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.

Studying Music

Coming to the end of my first year studying Music Journalism, FINALLY submitting all my assignments, it’s made me think back to when I first started studying music and realising that I wanted to take it seriously. I’ve studied 3 different areas of music over the course of my education and its actually quite cool to see how I progressed and what made me decide on studying those areas.

I’m not gonna lie I used to hate music lessons when I first started high school. I can’t exactly remember why but I just remember trying to get through those lessons was SO painful. It wasn’t the teachers fault, just the parts of music we were being taught were dire to sit through when you were an 11 year old. It was very theory based and we were always forced to do group projects which, lets be honest, always turned out shit because none of us had any sense of rhythm, pitch and there was always one group of people who all hated each other, so did no work. However, fast forward to the end of year 8, I started guitar lessons, mainly because I was going through my little emo phase and wanted to play all these All Time Low, My Chemical Romance songs and be a rockstar. Something then changed and I began to absolutely love music lessons, so chose it as a GCSE.

I swear down, that music GCSE was harder than this BA Hons Degree I’m doing.

All through my music GCSE I was still playing guitar and I also was singing a lot more. I had an alright voice, but it was more like Joan Jett’s and more deep because I used to sing along to Green Day, MCR and Fall Out Boy albums. One thing I could not do was play guitar AND sing, when I tried it was a shambles. I really loved the idea of performing. Again, GCSE music was so theory based, had to learn all these fancy terms and analyse pieces of classical music and then write 2 of our own pieces of music (either in 12 bar blues or another genre, classical possibly) ON SIBELIUS 4. THE GUITARS SOUNDED LIKE THEY WERE BEING MASSACRED. Writing and doing those pieces of music nearly did my head in, especially as I couldn’t read music for shit, so how on earth I got a B overall is a miracle.

My next experience of studying music was when I was in college. This time it was more practical as I was studying Music Performance buuuut…here’s the thing about the college I went to; most of the people who play instruments, or sing, are very pretentious people. They think they’re the next Ed Sheeran, but the metal guitarists were the worst. All they would to was sweep-pick (think that’s the term?), see who could play scales the fastest and just construct very generic riffs just abusing the top two or three strings. Due to one particular guitarist and, frankly, arsehole of a person, I lost the confidence to play guitar. So I began to sing more, which I had thankfully gotten better at, but not being able to feel like I was good enough to play guitar really took the shine out of studying Music Performance.

There wasn’t too much theory this time around, and most of the subjects I quite enjoyed, because they were creative and included a lot of writing. You can see where this is heading, can’t you.

Early in the second year of college I realised I wanted to study Music Journalism. I loved writing, I loved music, and I couldn’t see myself being a performer any time soon, soo…off I send my application to UCAS and WHEY-HEY ya girl had landed a place studying Music Journalism, in Manchester. I’ve already spoken in a previous post about what its like experiencing music in Manchester, so feel free to read that after this post.

As I said at the beginning, I’m now coming to the end of my first year here at uni in Manchester. I have absolutely loved studying Music Journalism so far. My uni is similar to my college in the sense that lessons/lectures feel informal. You’re able to relax, able to have a laugh and have in-depth conversations with tutors. You’re given loads of opportunities to be creative and they do encourage you to write and essentially begin your career as a music journalist. There was one drawback to this first year, and that was also having to attend Music Business lessons. Now, no shade or whatever to people who take Music Business, it’s just these lessons were a down-right waste of time for journalists. They also took place at 9am on a Tuesday so probably less than half the class ever turned up. It was quite funny because the tutor even declared that the lessons weren’t relevant to music journalism, so the few journalists who had turned up- including myself- were just like…so why the hell have we had to attend all these 9am lectures for the entire year.

