This weekend will see the sixth edition of Manchester’s multi-venue, inner-city independent musical spectacular, A Carefully Planned Festival. It started ambitiously in 2011 with seventy acts over five venues, and has slowly expanded to its, frankly daft, current size of one hundred and sixty four bands in nine venues.
We thought we’d help festival goers out by picking out a handful of acts we’re sure are going to light up the weekend. As usual we’ve avoided some of the bigger names, and bands we feature regularly, but we of course highly recommend seeing Chorusgirl (Crown & Kettle – Saturday 20:45), ¡Ay,Carmela! (Gullivers Main Room – Sunday – 16:25) and Suggested Friends (Crown & Kettle – Saturday – 16:45).
You can see our six picks for the weekend after a brief introduction to A Carefully Planned Festival from one of the festivals organisers, Jessica Flavell.
With just a few days to go until ACPF#6, we’re a little busy and a lot excited. It’s our sixth year now, and this is our biggest-ever event: 2 days and 10 stages of 165 excellent independent and alternative acts.
The line-up isn’t restricted by genre: artists range from folk, ambient, pop to math-rock, hardcore-punk and doom metal, to and back again. What we do focus on is originality, creativity, and a commitment to the independent music scene. I think this is partly what’s enabled the success of previous years; the festival “works” for the most ardent underground music fan, as well as those seeking to discover something new.
We’re lucky to have some well established names like Joanna Gruesome and Johnny Foreigner on board, and a couple of acts we’ve been trying to persuade to join us for a few years (Admiral Fallow, Adem). There are so many new acts that I’m very excited about too, like Garden Centre (erratic indie-pop), Weddings (mathy guitar-pop), and Living Body (an experimental mix of pop and noise/drone). I’m also just excited to have a nice, fun weekend with my friends; ACPF tends to have a pretty good community and celebratory feel; I’m sure this will be helped along by our specially-brewed ‘A Carefully Planned Pale Ale’ (thanks Marble Brewery!) and our excellent after-party DJs. Hope some of you can make it along!
Golden Fable (Texture – Sunday – 18:40)
Golden Fable is the North Wales-based project of wife & husband duo Rebecca and Tim Joy. After years spent making instrumental music as the man behind Tim & Sam (and releasing an astonishingly good solo album as Honesty Box), Tim recruited Rebecca’s astonishing, choral vocal chords to front his mesmeric guitar playing, and Golden Fable was born.
Few bands are capable of tapping into the influence of nature in the way Golden Fable do, these are musical landscape paintings. Rebecca’s glacial vocal sitting atop the rich patterns Tim weaves, using pretty much any instrument he can lay his hands on. The duo have so far release two excellent albums, 2012’s Star Map and 2014’s Ancient Blue. While making plans for record number three (due next year), they’ve spent the last year releasing one single a month, showcasing different sides of the band’s sound, as well as reminding the world of their relentless creativity.
Cowtown (57 Thomas Street – Saturday – 22:00)
Leeds-based trio Cowtown have been making music for well over a decade, and are firm fixtures on the LS6 DIY-scene, but none the less they still seem to carry that feeling of excitement you normally only get with new bands. Take their excellent fourth record, Paranormal Romance, a collection of dynamic, driving and slightly deranged stripped back rock songs, it was as fun and exciting as any record we’ve heard this year, and it only lasted for twenty-three minutes.
Live Cowtown are a thrilling prospect, expressive, energetic and a whole lot of fun. They make a point of finding out what they enjoy about making music, and discarding all the other nonsense that comes with it, a pretty good attitude for a band we’re sure you’ll agree.
Garden Centre (Crown & Kettle – Saturday – 17:45)
Although ostensibly a vehicle for the songwriting of Max Levy (formely King Of Cats), Garden Centre are a Brighton-based supergroup of sorts consisting of members of Joanna Gruesome, Towell and probably some other news bands who’ve formed since Garden Centre did.
Garden Centre teamed up with the ever excellent label Faux Discx to release their self-titled debut album earlier this year. A collection of songs that took in indie-pop, punk and even some minimal folky moments, while the lyrics were loosely themed around, “the experiences and memories of a group of people who used to hang out in an abandoned plant nursery.” Unquestionably fun, and more subtly quite clever, Garden Centre might just be the weekend’s most intriguing act.
Oh Peas (Gullivers Downstairs – Saturday – 18:25)
Oh Peas is the pseudonym of Cardiff based bedroom-pop superstar, Rosie Smith. Rosie’s brilliantly titled album, Difficult Second Chair was one of our favourite releases of 2015, and she’s recently followed it up with a beautiful and poignant new EP, How To Come Back From The Total Annihilation of Yourself.
Oh Peas music is eclectic bedroom-pop; incorporating imaginative percussion, dextrous guitar work and melodies that are perfect in their simplicity. Lyrically too they’re fabulous, like Jeff Lewis or Adam Green before her, Rosie confronts the big issues in life, from death to heartbreak, without focusing on much beyond what she can see outside of her window. Oh Peas is part of a great lineage of slightly eccentric, idiosyncratic and brilliant Welsh songwriters, and one of the most unique propositions the weekend has to offer.
No Ditching (57 Thomas Street- Saturday – 20:00)
No Ditching are part of the currently fertile Durham punk-scene, featuring members from the likes of Martha, Fashanu, Jazz in My Pants, Bear Park and Esh Colliery Band. They’ve released a series of singles and EP’s, including a rather excellent 7″ earlier this year on Drunken Sailor Records.
No Ditching are arguably exactly the sort of band ACPF was set up to cater for, incredibly lo-fi, very DIY, their winning blend of hook-laden songs and punk attitude is the calling card of the current UK-underground scene. They’ve also written a song called, If You Hate Cats, You Die, which sounds like exactly our sort of thing.
Gorgeous Bully (Soup Kitchen – Saturday – 16:35)
A Carefully Planned Festival welcomes bands from all across the country, but we’d be remiss to not mention at least one Mancunian band worth keeping an eye on. Our pick of the bunch is Marc Riley endorsed and highly prolific minimal-popsters, Gorgeous Bully.
Considering it’s 2016, finding out anything about the band is oddly tricky, which is quietly refreshing in these times of constant self-promotion. A brush through their back catalogue suggests a couple of albums, a number of EPs, and a hell of a lot of stand alone tracks. Thankfully most of it is excellent, gentle meandering pop songs, with uneasy undercurrents, recalling The Goon Sax or Boys Forever. Gorgeous Bully might just be Manchester’s most exciting new band, and it’d almost be rude not to go see that.
A Carefully Planned Festival takes place this weekend at 9 venues across Manchester, click HERE for tickets (a very reasonable £20 for the whole weekend) and more details.