Memories of Manchester Punk Festival 2022

Written by Sarah Williams. Cover photo by Jimbob Taylor. Other photos by Jimbob, Gary M Hough and Sarah W.

Manchester Punk Festival is a special place. At 2am on Saturday, in the throes of an afterparty, it dawned on me that the thing that makes MPF so special is the fleeting moments of connection that you barely remember afterwards. 

Over the weekend I had countless little moments – wrapping arms around someone I’d not seen in years, finding a circle of old friends dancing in the front row, a friend buying me a drink when I needed it most – it’s all those snapshots where I connected with other people, layered on top of one another to create a rich patchwork of memories, that matter the most.

It’d be crass to write a review of a festival that I’m involved with putting on, so this isn’t a review – it’s a recollection. Over the weekend I saw plenty of bands, but I was also working behind the scenes alongside the MPF collective. MPF is a huge collaborative effort, with a league of volunteers keeping everything running smoothly. Now that the festival’s grown to the size it has, I’m amazed that it’s organised by a bunch of our dickhead mates – there’s no massive corporation behind this sold-out event. 

One of my motivations for starting Shout Louder to was to give an honest account of the events I’d attended so that I wouldn’t forget them. Here’s my perspective on MPF 2022, written so that I can remember some of those special moments in years to come.

Thursday

Thursday is a set-up day. It’s sunny. Everyone’s had a sleepless night, the beer delivery’s gone awry, and one of the organisers is on his fourth can of Monster by 1pm. As we load endless boxes of merch, passes and programmes into a hired van, we’re all equal parts excited and nervous, trying to keep our minds off everything that could go wrong. 

Covid-19 has presented an extra challenge to the 2022 festival – several bands have pulled out in the days before the event, but the team have been quick to replace them with some great alternatives. The concern that a headliner might pull out looms large.

Beyond disrupting the careful planning that’s gone into the running order, losing a headliner could create a serious capacity issue. The festival’s split across seven venues and the total capacity is based on the crowd being spread across those seven venues. Each night there are three headliners, who play in the three largest venues – if one were to pull out, the crowd would converge on two venues instead … and they wouldn’t fit. Whilst attendees may be sympathetic to line-up changes in the Covid climate, we suspect they’d be less understanding if they were left queuing outside a venue at headline time. It’s nightmare fuel for the festival organisers. 

Why have I spent a whole paragraph explaining that? It’s what we writers call ‘foreshadowing’.

Whilst we’re getting the merch, beer, food, wristbands and stages set up, the buzz is growing. Every time I check my socials a new friend has posted about arriving in Manchester. After a two-year break, I’m expecting to see some mates this weekend that I’ve not had a chance to see since 2019. The best place to meet everyone is the pre-show, although there’s time for a pint at The Thirsty Scholar with the Ipswich crowd first. 

Pre-Pre-Show Pints @ The Thirsty Scholar

It’s become a tradition that on the Thursday before MPF, Anarchistic Undertones host a pre-show at Rebellion. I work on the door all night because I’m convinced it’s the best spot – you get to say hello to everyone you know as they filter into the venue, so you don’t miss a single friend. Snatch Game, who play Ru Paul covers in full drag, are opening. They do a Lady Gaga song that gets me dancing in the ticket booth. During their set, they make reference to both opening and closing the festival and Tree and I look at each other as if to say, “What? They’re not closing the festival.” Once again, folks, this is foreshadowing.

Toodles & The Hectic Pity are an utter delight and I’m so happy they’re here. There are a couple of hundred people through the door already, and their sincere songwriting and captivating melodies are well received, despite some sound difficulties. Burning Flag is a complete vibe-change – ferocious, overdriven old-school hardcore. Harijan after them is a similar shift, giving us a history lesson in local ska-punk. It’s an interesting and musically diverse night, which is the perfect preparation for the festival itself. 

There are already hundreds of friends crammed into the building and I’m desperate to catch up with them all … however, I duck out as quickly and quietly as I can. Chris from Darko texted to say he’s arrived at my house, and I want to squeeze in a cup of camomile tea with him before a good night’s rest. Tomorrow’s the real kick-off!

