BBC Manchester Introducing's team of contributors were out and about on Sunday at In The City to capture some of the bands playing the event.
The intimacy of the Bay Horse proved a minor disaster for Sara Schiralli, as the ever present audience during sound check clearly affected her nerves. Halfway into the first number, she called a halt saying that the sound wasn't right. A quick fix from the sound engineer didn't placate her, as she continued to labour her point. Sadly, her music revealed if there was conflict, it wasn't technical but musical. A little more cohesion and a sense of direction would have made for a sublime performance, but a sour taste of unprofessionalism spoiled any lasting positive memory.
Soaring and powerful vocals, inspiring harmonies and sublime melodies; what wasn't to love? Feldspar managed to walk that difficult line between melancholy and aspiration without ever using their music to dictate an absolute feeling of either. This was a master class in subtle nuance with repeated beautiful emotional blows. When someone is able to lay out their soul for all to see, but has the musical ability, knowledge and skill to back it up, you can't really ask for more. An absolute must see; simple as that.
Butler-Williams present themselves as uber-casual, but their music is anything but. Essentially a two piece acoustic percussion band, some guitars, tambourines, a bass drum and a weird "sci-fi thing" were all these two guys needed to light up a room. Melancholic and restrained to start, they made informed and effective use of their instrumental array, with their guitar-led ballads taking us on introspective musical journeys, never erupting into the trap of catchy-chorus for pop's sake, the music led at all times.
- Bar 38, 7.20pm (Chris Long)
Gallops are heavy stuff, which they promise will be heavier the next time they play tonight, later at Electric Boogaloo. Hopefully, by then, they'll be a bit tighter too, as this show felt under-rehearsed and over-excited. They just about manage to stay in shape long enough to make a passable impression on the crowd, but in truth, they didn't show any of the reasons why they're much talked about at the moment.
If style, passion and desire to give everyone a good time meant anything, Asakusa Jinta would be world-beaters. Instead, they come across as Japan's surf-ska-pop version of the Mos Eisley canteen band in Star Wars. Full marks though for the see-through double bass, double necked guitar, mountains of shiny brass and acres of smiling energy on show, which meant their lack of excellence at least came coated in fun.
Battling against the traditionally awful sound of Chicago Rock Café, which tonight came with awful lighting too, Dutch Uncles still managed to show themselves to be an angular, artistic and awesome prospect. Indeed, they had the first real dancing crowd of the night and even managed a couple of head-bobs out of a smiling Steve Lamacq.
An average band playing average tunes filled with average ideas, Dirty Goods defined ordinary at Electric Boogaloo. It was a struggle to remember any of their tracks within moments of them finishing, as the soulless electro-pop of it all simply pushed along pointlessly. They were aiming to sound stadium but failed even to be pub.
- Cellar Vie, 8.45pm (CL)
Introducing herself twice as 'a local Manchester act', it was obvious that Envy wasn't entirely comfortable with the unresponsive audiences of In The City's industry delegates. Little surprise really, as her stunning delivery and slick blend of biting lyrics and cutting humour are worthy of much more than the little head-bobbing they got. She might not have understood the crowd in front of her, but that didn't stop her giving them one of the treats of the night.
A difficult band to place, seemingly out of sorts in In The City, as words like '80s', 'California Dreams', 'Bryan Adams' and unfortunately 'Pub band' sprang to mind. Complete with over familiar family fan crowd, all could have been forgiven were it not for the unfortunate cringe worthy inclusion of a sing-a-long chorus. It felt like a little bit of the X-Factor's rousing mini-stories had managed to sneak its way onto the bill. Sure, who is to say what types of music should and shouldn't be part of ITC, certainly not me. Musically, she is a talent; great vocals, sassy and a great songwriter; it's just she comes with songs that feel more at home in a Jonas Brothers movie, rather a Manchester music festival.
One of the buzz bands of this year's ITC, May 68 drew not only a packed crowd but a decent sized bank of photographers to Studio. Small wonder then that nerves jangled at the start for them, but they soon found their stride and shone in the spotlight, showing just why they have become big news around Manchester in recent months.
- Chicago Rock Café, 9.30pm (CL)
Some bands have it, that essence that sets them apart and raises them above the ordinary. Others are like London's Language, who according to their hype, came together to soundtrack sex films. Sadly, that's the most interesting thing about them, as their meshing of obvious 80s references with plodding electro-rock lacked so much conviction, even the band didn't look like they really enjoyed.
Liverpool's Liberty Vessels may well be the first In The City band ever to announce that they "need to get up for school in the morning". Perhaps that might not be the case for much longer, as the four 15 year olds could need a break from their studies to deal with a music career, if the melody, passion and promise of this nervous set is anything to go by. If this is them barely out of puberty, they could be world class after a few broken hearts.
Australians Yves Klein Blue inhabit the gnat's breadth space between The Libertines and Babyshambles - with a touch of Razorlight thrown in for good measure - and while they do it well, that fact makes them ultimately a bit pointless. That said, if their guitarist spends more time on writing some original riffs and less on throwing more shapes than a tantruming toddler, they could yet turn into a band worth having.
Delayed by both a late stage set-up and, as they say in Formula One, a guitarist's 'comfort break', Cate Le Bon was under pressure to impress. As expected, the Welsh rising star did just that, pushing out her delicious 'Super Furries meets Black Box Recorder' pop and intoxicating the audience with a well-woven wealth of whimsy and wonderment.
In a matter of months, Lost Knives have gone from a nervous new band to powerful potential stars and their showcase set showed why. Swelling with confidence and energy with every song, they've added an Arcade Fire feeling to their brooding sound, making them even more vital, vibrant and vociferous than ever before. Fresh from a session for the
BBC's Electric Proms
, tonight they were on fire.
It's a brave band that makes their live debut as headliners and that's even more so when that headline slot is part of In The City, but The Switch took such pressure easily. There were a couple of hitches that could have flicked them off, but they strode across them to produce a powerful show, topped off with a fine swirling, dizzying performance by front woman Caz. There were nerves, but there were also thrills as a new set of Mancunian stars were born.
Follow the links in the band names above to listen to them online at their websites.