Manchester’s Fair Play festival returns with an outstanding line up of unique live acts.

The April festival looks to kick-start festival season with great music and an agenda for positive change in the industry.

Artwork by Will Albin-Clark and Adam Griffiths | Words: Lloyd Bolton

After their sold out debut last year, Fair Play festival is back for another round, offering an impressive range of great live acts. Taking place across Manchester on 1st April, it challenges its audience with a line up that is almost unfeasibly good. Across its five venues, unmissable bands will be overlapping right up to Grove’s ‘late night headline’. From that phrase alone one can already smell the joy and sweat and beer of festival season. Especially if one imagines a room of people fresh from Scalping’s headline set.

It is a sad reality that Fair Play’s unique selling point is something we should expect from all festivals. The event is constructed to promote inclusivity across boundaries of genre, gender, sexuality and race, and reflects this in its lineup. Their low wage ticket price tier further pushes this agenda.

The diversity of the lineup reflects not only the inclusive agenda of Fair Play but also the open-mindedness of its audience. It feels natural, for example, to see forerunners of contemporary folk-inspired minimalism and experimentation such as Naima Bock and Shovel Dance Collective billed alongside the equally brilliant but chaotically unchained Lunch Money Life. There is a certain trust in the way the whole festival is run that the crowd are willing to expose themselves to things that push their comfort zone and confound arbitrary genre distinctions.

Robbie & Mona by Ellie Gray

Another interesting feature of Fair Play is its offering of a record label from a different city to curate a stage. This year the honour is conferred upon Spinny Nights, who have spent a number of years as part of the avant-garde of Bristol’s underground music scene. Beyond the headliners Scalping and Grove that are being provided, they also provide the post-modern lounge glitz of Robbie & Mona, the techno-hip-hop-folk opera-cabaret-? of Biped, and Slow Dance favourites Me, Charles and Minor Conflict.

Playing out across SOUP, Gullivers, The Castle Hotel, Night and Day Café and The Peer Hat, this will be a busy day out. Other highlights from this first round of announcements include psych vibemasters Mandrake Handshake, office worker turned punk prose cello poet Slow Cooked, and trombone-touting. conch-blowing post-punk stompers Keg. Platonica Erotica is essential viewing on an early foray out of London. As she told us last month, her current howling combination of the dreamy and the cathartic is “the happiest I’ve ever been with how the project sounds”.  It is safe to say that Fair Play is an unmissable occasion for anyone in the North West keen to catch some of the country’s best new live acts.

Platonica Erotica by Tatiana Pozuelo Mendez