This year Natsu Fest burst onto the Manchester student music scene, coming to Academy 3 for it’s second year (the first being in the back garden of a student house). It shaped up to be an absolute hit, taking the audience through five glorious hours of smooth jazz, bouncing beats, and soulful melodies. If you do not already know what Natsu Fest is, then keep reading.
When I came round the corner and entered through the doors to Academy 3, I was greeted by smooth beats and funky rhythms carefully chosen to play in between sets, to perfectly settle you into the right vibe for the rest of the night. We headed to the bar to get a drink and stood near the front just in for time for Begum‘s set.
Begum, a student at Manchester, performs a beautiful half an hour set of RnB and Soul. Her vocals were stunning and moving as she started off with a cover of Lauryn Hill. She then took the audience through some more wonderfully performed songs dedicated to various people in her life, making the emotion in her voice and performance feel even more special. Towards the end of her set, after finding out one of her backing tracks was incorrect, she performed a stunning feat of acapella. By now the crowd were well and truly warmed up, and after enjoying a calmer set, it was about time we got some groove.
10 minutes later, DJ Hass took to the stage. Hailing from Manchester, DJ Hass started his set off with a drum and bass track intertwined with South Asian music, making for what already should be a dance floor classic. At this point, the crowd was already buzzing and moving. For the rest of his set, DJ Hass smoothly remixed various pop and hip-hop samples into his beats. These tracks and remixes felt like the perfect balance of drum and bass and mainstream music, keeping those less into dance music familiar whilst still providing some great beats to get down to. My favourite part of the set was his remix of Rihanna‘s Rude Boy.
The crowd was more than settled into the night as we entered into the headlining act, Messy Bao and Saint Nusu: collaborative duo that sees Messy Bao lay out smooth bouncing beats as Saint Nusu raps over with crisp precision. The quality of their performance and music was incredible – soulful but electronic, smooth and jazzy melodies alongside bop-inducing beats. The quality and stage presence was truly professional; you can tell they have truly honed their craft. I would highly recommend checking out their album Messy Nusu. Their set hit a nice mark between high points of energy that got the crowd grooving, and soft points of emotional lyricism that moved some of the set into an atmosphere of hair-raising poignance.
Mixle closed the night with some beats to leave the crowd dancing into the early hours. His set was formed of high energy dance tracks mixed across some dance classics. Both Mixle and DJ Hass are a part of the collective @anthro.mcr.
Natsu Fest proved that students know how to organise a music event, and know how to get people down and moving. I am already looking forward to the next one.