Sounds From The Other City

April 20, 2019

15 DAYS TIL SFTOC: A Sounds retrospective

The best day of the year is just around the corner – yes, we’re only 15 days away from Sounds from the Other City 2019! For our 15th year, we’re having a Quindecennial party at Regent’s Trading Estate which will take in the best of every Sounds to date and condense it into a super concentrated one-off festival: we can’t wait to welcome you. Before we start looking forward over the course of our 15 day countdown though, we thought it best to take a look back as to how we got to where we are today with a quick recap of every SFTOC to date. Whether you’ve been to every one, or have only popped along only once or twice, every has their own favourite Sounds memories – something we’re sure our Quindecennial will make many, many more of.

Tickets are almost completely gone for Sounds from the Other City 2019 – the last few are available through Skiddle. Once they’re gone, they’re gone – we’ve a strict, super limited capacity this year: don’t miss out


You know how it is when you have what you think is a really great idea and then as it gets closer to the realisation of that idea you begin to doubt the wisdom of the idea until it gets to the point that you wish that you never had the idea in the first place. Well that is indeed how Sounds from the Other City was born.

2005 is also a tale of getting very lucky as well, with about 4 tickets sold in advance of the day, the sun decided to shine on Bank Holiday Sunday May 1st,  like it never had before and a load of people, (who may have been at a loss as to what to do that day) crossed over the River Irwell to check out what became a truly wonderful day out.

Notable acts: Former Bullies, The KBC, Gideon Conn, Jack Cooper


This year saw Blowout on fine form with The Whip providing one of the genuine highlights of the day and a surprise late night set from the long and sadly missed Stazi. Cherry Ghost provided a more mellow surge of interest at the Kings Arms. The infamous Club Brenda party from Islington Mill made its way to the Rovers Return with the predictable carnage ensuing, while next door at the Black Lion the hype pipe blazed all day with appearances from the hotly tipped KBC, Dead Disco and the early Delphic incarnation, Snowfight in the City Centre.


A crazy year leading up to the festival with all hell breaking loose around the Ting Tings at Islington Mill, making it ever so strange to see them make their ‘public’ debut on the most miniscule of stages at the Rovers Return.

Notable acts: The Ting Tings, The Answering Machine, Maple State, Liz Green, The Beep Seals

The Ting Tings play the Rovers Return, in one of the more bizarre SFTOC moments back in 2007


Phew, as vintages go, this one couldn’t really have got off to a worse start with the Egerton Arms announcing that they would not be playing ball with us on the morning of the event. Bring on the Dancing Horses, in their debut year, proved themselves to be made of sterner stuff and pulled off a remarkable recovery by helping ship camp across the road to Central Salford Train Station and the rest is, as they say, history.. we may never get to see a voice as otherwordly as Seaming To‘s transcend a train station again.

Notable acts: Magic Arm, Vinny Peculiar, Beach Fuzz, Gentle Friendly, Trembling Bells, The Wave Machines, Lonelady


SFTOC’s last addition to the cultural canon of the noughties. At last there was some sunshine, some truly remarkable music and performance and a really wonderful atmosphere created by each and every single person there. We had an absolute blast in 09

Notable acts: Marina & The Diamonds, Peggy Sue, Sweet Baboo, James Ferraro (The Skaters), Mazes, Sophie’s Pigeon


We moved things westside, bringing Islington Mill into the mix as a daytime venue for the first year, along with the glorious St Philip’s Church. This year the obligatory rain was instead replaced by a brisk wind from Siberia but it didn’t dampen the spirits a tiny little jot. And lest we forget the appearance of the now legendary ‘Telephone Showbox’, where lucky punters won a ticket to a one off telephone performance from a host of characterful musicians from around the world, perhaps typified best by Andrew WK‘s words of wisdom washed down with a Guinness and Orange. A really special moment.

Notable acts: Dutch Uncles, Fujiya & Miyagi, Egyptian Hip Hop, Chrome Hoof, Bo Ningen, Divorce, Frank Sidebottom

Yarnbombing on Chapel Street for SFTOC 2010 – some of which can still be found even today


Now Wave joined the party for the first time and they seemed firmly intent on upstaging all others with a line-up that managed to combine two future Mercury Award winners – Sampha, and a band that was soon to be renamed Alt-J, Films. As the evening wore on into the night, perhaps the highlight of the day was the sight of Zsa Zsa Noir seemingly float raving on a table amidst the sweatiest of sets from D/R.U/G/S. Across the sights their many more weird and wonderful moments Swedish popstrelles, Those Dancing Days, squeezing onto the stage in the upstairs room of the Pint Pot, moments after hair and make-up call in the Landlady’s flat, a spoken word set  from Aidan Moffat at the Angel Centre and the enchanting addition of Sonny Smith’s ‘100 Records’ exhibition at the Islington Mill gallery.


