Idles performing at the O2 Ritz. Credit: Adam England

The opportunity to catch performances from the likes of Peace, Rat Boy, Superfood and INHEAVEN all in the same day is not one that comes around too often, so when this year’s line-up for Neighbourhood Festival was announced, it’s fair to say that fans of indie and alternative music got a little excited.

The one-day festival was held across twelve Manchester venues, spanning the length and breadth of the city, which on October 7th became a sea of bucket hats, shell jackets and Doc Martens – an indie pilgrimage of sorts.

Kicking off proceedings were Stockport indie-pop five-piece Blossoms, performing an exclusive acoustic set with Joe Duddell and the RNCM ensemble. Frontman Tom Ogden and bassist Charlie Salt shared vocal duties, with the remainder of the band sitting upstairs; much to the elation of fans who thought only two-fifths of the band were present. Songs such as ‘Honey Sweet’ and ‘Charlemagne’ are fast becoming indie classics, and although the acoustic nature of the performance meant a more mellow crowd, it was still a performance of the high quality we’ve come to expect from Ogden and co.

While waiting for Peace’s set, festival-goers had a few options, with bands such as Neon Waltz, The Blinders and Bad Sounds all playing across the city. However, it was IDLES, bringing their brand of angry, political post-punk to the O2 Ritz who drew one of the larger crowds during the time slot. The queue to the venue stretched a reasonable distance – festival security had their work cut out keeping it moving in an orderly fashion. Once inside, IDLES was well worth the wait, playing a lively, animated set including ‘Well Done’ and ‘White Privilege’ as the obligatory mosh pits formed in the crowd.

Peace, undoubtedly one of the more highly anticipated bands on the bill, attracted a sizeable crowd two years on from their last tour. Albert Hall was rocking with an electric atmosphere as the foursome took to the stage, joined by Sam Doyle from the Maccabees to help the injured Dom Boyce with drumming duties. The set kicked off with fan-favourite ‘Lovesick’ from debut In Love, before live staples such as ‘California Daze’, ‘Lost on Me’, the sprawling ‘1998 (Delicious)’ and the ever-groovy ‘Bloodshake’ closing the set. Peace are well and truly back – it feels like they really left.

Between Peace and fellow headliners Rat Boy, there was a cornucopia of bands on offer. Of course, this led to some infuriating clashes and tough decisions to be made. Giving just one example, Anteros, Black Honey and INHEAVEN were all performing simultaneously, despite there being a great deal of crossover between fans of the three bands. In the end, we made the difficult decision to see Anteros, in part by virtue of them performing in the Factory venue, the former home of the iconic Factory Records. This decision was fast justified, as Anteros not only played favourites such as ‘Breakfast’ and the ‘Blondie-esque’ ‘Drunk’ but also treated the audience to a couple of new songs.

By the time Anteros’ set had finished, the city started to get dark, and the queues for venues were getting longer as people wanted to avoid the cold and rain. This lead to many of us getting turned away from the likes of Superfood due to the risk of overcrowding, and by this time, those not local to the area had to start thinking about transport home. Regardless, the music continued until late with Declan McKenna, Clay, indie stalwarts The View and Rat Boy, meaning that festival-goers all got their money’s worth.

For a festival only in its second year, Neighbourhood has been able to attract a remarkable line-up, and based on this evidence, will only get better.

Roll on 2018!

By Adam England

One thought on “NBHD Festival 2017: A Review

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