for sticking my plug into sockets univited.

It all worked, but I bloody well wish I hadn’t fiddled with my phone on the train on the way over.

4. Set your day off with a banging start

It was worth getting up early, hopping on the train, grabbing the wristband at the back of beyond and then being in the queue for local lads Dirty Laces at the Bread Shed. Lead singer Charlie Jordan is soo cool with his style transported from 1966. This is a face, as the Mods would say.

Dirty Laces blended Rolling Stones, The Faces and Oasis and sprinkled some of their own gold dust over it all. Seeing them cover Gimme Shelter with Becki Fishwick on guest vocals was truly something both confidently brave and special, and it was only 1pm. No better way to start a festival than with something banging.

5.Go and see old favourites….

It’s great to catch up with some old familiars. It was a real treat to catch up with The Pale White and witnessing the sheer power of sound that the 3 guys can generate at The Bread Shed. They moved it up a level at Neighbourhood and they looked and sounded confident, diverse and powerful enough to stand proud on the largest stages in the land and deliver. I so hope that happens for these affable Newcastle lads.

Red Rum Club have become newer favourites although I’ve caught them 3 times live this year now.

The mix of trumpet, spaghetti western, drama and a woven lyric that tells a story had the audience shouting back the lyrics as one. It’s a hugely good natured audience, drunks were picked up and steadied as they wobbled and strangers chatted as mates about where they had caught the band before.

I had the slight misfortune to stand by the only grump, who largely stood bemused by the sight of a swaying, sweating, bouncing roomful of shouty people. My joke about the electronics in lead singer Fran’s mik being so clever as to convert his Surrey accent into a Liverpool one hung in the air like a vomit throw up on a motorbike. Nevermind, I crashed and burned and waited for the mess to land back at me, in the honourable attempt to make a smile.

6. Don’t Get Competitive

I’m usually mild mannered, but it can go wrong when I’m a bit drunk. So, when a woman tried to queue jump at the bar in Bread Shed my competitive edge kicked into autopilot.

A bit of a desperate race ensued, a bit of attempted pushing on her part and a bit of desperate eye catching of the bar staff on mine. I won but it was a hollow victory. I should have let karma take its course and watch from afar to wait for a drunk mosh pit participant misfire and take her and her precious pint out. She started it, but I was not cool. Sorry world, I will do zen effortlessly one day.

7. Catch Some Newbies Too….

My local band is Full Colour. As Guaranga they made quite an impact with their first EP Miles Apart. I love seeing these guys (some members are too young to legally drink beer) as they so obviously love performing and bounce around the stage. I also loved hearing some new songs which stood up well against the more familiar tracks. It’s a good job I like this band, they will think I’m stalking them as I’ll see them another 3 times before the year is out.

Another band I was proud to see was LOA State (and they called themselves L-O-A State rather than Lowerstate as I had assumed). I love that rather rap mixed with guitar and drum sound and there was a good beat and anarchist sass about this band. Fat White Pilots wouldn’t do the sound justice by a long chalk but it’s a start. LOA State are going to be a band I adore.

I ended the night with Nottingham’s Do Nothing, and having a drunken chat with lead singer Chris (it was me that was drunk, he was facing a late night drive back to Nottingham). There aren’t too many bands that hide their influences but Do Nothing do it well and I loved the classy, easy beat and languid drawl in the vocals.

I got a bit of The Stranglers Peaches and to my horror, I heard my drunken face asking…. and to cut an obvious story short, no, it’s not the Stranglers that influenced Do Nothing. Bands must dread drunk punters.

8 Lets Do It All Again Next Year

Thought of missing Neighbourhood 2020? Not a chance mate; not least I have to do a full day wearing my best grundies, with a fully charged phone, no beer rage, and to ask a band member a profound question about their music…

Chris R


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