Probably my favourite photo of the whole weekend. Photo by Jimbob Taylor.

Friday

The team convenes at The Union at 10am on Friday. There’s a flurry of activity before the chaos begins at midday: volunteers and bands start to turn up; there’s backline and pallets of Signature Brew to deliver; green rooms to prepare. We’re prepping to get more than a thousand people wristbanded in a couple of hours. Everyone’s excited, no one’s slept; it’s all very high energy. Tone from Burnt Tapes appears behind me and as soon as he hugs me, I burst into tears. This is the first of many emotional reunions this weekend.

Another emotional moment for all of us is seeing the team of volunteers donning their crew t-shirts. The back of the tees is a tribute to our friend Mark Stopford, who sadly passed away in 2021. He’d been an integral part of the MPF volunteer team and he’s seriously missed by all of us. Seeing the Stopford tees popping up over the weekend made sure that he is still part of the magic of MPF.

As hundreds of people descend on The Union to get their wristbands, I’m busy making sure the bands get theirs. While we’re working non-stop, there are messages flying about in our WhatsApp group with videos of Smoking Gives You Big Tits opening the festival at YES. The first band of the weekend and there’s a big queue out the door. I stick my head in at The Union to see hundreds of people ready to watch Aerial Salad – local lads done good! 

Although I’m busy, I’m desperate to see NEXØ, so I jump on my bike and race over to Zombie Shack. It’s full! Even though they’re fairly fresh on the radar, there are tons of people sardined in to watch this Danish hardcore band. It’s an instant love affair; their music is sharp and fast and accented by a frenzied performance. One song in, I’m thinking, “How can it get better than this?” This is the benchmark by which I’m going to be measuring every other band this weekend. 

NEXØ @ Zombie Shack

I catch a couple of songs before making the mistake of checking my phone and realising I’m needed back at The Union. I dash back, solve some problems and in my haste, I don’t immediately notice my own problem … I should have an AAA pass on a lanyard around my neck, but when I glance down it’s not there. I’m wearing a lanyard with no pass attached to it. I search the floor near my bike, feeling the panic rising in my chest, and spot the grated drain cover … sure enough, as I look down into the dank, wet depths of the drain, I see Mr Blobby staring up at me. I’ve lost my staff pass down a drain.

I overcome my shame and embarrassment enough to obtain a new pass and I console myself with a pack of cheap crisps. I catch a few songs of Much The Same, who sound fantastic on the main stage at The Union. The layers of harmonies, the classic 90s-style song-writing, and the blend of new and old songs works … and it’s not often you see a band with three guitarists! Jo Bouwmeester from Coral Springs joins them for a song, lending her incredible vocals to You Used To Have A Garden, one of my favourite tracks off their new EP.

Much The Same @ The Union. Photo by Gary M Hough.

After an hour of somewhat frantic work, I sprint over to Gorilla for Wolfrik. I am so ecstatic to see Wolfrik! The Canadian thrashers came to MPF in 2019 after a lot of fanfare from the Lockjaw Records crew. These guys fuckin’ shred and, beyond the music, it’s wonderfully fulfilling to a lot of faces from the European skate-punk community assembled to watch them. 

Belvedere is the next band I manage to catch. This is another snapshot I want to remember for years to come. Stood on the balcony at The Union, Tree and Danny and I are singing along at the top of our lungs, making our own private mosh-pit. I’m of the opinion that the songs off Belvedere’s latest album Hindsight Is The Sixth Sense stands up alongside their classics from 2004’s Fast Forward Eats The Tape. This is an incredibly enjoyable and energetic set.

Continuing the day’s theme of only seeing 2-3 songs from any band, I dash to catch Decent Criminal at The Bread Shed. The room’s brimful of melodic punk fans and DC garner some big singalongs and enthusiastic dancing. It’s then back to The Union to shift wristbands, where I catch the first couple of songs of Melt-Banana. I briefly felt that I’d slipped into a dystopian future dimension of mind-bending noise. I watched enough to discombobulate my own consciousness, before racing to catch Random Hand.

Random Hand @ Gorilla. Photo by Jimbob Taylor.

