The weekend saw this year’s edition of Future Everything land in Manchester with a modern showcase of culture, music and art.
It was different from many festivals in its layout and organisation: spread out across a variety of venues over the city, you could buy tickets for individual events, days or the whole thing. Smaller events started on the Wednesday and continued with exhibitions even past the weekend.
The price tag of £240 for the weekend sounded steep in comparison to other festivals but the scale of the event seemed to justify this, you were never trying to push past 10,000 people to see what you wanted to see, everything was well organised and clear.
Shabazz Palaces were the first act I caught. They filled Islington Mill’s small stage with an incredible amount of pads and percussive instruments. Their music had an extra weight added to it in the live format and the musical elements of the performance were as tight as Seattle duo’s rapping. It was nice to see a festival where there weren’t an abundance of time clashes, every booking seemed genuinely hand picked for its quality.
The next two days were more art/culturally focused. Separate to the headline musical act of Amon Tobin’s ISAM performance, many had travelled quite a distance to be part of the conference which featured talks ranging from the compatability of Buddhism within contemporary city living to tribalism within football. What stood out mostly for me, however, was Matthew Herbert’s One Pig performance which seemed a perfect blend of everything the festival offered:
A wired cage stood in the middle of four musicians in lab coats. A drummer, a synth player and two others with a lot of hardware that was used for some quite extraordinary resampling. With the amount of information on the program about how pretty much everything on stage was made from a pig in some way or another, I was worried the performance would be gimmicky.
Thankfully this wasn’t the case. The story of the pig fell second place to an impressive score that moved through electronica to dubstep and techno infused grooves that sounded like someone had successfully crossed Animal Collective with a collective of animals. The wires of the pen were calibrated to different samples and effects which held a great amount of improvisation, even the players were impressed with some of the more radical sounds that filled the room. The cooking of some bacon – with plenty of herbs – next to a fan finally filled the room with an aroma that ensured every sense was tingled as Matthew Herbert sang us to a memorable close. It left me hungry for a lot more than just a bacon sandwich.
The Saturday finally saw Amon Tobin come up North. His AV show is of course at the forefront of visual mapping – I could listen to pretty much anything and remain engrossed if his stage was there – so it was nice to see an equally brilliant set alongside it.
The first half was 90% ISAM material, cinematic in style the audience clapped in between songs that were more played one after the other than mixed. Spontaneous applause broke out at many points before the Brazilian mastermind got out of his box to speak to the audience. He then returned back to his booth to switch things up a bit. The last forty minutes revolved around the drum and bass tempo with tracks from the likes of Phace and Noisia getting the audience moving. The way the set progressed from having you stood in disbelief, to dancing in full belief that Tobin is an electronic messiah, was truly spectacular.
Sadly what was a brilliant festival had a few hitches at the last hurdle. The closing party was unorganised, it saw people with full festival passes being told they had to pay individually for the event again. Between the promoters, the venue and what Future Everything had apparently said noone seemed to know what was going on. Paying in I was immediately disappointed to see Levon Vincent playing to a very quiet room through only his monitors. As the crowd began to build, chants of ‘turn it up’ finally got it turned up and the party turned on. Vincent seemed happy to see the audience wanting it and by the time Marcel Dettman got on stage for his 3 hour set the place was in the right state to give the festival the sending off it deserved.
Separate to the final mix up there were was really only praise for the innovative festival. If you’re the thinking man then you’d have found Future Everything’s intelligent blend of media immensely rewarding, and if you attended not as a thinking man, then by now you should hold the inspiration to be one.