Even the most casual music fan will be familiar with Manchester’s role in British music history: The Smiths, Joy Division, The Stone Roses – the list goes on – are all synonymous with the city. But on arrival in Manchester you’ll soon realise that the city isn’t one to rest on its laurels and just bang on about its past all the time. Instead, it’s alive with a multitude of mini music scenes and communities, from the electronic and avant-garde to punk and hardcore. Not that it cares much for genre, either.
The independent spirit of Manchester’s music scene is perhaps best encapsulated by Sounds from the Other City festival, which takes place every May Bank Holiday and brings together several of Manchester and Salford’s DIY promoters to programme a madcap day (and night) of music, art and parties. For newcomers to the city, SFTOC offers a snapshot view of the kinds of gigs you can expect here: from bone-crunching drone courtesy of promoters/record labels like Bad Uncle and Golden Lab, to skilled songwriters showcased by stalwart promoters Hey! Manchester via ambient electronica from Gizeh Records and more.
When it comes to classical and contemporary music, Manchester occupies a key position on the international map – thanks in part to institutions like the Royal Northern College of Music and Chetham’s School of Music (as well as several high-profile resident orchestras like the Hallé and the BBC Philharmonic), but also to its many contemporary and new music ensembles, like Psappha. The annual FutureEverything festival is a pioneering exploration of the frontiers where tech and digital meet art and sound, now globally recognised having been founded in Manchester 20 years ago. And finally, it’s only a short train ride out of the city to Huddersfield, which every November hosts Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, one of Europe’s leading festivals of adventurous music and sonic art.
Whatever you’re in the mood for, you can find a gig or concert to attend with The Skinny.