I’ve been looking forward to Random Hand more than anything today. Kaz, who’s involved with MPF as well, is there and we agree it’s the first time today that either of us has dropped the stress and let loose. This is another special snapshot moment: we look up at the hot, sweaty venue crammed full of dancing punk rockers and soak up the energy together. This has gone well. Every single drop of hard work that everyone’s put in is worth it. Our mates have made this happen. I start crying happy tears again and then shake it off by screaming along to Scum Triumphant. Random Hand have the crowd in the palm of their hand; they’re in sync with the audience, it feels like we’re all intimately connected in this despite the size of the venue.

Before Random Hand have finished, we’re off to see Fatalist. They’re playing one of the fabled Zombie Shack sets that’s bound to hit capacity. Another great display of Manchester talent, Fatalist shake the tiki bar with their cathartically heavy, distorted hardcore. It’s one-in-one-out by two songs in. 

Fair Do’s @ Rebellion.

I have every intention of getting to the afterparty in time for Fair Do’s set, but instead, I run into Random Hand under a railway bridge and have a lovely natter. We bound over to Rebellion together to find the room packed and the party well underway. Fair Do’s are completely killing it and it’s a jostle of sweaty shred-alongs down the front. I drop my bag off in the green room and make the mistake of sitting down … and nearly fall asleep then second I hit a cushion. Amusingly, Fair Do’s are live-streaming the show on Instagram, so I’m able to watch their set whilst lying on a sofa, with the noise rattling through the wall. I know I say, “I’ll see you down the front,” but perhaps, “You’ll find me lying down,” is more accurate now.

Fair Do’s on Instagram live from the green room @ Rebellion.

Terrorpins are one of those hidden gems of the festival that I hope everyone got to see. Tim Loud’s latest venture has donned dangerously short jean shorts and gold crows, as have most of Bruise Control, who are Manchester’s best-kept secret right now. Both bands feature Tommy Morris on drums who – drumroll, please – deserves a special award for MPF 2022. He managed to play four sets (he filled in for Pizzatramp earlier today and he’s in Oasis tomorrow) and volunteered and helped to set up. His only rivalry is Tom Houseman, who also played four sets (Snatch Game and Follow Your Dreams). They’ll have to call it Manchester Tom Festival next year.

Although the after-party is truly where it’s at, I’ve completely hit the wall energy-wise. It’s my first night of doing MPF sober and I’m struggling to switch to party mode, without the aid of a pint. Fortunately, I’ve got a couple of pals who have an eye on me (thanks Sean and Si) which I will be forever grateful for! I need to go ‘ome, me.

Niall from Bruise Control @ Rebellion. Photo by Jimbob Taylor.

Saturday

At 07:50 on Saturday morning, I get a text from Tree (one of the festival’s organisers) to say that Shai Hulud have pulled out. The headliner nightmare has become a reality. He says they’ve bumped Svalbard up into the headline slot and they’re going to ask a band to do a second set to fill the gap. 

Every day, our team gets to The Union at 10am to set up. When I arrive, there’s no one there apart from Rob from Darko, who looks like he needs a hug. I find him a sofa to lie on until he has to play and get strange deja vu from 2019. At least we know where the van keys are this time. Organisers slowly filter in, in different states. Andy’s chirpy (clearly still drunk) and Big Hands looks like he’d welcome death. Nonetheless, everyone’s excited to work their arse off today.

Rare sighting of McGraw. Big Hands, Andy & Adam.

At midday, we’re hosting the first Shout Louder Sober Social, which Chloe Glover and Helen Taylor from Smoking Gives You Big Tits (both of whom played on Friday) put together with me. By the time I roll over to Sandbar, I’m delighted to see that they’ve got everyone set up on the wooden benches outside in the sunshine. Helen and Chloe are both milling around introducing people and handing out the MPF bingo flyers we made for the event. There are already loads of people here!

As three people at different stages of sobriety, we were all a little intimidated or nervous about attending MPF sober. The music scene often feels like it revolves around booze. In the spirit of do-it-yourself, we thought we’d make a space for anyone who doesn’t buy into that … and I’m amazed by how many people showed up! There’s a deep queue at the bar. Soaking up the sunshine, chatting to like-minded folks and supping alcohol-free pints, I feel all my nerves slough off me like a skin I don’t need anymore. 

