With Manchester Punk Festival less than a week away, it’s time to throw the spotlight on some of the bands we can’t wait to see. The MPF 2022 line-up is as stacked as ever, and I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of old friends and favourites playing, but the true highlights of Manchester Punk Fest are discovering new bands, catching international acts who don’t often play in the UK, and getting to see a few lesser-known punk rock gems.
I will definitely be found at the front for Darko, Nosebleed and Forever Unclean, who are probably my personal favourites of the bands that are playing over the weekend. It also goes without saying that the headliners, particularly the international ones like Jeff Rosenstock and A Wilhelm Scream should be top of your watch list (although to be fair, I may skip them both to go see Roughneck Riot).
Here’s a quick waltz through some of the less-obvious bands I’m most excited to see. P.S. I also made a playlist.
Accidente is probably the band I’m most excited to see. They are fucking incredible on record, so I can’t imagine how good they are live. So energetic, so catchy, so fast – they’ve been churning out albums since 2011 and their latest, Cannibal and Pulso, are both staggeringly good. They’ve got a bit of that classic punk rock magic, twinned with a lot of modern upbeat energy.
They’re travelling from Madrid, and they sing in Spanish, but don’t let that put you off. If you only go see one of the bands I recommend, make it Accidente.
- FFO: Minor Threat, Not On Tour, The Vicious
- Listen: accidente.bandcamp.com
- Stage time: Saturday – The Union – 15:40
Brooklyn’s Proper. are the real deal. They tell stories through poetic, emotive lyrics over a melody-driven, mid-noughties emo foundation. They’ve just released a new album on Big Scary Monsters – The Great American Novel is a semi-autobiographical concept album about vocalist Erik Garlington’s lived experience as a black man growing up in the bible belt of America. “[It’s] a concept album about how Black genius goes ignored, is relentlessly contested, or just gets completely snuffed out before it can flourish.”
Beyond the important socio-political intent behind the songwriting, Proper. are just a great band. Their last album I Spent The Winter Writing Songs About Getting Better gives me actual chills. Go see them.
- FFO: Coheed & Cambria, Say Anything, At the Drive-In.
- Listen to: The Great American Novel
- Stage time: Saturday – Gorilla – 15:50
Joining us from Santa Rosa/San Diego, California, here’s hoping that Decent Criminal bring the sunshine along with them. Their export is infectious hook-laden tunes, dancing the line of power pop, lo-fi and just good ol’ classic punk rock in a classically American way. I can’t fault these guys and I’m insanely excited to catch them live.
- FFO: Forever Unclean, Debt Neglector, Devon Kay & The Solutions
- Listen: Their 2017 album Bloom
- Stage time: Friday – The Bread Shed – 19:50
A very last minute last-minute addition to the MPF line-up, but an incredible band – I’m so excited to see Animal Byproducts now gracing the stage at YES, early doors on Sunday! Local lovelies Animal Byproducts play beautiful, life-affirming music that’s at once complex and uplifting. Their Attempts At Understanding EP was one of my top releases of 2021, and seeing them live is always a mesmerising, captivating treat. Expect semi-acoustic stylings, with a trumpet and whole lot of heart.
- FFO: Onsind, Martha, Fresh, Stoj Snak
- Listen: Their Attempts at Understanding EP
- Stage time: Sunday – YES – 15:00
Closing the Friday night afterparty, Bruise Control‘s set is guaranteed to be a messy punk rock riot. They are Manchester’s newest punk rock darlings, wading in a pool of well-deserved hype. Their sound drapes a bare-bones punk skeleton with swathes of indie, grunge and ballsy classic rock swagger. Frontman, Jimbob Taylor leads the crew with his best Iggy impressions, and although they’ve got a certain classic appeal, they’re a distinctly current band – proper finger-on-the-pulse stuff. Come see what the hype’s all about (assuming everyone’s still standing at 1am, the band included).
