Who cares about unsigned music? It’s underdeveloped, not endorsed by any significant backers, and let’s face it, often terrible. Before this weekend, if you’d asked me “who gives a damn about unsigned music?” I’d have answered the question bluntly: nobody.
However, I’ve found my faith in the underground music scene, and in music fans generally, wholly restored by Manchester’s A Carefully Planned Festival No.5.
Running over the course of a weekend in October, CPF takes place in the vibrant Northern Quarter of Manchester, in some of the area’s most renowned venues: Night & Day Cafe, Gulliver’s, The Castle and Soup Kitchen, to name just a few. The festival showcases a huge variety of acts from an insanely broad collection of genres and styles, with slots running from 1pm way into the midnight hours.
But it’s not so much about what the event does so much as how it makes you feel. And how does it make you feel? Joyous. Totally joyous.
As a first-timer to this festival and an eternal skeptic, I wasn’t expecting anything more than a genuine, but unsuccessful attempt to plug some new bands. How wrong I was. Whether it was the brutal excellence of Cleft, the soaring blissfulness of Eyre Llew or the frantic energy of Crushed Beaks, one thing remained consistent throughout the event; a feeling of genuine collective excitement.
Everywhere you look at CPF, you see people willing to be surprised and entertained by new bands, new songs, and willing to stick around even for the most unknown of indie acts. Nearly all the venues remained packed throughout most of the afternoon well into the night, and every band was treated with an open mind and enthusiasm the likes of which I have never seen.
I firmly believe that you’d struggle to find a place where new music is so wholeheartedly celebrated. We live in a world where social media, Radio 1 playlists and viral videos are the order of the day for defining what’s cutting edge, yet in that system is lost a sense of humanity, of spontaneity. CPF restores this to the new music scene with a sense of invigorating enthusiasm, and is completely convincing in its delivery.
The success of CPF is down to a few things. Firstly, its unshakable attention to detail; the planning of the event was indeed as advertised. Secondly, its unprejudiced approach to the new music scene. Thirdly and finally, the scope of CPF’s vision, of a festival for the freshest and newest bands in an area that has come to define Manchester’s cultural image. This event could not have been a better model for what the music scene in any city should be like. It was, in no small words, an absolute triumph.