Sober Social @ Sandbar

Darko is the first band of the day, and probably the band I’m most excited to see all weekend. I’ve not watched them since they’ve reincarnated with Tom West of Almeida replacing Dan Smith as their vocalist. Tom’s a staggering vocal talent but also the virtual opposite of Dan’s gruff style, so I’m interested to see how that goes. 

After watching The Ladder from the green room balcony, with Holly from Burning Flag doing a hardcore guest vocal slot in the flowiest of dresses (lovely juxtaposition), I head down the front. The Union’s a bit static and I want to tear up. I’m walking through the crowd seeking out my mates like a homing missile, when suddenly Abi, Jo and Sophia all appear from different directions with a look on their faces that says, “I found you!” I can’t stop myself from bursting into happy tears. 

I thought I’d missed watching Darko – what I’d missed more was dancing along to Darko with my friends. We go completely wild, scream along to the lyrics, and we can’t stop hugging each other like we’re afraid to let go. This moment is one I want to remember forever: a handful of songs where it feels like all the horror of 2020-21 is erased and I feel the abandon I remember from before. In the meantime, Darko are playing with the same energy and tenacity that they always do, and Westy’s vocals fit right in. I’m very happy.

Me, Abi, Jo and Sophia watching Darko @ The Union.

My Dad had turned up at the festival just in time for Darko, after a 6+ hour drive. Impeccable timing. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t bang on about my Dad being there in a ‘review’, but having family at the festival was a big part of my weekend. The punk rock community often feels like my chosen family, and the opportunity to integrate the two means more to me than I have the words for. 

My Dad and I grab a swift half with Jordan from Incisions over by the band wristbands. Everything’s running reassuringly smoothly today. Outside The Union there are punks everywhere – there’s something comforting about seeing bepatched and bedraggled misfits sitting crosslegged on the pavement, and a congregation of skate-punks catching up in the smoking area. 

Drones @ The Union. Photo by Gary M Hough.

Drones are smashing out a great show at The Union – it’s their penultimate gig as a band, but there’s nothing lacklustre about their performance. I take the opportunity to shout along to Our Hell Is Right Here one last time, enjoying their signature polish and panache. Not long after, I’m bouncing up and down in the front row for Accidente, a great group of fast, catchy punks from Madrid. It’s a bold move putting a band that sings entirely in Spanish on the main stage, but I’m personally very happy about it. I love Accidente and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to see them.

I had planned to see Proper. but I only make it over to Gorilla in time for Holiday, who have the kind of chorus-writing talent that makes the rest of us want to quit music. They mix it with well-delivered jokes about getting old and giving up. I spend the afternoon pinballing between venues to catch overlapping sets from Holiday, Sam Russo, The JB Conspiracy, Chewie and Knife Club. Sam Russo is an instant contender for set of the weekend, inspiring rousing singalongs in the overflowing basement of YES, whilst throwing in anecdotes from Kieran Kelly’s stag do. MPF should book him every year. 

Holiday @ Gorilla. Photo by Jimbob Taylor.

The JB Conspiracy are a personal favourite of mine, and their upbeat ska-punk is a great excuse to dance. This is the sunny afternoon treat that I need on the Saturday of any festival. Chewie draws a crowd that looks like punk rock church, nearly filling The Union to recite their memorable choruses back at them. I only catch the end of Knife Club, which appears to be a literal riot. The TNS family is out in force, with all the shenanigans that implies.

Follow Your Dreams have already played once today, but they’re saving the day by knocking out a second set to fill a gap that Shai Hulud’s absence created. They’re the perfect support act for Svalbard, with classic hardcore punk vocals atop an insane spiral of guitar effects and math rock time signature shifts. They get me, Kim and Beth on to ‘sing’ for Rinse & Repeat, which is fun and mildly nerve-wracking. I realised earlier in the day that the one job I hadn’t done at MPF was being on stage, so that was a good box to tick, despite my innate hatred of being looked at. 

