Supersonic Festival 2023: A weekend with the weird and wonderful – Friday 1 September

Words by Ray Vincent-Mills / Pics by Israr Ahmed

It’s Friday afternoon, and it’s the first day of Supersonic Festival – with a special appearance from the sun. Someone in line tells me his day has been worse than worse but it’s about to get imminently better.

This year is celebrating 20 years of the experimental music and arts festival and entering The Mill, in Digbeth, I walk into Ex Easter Island – four figures dressed in black accompanied by a stutter of strings a collection of strings and bells falling and rising producing a lovely and unique soundscape.

I wonder downstairs past the bar, which includes plates of samosas, and into the Marketplace, to a DJ bobbing with carbon cutouts of two humanoid robots embracing with ports for genitals.

A few feet away and it is teeming with stalls of side hustles from zines to stickers to records, and vintage flashlights with the food court outside. I go back upstairs and catch Ondata Rossa, a trio of sublime vocals, harrowing snarls with streaks of violin and finger taps, alongside visuals of animal innards.

I go to the other venue, 7SVN, which is just across the street, and float into the smoking area; it feels like someone opened the ‘Eat Me’ jar from Alice in Wonderland.

Back on the The Mill stage are un.procedure – a trio made up of a synth, saxophone and drums. The crowd moves the most I’ve seen all day to the sounds of electronic jazz; their stage presence is undeniable and sets a high standard for the rest of the evening.

In 7SVN, Hey Colossus don’t disappoint with intense and unforgiving hardcore. I drift back into The Mill for Giant Swan (a replacement for MC Yallah who unfortunately wasn’t granted her visa) a techno duo with all the ferocity of a punk band; the whole crowd moves as the queers are to the front and a pair of friends flutter around each other.

“You look so damn gorgeous I’d put you on a coaster,” one of them shrieks. I’m not too sure what they mean, but all my cells are dancing and I want to stop to breathe but the music says absolutely not. The man whose day was worse than worse is dancing like no one’s watching, hair in face, arms up.

Ex Easter Island Head and local three piece Total Luck launched the first day of Supersonic Festival’s double decade celebration.

Now, Infinity Knives + Brian Ennals end the first night; back in 7SVN,with bops about killing your landlord and the police with a funky fusion of hip hop and disco towards the end of the set. We just want reparations indeed.

Supersonic Festival 2023 – Friday 1 September / Israr Ahmed

(Artists featured: Deerhoof, Ex Easter Island Head, Hey Colossus, Total Luck, un.procedure)

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