Review: Fair Play Festival 2022

A resounding success for the new and emerging Manchester festival

Review: Fair Play Festival 2022

Last weekend saw the inaugural event of the Fair Play festival in Manchester. After two years of hard work, postponement, and a few last-minute cancellations, the festival was finally able to go ahead – and what a great day it was.

Spread across five small venues in the city’s Northern Quarter, the lineup boasted over 35 incredible acts, ranging across a diverse spread of genres. Despite the variety, the day was very cohesive and well-organised, with the set times staggered in a way that allowed the crowd to cherry-pick their own itinerary without too much sacrifice. 

What was interesting to me is that there was no room too full or too empty at any given moment; I managed to see 13 artists across the day, stopping only for a bite to eat between acts, and the crowd size was consistent throughout. There was no issue of overcrowding, and generally everybody seemed happy and content at all times.

Earlier in the day, I was able to enjoy the talents of acts such as Tyler Cryde, who put on a beautiful and haunting performance at Soup. Despite some hefty sad lyrics for 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the audience seemed captivated from the word go. Soup proved to be my most frequented venue of the day, and no two sets were the same – from the sombre literacy of Tyler Cryde to the chaotic buzz of Horsey; to the intense, yet forcefully moving set from deathcrash, followed by a sensual performance by Jessica Winter; and somewhere amidst the chaos, a very interactive set from Famous. The room held its own for each and every show. 

Just across the road at AATMA is where I encountered the only small complaint of the whole event – the sound quality was slightly subpar in comparison to the rest of the venues. It wasn’t so much of an issue for HUP, but proved difficult for Home Counties, who later in the day noted that the sound they were receiving back felt ropey. I reassured them that, despite the minor issues, they performed incredibly well regardless, and the crowd was easily the most lively of the day. The room was alight with energy, and everyone was dancing without care. The vibe in the venue was at a high, and the sound quality didn’t seem to matter all too much.

No such issues were encountered at Gulliver’s, however –a bigger venue lending itself to more sound production. It played host to the likes of YAANG, Robbie and Mona, and Regressive Left. YAANG put on an incredible performance, the room brimming with smiling faces – definitely one of the more popular events of the day, and understandably so. Robbie and Mona created a really eerie atmosphere with some intense instrumentals and thrilling harmonies, whilst Regressive Left brought a fun, synthy set to the stage, whilst still bringing a certain heaviness to their sound.

Surprisingly, I only caught one act at the Castle Hotel: Another Country $$$$. It felt strange to be seeing such a well-crafted electronic set in daylight hours, but the combination of audio and visuals had the audience entranced from the first moment. The continuity within the set was nothing short of impressive, and I highly recommend you see Another Country $$$$ live if you get the chance.

Somewhere I spent a considerable amount of time was the basement of The Peer Hat, somewhere I hadn’t been in what feels like a very long time. It was there that I saw Dutch band, Global Charming, who put on a really fun and energetic show. Synth-infused pop mixed with some fantastic basslines meant that everyone was moving – and they sported the best light show of the day, in my opinion. Always a bonus. To top it all off was The Cool Greenhouse, who were met with a tirade of people ready to dance the night away. With unique lyrics, catchy riffs, and electronic influences, they performed a very tight set that featured some new and exciting songs.

The festival was a resounding success, especially for something in its first iteration. I really look forward to seeing what it has to offer next year. 

Early bird tickets are on sale now, so grab yours to be in on the action in 2023!

Header Image Credit: @lfephoto on instagram


Lucy Evans

Lucy Evans Kickstart

Media Sub-editor at Voice. Sign language enthusiast, frequent gig attendee, cloud enjoyer, artist, and volcano lover. I love bees.

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