LIVE: A Carefully Planned Festival #5 @ Manchester

By Ashley Partridge

Manchester’s A Carefully Planned Festival celebrated its 5th edition with gusto over 17th/18th October. I managed to sample the eclectic mix of delights on the first night by dashing around five of the nine venues, like a headless chicken with an SLR camera. It’s the brainchild of Matthew Boycott-Garnett and run with help of a small army. Here’s a handful of my experiences from Saturday…

Hannah Lou Clark

Hannah Lou Clark @ Soup Kitchen

Feisty, grungy songstress Hannah Lou Clark had shades of Joan Jett on a relaxed day. She commanded a huddle of people with the help of her trusty drum machine Lucy Brown. Her songs were tender, lovely and made several couples hold hands. If I cared enough about my girlfriend to have invited her I’d have totally told her she looked pretty decent or something. That’s how inspiring Hannah was. She wasn’t afraid to rock and channelled a sultry, bluesy cool that made my drunk Scouse mate tell everyone she was really good.

Butcher the Bar @ Mint

Butcher the Bar suffered from being in an awkward venue that normally acts as a dance club. The result was a crowd half-heartedly gazing at their subdued indie that riffed on late 90s Pavement. It was ok but not attention-grabbing and the low-level chatter did little to inject energy into the performance.

Personal Best @ Gulliver’s

Goddamn this was fun. Lead singer and guitar-shredderette Katie Gatt led Personal Best through a sweaty, bouncy slice of girly punk about relationships. If Hannah Lou Clark made me want to tell my girlfriend she’s nice, then Personal Best made me want to get a new girlfriend and take her to Devon for a week. There was a delightful atmosphere around them that captured that feeling of innocence most of us lost a long time ago.

Best Friends.

Best Friends @ Soup Kitchen

Uniformly-clad in tight jeans and white tees, Best Friends impeccably stumbled through a surf punk extravaganza that made Surfer Blood jealous.  Their bouncy jams, glittering guitar and nonchalant cool would have fit perfectly in Manchester’s heyday. It all blended through Shaun Ryder haircuts to create a coherent aesthetic. There’s a lot of pretenders to that early 90s throne but Best Friends are the real deal. Sod your Stone Roses tribute act; get this lot in.

Hindsights, looking sad.

Hindsights @ Night and Day

Berkshire misery boys Hindsights got a bit of a raw deal. They sounded utterly fantastic and swung themselves around the stage with desperate energy but the gaggle of a crowd was far too hipstery for them. I could tell they were giving it their all and they deserved much better than they received. Hindsights tread the well-worn post-hardcore path but do it exceptionally well. Definitely worth checking out for their blend of sadness, melodies and noise.

The Jelas @ The Castle

The Jelas have a sound I can best describe as noisy wonk-rock. I wasn’t sure whether to be impressed by their ability to play around with different rhythms and time signatures or confused. It was technically accomplished but it felt like one for the thinking-man’s crowd.

Worriedaboutsatan. Picture this for 30 minutes.

Worriedaboutsatan @ Soup Kitchen

Two blokes. Two laptops. One guitar. Weird arthouse shit projected onto a wall behind them. Some people swayed, possibly experiencing a higher plane of existence or maybe just being high. I can’t really be sure. It was ambient stuff and I left pretty quickly.

The Spook School @ Gulliver’s

Spook School are further proof that Scotland has the best music. From Del Amitri to Mogwai to Belle and Sebastian to Murderburgers, it’s a country that produces fantastic sounds. This Edinburgh quartet totally brought me right back up for the evening. Poppy, quirky and full of delightful vocal harmonies that rival seeing The Breeders. There’s a delightfully kitsch garage sound to them that gives it all a raw edge. Ruddy fantastic.

Credit has to go to the organisers for making A Carefully Planned Festival run so smoothly. Some nice people in bands had nice things to say.

Miles, bassist for Hindsights:

“It’s a nice eclectic mix of bands and it’s nice to see the venues of Manchester being used properly. Manchester’s just Manchester. It knows it’s cool and I love the vibe. The organisation has been 11 out of 10. Matt has really pulled it off. The fact that all the stages have been running on time is amazing.”

Kate, vocalist / guitar shredderette for Personal Best:

“I really like the vibe. I don’t know Matt but he obviously cares loads about what he’s doing and it must be a right fucking headache so massive respect for that. Everyone’s been really friendly and it’s really well organised. There’s been someone to meet you, to tell you where to put your things and to give you beer tokens. Just really nice, isn’t it?”