Manchester Music vs Norwich Music

Coming to the end of my first year at music uni has made me look back over the year and think about all the differences between my home city of Norwich and now my second home of Manchester. Of course there are cultural, historical and dialect differences but seeing as this is a music blog, I am going to focus and compare the Manchester music scene to the Norwich music scene.

As I said previously in my blog ‘Music in Manchester’, there are very obvious differences you notice when coming to Manchester, such as the whole cities obsession with Oasis, The Smiths and The Stone Roses. Nearly everyone here loves either one or all of these bands and honestly it’s pretty weird to experience!
Norwich doesn’t have a defining band like Oasis, it’s mainly filled with people who like all different kinds of music. That’s one thing I love about music in Norwich; you don’t feel pressured to like one particular genre/artist/band. All different kinds of bands come to Norwich, but the city isn’t really defined by one particular band or genre.

For example, from going to a music college and being friends with mainly metal-heads, I experienced that Norwich had a thriving underground heavy metal scene. Pubs like the B2 and Brickmakers and the Owl Sanctuary regularly put on gigs for local metal bands, in order to give aspiring musicians of metal- a genre which has lost some of its’ popularity in recent years- the promotion and foot on the ladder that they need.
Of course, Norwich doesn’t have nearly as many venues as Manchester and lacks a big venue like MEN Arena, the Etihad Stadium or Victoria Warehouse. The biggest venue Norwich has is the UEA, with a capacity of only 1500. So, this means that more well known bands and artists are less likely to tour to little ol’ Naar’ich. When I was younger I had to travel to Nottingham to see bands, such as My Chemical Romance, Thirty Seconds To Mars and Blink 182. Now, living in Manchester, I only need to walk to the other side of the city or down the road to see bands like these. In December, I’m lucky enough to be seeing Marilyn Manson. An artist whose music I don’t primarily listen to as much as I used to, but one who I would never pass up the opportunity to see.

Norwich also has other genres intertwined within it, such as drum and bass, folk/acoustic acts and mainstream rock. The UEA and Waterfront are venues which both regularly hold club nights that play everything from R ‘n’ B to pop punk, from underground dance to nostalgic ’emo’. However, whilst Norwich has all this going on, it unfortunately fails to stand out as a musical city. The UEA doesn’t even run a music degree.

Now, compare this to Manchester, and whilst it has the huge stereotype of being an indie music central, it is looked upon as a musically rich city. Bands actually come here, their tour manager is able to look at the city and conclude that people will attend the concert, and ALL KINDS of musicians come here because of the range of venues. Manchester Academy- just down Oxford Road- has 3 venues within it. There are 2 O2 sites (Apollo and Ritz), smaller venues for lesser known artists or uni bands such as Gorilla, Band On The Wall and Sound Control as well as the larger venues I mentioned earlier. Musicians from all over the world come and play in Manchester.

However, I do feel that some aspiring musicians/bands who come out of the uni’s and colleges here, do fall into the stereotypical indie-wannabe Arctic Monkey’s/Oasis/The Smiths, which isn’t a good sign for the cities new music scene. Manchester is a vibrant, varied city and shouldn’t be stuck on repeat, churning out indie band after indie band. What I’ve noticed whilst living here, and of course experiencing Manchester’s music scene, is that there needs to be different genres that are prevalent in Manchester. I feel that the city could really experience its dance/EDM scene more, rather than just confining it to Victoria Warehouse. It would be nice to regularly attend raves that you don’t have to fork out £40/£50 for!
Event organisers would be surprised by how many people would attend dance nights, and how many DJ’s and Producers they would be able to hire. The uni I attend has a Music Production course but currently, it’s difficult for them to spread their name further than Soundcloud, due to the lack of dance venues Manchester has. I can say definitely that having EDM venues would make this city even more attractive than it already is and would help shift the indie stereotype it’s becoming stuck with.

So that’s my comparison between Norwich and Manchester’s music scenes. Both have their faults, but I love them equally. I think if they merged together though then they would have the right balance. It’s strange to experience a city which has a strong music scene, it’s just getting used to a genre which I don’t listen to, but coming to Manchester meant I met my boyfriend, who introduced me to the amazing world of dance music and expanded my music tastes even further, which I am very grateful for.

Will there ever be another huge music movement?

The 50’s was Rock N Roll. The 60’s was Psychedelia. The 70’s was Punk and the 80’s was Glam Metal and New Romanticism.

All those decades are known for certain movements in music. Memorable genre’s which had their own culture, lifestyle and fashion, ones you had to commit to and which encompassed periods of your life. They spawned huge bands; with Rock N Roll you had Elvis and Buddy Holly, with Psychedelia you had Jimi Hendrix, with Punk you had the Ramones and Sex Pistols, and Glam Metal saw Bon Jovi whilst New Romanticism produced Duran Duran. History documentaries are made about these decades and these bands and their careers are immortalised in books.

