All posts by bekahtamsin

Technical Revolution – or Technically Cavemen?

Natalie Proctor takes a long hard look at our technophilic society and asks – what’s so social about social media?

It is impossible to avoid technology in this day and age. It is everywhere. One glance up on a bus and you will see almost every person indulging in some technology. Whether it be an iPhone, iPod, tablet or sometimes even laptop, it feels as if we’re all constantly plugged in. On top of this, the introduction of social media to the world has changed the way we experience everything in life. In fact, you could say, we experience very little that does not reach the medium of the internet. Even our meals seem to pop up online within minutes! So what does all this mean for us? Are we, instead of getting in touch with the world – losing all real interactions with the present?

We have all experienced that time where you are sat across from someone who is more interested in their phone than your company. Or worse, are currently updating their status to ‘Just chillin with my girls’ rather than really listening to a word you have to say.

We have all experienced the endless Facebook statuses, campaigns and pranks that make us appear to be far more interesting then we really are. Even our pictures present a life that we want others to see and often not the one we really lead.

We have all experienced that horrific week or so when our laptop is broken, or our phone is lost and we suddenly feel helpless in the world. Even those of us who feel as if we rely little on these pieces of equipment feel stranded, as the online world continues without us. This feeling speaks volumes about the way in which our world leans upon technology for the smallest things. But more than this, in these times, we are forced to take a look around us and actually see the world as it is. When you do this, all you see is the tops of heads as people immerse themselves in the online projection of a social life, rather than really enjoying it as it comes.

Technology is useful, educating, and enjoyable but it is also becoming more and more unavoidable. Sometimes we forget that we are supposed to be listening to a gig rather than recording it. Sometimes we forget that we are supposed to be enjoying our friends’ company rather than arranging who you will see next. And sometimes we forget that the world is going on around us whilst we watch a dull representation of it online. All in all, it seems as if we are increasingly becoming ill equipped for actual social interaction, much like cavemen, merely grunting in reply whilst we upload on Twitter.

-Natalie Proctor

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An Interview with… Rachele Whatever

The line-up for tonight’s (Tuesday 11th March) line-up for Solomon’s LIVE at Solomon Grundy’s includes Brighton-born, Manchester-living soundstress Rachele Whatever. I caught up with her ahead of the gig to get to know the woman behind the guitar…

 

Here’s how it went down:

1. How’d you get into music?

My gran bought me a guitar when I was 16 and it started from there. I used to get lessons from an old punk, but I never practised so I’d go and play him songs I’d made up instead.

2. Who, or what, inspires your music/sound?

My lyrics are generally quite topical or social commentary – I’ve never been able to write love songs! I have a song about dogging, one about crap jobs – a lot about politicians 

3. What social message or experience does your music try to evoke? 

I spent my teen years in Brighton – there was a lot of the free party vibe left over from the 90s and still a lot of “political” music then, and that’s the scene I started out in, the DIY punk/ska scene and the free party scene and I guess the Do It Yourself and question authority stuff has just stayed with me.

4. What is special to you about Manchester’s music scene? 

I like the way there’s little suburbs in Manchester with different crowds – you can play a city center gig one night then the next night be in Levenshulme and be playing to new people.  I’ve found in Manchester the best thing to do is start a night yourself.  I launched an events company with my friend Craig called Galivantes and our main club night is Swing & Shout – a 2 stage event with bands, DJs, jam sessions, swing dance lessons, face-painting and crazy décor… We’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve had so far. We started as there wasn’t much scope for gigs in the reggae/gypsy/ska punk scene and we wanted to offer well attended and paid gigs for bands outside Manchester.  The next Swing & Shout is on 19th April at Underland

5. Any particular gigs/releases that we can look forward to from you? 

Yes – I’m releasing 5 tracks with my jungle punk opera band Neghed through Ancoats based label Longevity Records. 

6. If you had to sum it up, what’s the Rachele Whatever dream? 

Lol me and my friends have a pirate ship stage with a 20k soundsystem – my dream would be travelling round the world to festivals with it performing and putting on events.   

