From: Jon Freer (jon-freer_at_excite.com)
Date: 2005-08-14 20:18:38
Event Review: D Percussion 2005, 6th August 2005, Castlefield, Manchester.
D Percussion came from one man’s desire to show that members of the music scene of the city were not oblivious to the devastation caused by IRA bomb, which ripped out a whole chunk of Manchester’s city centre. Following the re-opening of flagship shopping haven of Market Street, Steve Smith, Ear To The Ground founder and a promoter of various club nights, decided a musical show of strength was in order, which he would serve as a feast of entertainment to the public for free. He wished to use the event to promote the city’s blossoming DJ based musical underbelly by transporting them from the dark clubs and out into the open, and harnessed the flourishing yet neglected Castlefield area as the venue for the first event, titled Re Percussion. Since 1997, this mini-festival has expanded somewhat, 2000 saw Jon Drape’s live music specialists Water’s Edge getting on board to bring the added dimension of bands to the festival, which has helped broaden musical horizons. The summer!
all day celebration of music was renamed D Percussion in 1998, with the D standing for Digital. In 2002, the D was swapped for a G, standing for Games, which could equally have been Global. This was in line with the Commonwealth Games, as both took place in the city at the same time.
The entire region round the water was roped off for the day’s entertainment, with a number of security people, backed by a noticeable police presence, controlling the number of people entering and leaving the area. Pushing the boat out as far as possible, D Percussion 2005, the biggest event so far, played host to a huge number of musical operatives, who were only paid expenses. Spread across eight stages, the line up was, as ever, made up primarily of hot local talent, with new stars and seasoned professionals appearing alongside musicians and DJs from further afield. The wealth of talent on offer made it virtually impossible for the open-minded music fan to hear all the artists and spinners they wished to. Extra entertainment came in the form of a short film showcase, scrawled street art, the Manchester heat of a bizarre multi-discipline race called Urban X and funfair type attractions.
Descending on the D Percussion district, the first sound to be heard was Canteena’s soundsystem, which rebounded across the canal and beyond, nearly impinging on that of the Choice acoustic stage. Canteena’s stage witnessed DJs from established local club nights such as El Diablos Social Club, Eyes Down, Electric Chair and Balanço, joined by guests from all over, spinning soul-satiating sounds from the terrace of this waterside drinkerie. Highlights from the afternoon included a set from Kelvin Brown that took in Latin and Cuban grooves and the Unabomber’s showpiece extravaganza, whilst the evening saw broken beat specialist Domu play a wonderful across-the-board set and Afronaught drop fractured beat bumpers including Delgui and Colonel Red’s “It’s Gonna Be Alright”. Electro daddy Greg Wilson, the esteemed Kelvin Andrews and broken Techno master Kirk deGiorgio also featured on this stage. A couple of minutes away from Canteena was the Choice acoustic stage, sat in front
of the charming looking restaurant of the same name. This quaint, civilised stage, playing host to guitarry based songwriting talent including Liam Frost, Aidan Smith and Jane Weaver, was a world away from the hustle and bustle of the main stages.
Over the river, Barça’s stage saw DJs hand picked by B Music residents Andy Votel and Dom Thomas sit on the first floor terrace of the bar to spin obscure folky flavours, quirky poppy bits, psych flavours and exotic gems. Spinners here included Friends of Music DJs, Graham Massey, David Holmes and the B Music men themselves. Behind Barça was the Metro stage, where impact making guitar bands, gutsy House and Breaks DJs played to a crowd who congregated on the cobbled dancefloor-functioning area, in front of the stage. The bands and DJs were elevated to just the right level and so were in eyeshot of the whole crowd. Evening performers here included Tangled DJs Phil Morse and Steve Thorpe, who whipped up the sizeable crowd with cuts including 808 State’s euphoric “Pacific State”. The Stanton Warriors employed an abrasive mixture of beats, scratches and vocal samples in their jarring breaks-house set, which ended proceedings at this this stage.
The centrepiece was the Key Percussion Arena, set in Castlefield basin and making full use of the amphitheatre surrounds. DJ sets peppered performances by gigging heavyweights at this arena, whose concrete seated area, grassy hills and standing room at front became heavily populated at the sight of musical bigwigs. There was even an unscheduled set from the mighty Badly Drawn Boy at this stage, where diversity of acts was commendable. The guitar acrobatics both of Nine Black Alps and the frighteningly accomplished Fear Of Music, rubbed shoulders with storming bass and tight rapping from Raw-T and a set from Latino-Manc lovelies RSL, whose buoyant “Wesley Music” went down a treat.
Sketch City saw those who’d registered via dpercussion.com prove their DJing worth alongside the eye catching visual displays from those who preferred pens and paints to records as their form of artistic expression. This was a short walk from the Urban Stage played, which host to the styles of music somehow defined by this meaningless categorisation. Blak Twang and Broke ’n’ English brought live Hip Hop to the fore, whilst the Urbanize showcase had a soulful edge, typified by a PA of Raze & Ryze feat. Sapphire’s touching “Away”. Poi, Affray, Logistics and MC Suddz had a large crowd rocking enthusiastically to a blistering array of energetic D&B, whilst a DJ from Hidden Nightclub engaged the crowd with his conversational skills and selection of R’n’B stormers, powerful dancehall and sweet Bob Marley tunes.
Aftershock’s old school fire engine was dumped by the Liverpool Road entrance to the D Percussion locale, and saw DJs from near and far play on the back of their truck. Unfortunately, without a proper stage, and just a little grassy area in front of the vehicle, it felt like the Aftershock area was a bit of an afterthought. That said, those who did bother to venture out here, were treated to funked up, souly and jazzed out flavours from the likes of Diesler and Phat Phil Cooper.
As per usual, this festival brought all sections of the city’s music loving public out, wishing to either find a stage to their taste and stay put, or to spend the day wandering around and checking out all that was on offer. Thankfully the rain held off and Manchester was blessed with a much needed downpour free day. Early afternoon was a rather chilled affair, and it was pleasant just to stroll around and investigate what was on offer, even though it took a while to get from one end of the Castlefield site to the other. It was rather windy and dare it be said, a little chilly, until late afternoon, when the sun finally stopped playing hide and seek, and finally came out for good to warm the Castlefield air. By this time, hordes of people had descended on the area and the atmosphere was a little more upbeat. As evening drew close, queues for booze and toilets at various points around the stages started to reach frustrating heights, whilst the fast food and foreign
cuisine mobiles did a roaring trade. Mid evening saw the D Percussion quarter reach bursting point, with large crowds occupying the areas surrounding the main stages and certain people stumbling from the effects of a prolonged drinking bout. As darkness advanced, revellers trickled away from the region, either heading home or to the after parties held in various city centre clubs.
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