Guadalupe Plata

15 September
Castle Hotel

Sweat was dripping down from the ceiling as Guadalupe Plata drew their set to a close, and it was the type of sweat that soaks you through. A few people started deserting the venue as they could no longer take the heat in the backroom at The Castle Hotel, set within the Northern Quarter. If the heat rose any more, it would have ignited another tropical thunderstorm, once again flooding the streets of our righteous city.

Luckily for the sell-out crowd packed into the small room, the only thunder and lightning being created was coming from the three-piece on stage, who hail from Ubeda in Spain. With no introduction necessary, the band got down to business and belted through their set, which is littered with their surfabilly soundtrack vibrations. In fact, if their noise formed the backdrop to a film, it would have to be about a surfer cowboy who involves himself in a series of scrapes before having a final sunrise showdown with a radical skateboarding Indian. After a few tense minutes, the unlikely pairing would put their grievances to one side and rejoice by shaking their stirrups and tomahawks in the air. Tarantino, if you are reading this, I’m sure it would make better viewing then your last effort.

But back to the gig. The audience was a good mixture of English and Spanish, which became clear when one guy shouted, “La puta madre!” which roughly translates to ‘This is the dog’s rear swingers’. The rhythm section was hindered somewhat by the bass player’s heavily bandaged finger, but if your eyes were closed you wouldn’t have noticed, as he effortlessly switched between varieties of instruments, including a fine looking three-string bass. Guitarist Pedro layered sporadic vocals on top of the instrumentals, which mainly consisted of yelps and noises that added another dimension to the music. Even the few early leavers were treated to a fine and lengthy showpiece of psych punk.

Stephen Greenwood

Ramsbottom Festival

16-18 September
Ramsbottom Cricket Club

I was here back in 2013 (page 33), when it’s fair to say the festival was still finding its feet. Three years on and I am pleased to report that the founding spirit is intact and there seems to be little or no corporate infiltration. You can still wander around its resplendent tree-lined amphitheatre finding hidden gems. The consensus among the crowds was that this was the best Ramsbottom Festival yet, glowing proudly in the September sunshine.

Then there was the music. It’s testament to this festival that it can attract well-established artists, but balance that with fine local talent. Adventures of Salvador kicked off with their bonkers rollercoaster ride through punk, surf and swagger as they debuted their new album, Chocolate and Drugs, to a great reception. Burgundy Blood gave us blistering hip hop from Manchester as only they can, smashing the Smaller Rooms stage. The Bright Black shone and uplifted with a stunning dance party.

As darkness fell on the ghostly Holcombe Hill above us, we must remember this is a place of adventure and if you go down into the woods now, who knows what you will find? A stomp through the undergrowth leads us to a secret treasure on the Stage by the River, Maia. They are a boisterous mix of Robyn Hitchcock and Mercury Rev with killer three-part harmonies and a mad electric banjo. We all feel like the Secret Seven and don’t want to tell our parents about this discovery because they will only mess it up. It was that special.

This is truly a festival for everyone, young, young at heart and younger. By the way, can we have more seating next time, because even the Secret Seven need to sit down for a bit?

Dave Jones

Background photo by Sam Taylor.

This review first appeared on bagthing.co.uk.