Strange Waves 2016 Review

What do you get when you mix various musicians, a hand full of DJs, sweltering heat and enough beer to kill a large heard of cows? Well Strange Waves of course! The lovechild of Manchester promoters Strange Days and Now Wave, this new metropolitan festival promised punters the best in up-and-coming music. Topped by psych-garage rockers King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Strange Waves certainly had all the right ingredients. But should it become an annual staple in Manchester’s music calendar? We at Nothing Left Unsaid decided to head down and see what all the buzz was about.

Beginning the night was Manchester’s very own Charlotte Cannon, who was opening up The Ritz’s basement stage. Up in the main ballroom, Methyl Ethel’s spaced out dream pop was filling the air with infectious precision. Almost channelling shoegaze at points, Methyl Ethel’s set was powerful and spiritual.

Back down at the basement stage was London punk outfit Shame. Praised by the likes of Loud & Quiet and NME, Shame have already been making quite a name for themselves. Beginning on Tasteless, Shame erupt with energy and uncontrollable power. As frontman Charlie Steen howls like Ellery James Roberts of LUH and WU LYF fame, he slaps his face like a man hell bent on his own destruction. Climbing up speaker stacks and making his way into the crowd, Steen is one of the most fascinating and primal frontmen around at the moment. The spoken word The Lick is unforgettable as Steen rolls off line after line, with the rest of the band clanging away and enveloping the crowd in their menacing sound.

strange-waves-scandals8-3Photo by Saesha Blue Ward, https://www.instagram.com/saeshablue/

Described as a “love song of sorts” by Steen, Shame proceeded to play a track about everyone’s favourite lady. “Theresa May, won’t you let me stay, just for one more day” is sung around the basement, whilst everyone sways their arms to the sound of post-Brexit blues. With Steen finishing the set shirtless, and donning a rainbow coloured feather boa and sunglasses, Shame end as they started. Visceral and engaging, Shame aren’t just a success for Strange Waves but also for UK music.

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Photo by Saesha Blue Ward, https://www.instagram.com/saeshablue/

The Big Moon followed Methyl Ethel in the main ballroom, playing fan favourites Cupid and Silent Movie Susie. Meanwhile Madrid heroes The Parrots were closing the basement with unprecedented chaos. Tracks such as Let’s Do It Again and No me gustas, te quiero had fans crowd-surfing and absolutely losing themselves in the moment.

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Photo by Saesha Blue Ward, https://www.instagram.com/saeshablue/

Headliners King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard were up next, and what a performance they gave. Starting on Nonagon Infinity’s Robot Stop, King Gizzard played over half of the album without stopping. After a blistering twenty-five minutes, which saw the 7-piece play Robot Stop, Big Fig Wasp, Gamma Knife, People-Vultures and Mr Beat, King Gizzard announced that they’d be playing some new tracks. Going by the names The Balrog, Lord of Lightening and Crumbling Castle, these tracks are sure to turn up on the band’s inevitable 2nd 2016 release.

The collective I’m In Your Mind, I’m Not In Your Mind and Cellophane came along and melted the brains of everyone in The Ritz. Invoking mass hysteria, the audience was a sea of flailing limbs and manic screams. King Gizzard were causing utmost carnage and it was spectacular. Even Trap Door from their acoustic album Paper Mâché Dream Balloon had everyone goggle-eyed and insane.

Ending on the rest of Nonagon Infinity, with Quarters!River thrown in for good measure, King Gizzard showcased why they are considered one of the industry’s most hard working bands. Not only do they have a prolific output of material, but they also back it up with an incredible live show. They’re truly remarkable.

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Photo by Saesha Blue Ward, https://www.instagram.com/saeshablue/

Ending the whole night was everyone’s favourite surf-rockers, The Wytches. Showcasing tracks off of their upcoming album, All Your Happy Life (released 30th September), Kristian Bell & co didn’t hold back. The new material sees the band at the heaviest they’ve ever been, with the recent addition of new fourth member Mark Breed certainly adding another dynamic to the group. Even older tracks such as Digsaw and Wide At Midnight have received the more heavier treatment, giving them a new lease of life. Twisted, wicked and downright amazing, The Wytches proved once again that they are a formidable live act.

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Photo by Saesha Blue Ward, https://www.instagram.com/saeshablue/

So was the Strange Waves a success? In short, yes. It’s a night to celebrate the work that Strange Days and Now Wave do for the city. Week after week, they both bring in the best names in music to Manchester. Without them, Manchester’s music scene wouldn’t be the same. So here’s to another year of amazing gigs and Strange Waves 2017.

Liam Egan

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