(I’ve only been to one though this entire last term shh…Not because I can’t be arsed, there’s other reasons such as shitty neighbours I have to put up with)

Despite that, I’ve loved this, and I can’t wait for next year, and the year after, and finally getting a degree. I forced myself to move over 200 miles to do this, because I wanted to, I had to. I’ve had to put up with some shit whilst living here, but I am so determined to do this and to pass my degree. To feel genuinely proud of myself. I’m not sure what I’ll do after graduating, I have a few ideas but for now I’m just focusing on doing as well in this degree as I can.

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.

Live Review: La Mode (+Ballamona and Maddy Storm)

The Night and Day cafe in Manchester is one of those hidden gems nestled in Northern Quarter, and the last place you expect to be packed out on a Tuesday night for a gig.

GENERATION MCR– an event put on by BIMM students, for BIMM students and reviewed by BIMM students.

First up are Ballamona, who seem nervous- expected given the huge crowd- and arrive up onstage heads down, slouching behind their guitars. They are very much reminiscent of early Foo Fighters and soaked with Indie that if you cut them open The Strokes would play, with the bassist having a Kurt Cobain style presence. A moment during the intro to the second song, the drum beat was so similar to The Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson yet then twisted and went into a smooth, safe indie rock song. It captivated you as there were so many styles all blended into one. The vocals are almost slurred, definitely trying to recreate that laid back, nonchalant feel generic indie bands have. However, you cannot fault Ballamona on their talent. You can tell they have a direction and sound they are happy with and want to move forward in. They are a very melodic band, the music and vocals blend together like coffee and cream. It’s always good to interact with the crowd, however you need to judge the timing , as you will lose interest from the audience. Unfortunately this is the only time Ballamona slipped up during their entire performance, but no band is perfect when they first start out. Credit to them as they did pick it back up, captivating the crowd again and holding onto them until the very end of the set.

Little Maddy Storm with the big voice.
A huge contrast to Ballamona, with her music having a very ambient feel, unlike anything I’ve heard before. Maddy Storm and her band grab your attention in such a different way to Ballamona, the music tricks you into thinking it will constantly be a gentle listen and then the volume rises and Maddy releases a teaser of her powerful vocals. Whilst the music is good, it is so chilled out and relaxing, I could have easily curled up on one of the sofas and drifted off to sleep. Maybe Maddy wasn’t the right choice to have on after an indie-rock get up?
There were moments throughout her performance when the (intentional?) feedback detracted the attention from her voice, making it a struggle to make out the lyrics. Despite this, Maddy clearly has potential to become a strong character, there’s already a glimmer of front-woman in her. Her music is unique, it’s fresh sounding, you can’t pin point one particular artist she sounds like, and the performance tonight shows she means business and is not your typical singer/songwriter. There’s ambition, emotion and drive behind her voice. She just needs to act like she owns the stage, that it is her place…and she will go far.

For the entire performance that La Mode gave all I can think about is how the vocalist looks and acts so much like Joey Ramone that it scares me. With her voice also sounding like a mash up of Axl Rose and Joan Jett, it’s a very confusing gig to watch/listen…and I think I like it?
Songs such as ‘Electric’ inject the crowd with energy, with their sound being similar to Ballamona- very indie, punky, more aggressive vibes, dripping with attitude. Their cover of ‘Woman’is incredible, and I feel that most of the bands musical talent shines through this song. As someone listening to it you can tell that they love it and have worked hard on that, to do the song justice. La Mode are a band you can picture playing in bigger venues already. They have that edgy aesthetic that appeals to the younger generation.
Now, audience participation can be the make or break of your gig, asking the crowd to clap and getting blank looks back is always awkward, yet La Mode seem to have the audience wrapped round their little finger. The crowd claps and hollars along to pretty much every song. Impressive.
It’s time for the instruments to mellow out now, and let the vocals fill up the Night and Day venue like smoke. That girl has some lungs on her. She shouts, roars and yells her way through the whole of the set, never faltering, maintaining a consistent power few female vocalists actually master.
It must be a euphoric sensation being able to perform like that, and to end the set to a full crowd cheering, clapping and begging for more is such an achievement. La Mode should be incredibly proud of themselves.