 

Sounds amazing – can I come with you Rachele?!? Find her on the interwebs at these sites:

facebook.com/RacheleWhatever

facebook.com/pages/Neghed/231779143580775

and have a listen to some tunes below…

 

***Catch Rachele performing TONIGHT at Solomon’s LIVE from 7pm***

M20 Collective presents: Urban Expression MCR

There’s something exciting about Manchester‘s Hip-Hop scene that does away with preconceptions about the UK’s inability to match up to the lyrical, rhythmic and melodic prowess of our friends across the pond. Multi-instrumental musical collectives like Mouse Outfit and Riot Jazz thrive on the diversity of their artists’ talents, and the exciting stuff that is borne of that difference: jazz drummers meet MCs meet brass sections meet rock guitarists meet velvet-voiced vocalists…the list just goes on. Audiences, too, are massively varied: at any given hip-hop night across the city you’ll find a huddle of listeners representing any background, any musical taste, any haircut you can imagine.

On the 13th March 2014 (that’s this Thursday), M20 Collective presents Urban Expression MCR at Kraak Gallery. For anyone who hasn’t been before, its just off Stevenson Square in Northern Quarter (there’ll be loads of signposting on the night). There’ll be artists of all kinds – hip-hop bands, live MCs, live graffiti artists, fashion designers, visual artists, spoken word poets, DJs and dancers – performing and exhibiting work, inspired by the different routes they’ve taken from the same urban root. Expect community vibes and a creative melting pot of ideas, and come meet some of Manchester’s best hidden talent!!

Here’s a sample of who and what’s to come…

on the stage

Music-wise, we’ve got hip-hop/jazz ensemble 8 Gold Rings [in the loop, I Love Live, Play Doubt] featuring a slew of locally sourced special guest MCs and vocalists. Bringing technical perfection and imaginative improvisations, you might have caught these guys at Free Verse, our Thursday jazz and poetry jam at Solomon Grundy…

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One hell of a meaty treat, Beef, a hip hop genre melt-pot superband packs some serious punch with a double bass, a Congolese MC and a whole lotta musical fury…

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http://www.facebook.com/soundOFTHEBEEF • http://www.soundcloud.com/soundofthebeef

Have a listen to Danny Diatribe and the Crimson Underground, a hip hop/electronica DJ and MC duo hailing from Ireland, serving thought-provoking musical political commentary and lyrical depth…

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http://www.facebook.com/pages/MC-Danny-Diatribe-Artist-Page • http://www.soundcloud.com/dannydiatribe

Catch Kid Katharsis and his soulful blend of acoustic guitar, beatboxing, verses on everyday life and smooth vocals. This guy sings the inner monologue in your head….

http://www.facebook.com/kidkatharsis • http://www.soundcloud.com/kidkatharsis

On the decks, we’ve got Dan Nation of Mind on Fire collective taking us into the wee hours on a musical journey from jazz to trip hop to electronic, as well as garage, grime and hip-hop tunes from Big War of Generic Greeting in between performances.

There’ll be spoken word and dance performances in the intermissions. Chris Jam spreads positive thinking vibes with his words, whilst Michael O’Neill verses over live percussion accompanist Loner Bell, and you can look forward to shaking a leg with super talented dance crew Rhys Fagan and friends.

creative corner

Of course, it wouldn’t be an M20 night without an arts corner where you can get stuck in, see the artwork of others and flex your own creative muscles…

SHUNK and Delroy Do Not Bend will be creating live pen graffiti works, and positivity-focussed, art-based fashion from keep it bright. and artbyomni.

essential info

WHERE? Kraak Gallery, 11 Stevenson Square, Northern Quarter, M1 1DB

WHEN? Thursday 13th March 2014

TIME: 9pm – 3.30am

PRICE: FREE BEFORE 10PM + £3 after [send your names through the M20 Collective facebook page to get £2 guestlist all night]

*** All proceeds go towards the artists and building future events ***

Gonna be a big night, look forward to seeing you there!!

