Conferences don’t have the best reputation in Manchester right now (cheers Rishi and your crowd, who have been reliably terrorising our bars and streets for the last week). But next week, we’ve got a better crowd en route for a wayward weekend of fun and excellent music, but more crucially, a flagship opportunity to steer the music industry from somewhere that isn’t London.
Beyond The Music comes with an incredible repertoire of talks and networking events, but your priorities will likely fluctuate depending on whether you’re an artist, a scout, a creator, a manager, the list goes on because BTM have definitely got something to interest everyone.
Likewise, the spectrum of artists performing across Friday and Saturday, as well as Thursday’s Music for Everyone free fest, presented by Lush, has something for everyone. But in case you needed a little direction, here are our humble tips.
Walt Disco – Friday, Gulliver’s
Art-pop icons Walt Disco have been innovating away as long as they’ve been around, culminating in last year’s release of their long-awaited debut album ‘Unlearning’. Even though their first full-length is recent, Walt Disco first emerged in 2018 as guitar indie waned and our appetites for something a bit sexier grew, and since then they’ve continued to develop their addictive, intense sound and stage presence.
Frozemode – Friday, AATMA
One of the Northern Quarter’s better kept secrets, AATMA one of those golden spots that you only find by walking down a back alley on a friend’s sketchy directions and thinking surely not before hearing the sound of your new favourite artist and 149 likeminded people going wild.
Frozemode will be the new favourite artist in question – they’re relatively fresh faces, but already they’re refusing to pander to the hype. Their best track yet, ‘Stick Dat’, is a ferocious punk-rap cut that literally tells people to get lost if their interest is only piqued now that Frozemode are getting hints of success – so you better be there, and be genuine.
cruush – Thursday, AATMA
LUSH’s Music for Everyone day may have been specially curated to make sure that the artists give you the same sort of squeezing headrush that you get when you walk into their stores and test the smell of too many bath bombs, because cruush are dizzying, delicious, dense and dreamy shoegaze that’ll have you drifting into another world in no time. Their combination of soft atmospherics and deep, dark industrial textures are truly intoxicating, and can only improve when you immerse yourself in it live.
Tokky Horror – Saturday, Night & Day Cafe
Night & Day Cafe is a positive institution in Manchester – in the midst of a fierce fight with the council for their licence, thanks to a neighbour who moved in during COVID then was shocked that living above a live music venue meant they heard live music sometimes, the outcry from the local scene has been even further above the decibel limit. They housed My Chemical Romance’s first UK show ever, and have been a hotbed for new alt talent long before, and long after – as well as being a hub for the city’s fizzing queer alt scene.
Tokky Horror are at the forefront of that very scene, with their intuitive electropunk; they follow the music where it takes them, and on Saturday, at N&D, that’s going to be a very exciting place.
Aziya – Friday, Gulliver’s
“I produce songs that I would want Debbie Harry to sing, Prince to co-produce, and John Bonham to drum on,” says Aziya’s bio. Bold, but justified – with her slate of legends pushing her forward, Aziya creates pop music on a far greater scale than the modest size of the room at Gulliver’s. Her vocal performance alone delivers the whole spectrum of emotion, from angst and rage to hope or hopelessness, and her deft production rounds out the world she’s building.
Beyond The Music runs between October 11th – 14th.
Words: Ims Taylor