Cosmosis Festival – Victoria Warehouse, Manchester – 12/3/2016

Beers? Check. Ticket? Check. Camera? Check. Give It Back were grabbing their clobber and gearing up for a weekend away in Manchester at this year’s Cosmosis Festival – an all day event that was topped by San Francisco’s number one cult group, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Scotland’s, The Jesus and Mary Chain. It held a formidable line-up that collapsed around psychedelia, garage-rock and post-punk. It was put together with care and consistency, eruptive light instalments and dedications to the art that surrounds the music were all taken into account and it was to lead for quite the fantastic affair. After queuing for what seemed like light-years to hustle through a Draconian security system, we were ready, tokens in hand for a few beers and a snoop around what was to be the year’s most interesting festival so far.

Set in the large, Victoria Warehouse event space that is home to Manchester’s Warehouse Project – it was a venue that played perfectly to the music, taking off from where the Liverpool Psychedelia Festival has set the marker. WIRE were the first band to take us of interest with their enthralling post-punk muse, it was confrontational and loud as hell – grabbing you by the throat and giving you a shake around. Light shows engulfed the band whilst onstage, testament to the fact that this was a festival due to attack an array of senses. WIRE are a band that I was always pointed towards by a gang of elders that influenced my music knowledge and after unfortunately missing their set last year at The Prince Albert, I was keen to see them. The majority of their material lingered on the back of last year’s self-titled release, it met the tightly packed audience with such brutal force though, blistering your skin as at whistled by.

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Next up was Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats. A group that have riffs large enough to put Sabbath on their arse and give them a talking to. Not afraid to shy away from stage presence, guitars were swung high in the air before coming crashing down upon thighs. It was a sea of washing hair and 70s beards as the band ripped through songs from their most recent album, The Night Creeper. As they flung into their set opener, ‘Waiting For Blood’, it became clear this is a band that blend riffs and psychedelic fuzz into one disgusting, brutal force. Something that really rips around this vast open warehouse space, fully taking you with it as you merely ride along, sipping on your lukewarm can of Fosters.

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From here, the outside was sought out for some last minute munch before the evening session snuck in, after queuing for what seemed like light years, chatting to a lovely feller from Nottingham, we got our grubby mitts on hot dogs and chips. To be honest the price was remarkably brilliant and the food matched, good job. Regarding the beer tokens, I’m not so sure, I have £20 worth of plastic tokens still sat in my wallet but it seems the off licence round the corner don’t employ the same system. Nevertheless, beers were beered and hot dogs were hot dogged and it was inside to catch The Raveonettes.

The Raveonettes are a band that have sat on my bucket list for a while now and seeing them live was to prove to be quite the warm up for the evening. Flickered strobe lighting sent the band into some raucous mirage onstage as they cut in and out of psychedelia and shoegaze. Lights battered off of the heads of the band onstage and the crowd in front leading for quite the audio-visual assault. It was glorious as they cut into hits such as ‘Love in a Trashcan’ and ‘Attack of the Ghost Riders’ all the while generating some fraught, uptight mindset due to the ricocheted lighting. It was really quite the spectacle.

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After another brief run out for beers and token scoring, it was onto the first of the big ones, as if there hadn’t already been countless ‘big ones’ that day. The Brian Jonestown Massacre were probably the largest pull on the day, being the masters of their own class with Anton Newcombe’s eclectic neo-psychedelic project erupting onto a stage, drenched in a plethora of colours. Wheels and swells of oil swamped a stage that saw various silhouettes boogie and shake through the likes of ‘Who?’, ‘Never Ever’, ‘When Jokers Attack’ and ‘Prozac vs Heroin’. The crowd rose to the challenge and shook along in unison, we beamed smiles at one another and all of a sudden, the Victoria Warehouse became fucking heaven.

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Scaling around the venue was the next step catching Esben and The Witch, seeing three Brightonians hit notes that hard was bloody riveting. Their interesting take on doom, trip-hop and grunge lead for quite a sound, something that takes Portishead’s sparsity and blends it with big old riffs and volume, and plenty of it. From here we headed to the next main attraction, The Jesus and Mary Chain who, by far and large were here to showcase their Psychocandy album with a few gems dotted around for good measure. Prior to the eargasm blitz that is essentially, the birth of shoegaze, we were treat to the likes of ‘Head On’ and ‘April Skies’, songs that saw the Reid brothers laying into their indie rock side slightly more with the happy-go-lucky sounds of Darklands and Automatic. From here we fell into the genre defining Psychocandy which melted around us, seeing stark lighting plunge through a backdrop of the album cover. The Mary Chain were once again proving to everyone why they are such a bloody important band.

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Post-Mary Chain, our legs began to buckle after a long journey from Brighton, this and excessive indulgence into cans of Fosters began to take over. We made for a bit of the cool, summer haze of Allah-Las for a goodnight call, songs that reminded us so fondly of the Brighton beach in summer and drinking away our minds were the perfect nightcap. The comedown was set and a taxi was called.

All in all Cosmosis acts as a touching testament as to why small, city festivals are beginning to take over. Gone are the days of 4 day stints in mud and squalor except for the big few, Cosmosis, Liverpool Psychedelic Festival, The Great Escape etc are all examples of great festivals that occur in the city – what really sets Cosmosis aside from the rest is the quality of the line-up, the perfect venue and the great experience that is generated there. People are willing to chat over a few beers and smokes, the music and lighting acts as the perfect backdrop to the experience which overall is spot on. The amount of thought and care that the organisers have put into this allow for it to become a prime example of how these festivals should be undertaken and we’ll sure as hell catch it again next year. We dig you Cosmosis, we sure do.

Words by Tom Churchill
Photos by Doug Grant

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