Love, M20 x

For The Young, Talented and Unsigned

Alex Rigg tells us exactly why its so important to support the hard work and talent of Manchester’s young local musicians…

Music has the power to run society. As well as all of the more famous hits and celebrities, there are also unsigned acts featuring powerful talent that can send messages to society’s ears. Music is strong, but stronger to those who choose to use it with determination and talent. Bands and solo performers are key to how everybody behaves on Earth. Musical chimes of beauty can be created, but by all kinds of people. Unsigned bands can be inspirational and bold, bringing the best out of audience members.

Manchester is fortunate for the large amount of local talent that gets to be experienced in venues across the North West – but are you seeing them? There is so much people are missing that is right beneath their noses. The sensation of live music is so great, for both the performers and the fans. Young talent is needed to keep the world informed on the passion and beauty of musical sound. Whether it is acoustic or rock or a DJ, all of the sounds successfully open up emotions, both happy and sad.

From an audience perspective, you can build up with countless emotions at the same moment. It makes you think and wonder, while making you enjoy such an amazing time. Gigs with unsigned bands are not a form of wasting time, but bringing something extraordinary into your life that you can be first to witness. The vibes of success will ring into your ears where magical words whisper to you.

Great melodies can be transformed to passionate tunes for all ears within Manchester. Performances in pubs, nightclubs or stages all give out the same message. The message of life.

– Alex RIgg.

Review: The Poetry of Sex, ed. Sophie Hannah

Alex Webb takes a look at Sophie Hannah’s assembly of poetry in the language of love…

Sex poetry is something that I had never really thought about before.

I’ve read sex poems but as a sub-genre I was ignorant of the style. Sierra DeMulder had formed my prior knowledge with her When The Apocalypse Comes blending blunt, emotionless “shagging” with desperation to make love and having meaning thrust into her. When I saw Sophie Hannah’s collection in the local bookshop I decided that it was time to try it out properly; losing my sex-poetry virginity I guess you might say. Expecting something similar to DeMulder’s take on this style, I thought I had prepared myself for what this book had in store, but I was surprised to say the least.

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The first chapter of the anthology, So Ask The Body, seemed to bear no reference to actual sex and I thought I was going to be let down by Hannah’s latest offering. However, after a slow and, frankly, dull first section the collection quickly picked up. I understood Cavafy’s He Asked About The Quality as a narrative about the gay handkerchief code, itself something interesting at a time where being gay was still taboo. This poem highlights the intricacies of courting a gay man and the intimacy that comes along with it. It was one of the collection’s highlights as it offered an interesting, and successful, take on ‘sex poetry’. Whitworth’s Love & Sex & Boys In Showers was a captivating piece whose meaning is still lost on me, even after numerous re-readings. However, it is this that made me engage with the piece and want to understand it.

Holland’s Anal Obsessive paints a jealous woman who was warned by a past lover that he would hurt her and leave her for another woman. The bitter words spoken by the narrator translate well and highlights the belief that ‘old people have boring sex’ held by a lot of our youth.  The standout poem of the whole anthology was Leo Cookman’s Haikus To Fuck To which presented a blunt and brutal take on sex that was very persuasive: I believed everything Cookman had to say. It showcased the crude nature of sex and, in my opinion, this is the true embodiment of sex poetry. If you had asked me for one reason to buy Hannah’s collection, it would have been this.

Overall, whilst Hannah’s book did not really help me understand sex poetry I do not think this was its aim. As she says in her comical introduction she presents her audience with a wide range of material that can be considered ‘sex poetry’; and this mimics the variety that we, as humans, have in our own sex lives. However, as I found it hard to relate to a lot of the content I would say don’t pick this one up if, like me, you want to understand more about this art.

-Alex Webb

(reference: Hannah, Sophie; The Poetry of Sex; (England, Penguin Books, 2014).

Review: The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh

Alex Webb reads and reflects on ‘The Pillowman’, a Pinter-esque play by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh…

Sit down and I will tell you a story. This one is about Katurian, Tupolski and Ariel, one, a writer, and the others, policemen, who interrogate the former about a recent bout of murders. McDonagh’s The Pillowman is a children’s story not to be missed. However, do not expect a story about little pigs and friendly giants, although these all feature, because this script is about children, and the death of them.

