live review from the frontline
May 20/22

Spending a weekend at a new festival, with only my own company to entertain me may not sound like an ideal basis for a good weekend. So I arrived at Friends Of Mine Festival on Saturday morning with a slight sense of pessimism for the next couple of days. The weather was looking”¦ err”¦ okay and I’d forgot the pegs for my tent so I weighed it down with my bags inside, praying it would last the day.

First stop of the day was a short chat with Liverpudlian group, SLiDE who played the previous day early on in the evening “It was good yeah, we had a good turnout” lead singer Alex tells me, “we got about 50/60 people there.” If there’s one thing that I’d discovered from FOM Fest within the first hour is that it’s so different to other festivals. I’d realised it wasn’t just about making a profit or having the best bands, it gave these smaller bands the chance. This group of lads weren’t particularly successful yet, but they were working hard and above all enjoying themselves. It’s not often you get a decent group of lads who really sound like they know the direction they’re going. I can’t comment on the set as I arrived late, but the stuff recorded is certainly worth checking out. In their own words, they’re music takes direct influence from “The Sex Pistols, The Who and Oasis”.

Later I make my way to the Satellite Stage to watch Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly. It’s such a strange atmosphere surrounding the festival’s main stage. If you go to Glastonbury, all day there are constant swarms of people as far as you can see. If you go to Leeds/Reading, there is never an empty spot within 200 metres. But as I sit on the floor watching Sam Duckworth and his band, I’m literally looking at small groups sat down on picnic rugs dotted all over the field. Once you get over the fact it looks extremely odd, you kind of warm to the atmosphere and seeing such bands in a chilled out and relaxed atmosphere really adds to the feel of the festival. It’s the complete antithesis of what a main stage is usually like at festivals, but I loved it. Perhaps that is what makes Friends Of Mine so friendly. Perhaps this is evidence of the festival developing its originality and unique aspect so early in its journey.

A highlight of the day, early on in the evening was Dutch Uncles, playing a mixture from their self-titled debut and their latest record, Cadenza. Lead singer Peter Broadhead with stage presence similar of David Byrne provided sufficient entertainment at The Big Top Stage. It honestly was a magic moment of the day.

A severe anti-climax came at the end of the day with The Cribs. They came onstage with roars from the crowd and drew the biggest crowd I’d seen yet, but somehow looked as if they couldn’t care less about being there. With Johnny Marr absent due to recently leaving the band, perhaps feelings were a bit negative in the Jarman camp, despite Gary stating “This is the last song we wrote with Johnny”¦ don’t always believe what you read. That’s all I’ll say”. The sound was weak, Ryan Jarman’s usual stomping energy seemed to be lacking, and the crowd were, dare I say it, a bunch of wankers.

It was at this point I bumped into Sam Duckworth from Get Cape, Wear Cape- oh you know the rest. He mentioned he was going to the Capesthorne Arms see an artist named Gideon Conn. Admittedly, I had never heard of him but decided to join him and his friends anyway, just out of interest. What I witnessed was absolutely fantastic. The man on stage was a dull looking figure looking out onto the crowd with eyes full of innocence towards the rear of the small tent. I followed Sam towards the front of the stage and he leant closer to me and said “This will blow your mind!” I watched as this childlike man smiled towards the audience as if to say “I can’t believe you’re all here for me.” As he started my initial feelings were that it was so obscure and odd, but once you listened to the lyrics I realised it was incredibly sweet, witty and absolutely hilarious. During his set he was joined by members of The Travelling Band who played a cover of Outkast’s “Ms Jackson”. Conn leapt into the crowd and the atmosphere in the tent was phenomenal. Sam turned round to his friends, then at me and simply smiled. He was right, I was blown away. It’s so rare to find such a talent in a young person you’ve never heard of before and take to them straight away. He portrays himself with such innocence and integrity that you can’t help but watch every single move he makes. This man needs recognition. Like a young Daniel Johnston, he didn’t need to appeal to a direct audience. He’s a very rare talent indeed.

That night I had a troubled sleep. I think everyone found it hard sleeping through the borderline storm of a night. But all in all, everyone seemed to survive, which is the main thing. We were of course greeted with severe winds, but hey, that’s all part of the festival atmosphere. The British always treat festivals with high regard despite the weather conditions and it certainly didn’t ruin the day. Toro y Moi played to a limited amount of people but played a fantastic set. They really are an underrated band and they just lacked the audience.

Yuck played the Lake Stage at 19:15 and absolutely wowed the crowd, drawing people in from die-hard fans to passers by. Mid-set, Daniel Blumberg shouted towards the main stage “Turn the funk down!” directed at ”ËœA Certain Ratio’ which invoked laughter from the crowd, “Not that we dislike the funk or anything”¦” They played their usual set consisting of their pop melody based album tracks and finished with the thrashing sound of ”ËœRubber’. That really was the highlight of the Sunday for me. I still can’t get over this band. They consistently put in a good performance and don’t change for anyone. I’m feeling really optimistic for how their live set may grow in the future and how they are going to develop as a band. The Fall, as ever, play incredibly well. Unfortunately I missed the last half of the set as I left early. I would love to see them play a full set one day.

The festival as a whole had a wonderful atmosphere and I enjoyed the two days I was there thoroughly. Perhaps as the festival grows and it gains a name for itself it will draw an even bigger crowd. It’s not often you get a new festival, and it’s about time Manchester gets one. Here you go Manchester. The world is your oyster. Make Friends Of Mine Festival your own.

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Manchester-based writer and promoter. Currently putting on gigs for Glass Onion. Contact me at Follow me at @JDNicol.


  1. Great review Josh! Shame about The Cribs, maybe just an off day! I liked your little conclusion too :D


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