At Colin from Colin’s Punk Rock World’s recommendation, I make sure to go check out Bar Tape over at Zombie. Clearly, a lot of people listen to Colin – the room is packed full of pals. Gruff melodic punk rock done right – I’m really impressed by Bar Tape, who have all the hooks and melodies that you’d expect from Hot Water Music, delivered with a greater sense of urgency.

Svalbard fill Shai Hulud’s headline slot of the Saturday line-up and, watching them, I think they deserved to headline in the first place. Holy shit. It’s not often that you get to completely lose yourself in a band, but I’m so caught up in their swirling, expansive melange of contrasting guitar tones and staccato blasts that all cognitive thought empties from my head. I feel Svalbard through my veins, not my brain. Their performance is a stirring display of force, and there’s a handful of drummers staring slack-jawed at the side of the stage admiring Mark Lilley’s handiwork.

After a quick pack-down at The Union, I rush to Zombie Shack to watch Christmas. Max Kaspar is one the best frontmen out there, and they’ve got the whole room in a storm. Hanging around below the spiral staircase, I tell everyone who’ll listen that they need to go watch Electric Press next. Newbies from Leeds with a willful disregard for genre convention, Electric Press have got it. Their set is an outstanding highlight from the whole festival – they get the whole of Zombie Shack moving, with circle pits, walls of deaths and a whole lot of crowd surfing. The set careens through a cascade of musical styles, all at a breakneck pace, with the vitality and on-stage dynamism that hooks it all together.  

There’s no way I’m missing Oasis next. Some may recall the failed Chunderwall cover set from 2018 where 100+ people were queued out the door of Zombie Shack, only for one of the amps to fail two songs into the set. Rebellion is one-in-one-out when I arrive with a queue out the door. As soon as I walk in I can’t get over how much Tree looks like he’s living his best life – strutting about pretending to be Liam Gallagher – sunglasses, waterproof jacket, singing upwards into a dangling mic. He even does an angry walk-off. This gig is really putting the Manchester into Manchester Punk Festival.

Chunderwall’s composed of Tree (MPF), Danny (MPF, Fair Do’s), Matt (Revenge of the Psychotronic Man), Josh (Bruise Control) and Tommy (Bruise Control, Terrorpins, Pizzatramp, any band you wave at him, MPF MVP). This set is at once very silly and completely brilliant. The venue’s heaving; a sea of hands swaying in response to Wonderwall and a chorus that swells through the whole room for Some Might Say. Harker follows them with a riotous Black Flag cover set, which I rock out to while catching up with far-flung friends, before I get the joy of going to bed. What a great day.  

Sunday 

At 6:07am (why am I awake?) a text comes through from Tim Loud to the stage manager’s chat: “Stay hydrated,” he says. At 6:07am, one suspects that Tim may not be well hydrated.

On Sunday morning, we hear that two members of Jeff Rosenstock’s tour party have Covid-19. A silence falls over the group as we all consider the ramifications of the biggest headliner pulling out. 

Fortunately, Team Jeff are a hardy lot, and we hear he’s planning to play with a stripped-back three-piece version of the band, while the Covid-effected members isolate. If you were in any doubt whatsoever, this is proof that Jeff Rosenstock is a hero. We quickly put some extra measures in place to make sure Jeff and co. can safely enter the venue, isolate whilst they’re waiting to play, and then make it to the stage without having to fret about transmission.

Bev, Andy and me, still feeling fresh on Sunday morning.

Sunday’s the biggest day for me, line-up wise. The three-way headline clash of MPFJeff, Roughneck Riot and A Wilhelm Scream is making my brain itch, but apart from that I know I’ll be spending most of the day in Gorilla. Tree, Hannah and I walk over there before midday to give a personal welcome to A Wilhelm Scream, by hand-delivering their wristbands and passes. We pop to Teatime Collective to get a portion of breakfast chips, then perch on the balcony seating while AWS soundcheck. Sitting down, chips in hand, laughing at one of my favourite bands fucking about while they soundcheck: this is officially the most relaxed I’ve been all weekend. Sitting down is the main thing.

Crazy Arm @ The Union. Photo by Gary M Hough.