- FFO: Amyl & The Sniffers, Fugazi, The Stooges
- Listen to: Their single Taxman – good luck getting it out of your head
- Stage time: Friday – Rebellion – 00:40
Recommended to me by Forever Unclean on our recent podcast, NEXØ is a frantic hardcore band from Copenhagen, Denmark. They’ve just announced that they’re releasing a new album False Flag on TNSrecords and 5FeetUnder, to coincide with the festival. This is acerbic protest punk with raw edges, but an undercurrent of melody that gives you that hook to hold on to.
To quote TNS: “It’s a goddamn cliché, but a show with NEXØ is blood, sweat and tears blasted through an amplifier.”
- FFO: Gorilla Biscuits, Honningbarna, Bruxa Maria
- Listen: nexocph.bandcamp.com
- Stage time: Friday – Zombie Shack – 15:10
Better known as the frontman of moderately successful 90’s ska-punk band, Lightyear, Chas Palmer-Williams is one of the truly unmissable acts at MPF2022 for me.
Chas is funny and charming and writes the most clever little ditties. I don’t think I’ve seen him do a solo set since, like, 2016. 2015 maybe? I am convinced that his album American Smile, British Teeth is one of the best solo records ever recorded, it’s still on regular rotation for me even 7 years after its release. This will be a lovely time.
- FFO: Ducking Punches, Sam Russo, all things Household Name
- Listen to: Jaeger For You, For Me Formaldehyde
- Read: Our interview with Chas from the 2018 MPF programme
- Stage time: Saturday – YES – 18:15
The JB Conspiracy
The JB Conspiracy are surely one of the greatest bands to have ever blessed this sweet Earth, and yet still woefully underrated in my view. They’ve got all the complexity of melodic hardcore, but they’ve applied it to brass-driven pop-rock instead. Some call it ska, some call it alternative rock, they occasionally flirt with rocksteady … whatever you want to call it, it’s hard not to like it. Few bands on the line-up are as accessible as The JB Conspiracy are – no matter your tastes, this is a great opportunity to come down and have a dance.
- FFO: Streetlight Manifesto, RX Bandits, The Flatliners
- Listen to: This Machine
- Read: Our write up of their latest album Beginnings
- Stage time: Friday – The Union – 17:40
This is going to be a good gig for Fatalist. They’re playing the slot that is almost always rammed – Zombie Shack at 22:15, the gap between the headliners and the afterparties, so they don’t clash with anyone. I know how much care and attention the MPF organisers put into the running order, and this slot tells you that they really want you to go check out Fatalist.
I’ve got a real soft spot for Fatalist. They’re a local Manchester hardcore band – think dark, atmospheric walls of sound, big discordant guitar noise, wails of feedback, all that good stuff. When you’re stumbling out of Melt-Banana, Apologies or Random Hand, I’ll be running up the spiral staircase to Zombie shack so I don’t miss a thing.
- FFO: Modern Life Is Far, From The Ashes Rise, Incisions
- Listen to: Their new EP Ruination
- Stage time: Friday – Zombie Shack – 22:15
Cor blimey, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Shit Present. Their show at MPF is a fairly rare appearance, in part because frontwoman Iona Cairns is living out in Australia. Y’all might recognise Iona from Great Cynics and Thom Weeks from Gnarwolves in the band, which probably gives you some idea of the delightful, sincere brand of indie-punk you can expect from Shit Present.
- FFO: Fresh, Muncie Girls, Specialist Subject vibes
- Listen: I am a big fan of their Misery + Disaster EP from 2016
- Stage Time: Sunday – Gorilla – 15:50
That’s it, that’s ten bands. There are an absolute metric fuckload more that you should go and see, and they’re all bloody good. In fact, there isn’t a single band on the MPF line-up where I’d say, “Fuck going to watch them, they’re shite.” Which is quite something, when you think about it.
If I can give you some small advice about how to make the most of MPF: go see the bands you’ve never heard of, don’t be afraid to watch half a set then run to see another band, and bring snacks. Definitely bring snacks.
We’ve got an MPF previews podcast due out next week – it’s an interview with one of the organisers, Kieran Kelly. Keep your ears peeled for that. I’ll see you down the front!
Written by Sarah Williams.
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