FutureEverything festival returns to Manchester with a bumper line-up of music, art and debate

By Tom Midlane

Fancy a festival this summer but without the exorbitant entrance fee, the camping-induced cricked neck or the mud?

Forget Glastonbury, SXSW or Coachella, Manchester’s pioneering FutureEverything festival returns in May with a line-up to get discerning music fans, interactive art lovers and tech geeks hot and bothered.

Now in its seventeenth year, this year’s FutureEverything – titled FutureEverybody –  takes its inspiration from the 75th anniversary of the Mass Observation movement, which aimed to document the habits and routines of everyday people, and the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives.

Taking place across the city in venues as diverse as the Museum of Science of Industry, Manchester Academy, Islington Mill, Royal Northern College of Music and Victoria Baths, MM has put together a preview of a handful of the festival’s highlights.


There’s a mouthwatering musical roster this year, headlined by Brazilian electronic music producer Amon Tobin, who brings his cubist audio-visual onslaught to Manchester Academy on Saturday May 19. A bigger, bolder version of the 3D AV shows toured by DJs like Plastikman, DJ Shadow and Etienne De Crecy, it promises to leave ears ringing and minds blown.

Elsewhere, on Thursday May 17, the so-called “Godfather of Krautrock” Dieter Moebius (of Cluster and Harmonia fame) performs a live score to Fritz Lang’s 1927 German Expressionist masterpiece Metropolis at Salford’s elegant grade II listed St Philip’s Church, supported by the brilliant Polinski.

Alt-J and No Ceremony will headline a specially-curated New Sounds of the North showcase at Quay House, while listeners who want to be challenged should check out Matthew Herbert’s spectacular One Pig, a live performance on Friday May 18 of his 2011 album that follows the life of a pig from birth to dinner plate.

With echoes of Matmos’ A Chance to Cut is A Chance to Cure, which sampled plastic surgeons in action, the avant-garde musician has created an electronica album that captures the sounds of an anonymous pig’s life on a Kent farm, through to its death at an abattoir, and the consumption of the meat at a banquet hosted in its honour by Heston Blumenthal.

This controversial work utilised the pig’s meat, which was turned into musical instruments bunting and tablecloths were made from the blood, the fat became candles, trotters a candelabra, and the pig’s farmyard oinks were recorded and sampled as part of the score.


Internationally renowned interative art pioneers Blast Theory are premiering their new show ‘I’d Hide You’, billed as a “game of stealth, cunning and adventure” played by participants using smartphones, the internet and smart television, in the 1830 Warehouse, a Grade I listed building which forms part of the Museum of Science and Industry’s site in Castlefield.

Human Resources’ sees Lawrence Epps bring a new spin to his 2011 piece which saw 6,000 “additional commuters” taking to the streets of London and Stoke-on-Trent in the form of miniature ceramic figures for the British Ceramics Biennial.

Aaron Koblin and Takashi Kawashima’s trailblazing ‘Ten Thousand Cents’ is presented in Manchester for the first time as a print and video installation and a magical ‘Ant Ballet’ by Ollie Palmer is the world’s first ballet to exclusively feature ants!

‘Theatre Jukebox presents Mass Observation’ is a new work by artists Theatre Jukebox, presented on a new digital canvas taking material and inspiration from the Mass Observation Archive.

Artists Joern Roeder and Jonathan Pirnay explore issues around accessibility and internet privacy with ‘fbFaces’ a fascinating installation using the public profiles of Facebook users and their friends, newly created specific to Manchester following its German premiere in 2011.

Manchester’s historic Victoria Baths is the venue for ‘Handmade’, an interactive craft fair from artists working in craft and digital technology, designed to encourage visitors to create their own DIY artworks, which will sit alongside a  zine symposium displaying Manchester zines, with workshops allowing audiences to contribute to the making of a collective Victoria Baths Fanzine. 


On May 17 and 18, the Museum of Science and Industry will play host to the FutureEverything Conference, bringing together the latest debate and visionary ideas.

Richard Ayers, Head of Digital at Manchester City FC will be discussing whether technology will change the tribal nature of football fandom, while Farida Vis explains her role in The Guardian’s Reading the Riots study, which analysed 2.5m tweets sent during the August unrest last year.

Other keynote speakers include Birgitta Jonsdottir, the Icelandic MP and member of The Movement, a group campaigning for democratic reform beyond party politics of left and right. Birgitta will speak about the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, crowd-sourcing the new constitution and experimentation with direct democracy in Iceland.


For a full guide to what’s on, venues and to buy tickets visit:, call 0161 834 1300 or email [email protected]

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