Written in 2003, this Irish play has you enter an interrogation room, just as ignorant as Katurian, who could be considered the main character. The basis of the narrative is that you find out what is happening as Katurian, a writer, does, with intriguing results. It would be an understatement to say that The Pillowman is simply “chilling” as you’re taken on a journey where you meet characters such as “The Little Jesus” and the title character who all have darker twists than you’d imagine at first glance. If there is one moral to take from this drama it is this: just because someone tells you something, it doesn’t mean it’s true.

Creating a tense atmosphere from the start you learn about Katurian’s sickening stories that have the characters, and the audience, asking “what sort of criminal is worse than a rapist or murderer?”. It is through these questions, the tales related to them and the character’s responses that McDonagh’s characterisation shines. Showing phenomenal skill in such a short story, spanning just over one-hundred pages, you will be ready to re-read it as soon as you put the book down. If I had to criticise this text it would be the shallow plot that could be so much more, but needn’t be. Based in one setting: an interrogation room, McDonagh’s engaging narrative is more than enough to have almost anyone read it cover-to-cover wanting more.

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Overall, I cannot praise this play enough, from the moment I put it down it had shot up to become one of my favourite books and within half an hour I had already recommended it to most of my flatmates. Even if you are not one for reading, I beg you to go to your nearest bookstore and pick up this drama. Whilst you may be disgusted, you will not be disappointed.

-Alex Webb

(reference: McDonagh, Martin; The Pillowman; (Faber and Faber Ltd., London, 2003).

Review: Getting Stitches by Rudy Francisco

Alex Webb guides us through Getting Stitches, the first published collection from super talented San Diego-born slam poet/spoken word artist, Rudy Francisco…

In a world where physical books are becoming less and less popular we have turned towards technology to read and explore the limits of our language. Poetry is no different in this sense with the rise in popularity of the spoken word. Rudy Francisco is someone that can bring the art of poetry slam into the public eye and gain the recognition it deserves through sites like Youtube. Having spent over a year mesmerised by this poet’s command of the English language I decided to try and find out if he had any published works.

I was surprised that he only has one, Getting Stitches, published in January of last year. Featuring sixteen poems, some of which I’d heard read aloud, I was excited to get into this very short but intriguing collection. One of the first entries, ‘A Few Things I Believe’, was an interesting insight into Francisco’s mind. Through this piece you are introduced to a commentary on “macho” men: ‘I believe masculinity is a wet fish that most men are just/trying to hold onto’. The fourth poem, ‘The Body’, sees Francisco write individual, personalised letters to different parts of himself. Each of these is either an apology or a warning written to make himself a better man. This is best done when he tells his brain: ‘You’re such a good listener/but you give terrible relationship advice’ – a concept I’m sure many readers can relate to.

Something that let down the publication as a whole was the lack of professionalism. There were numerous spelling mistakes in the pieces that took away from the magic Francisco weaves and, in some cases, entire words were missing. Whilst the latter may have been a use of “artistic license”, it was done to no benefit. However, looking past these, this collection is a solid entry into the world of poetry. One of the strongest poems in the book was ‘How to Look Like a Stalker’, which presents a parody of how one might go about stalking someone. Controversial in nature but overall harmless. ‘Monster’ is one of the most emotionally engaging pieces which sees Francisco confront rapists and their mindsets. ‘I carved galaxies in the back of my throat/just to make your world easier for me to swallow/but I can’t stand the taste of your behaviour’ shows desperate efforts to sympathise with an unwanted, horrific for part of our society. It is in this poem that Francisco’s ability really shines through. Making powerful statements meld with his beautiful verse is something Francisco does better than most. In realising this I found what I was looking for in this collection. Beauty and power in literature is something rare and Getting Stitches brings this to the table.

Overall, Francisco presents a brilliant collection that I think anyone could engage with. If you are interested in sampling Rudy Francisco’s talent for yourself you can find his poetry slams on his YouTube channel. One word of warning: once you’ve entered the world of spoken word, you might find yourself stuck there for hours.

-Alex Webb

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Reference: Francisco, Rudy; Getting Stitches; (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013).