However, when you get to the 90’s and to the present day…no band really sticks out. No genre was prominent and there was certainly no movement like Punk. I guess you could say the genre of the 90’s was cheese pop, the kind of genre you only ‘like’ when you’re about 5 pints and 3 tequila shots down in the club. The 90’s was the decade in which music got ‘samey’, and this funk has seemed to carry on throughout the 00’s. Pop started to be manufactured, mass produced and had to follow exact guidelines in order for people to buy the records.

Music has gotten safe, even rock bands that are emerging from underground claiming to be ‘punk’ or ‘hardcore’ etc just sound like watered-down re-hashes of their idols. Pop music and rap music is sounding too ‘sugary’, following the same patterns and all using the same tactics to draw people in- a female vocalist in their late teens or early 20’s, normally collaborating with a half well-known rapper, and dressed in revealing, tight high-on-trend clothes that, lets be honest, you would only really see the Kardashians actually wearing out.

All of this begs the question: is there ever going to be another movement in music, or is this how it will be from now on? Stale and samey?

Radio and TV stations like Kiss and 4music only play the same ‘trending’ songs on loop, day after day and now focus on what is being streamed instead of physically bought. So, this doesn’t help new bands who are potentially bringing something fresh and interesting to break out into the spotlight and get the media attention they need. Grime was a genre that reared its’ head a couple of years ago, but that was forgotten about, with only Stormzy still carrying the torch. Outside of the mainstream, there is a vast dance music scene, which has a huge following, it’s own festivals and accomplished DJ’s/Producers- this has the potential to be a movement, so what’s stopping it? Answer: the media.

There could be a new movement in music again, if the media would break out of the cycle of only playing the same artists, the same songs of the same genre. The media needs to recognise that if this is how it carries on, music will have no life. It will just sound too manufactured. There will be no passion, no real message or drive for the artist to make the music, other than expensive clothes and lots of money. However, this might just be how the industry is going to go for the foreseeable future, because record labels, managers, media outlets etc, have gotten too focused on just producing what will sell and what will make them the most money. Their heads are way too high up in the clouds for them to see that their method of doing things is what is slowly causing the music industry to flat-line.

A new band needs to come forward and be that revelation that the music industry needs.

Eat, Sleep, Rave, Sleep again

I’m pretty new to the whole dance music scene. I used to- back in my unfortunate emo days- poetically describe it as ‘shit’, with probably only listening to one song. To be fair everything back then was basically, if it’s not My Chemical Romance, then it’s ‘shit’. However, fast forward 5/6 years later and with a much broader knowledge of the music industry and a more open mind, I find myself at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester, for my first rave.

The event is Life In Color, a show which tours the globe with some of the biggest DJ’s in dance, hardstyle and techno. There is also the addition of paint cannons, a prospect I was excited about, until you end up freezing your tits off because the paint is very watery and it is also February. I ended up clinging to my boyfriend for his body heat.

On the line-up were some very respectable DJ’s: Third Party, Jay Hardway, Juicy M, Dannic, W&W, Nicky Romero and Chuckie. Of course I didn’t know who any of them were until tonight, and I feel like I should have listened to them more beforehand because after a while I couldn’t really distinguish between them. I can’t say that these people aren’t talented, the way they layer the tracks, adding effects and sampling, creating melodies that are unique to them as an artist. It is incredibly hard to do and I have huge respect for them being able to create music like that.

You’d normally associate a rave environment with people taking drugs left right and centre, beer being poured over your head and bottles of piss being flung through the crowd. But this different…I mean there were people there who were still undeniably off their heads, but the majority- including myself and my boyfriend- were just there to have a good time and party to some amazing DJ’s. Before the coldness of the paint set it I did full on go for it, losing myself in this new genre of music that was just partypartyparty non stop. You had to have so much energy for a rave, not like a rock concert where you could take a breather whilst you whacked out a lighter for a slow song.

The highlight of the night was Dannic, I did really enjoy his set and will be sure to check out his music in my own time. This has all been such a new and eye-opening experience, and once I listen more to this style of music I will be able to review a rave or a DJ set properly. As I said, raves are fairly new to me, but I am definitely going to another one. The feeling you get, just dancing and not caring about anything apart from the music in something you are starting to lose at gigs and rock concerts nowadays. Everyone is too concerned to catch it all on Facebook Live or Snapchat, which I think is sad. Just enjoy the night and make memories! That’s what I did at my first rave and I can’t wait for my next one, hopefully without the paint though this time.