Roll up, roll up. The sun is out in Manchester finally, so, as we gear up for our inevitable one week chunk of helping of the summer sun, what better way to celebrate than to hastily assemble a festival for a weekend,? Well why not ?

The Hungry Pigeon Festival celebrated the cream of Manchester’s musical crop with a brand new breed of talent that even Simon Cowell wouldn’t be able to get his mitts on. Under the watchful gaze of the experienced bands Nine Black Alps and Misty’s Big Adventure - spanning over a huge number of Manchester gig venues (From Urbis and Piccadilly Gardens, to smaller venues such as Moho, Night and Day and Blink) from the very very good to the vaguely mediocre. Well, what can I say ? Us Mancunians may all be drunken violent criminals (Shocking stereotyping there!) but we do have a lot of amazing music. This much can be proven via Hungry Pigeon's dazzling representation of the newest signed and unsigned acts in the UK today.


The Whisky Cats

With a number of very talented bands performing at the free portion of the festival at Piccadilly Gardens, I began my gig crawl with the Whisky Cats. A quick thing to know about the Whisky Cats is is that they’re brilliant, and massively under-rated.

Now that I’ve regurgitated that last bit of bias there, we will get on with the review. The Whisky Cats present a fusion of rock, jazz and funky blues with a peculiar edge that pushes them out of the mainstream just enough to be overlooked, or so I believe. And the most important ingredient - jovial dancing. If you do not perform the aforementioned jovial dance you are breaking the law. The Whisky Cats perform their jubilant hearts out.

Although they may not be to everyone’s taste, they will definitely effect the vast majority of the crowd's legs - with mysterious looming ballad 'Locked Out Lover' to devious choruses in 'Amsterdam' with its picky guitars and soaring trumpets.

True showmen and performers, they really do embody the spirit of Manchester -without having to set foot near a maracha. Bez - take heed.


The Ten Bears

Returning to the main stage on Piccadilly Gardens we have Kings of Leon, Sorry, I mean the Ten Bears. No that’s harsh. “Generic indie guitar band” is always the first thing I think of when I listen to a….well, generic indie guitar band. But hopefully the Ten Bears can prove this stereotype wrong. And they sort of do.

The second half of their set is a lot better with much more definable songs. 'Charlie' is a brilliant song with an infectious chorus. Their lead singer, Sam Hammond, is also an impressive vocalist which really shapes the band's sound. Hotly tipped for 2009, I think this is a band that need more 'Charlies', however, to get through to the big time however. Best of luck to them. Overall they have a very charismatic stage presence.


The Travelling Band

Before shooting off to check out the rest of the festival, the last band I saw grace the stage at the Piccadilly Gardens was the absolutely delightful Travelling Band.

I only caught half of their set - but the Travelling Band presented the best stage presence on that stage. They sauntered along the stage and certainly look like they had just backpacked across the UK and stumbled into the festival. But the band's unique folk-edged, yet quite psychedelic sound is instantly uplifting. Look out for their best songs, ‘Only Waiting’ and ‘Invert’.


The Chuck Farthings

So we head on to The Dry Bar - and when we finally get in and enjoy some much needed alcoholic refreshment (and The Sports’ next door belting out a brilliant Pixies cover of 'Where is My Mind ?') we meet the Chuck Farthings.

The Chuck Farthings are younger than me and yet are performing at festivals already! Phew. Albeit little known Mancunian festivals, but it could be worse - they could be Lady Gaga. So, as you see, there is always a silver lining.

The Chuck Farthings are quite an unknown band, so here are the facts. Their influences rage from 60s to 80s nostalgia and their MySpace page is green. This is all I found out. They may need to hone their PR skills. Anyway as soon as they stepped up on stage all suited and (bought from Oxfam) booted with their lovely pearls and impossibly stylish outfits my ‘LONG BLONDES’ alarm resounded off all sides of my brain. But they sound more like Be Your Own Pet.

The thing that confused me was that their lead singer didn’t…sing. Not that much really. Was she merely fulfilling the Manc musical tradition as a ‘Bez’ to give the band personality and style ? Well…I don’t know. She did have a nice skirt on. But having a nice skirt on does not a great lead singer, make. The lads on either side of her however really brought the band's sometimes potentially great songs to life.

My friend beside me grumbled a lot, but I enjoyed them. Here's my advice to this band (Which they should absolutely not take as I know precious little about band managing but I’ll have a stab at it): Make the lead singer…sing. That might work out quite well for them. Think of all the greats…The Stones had Jagger, the Jimi Hendrix experience had…Jimi Hendrix, and, hell, all of the Beatles sang at some point. I want this band to do well as I think they are very talented musicians. Their style of course needs honing, but I really did like them. Here's their MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/chuckfarthing


The Maybes

The Dry Bar immediately fills up. Obviously very popular, the Maybes certainly do have a massive stage presence. One of the more established bands of the Hungry Pigeon Festival I’ve witnessed today, the Maybes already have a massively euphoric polished sound.

Reminiscent of the La’s (Well, they are from Liverpool after all) their soaring guitars and gravelly voiced lead singer, Nick Ellis, power their way through with ‘Talk about You’ and ‘Boys’. Their album ‘Promise’ is out now.


Gideon Conn

Onwards and upwards, after The Maybes up the bar on euphoric blitz we head on to the Blink Bar to sample the delightful yet modest Gideon Conn. Adorned in a Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip, we instantly know what to expect. Or do we ? Gideon Conn’s modest sounding vocals do not at all hinder from his dream-like hip hop tendencies, and he is quite possibly my favourite act of today.

He jumps into the crowd and we all congregate around him like alcohol-induced zombies, clawing at his inspiration and fantastically kind personality. Oh, and his hat. But he gets that back. A hip hop performer should never be parted with his hat.

His single 'Trademark' is available to listen to on Spotify so you better go and do that - because he’s such an amazing talent with such amusing self-realised lyrics that if you don’t listen to him on Spotify you’re very likely to establish some sort of illness. He’s that good.


Misty’s Big Adventure

If the night couldn’t get anymore deliriously entertaining I complete this review with Misty’s Big Adventure. Misty’s Big Adventure come complete with a giant orange monster with blue hands. I kid ye not.

For those of you not aware - Misty's Big Adventure are essentially the Flaming Lips with better props. And at times, songs. You can’t watch just half a Misty’s Big Adventure. This band literally tell a story throughout their set

With their mystical and loopy rhythms and absurd lyrics, you’d be a fool to leave early. Even if you do miss your train home, it’s worth it to see Misty's Big Adventure perform such brilliant pop songs such as 'Serious Thing' and 'Fashion Parade'. If there is anything a Manc band can teach you, it is never overlook percussion instruments. You saw what Bez did for this town.


So there you have it. Manchester are still as vibrant and brimmed with talent as we were back in the days of the Buzzcocks and Joy Division. We’ve just added a splash of colour now, and so that must prove that we are surely now indestructible. And also proof that Gideon Conn is king. A vibrant and joyous festival without the need for muddy wellies. Get in.


The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Sophie Hall.













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