I meet up with my Dad to watch Crazy Arm opening The Union. Crazy Arm are one of those bands that I’ve liked for years and years, but it’s only recently that slow burn’s transformed into love. They’ve got some powerful, anthemic songs that are rooted in rock and country tradition. This is a powerful band with teriffic songwriting. Seeing Sean Howe from Random Hand drumming with them is an extra special treat – the man can really hit stuff. 

I catch a bit of Brassick, run some errands and remember to eat some crisps. Jumping on my bike gets me over to YES in time to catch most of Animal Byproducts, who are a delight. There’s a cute enclave of punks singing along to their cleverly crafted tunes, miming the trumpet parts and generally having a ruddy good time. Before they finish, I’m called over to The Bread Shed to collect some towels, which means I also get to catch the end of Pendleton. A reunion of the fabled local skate-punks, I can see what all the hype’s about. 

Animal Byproducts @ YES. Photo by Sarah Williams.

I deliver the towels to Gorilla shortly before Shit Present go on, only to discover that we still don’t have near enough towels for the headliners, who are dying for a shower after too long in a tour bus. I ignore this, go shout along to Anxious Type and feel the buzz of a room packed full of people there to watch this awesome band that has been in hibernation for a few years. Gorilla’s been heaving all weekend and the energy in the room is palpable. Shit Present are such a force of melodic indie-punk that it’s a joy to watch them energising a room that’s packed to the rafters.

As Shit Present are finishing, there’s a quick conflab about obtaining towels. Ordinarily, this would be easy, but it’s Easter Sunday, everywhere’s shut, and I’m worried about missing Nosebleed. Google informs us that Asda is open for another half hour, so I rope in my Dad to give me a lift over there. Rolling into the desolate car park it’s clear that it’s been shut all day; Google has lied to us. Feeling invested, we drive past several other shuttered shops before landing on the only solution: going back to my house to get all my towels. This was not the MPF experience I was expecting today.

Nosebleed are in there somewhere.

After I have a mild strop about missing Nosebleed, we miraculously return in time to watch most of their set. Well, at least, I think I’m watching Nosebleed. Gorilla’s completely rammed full of people dancing, it’s dark, it’s loud and there’s no on one stage. I can definitely hear Nosebleed but I can’t actually see any of them – even Dickie, their drummer, is shrouded in smoke. From the mezzanine bird’s eye view, there’s an indent in the middle of the crowd like a whirlpool in a sea of people, where I assume Eliott and Ben have dragged their mics stands off stage for a floorshow. Everyone’s going wild; there are human pyramids and a pit and mesmerising flashing lights to accompany the rock ‘n’ roll flooding from the speakers. Without a doubt, this was one of the greatest sets of the weekend.

After a bit more running around, I grab one of Teatime Collective’s incredible vegan burgers and loiter on the cobbles outside Zombie Shack to stuff it in my face. This is one of my favourite spots at the festival because it’s a great meeting place. In the time it takes me to scoff my tea, I run into PMX, Coral Springs and half the Colin’s Punk Rock World crew. You can’t capture these little moments, but they’re what makes the festival so special – brief exchanges with mates from far away. You might not see each other often, but that doesn’t mean you care any less.

One of the unmissable sets of the weekend in Incisions at Gorilla. There’s a herd of Manchester punks and festival organisers at the side of the stage, waiting for them to start, prompting someone to ask, “If we’re all here, who’s running the festival right now?” My Dad’s stood down the front at the barrier with us, which pretty much makes my weekend. The crowd for Incisions looks like a turbulent sea of punks pushing their way to the front; there’s a frenzy of movement and fearless stage diving. 

I’m straight down the front for PMX, who follow. Pull The Trigger fires me right up – it’s such a release to hear the riffs that repeat on your home stereo with the live flair added. These Scottish skaters are some of my personal favourites and to see them second-to-headline in the best venue of the festival is a gift; it’s quite an upgrade from Zombie Shack in 2018. 

The drum kit’s had a battering over the weekend and the kickdrum started walking during Incisions. At some point, I clock that I’m one of the people whose job it is to fix that sort of thing. A monitor hastily wedged in place isn’t doing the job, so I do my best impression of a breeze block and sit in front of it for the last couple of songs. 

