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Independent Venue Week Manchester: Curated By Sways Records


Independent Venue Week Manchester: Curated By Sways Records

Alexander Lester

Bernard & Edith - Photo Courtesy of Natalie Curtis

Bernard & Edith - Photo Courtesy of Natalie Curtis

Symbolic gestures are important when there’s a battle to be fought and won.
— Sways Records

As I scribed the words ‘Manchester’s musical renaissance’ into the pages of Vol.0, a feeling of great pride washed over my shoulders as I observed the shifting tide of art returning to the city adopted as my home. Citing the likes of SWAYS Records and Now Wave as the spearhead of my thesis, the term ‘renaissance’ seemed fitting to what was, and still is, the dawning of a new town.

In this week’s NME, the term ‘renaissance’ reappeared and, believe it or not, the word ‘Manchester’ ran alongside it. Let the bells chime, for thy theory hath gone viral. 

For the majority of creatives residing in Manchester at the time of NME’s publication, the symbolic declaration of the city’s ‘renaissance’ signified the sounding klaxon of yet another great epoch in the city’s history. However, languishing in the days of parties now past, we found broadcaster Terry Christian arguing that our renaissance was not the thing of beauty that Vol.0 and NME had so optimistically described. 

Citing that “middle class out-of-towners” and “hippy types” were creating nothing more than a “student underground”, the last man standing from the Madchester party couldn’t resist throwing a haughty ball of spit upon the changing fabric of Manchester’s future. 

It’s a good job then, we are not the types to simply roll over and die.  

This coming weekend, Manchester’s Soup Kitchen will play host to an evening curated by SWAYS Records, offering what promises to be the greatest celebration of current musical talent this decade. From the likes of Bernard & Edith to Francis Lung, the event on February 2nd will ooze with a ‘renaissance’ feel and kindred aesthetic – for those ready to embrace the changing winds of Manchester’s creative future, we implore you to come along. 

For Bernard & Edith, a band signed to Salford’s SWAYS Records, the Mancunian Renaissance is something to embrace. "Manchester is a great place to grow and develop your own sound, without feeling like you have to compete with anyone or have rivals, people don't bother with their own silly pretenses or self riotousness and they just have fun together instead. A good community of artists and musicians has developed over recent years and it feels nice to be a part of it and have it influence our journey."

For the team at SWAYS, the opportunity to curate an event at Manchester’s Soup Kitchen offers something, almost typically, ‘renaissance.’

"We were slightly sceptical when we were approached about Independent Venue Week but we liked the fact that (a) the organiser was called Dresden and (b) her vision was to bring together some of the city’s best new bands to celebrate what venues like Soup Kitchen mean for the city right now, rather than wheeling out some dinosaur to play an awful nostalgic set in a creaking, irrelevant venue to make a few quid for an old mate. It seemed like an important symbolic gesture and symbolic gestures are important when there’s a battle to be fought and won.”

Placing their fists before all that they have established, SWAYS Records are not willing to allow the negative echoes from Manchester’s past to ruin the future they’ve strived to build. 

“The best thing about modern Manchester is that it’s a place of transgression, with people and ideas crossing borders and boundaries. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, just where you’re going. This is a city with open arms, not the stale, lumpen corpse that some people imagine. Our record label was made possible because working class people from Salford met people from London, Lyon and a thousand other places and they set about making music, films and art without any sense of division or constraint. This is what we’ll be celebrating at Soup Kitchen."

Manchester has never shown so much life, enthusiasm and belief in its future. Forever the past will echo throughout the city streets and rightly so, but, as surely even the mightiest of skeptics can see; there’s no future when living in the past. 

Independent Venue Week - Curated by SWAYS Records 2nd February 2014 @ Soup Kitchen