Reinventing itself as Manchester’s newest and versatile venue, the Fairfield Social Club located a 2-minute walk away from Manchester Piccadilly Train Station has opened its arches to a new era of entertainment, events, and celebration.
Temperance Street has established itself as a cultural hotspot for art, music and some seriously tasty street food with GRUB being firmly rooted in the reminiscent ‘cottonopolis’ viaduct. Fitting for the backbone of industrial history that Manchester’s cityscape visuals are particularly prominent for, the sense of authenticity, rawness, and independence provide a backdrop for this ‘new’ space.
Fairfield Social Club has embraced its bare, brick walls and concrete brutalist structure yet swells with welcome and excitement. After a few years of priding itself as a home for some of Manchester’s most delicious street food and a cluster of craft ales, Fairfield Social Club have recognised its optimal potential in widening its gaze to match the ambition of the cities’ music scene.
Manchester promoter’s Strange Days are at the forefront of Fairfield’s frame and they have been a leading team throughout Manchester’s music scene of the past half-decade. Working on Fairfield’s Launch Party duo, Strange Days organised a pelting line-up seeing the alt-punk eccentrics Snapped Ankles as headliners for their private launch and critic favourites Dream Wife for their official public launch on the Friday.
As you enter Fairfield’s vast space, it’s hard to not be thrilled by the prospects of its future. With high ceilings, metal framed circular windows, a railed staircase leading to a lounge area fit with retro videogames, Fairfield has something for everyone. Whether you just want to hang in their tucked away corners that are fitted with comfy sofas or quench your hipster thirst, this trendy Temperance street hideaway will be your new go-to.
Although a bit on the chilly side given the space’s tall and hard structure, Strange Days certainly knew how to warm up their awaiting audience on the Thursday night. Kicking things off were the energetic punk 3-piece All Girls Arson Club who were refreshingly confident and polished given they are still very much rooted in their DIY start-up. Following the tempestuous trio were a breath of tropical-infused shimmer Intergalactic Republic of Kongo. Despite having a small online following, I.R.O.K are in no way fit for a small audience. Bringing an extensive repertoire of influences ranging from hip hop to world music to garage rock, I.R.O.K are simply undefinable, but it doesn’t matter. They took to Fairfield’s stage and had every single member of the crowd’s gaze entranced to the irresistible groove.
Ending a whirlwind of an evening were cult-followed Snapped Ankles who are also, not easily classified within the industry. Snapped Ankles effortlessly conjured all of the woodland pixies and etched a new dimension with their heavy, synth-infused vigour. However, I was slightly underwhelmed given their live performance, at times, strayed quite far away from the studio versions meaning vocals were often missed and fans found it difficult to engage with the lyrics.
The air hung low and heavy with haze on the Friday evening which created an atmospheric and a cozier environment for the first support act, Mealtime. This quintet combined a mixture of dance infused electronic sounds to create a musically dynamic and experimental set. The set rested heavily on repetitive electronic sounds which although fun at points, they did become massively overused. The lack of movement amongst the band was stark as they seemed to take up the stage space in a line, making little movement between or during songs. Although this was likely due to the set-up of their instruments it made the really dulled the visual aspects of an otherwise experimental set.
The venue’s sound and lighting weren’t sufficient enough during the performances. There were sudden bursts of coloured light that became disorientating and seemed a little unnecessary. Furthermore, the lack of speakers on the left-hand side towards the back of the room meant that the sound was easily absorbed and even lost in some parts. This was frustrating as some beautiful vocal performances became muffled across an uneasy balance and control of sound in the room. However, it seemed that some of these issues were improved as the evening progressed.
Glaswegian three-piece The Ninth Wave took to the bare stage. After a high energy and frankly ferocious run as supports for The Blinders recent UK tour, it was interesting to see a significantly more stripped back performance brought to the stage here. Featuring their standard synth and keyboard set up alongside a customised sound box they breezed through dreamily. Stand out track ‘This Broken Design’ showcased lead vocalist, Haydn Park-Patterson’s hauntingly, low vocals which cut bitterly through the synth-infused tracks with a stunning echoed quality.
This unique group bring a visually effective and well-honed sound that will be exciting to watch unfold as more tracks are released later this year. Luckily, The Ninth Wave are going on tour again soon supporting the equally epic YONAKA in July across The UK before a stint in Manchester this November. One to watch.
Finally, headliners Dream Wife burst onto the stage performing a smattering of new and old across a high octane, electronically charged setlist. Highlights include explosively energetic versions of popular tracks ‘Hey Heartbreaker’ and the provocative ‘F.U.U’ in which lead vocalist, Rakel invited everyone to move in closer and encouraged inclusivity amongst her crowd of affectionately termed “bad bitches”. The band’s statement, no matter how provocative stands testament to new attitudes towards gig safety and support for all in attendance, no matter age, gender or race. It felt exciting to be amongst a crowd that seemed all in for the fun of the experience.
After two thoroughly enjoyable evenings with Fairfield Social Club, we have no doubts that it will soon follow the hype and greeting that YES received. It a space for tasty food, quenching pints, relaxation, all the while showcasing some of the music industry’s hottest acts.