City Life - By Katie Popperwell | Tue, 09 June, 2009 ...


LOCAL DIY music conference UN-Convention had good reason to make a lot of noise, arriving hot on the heels of a proclamation of the death of the Manchester music scene from London-centric scenesters gospel The NME.

Thankfully the rumours of its death have been greatly exaggerated.

The grassroots music scene in Manchester is alive and kicking, and went to prove it with a three frolicsome days of animated debate and performances, closing with a triumphant set from indie stalwarts I Am Kloot on Saturday night.

Set up by Fat Northerner Records and designed to promote and debate all areas of independent music, from funding to recording, production to promotion, UN-Convention is now in its second year.

Australia, Chicago and India

The committed indie festival is in danger of becoming an industry in itself, with UN-Convention Swansea and Barcelona due this year and plans in the pipeline to take it to Australia, Chicago and India.

The majority of the weekend played out in the august surroundings of the Sacred Trinity Church in Salford, where the exorbitantly vivid Everything Everything headlined Thursday’s opening night.

They wowed a keen crowd of musicians, promoters, managers, label reps and plain old music lovers with their inimitable brand of elaborate pop.

They followed a lively artist panel hosted by John Robb and featuring Peter Hook, Fiona Daniel of the Whip and Pete Jobson of I am Kloot among other familiar faces.

Thunderstorm mid-set

There were also performances from local singer-songwriter Jamie Finlay, who gives new meaning to the phrase northern soul, the ramshackle and eccentrically Confederate Loose Salute, and a characteristically soporific set from post-rock shoegazers Kyte.

Things hotted up on Saturday, June 6, when even the sunshine deigned to put in an appearance for Manchester’s leading troubadour Liam Frost, only to give way to a thunderstorm that forced him indoors mid-set, an inconvenience cheerfully borne for giving everyone the opportunity to have a nice sit down.

Sundown was accompanied by a burly performance from Wrexham post-rock quartet Gallops; conjuring a hardcore instrumental wall of sound that’s unafraid of segueing into moments of digital funk or synth-based psychedelic horseplay, they had the early evening crowd in raptures.

Knicker-flashing rampage

Arthur Delaney was followed by the hotly tipped Kasms, whose knicker-flashing rampage of a set easily justified the hype. Magic Arm beguiled the night to an end with a well-received outing that included a rousing LCD Soundsystem cover played on a guitar held together with strips of gaffer tape.

The final day of panels on Saturday saw writer and Killing Joke drummer Martin Atkins fully on board with the festival’s ethic: '‘It’s ****ing awesome,'’ he enthused.

‘'There’s so much s**t that passes as a voice in the music business, just people waffling on about something, but this just feels like its cutting to the essence of what people need to hear.’'

Heart-stopping closing set

The closing party in the big room at Blueprint Studios saw Arch Nazards make a considerable impression, along with Sisters Of Transistors, The Tombots and Fangs, whose combination of Goldfrapp-esque posturing and post-punk riffs went down a treat

I am Kloot’s heartstopping closing set was the final proof, if any were needed, that Manchester’s indie music scene is capable of producing and nurturing talent like nowhere else.

And long may it continue.