This Vibrant Thing: A look at the multi-art festival showcasing creative talent at libraries across Manchester

Manchester’s best new talent is taking centre stage in a festival called This Vibrant Thing.

The first date – staged as part of Creative Spaces, a cultural initiative in libraries across Manchester – took place in partnership with Platform MCR earlier this month.

It saw local artists stunning library-goers as they worked their magic doing things like singing, reciting poetry and presenting installations at Longsight Library.

Co-founder of Platform MCR, Tunde Adekoya, helped curate the acts for the festival.

He told MM said: “This Vibrant Thing is for anyone who loves live, cutting-edge music, feels in any way creative and is curious about the transformation of their local library into a place for remarkable performances to take place.”

The event in Longsight Library is one of three of these special library days, which showcase Manchester artists like HMD, Abnormal Sleepz, Mica Millar, Glue70, the MAD Theatre Company, and many more.

The Longsight date was MC’d by Isaiah Hull, a poet from Old Trafford, who was equal parts proud and excited about the day and performing in a library.

MC: Isaiah Hull hosted the creative event

Isaiah’s flows are unique, sound-considered and conversational, much like when you speak to him. He is arguably the most interesting and original poet in Manchester since John Cooper Clarke.

After a couple of poems from him, backed by the local band 8 Gold Rings and the rhythm section for LEVELZ, the floor was opened up to the crowd to perform.

“The library is yours, the library is yours,” Isaiah said.

POETRY: Jardel Rodrigues of NABB Gang got up for an impromptu performance 

The band continued playing their jazzy hip-hop as Jardel Rodrigues stepped up and put down a poem, which was well-received by those watching. The poet/rapper is part of NABB Gang with Isaiah – one of many indications of how involved everyone is at this festival and in the Manchester music scene.

There were plenty of kids in the audience, as well as people milling about looking in cook books, autobiographies and reading newspapers. The feeling was very special – all at once a library and an excellent showcase of friends doing their music and art with each other.

8 Gold Rings were one of the highlights of the day and they continued playing up until lunchtime when everyone dispersed for a bit to eat.

Reflecting on the day, Ben from the band said: “It’s important for bringing the community together.”

Upstairs a tasty lentil dahl was dished out by 4Lunch, while singer Kid Katharsis played his guitar in the corner.

As well as food and music, there was yoga for kids and adults upstairs. People were encouraged to make their own music too in the ‘Pop Up Beats’ room, organised by CONTACT.

NEXT GENERATION: Even the kids got in on the action

After lunch, super pianist Jonathan Ababio took to the stage back downstairs. The crowd’s stunned silence was testament to his talent. This was a more peaceful performance in amongst the more energetic acts.

A trio of poets from the collective, Young Identity, were up next. Their poems were interesting, with a political edge, and had the crowd hooked as they took turns on the mic. Isaiah claimed they were the reason he got into poetry. He has in the past done projects with them, as has Mica Millar.

Abnormal Sleepz (Reece Samuels) was next to perform on the main stage (inside the yellow tape stuck to the floor). Doing tracks from his critically acclaimed album The Meditape 2, he brought, in his own words, the ‘powers, vibes and energy’ to Longsight.

Rapper HMD (Hamdi), who like Abnormal Sleepz is from nearby Moss Side, finished off the day superbly. The two rappers have also shared a studio since October, introduced to one another by Tunde, and HMD appears on The Meditape 2.

POETRY WITH A PUNCH: Young Identity took to the stage

The Ananna Girls Group poetry and Women Asylum Seekers Together Choir also performed and were equally excellent.

As Isaiah put it, the day was about ‘trying to encourage library-goers and non-library-goers to come and use the library’.

This was certainly the case as Manchester’s artists came together to create something special. It was fantastic to see so many children at the event as well, getting involved in arts and crafts, yoga, and getting a boogie on to some live hip-hop.

Seeing the sound engineer Adam with his mixer on one of the library computer desks seemed to sum up the whole feeling of ‘let’s make this work’ from the relaxed yet passionate attitudes of those involved.

He said This Vibrant Thing helped promote an ‘awareness of what you can do in a library’.

Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Schools, Culture and Leisure, said events like This Vibrant Thing ‘bring people together to experience their libraries in new and unexpected ways’.

Manchester artists like The Mouse Outfit, Black Josh, IAMDDB and Bipolar Sunshine have in recent times carried the flag for Manchester. Where they came from though, there is a whole heap more musicians, poets and performers. The quality of ‘the scene’ is something to behold.

Singer and Reform Radio DJ Mica Millar, from Withington, has known Tunde for a few years, doing the first Reform show with him, along with fellow DJ Jenna G.

SPIRIT: Adam the sound guy captured the attitude of the day

Speaking to MM, she revealed: “He’s just such a passionate person and if anyone’s going to inspire young people to do whatever they’re doing then it’s going to be him.”

Curator almost seems the wrong word to describe Tunde. More accurate is just a friend in the community making stuff happen musically.

About those artists he helps and cares about, he simply argued: ‘Everything that they need and their inspiration is right here.’

Mica Millar will MC the next This Vibrant Thing event and is excited to be involved. The singer and DJ thinks that outside of Manchester the media too often harp back to the good old days of Madchester and the Haçienda.

“We’ve moved on from that” she explained. “It [Manchester] has got its own sound, it’s heavily influenced by that underground hip-hop, soul side of things.”

8 Gold Rings’ bassist Ben plays in Mica’s band, though she hasn’t played with their full band before. It is likely to be a beautiful thing though, an event not to be missed.

*This Vibrant Thing continues on Saturday, March 17 at Wythenshawe Forum Library. It concludes on Saturday, March 24 at North City Library in Harpurhey.

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