Review: Other Worlds Festival – Part Three

Sunday started rainy and grey but as the sun came out, in traditional Blackpool springtime style – at about 6pm, I returned to Bootleg Social for the final few acts of the festival.

I arrived to Chris Rainier who was sitting on stage with his guitar facing upwards on his knees, playing and looping and messing with the tempo of the looped sounds which reminded me of southern state USA washboard bluegrass. Whilst Rick and Carlito had designed the programme to be in keeping with people’s hangovers, the crowd was noticeably smaller albeit with the hardcore attendees still propping up the bar and enjoying the experience thoroughly. There was, however, a stillness that was perfectly matched by the sound offerings.

Shortly afterwards, Jez Riley French pitched a large screen on stage and, with his accomplice Phoebe Riley Law, took to the desk at the side. A soundscape of subverted and somehow shifted noises from real-life accompanied what started as a feverish moving wallpaper visual and moved eventually into a black and white shifting letterbox view of the world. This artist’s write-up mentions that he has been commissioned by Tate Modern amongst others and perhaps for me this was more art-installation territory than communal experience but by this stage of the festival I was long past labels.

I’d been looking forward to the next act since hearing about his peanut burning antics and as Lee Patterson took to his table, which was like one of those memory tests; a weird collection of objects including glasses of water, popping candy, springs of various sizes sticking out at a variety of angles from boards, a collection of small glass bottles, limestone (maybe?), a selection of high tech microphones that looked like mini staplers etc. etc., the crowd gathered around him. He did not disappoint; forty minutes of intense staring at this precise, delicately balanced selection of sounds that actually exist all around us, if only we have the right amplification equipment, took me again into that magical experiential world. There was little that could top this and I left with the experimental jazz sounds of Death Shanties squealing behind me. On another day I vow to give them more of my time but for this year I want to preserve the enjoyment of the minutiae of the acoustic world and so was happy to re-enter the Blackpool streets and to reflect on the impact of experiencing the noise of burning peanuts amongst other things.

Overall, the word that best summarises my experience of Other Worlds is ‘challenging’. I am used to gigs, or songs with words, that take me on an emotional journey, conditioned to the theatre of performance as the holy grail of what an interactive experience should be; however, my perceptions have been questioned with each new interaction and I am left with an over-arching sense of something new, something different – something which bears deeper investigation and for that I wholeheartedly salute the organisers for curating such a brilliant collection of otherness.

When I met with Rick and Carlito a couple of months ago and asked them about the festival they said they hoped that “everyone has a good time, that local audiences have the opportunity to be introduced to something new … we hope that everyone who comes has at least one moment of mind-blowingness.” For me they have totally achieved their aims – I had a good time, I was introduced to something new and I had several moments of mind-blowingness! I look forward to future offerings of this kind from the chaps at Must Die Records.


Images by C J Griffiths Photography.

Reclaim Blackpool - Mapping Sexual Harrasment
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    Melanie Whitehead is the Creative Director of The Old Electric, Blackpool's newest theatre. She previously worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.

  • Show Comments (1)

  • dragon bae

    bad suburban nightmare > also dope

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