Live Review: Fragment Festival at The Castle/Gullivers in Manchester 20/6/15

Manchester’s Fragment Festival – An all dayer in the heart of the NQ

Manchester’s Fragment Festival – An all dayer in the heart of the NQ

Waking up on Saturday morning, I wasn’t ready to tackle the day ahead. As my tongue finally separated itself from the roof of my mouth and my eyes became unglued, I managed to fall out of bed and make a start on looking to the day ahead. If this was a normal hangover day, with no plans ahead, I probably would’ve remained in bed till take-away beckoned. But this was the day of Manchester’s Fragment Festival – An all-dayer in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, featuring a wealth of rad bands and a forecast for fun times. The festival was onto a winner from the moment the first wave of bands were announced, boasting a stacked line-up across two great NQ venues for a cheap-as-chips sum.

The day officially started for me at The Castle, as Broken Skulls took to the stage. The two-piece, made up of two brothers from Yorkshire, were the perfect opener for my days activities. A slightly strained, howling vocal style complimented riffing, bluesy style guitar work and pounding drums. I wasn’t the only one whose head was nodding like a motherfucker. We were also treated to top patter in between songs and during minor niggles, which certainly helped things along as I sweated profusely through my This Town Needs Guns T-shirt (probably ruining it forever in the process.) Broken Skulls proved how great these festivals are for discovering new bands, and the rest of the day worked out great in that respect. I’ve seen the name before, so will definitely be checking them out next time they’re in Manchester.

Across the road at Gullivers, I sadly missed the last track from All The Best Tapes as I was having a shit downstairs. But let me tell you; if they sounded as good as what I could hear through the ceiling, they must be brilliant live. My buddy pretty much confirmed this when I resurfaced upstairs, so I was a touch gutted I missed it (but nature calls…)
Not long after this came instrumental quartet Waking Aida, who really were a mathy treat. As the pints flowed, the crowd were humorously invited to move closer to the stage in order to see the vast amount of pedals that were littered around. A brilliant set which seemed to fly by, such was the enjoyment had by all. I’m pretty sure they only played like four songs, but they were lengthy and it was wonderful stuff.

Over at The Castle again, I managed to squeeze into the packed room to catch Super Luxury, who were killing it. Featuring a drummer who was playing with such intensity he looked like he was going to explode and shouted, distorted vocals from the front man (which were in between bites of carrot on stage), the four-piece from Leeds were pure fucking awesome. Heaviness was the order of the day and the crowd were well into it too. Super Luxury did not help the giant patches of sweat that had appeared under my arms, but what a show! Keep an eye out on these pages for more from Super Luxury.

Maybe it was just the booze really kicking in, but Fawn Spots really fucking hit the…spot. A flurry of high octane, raw punk songs swimming with jangly guitars and machine gun drum hits. The front man and drummer lost articles of clothing as the room sweltered, both eventually losing their top halves altogether. The crowd were well into this, almost as much as the band, and greeted their set with much adoration. I find it great when a band is really into what they’re doing, and these dudes looked like they were having a great time. More of this, please. Yes!

At this point, I was rather pissed – An afternoon’s worth of Pale Ale’s was beginning to cloud my head, so the prog-laden heaviness of Body Hound pretty much destroyed my brain. I’ve seen these guys countless times and it’s always a treat. Gullivers was pretty rammed for Body Hound, and they really got the crowd into their set. A few minutes in, a friend showed me her phone which pretty much read “These guys are fucking meaty!” How can you argue with that?

Sadly, my time at Fragment Festival was nearing its end due to prior engagements (I had to return some video tapes), which meant the last band of the night fell with Falls. What a task! I’d caught up with Ben of Falls earlier in the afternoon at Delhi 2 Go, and the mood was a relaxed one (even if it took hours for your food to arrive…) But as their set began, chaos ensued. Possibly not as chaotic as usual, given the constraints of such a small venue, but chaotic none the less. Guest vocalists were involved (some not through choice) as the sweaty topless men careened around The Castle. One excited young man even got to have a bass strapped around his person, as lead vocalist Martin grinded up against him! Falls really are a great band and heaps of fun live. It’s terrific to see they’re doing pretty well at the minute (they’ve just bought a van!) and their manic set was a good end to a wonderful day.

A big shout to the Turn It Out boys and the folk at Super Smash Hit Records is in order, as well as the venues involved and all the bands that made the trip. I’m not sure what the crack is for the future of Fragment Festival; whether it’s a one off deal or to become an annual occasion. The Manchester all-dayer is a beautiful thing when it’s done right, and Fragment Festival had a terrific debut. Here’s to next year!

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