Over five years, Manchester Punk Festival has flourished and become one of the biggest and best festivals Europe has to offer.
For me personally, MPF is a bigger event in my calendar than Christmas. I enjoyed the first three years of the festival so much that I decided to move to Manchester, because it has the most active, welcoming and diverse punk rock scene in the country. I’ve since had the privilege of volunteering at the festival, writing articles for their programme and website, and seeing first-hand the love, stress and dedication that the organisers pour into the event every year.
This year I’m also ‘performing’ at the festival. Come and join us in Font Bar @ 12:30 Friday to watch a live recording of the Shout Louder podcast. I’ll be talking about mental health in music, with Lucias of Call Me Malcolm and Holly from Hell Hath No Fury Records.
With 138 acts at this year’s Manchester Punk Festival, you’re spoilt for choice. These are the 10 I’m looking forward to the most.
Wolfrik are a recent Lockjaw Records discovery – these guys crank out fiery melodic thrash, with a huge metal/classic rock edge that’s insanely fun to listen to. Knowing the incendiary effect their Skeleton City EP’s had on everyone who’s heard it, I’m excited to see the impact it’ll have on a keen live audience.
I’ve not managed to catch Svalbard live yet, although their 2018 album It’s Hard to Have Hope was one of my favourites of last year. They’re well known in the metal scene, however they’re also an ideal fit for fans of dark, furious hardcore punk. Lyrically tackling feminism and politics and writing soaring Counterparts-esque guitar parts has made front-woman Serena Cherry one of my personal musical heroes. I’m looking forward to an intense, earth-shattering live show.
Although it’s sad that Main Line 10 had to pull out of MPF at short notice, I couldn’t suggest a better band to replace them than Fastfade. My mum used to embarrassingly refer to excitable lads and ‘young, dumb and full of cum’, but that genuinely applies to these guys, no matter how cringe-worthy that is.
Nailing a mark somewhere between Captain Everything, Green Day and Blink 182, Fastfade are stupidly good fun. We’ve got a big ol’ soft spot for them, and I hope they get the massive crowd they deserve at MPF.
Stöj Snak must be one of the best kept secrets of the punk scene. Everyone who’s discovered him as fallen head-over-heels in love with him. Previously part of Danish hardcore band Mighty Midgets, he’s a self-described ‘screamer songwriter’ with an enthralling, unusual and magical live show.
If you’re hanging about around Brickhouse Social (previously the Underdog) there’s some other great acts on that are worth a look: Tim Loud with his full band, Animal Byproducts, Joe Tilston, Tragical History Tour and Speed Dinosaurs in particular, are all thoroughly entertaining.
This is a personal one for me. Although I’m massively biased, because I helped with their release through Lockjaw Records, I’m a full believer that Leopards was the best album of 2018. As Manchester locals, this is bound to be one of their biggest hometown shows, taking over the massive stage in Gorilla.
Their sound’s firmly in the fast-as-fuck skate-punk camp, but their roots are in metal and hardcore. The sheer heft and speed of some of their tracks will no doubt sound better in Gorilla than any venue they’ve conquered so far. Although it’ll be nice to see some new bands, this is the set I’m looking forward to the most out of the whole weekend. I also heard a rumour that they might play Hanging which, if they do, well…. fuck.
Follow Your Dreams
New Manchester hardcore act Follow Your Dreams have a delightful disregard for for playing by the musical rules. They create dissonant breakneck hardcore, entirely in contrast to their cutesy name. Not dissimilar to Egos At The Door or Stillbust, they’ve got fierce female vocals in the style of Casual Nausea. After a storming opening set at Shout Louder Fest earlier this year, I’m seriously keen to catch them live again.
Eat Dirt have just launched a new single Death Is Death ahead of their MPF appearance, which gives listeners a first taste of their no-holds-barred hard rock. Coming from a background of both punk rock and metal, Eat Dirt serve up throaty, exciting, riffy ruckus. Their live show’s one of the best around – if you’ve not caught them before, MPF is the ideal opportunity. Check out our interview with the band.
The Penske File
I caught The Penske File when they toured through Manchester last year. Although I’d enjoyed their album Salvation, they weren’t top of my hit list, however their live show completely blew me away. I remembered exchanging a look with Tree (one of MPF’s organisers) mid-set that pretty much said, “Holy fuck, these guys are incredible,” which I assume it why they’re gracing the MPF bill a few months down the line.
Their bright, warm tunes fall into the classic Canadian tradition of melodic punk, in the same vein as The Flatliners. Definitely worth a watch, even if that’s not your favourite genre. Check out our interview with the band.
Welsh hardcore band Habits surprised me more than once when I caught them live last year. In a world where there’s no shortage of cookie-cutter punk bands, Habits provided something rare and intriguing. They pour visceral passion into their songwriting and their performances. If you’re after a taste of something different, check out Habits over the weekend.
Last time I saw Adrenalized, I wound up on stage with about 30 other people, all air-shredding away before jumping back into the crowd. Last summer, they floored me at both Brakrock and Punk Rock Holiday – it’s hard for me to imagine a better live show. If you like your punk rock faster than lightning and played with insane skill, get ready to be swept up by Adrenalized.
There are countless other bands we’re excited to see: Not On Tour, Snuff and Samiam are our choice of the headliners. Who are you going to see? Let us know in the comments.
You can keep track of the MPF line-up using the Clashfinder, or on the incredibly handy MPF app. Available for Apple and Android, the MPF app’s got a particularly useful function where you can build your own line-up and set reminders for the bands you most want to see.