Opening with Boat Builders is such a power move. A Wilhelm Scream level Gorilla with a show so blindingly good that I have to jump into the crush at the front of the stage and go feral with everyone else. It feels like the last three years have been one long, uphill battle that’s culminated at this moment – all of the disappointment of cancelling 2020’s event, and all the anxiety of redoubling efforts to make 2022 as great as it can be; it all feels like it’s come down to this moment. A Wilhelm Scream are flawless live, a juggernaut of thrash, enthralling riffs, runs and other heroic guitar moves. The energy emitting from the stage is akin to that of the sun, as the band race through a high-calibre back catalogue of favourites and new anthems.

Partway through a song, Nuno leans down, grasps my hand, rubs his sweaty cheek on mine and says, “Oh hey, Sarah! Thanks for the towels.” 

Closing down The Union.

There’s a flurry of activity at The Union to pack down, as everyone spills out from watching Jeff Rosenstock onto the street. Everyone’s looking happy, tired and pleased with a job well done; they’re already talking about next year, even though we’ve got an afterparty to enjoy yet. Walking out into the night there’s the lightest smattering of rain, with the threat of a storm incoming. It’s one of those divine symbols from heaven; the fabled wet Manchester weather has been dormant all weekend, now reaching a thundery cataclysm as the festival draws to a close.

One of the great secrets of Manchester Punk Festival is its afterparties. If I could play any set at MPF, it would be midnight at Rebellion, Zombie or Bread Shed – the venue’s always full and the crowd’s always wild. I decide to go to Bread Shed because Forever Unclean are top of my watch list, which means I’m also in the room for Corrupt Vision and … HOLY HELL. I wish I’d brought a spare face because they tore mine straight off. 

By coincidence, almost all the festival organisers have landed in the Bread Shed green room, collectively breathing a sigh of relief and sharing a moment of reverent silence. Corrupt Vision draws us away from our seats. One of the greatest surprises of the whole festival for me, CV are outstanding, racing through hardcore to screeching grind and ska-tinged moments. I need someone to pick me up off the floor afterwards. 

Danish indie-skate-punks Forever Unclean are one of the bands I’ve been most excited to see all festival, and their set is a moment where I completely let my hair down and dance with abandon. Their simple, infectious songs are unbeatable and this feels like the ideal culmination of a great weekend. Their bassist, Troels, launches himself into the crowd at the end. 

To finish off the festival, we trek across town to Rebellion to catch Snatch Game closing the show. It’s pouring with rain now. After joking about opening and closing the festival in their set on Thursday, Snatch Game is filling in at short notice after the Sublime cover set was hit by Covid. This is the perfect end to the weekend, and their medley of Ru Paul covers delivered in full drag transforms into a lip-syncing DJ set that inspires a circle pit at 3am. 

Relaxed and happy, I grab a drink with PMX, Mirjam and a few skate-punk pals I’ve hardly seen over the weekend. No one wants to go home now; we can’t believe it’s over. 

After a two year gap and a lot of nervous anticipation, MPF 2022 felt like a return to form. Apart from the bands and the beers, the festival was my first chance to see a lot of people that I truly care about, after a gap longer than any of us expected. It made me feel alive again, and it’s got me fired up for what the rest of 2022 holds. I hope I can remember it for a long time to come.

For what it’s worth, my bands of the weekend were Nosebleed, Corrupt Vision, Svalbard, Random Hand, NEXØ, PMX, A Wilhelm Scream, Sam Russo, Forever Unclean and Electric Press.

Tickets are already on sale for 2023 – grab one here. I’ll see you down the front.

Written by Sarah Williams. 


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6 thoughts on “Memories of Manchester Punk Festival 2022

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  1. That was a bloody good read! I’m really impressed that you managed such full, detailed coverage of what must have been organised chaos.

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  2. Quality weekend, an absolute joy to be in attendance! Great write-up. I’ve got a dumb smile beaming across my mush reading it and reminiscing while I take my allotted respite break from the unrelenting tedium of the day job.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Quality weekend, an absolute joy to be in attendance! Great write-up. I’ve got a dumb smile beaming across my mush reading it and reminiscing while I take my allotted respite break from the unrelenting tedium of the day job.

    Liked by 1 person

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