Live: To Sophia – Eurocultured Festival

Eurocultured is an annual street festival that takes place around Oxford Rd train station in Manchester every year. It features brilliant graffiti artists, performances, cinema and live music from all over Europe and, unlike other events, exists to showcase the most interesting and cutting edge artistic projects, rather than those that will simply sell the most tickets.

To Sophia are a band based in the leafy Suburb of Chorlton, but have a sound that is anything but domesticated and easy listening. After having gigged as an acoustic act for a number of years (affectionately described to me by lead singer Najia Baji as acoustic drum ‘n bass) they have recently expanded their setup and ‘gone electric’ (insert 1967 Bob Dylan reference here). Sadly, I never saw To Sophia as an acoustic group so am unable to comment on the transition, but what I saw at Eurocultured was seriously impressive.

Despite a quite frankly shambolic atmosphere and disastrous sound setup, To Sophia rocked the roof off at Thirsty Scholar. With instrumentals sounding a bizarre mash between jazz, punk and metal, drums so perfectly rhythmic they sounded almost electronic and gritty, soulful vocals, To Sophia are truly unique. A band they could possibly be compared to, if anything, would be The Noisettes around the time their first E.P came out (Burn / Monte Christo / Signs) but even that wouldn’t really give an idea of what To Sophia are trying to do.

Bands that transcend genre definition are few and far between. What interests me about To Sophia is that they are genuinely free of obligation to cite direct influence and totally devoid of pretentiousness. They are doing their thing, and so long as it makes them happy then they will obviously continue to do so. In a world where I am constantly being subjected to bands that care more about their haircuts than their songs, I find the pure attitude and dedication to music that To Sophia have genuinely inspirational – enough to restore my faith that there is good and interesting music out there, you just need to know where to find it. To Sophia were the highlight of my weekend, and easily one of the most interesting bands working in Manchester at the moment.

To Sophia are next due to perform at Kendal Calling festival. I’ll be there – and so should you.

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