Manchester Various Venues

At least Manchester only had to put up with it for four days...

Saturday night. The ‘industry’ people are In The City. And, within the confines of the Ten Bar, [a]Morning Star[/a] – Bolshevik rhetoric/rousing early-[a]Oasis[/a] tunes – are making a good stab at disturbing them.

Meanwhile, over at Jam, Norwegians XPLODING PLASTIX – two nutcases with lots of small boxes and a terrible name – are offering upheaval of a different kind. Theirs is a big, disorienting future-jazz racket, splicing DJ Food‘s mad drums, Aphex Twin‘s time signatures and The Herbaliser‘s moodiest, cinematic bits. Awesome.

A semi-acoustic SLEEPWALKER, all lingering harmonies and brushed drums, provide a more serene start to Sunday evening at the Roadhouse. Unlike angular art-rockers FRAFF at Generation X. A unique proposition in these homogenised times, they mix Wire, Blue Aeroplanes and Jonathan Fire-Eater into unpredictable tunes.

Outside of the unsigned acts, the entertainment on offer at In The City is pretty limited. So, Monday starts with a trip to catch ALFIE at Twisted Nerve‘s Cine City bash. It’s well worth it. Each time they play these days, a different facet of their sound is teased out. Tonight, they’re, simultaneously, lissom and beefy, delicate guitars scooting along, and making sense of all those Stone Roses comparisons.

We miss BADLY DRAWN BOY performing ‘Once Around The Block’ and recreating his Mercury acceptance speech – as all his Manc thank yous had been edited out on telly – but hot-foot it back to catch DAKOTA OAK TRIO at Solomon Grundy‘s. “We’re not as pretty or charismatic as Alfie,” quips Dave Tyack, but they post-rock with the best of them. We’re showered with with bursts of punchy, lo-fi riffage, Tyack a blur at his drumkit.

Strangely, the unsigned bands part of ITC is no longer a competition (how PC), so at the closing party at the Comedy Store, three of the unsigned acts and, inexplicably, ELBOW play. Guy Garvey voice’s is gorgeous. Not that many people are taking any notice. After all, this is a business conference for the biggest bullshitters on the planet. At least Manchester only had to put up with it for four days, it’s those Londoners you’ve got to feel sorry for.