This year saw us stretch from the top to bottom of Chapel St, with an almost east/west war going as Faktion put on a moody day of menace at Sacred Trinity Church with Ekoplekz and Vindicatrix, whilst Grey Lantern debuted with a packed room at the Black Lion that was rounded out by a blissful set from Walls. Meanwhile up the top end Now Wave’s and off with their heads made the room sweat with a wildly eclectic day at Islington Mill that kicked off Electrelane’s Verity Susman and ended of with Maria Minerva whilst over at the Old Pint Pot, Mind on Fire took it late into the night with beautiful sets from Shigeto and Lapalux – perphaps the only time those two artists will ever play together in the upstairs room of a pub.


Things ran late, some things broke and didnt run at all, but all the while the sun shone, the faces smiled and everything went wonderfully wild. 2013 was our biggest turn out to date with the event selling its full capacity out by early evening. There were awesome performances all over the venues from the likes of Deptford Goth, Stealing Sheep, Daedelus, Gramme and Queer’d Science,  more and more impromtu appearances up and down the street from Marching Bands to Steel Drum ensembles, not to even mention the intergalactic interventions taking place in Volkov Commanders ‘Transformation Tent’ and the most unwholesome afterparty ever with Manchester Scenewipe’s Chat Roulette Disco

The legendary ChatRoulette Disco at SFTOC 2013


As we hit a decade of running SFTOC, we pulled together an event that pushed us to pastures new and managed to become the most fitting celebration of 10 years of party that we could have ever imagined. We set up an outdoor stage for the first time on Bexley Square and invited music/film Collective Video Jam along to set up shop, in hindsight a ridiculous move as translucent tents weren’t envisaged for cinematic experience, but we figured it out in the end.  We invited The Volkov Commanders to join us as art directors and and they set about staging ‘The Summoning’, a seance with a difference that unfurled the characters of SFTOC posters past and unleashed them onto the streets of Salford

Notable acts: Lee Gamble, Karen Gwyer, Golden Teacher, Pins, Shield Patterns, Sly and the Family Drone


This year laid witness to some of our most adventurous programming to date, Ex-Easter Island Head and an ensemble from BBC Philharmonic (as captured in our header image), together they created and performed a brand new composition in a shop shell at the soon to be completed Vimto Gardens, whilst Sara Lowes led 9 other musicians in  40 minute monster composition on the historic site of the Battle of Bexley Square. The whole thing was tied together and torn apart by the Costumologists and Faux Queens rabid, pinata fuelled “Micro Cosmic Delirium‘, perhaps nowhere better illustrated than their truly uplifting collaboration with Barberos at the Old Pint Pot.

Notable acts: Jane Weaver, LA Priest, Pinkshinyultrablast, Black Josh, Sauna Youth


As ever, venues such as churches, art galleries, breweries and old mills were as much a part of the experience as the music and art. Yet all was not quite as it seemed, as a strange and spectacular occult theme manifested itself in visual artist himHallows‘ stage and set designs across the festival site. Impromptu performances and costumes appeared throughout the day, culminating in a haunted ‘Sea Captain’s Ball’ at midnight. Elsewhere, festival goers witnessed the birth of SFTOC.TV across the globe and tuned into online radio giants NTS who joined us for a one-off Sunday broadcast. There was loads of sumptuous street food and an ale-extravaganza in a new space at Regent Trading Estate, by leading craft beer experts, Port Street and Cloudwater Brewing Co.

Notable acts: The Big Moon, Seize The Chair, Layfullstop, Hooton Tennis Club, The Parrots, Her’s, Martha, Queer’d Science

My Panda Shall Fly plays for VideoJam at SFTOC 2016


In the shadows of cranes on every corner, we witnessed a truly widescreen selection of performances from rising Manchester star IAMDDB‘s slick soul to HMLTD‘s glam stomp through to Flamingods cosmic clangs. Wildness erupted at the Kings Arms as The White Hotel wordsmith Austin Collings unfurled his demented and fragmented piece of musical theatre 2000AD, IMPA.TV marked out our venues with  beautifully crafted Totem Poles on the outside and drippingly delicious visuals on the inside and BBC Philharmonic and Ex-Easter Island Head invited along Laura Cannell to lead a breathtaking finale of their collaboration over the last 3 festivals. Meanwhile, IMPA TV turned artistic directors, turning festival goers into cult members with Sound of the New Dawn – culminating in a march down Chapel Street.


It was the biggest, hottest and – according to 81% of our audience (yes, we even did an evaluation!) – ‘best’ festival yet. On an unusually tropical Bank Holiday Sunday our Artistic Directors Stina Puotinen & David Bailey welcomed us into the weird and wonderful world of SoundsTown in a festival theme that encapsulated the true Sounds spirit: including a chaotic dog show, disco seances, a school of painting and decorating and a hot dog eating competition, not to mention 152 acts across 30 stages and afterparty venues.

Notable acts: Anna Burch, Chrystal, Goat Girl, Laura Misch, Lorenzo Senni, Pip Blom, Spectrum, Virginia Wing/Xam Duo

SoundsTown begins at SFTOC 2018

You can listen to 15 selected tracks from 15 artists who’ve played Sounds over the years on a specially created Spotify playlist here