Birmingham’s annual Supersonic festival returns this week in a bid tocontinue the justification of its well-worn accolades. Now in its eighthyear after launching as just a one-day festival in 2003, the line-up thisyear is truly a capsule of diversity. Mixing international bands with localBirmingham acts makes this a great platform for grindcore bands such as Fukpig, Godflesh and Napalm Death to stand alongside the artists likean altogether less noisier Krautrock legend, Michael Rother and his Hallogallo project and the electronically minded Factory Floor.
Taking place at what is essentially Birmingham’s creative centre, theCustard Factory (yes, where Alfred Bird’s custard used to be made) inDigbeth, the local area offers much in the way of entertainment, curry andbooze – all of which are likely to be inhaled by visitors at length.
Festival attendees should be prepared for more than legends of noise, andhead out in search of the experimental. There’ll be some delicious oudplaying from Iraq’s Khyam Allami & Master Musicians Of Bukkake (last yearKhyam performed a Black Sabbath tune for the benefit of the Birminghamaudience) which could potentially go hand-in-hand with the virtuoso guitarstylings of 12-string botherer, James Blackshaw; Dead Fader‘sgarage-styled take on UK bass music will please many who are visiting thefactory specifically for outfits such as The Bug‘s King MidasSound. Lichensare on hand to provide experimental improvisation and there’s drone fromthe wonderful Bong.
Though titled ‘Supersonic’, the festival encompasses more than music, andthere are a handful of films including graphic documentaries Swansea LoveStory and The Vice Guide To Liberia to keep the eyes engaged and braininformed. If education is your want, then you must attend Sam Underwood’sNoise Box workshop on Saturday. A noise box works in much the way a theremindoes, but its frequency is controlled by light (advance booking isrequired). Also on Saturday, there’ll be gigs for kids held across at theMidlands Arts Centre: an hour long workshop focusing on experimental musicfor two-to-seven-year-olds and their families. Just in case you want to get themstarted young, then?
After all that, revellers can stand back and enjoy the Sunday headlinedelight of Swans, the attractive indie guitar-pop of Barn Owl, and thesweet, harmonious sounds of Peter Broderick and much more. Altogether,Supersonic 2010 stands to retain its reputation as the most diverse metal /avant garde festival in the UK.