Gig Review: Behind-The-Scenes at Manchester Punk Festival 2019

A review of MPF from Sarah, who volunteers at the event. Friends, frantic dashes between venues and some top-class hardcore, including Not On Tour, Adrenalized, Svalbard, Consumed, Fair Do’s and Snuff.

Although there will be reviews aplenty, at Shout Louder we want to offer two unique perspectives on the fifth year of Manchester Punk Festival. Mark Bartlett’s given us is highlights as an MPF virgin, where as Sarah Williams is an MPF veteran who volunteers at the festival. In this edition, Sarah gives us a unique perspective from behind the scenes.

Excitement for Manchester Punk Festival begins long before the doors open to the public. Unfortunately, excitement can easily be mistaken for stress.

Weeks before the main event, I’m inundated with messages asking about guest list, accommodation, press accreditation and band recommendations. I’m only a volunteer, I’m not even one of the organisers – I can’t begin to imagine the sheer insanity of their inboxes. How they manage to keep it together in the days leading up to the festival, I will never know.

Welcome To Manchester Punk Festival.jpg

Thursday

The hard graft starts in earnest on Thursday – the eve of the festival. I drive to Moston to join a five car convoy; our best method of transporting all the festival merchandise in the absence of ROPTM’s van. I’m blasting out Ocean Wisdom round the M60 like some boy racer on the way, which is harshly interrupted by a phonecall about a bounced band payment and a confusing artist hotel booking. We get it sorted in seconds, like pros.

Delivering the merchandise is the first time I’ve seen MPF’s brand new venue: The Union. It’s a huge, modern student building fittingly decorated in Manchester’s signature yellow-and-black. I’m shocked to see the size of the main hall. As we climb ladders to hang banners, it starts to look like a ‘real’ festival venue. It’s fucking huge. Continue reading “Gig Review: Behind-The-Scenes at Manchester Punk Festival 2019”

A ‘Brief’ History of Lockjaw Records : Interview with Rob Piper

Head honcho Rob Piper gives an in-depth insight into the background of independent punk and hardcore label, Lockjaw Records.

Interview by Sarah Williams.

Lockjaw Records is an independent punk and hardcore label, known for being at the forefront of UK skate-punk and melodic hardcore. Whether it’s releasing records from bands like Belvedere, Drones and Fair Do’s, providing distribution for myriad other underground bands, or booking shows  that introduce UK audiences to some incredible international acts, Lockjaw Records is one of the most hard-working labels the UK punk scene has to offer.

Lockjaw Records Logo

Lockjaw Records have recently announced some major changes to their team: moving from a two-person operation to a more community-based approach, now involving Sarah and Joëlle from the Shout Louder Team alongside Cedric Degruyter of The Affect Heuristic. This international expansion is accompanied by a new logo, a fresh website and renewed hunger for sharing the music we love with the world.

To understand more about how the label reached this milestone on it’s 20+ year journey, we spoke to Rob Piper, who’s run the label since 2011. Also known for playing guitar in Darko, he’s a linchpin in the UK punk scene, who kindly took the time to share the label’s backstory with us.

N.B. This isn’t an exhaustive list of Lockjaw releases and there are plenty of other amazing bands that have been part of the label’s history.

Lockjaw’s been established as a label for a long time, although it’s undergone a lot of changes. It started in 1997, right?

It was Jim, Ben and Sam Turner, three brothers who all played in the band Tribute to Nothing from Worcester. I assume it was an outlet to release their records, as most small labels are – somebody who’s been in a band and wants to do it themselves. Tribute to Nothing were well known early 2000s as a hardworking, touring post-hardcore band.

Do you know what sort of bands they had at the time?

Lockjaw had the first ever Muse track Balloonatic included on a compilation they released right at the beginning of the label. At the time, Muse hadn’t really gotten stated yet. They asked Lockjaw if they would like to put out their first record, but the label turned it down. And, as you know, Muse got a lot bigger!

Where did you first hear about Lockjaw Records, then?

In around 2009/2010 I started Darko in Guildford with a Dan and Chris and we’d started getting shows out of town and gigging around. John from Disconnect Disconnect put us on in Croydon with Company L and Laughing In The Face Of. We got on really well with with LITFO and they later took us on a UK tour, introducing us to bands like Fair Do’s and Almeida.

LITFO were just signing with Lockjaw Records at the time, to release Lubrication of Social Anxiety. That was probably my first introduction to Lockjaw – I think I’d looked at Lockjaw Records for Darko’s first EP but I wasn’t really following that scene at the time. That was the starting point. Continue reading “A ‘Brief’ History of Lockjaw Records : Interview with Rob Piper”

Festival Review: Dugstock 2 @ New Cross Inn, London [30/03 – 01/04/2018]

Umlaut Recond second annual showcase weekedender was a blast, with bands like Counterpunch, The Murderburgers and Crazy Arm.

Review by Sarah Williams.

What better way to while away a long Easter weekend than an indoor music festival with all your mates? The second iteration of Umlaut Records’ Dugstock festival is a diverse three-day line-up hosted at London’s New Cross Inn. Umlaut Records is a rapidly growing independent label that are integral to the London punk scene. They’re only in their second year so, if this is the sort of line-up they can pull off now, I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in future.

I’ve been to plenty of gigs at New Cross, but this is the first time I’ve committed to three whole days, staying in the hostel above the venue. As I’m likely to be doing the same for Level Up and Polite Riot festivals later this year, I’m almost as keen to test out this festival-formula as I am to see the bands.

Shout Louder Crew At Dugstock 2 Cocktails
Some braincells were damaged in the making of this review.

Friday

Opening the weekend are Dirty White, a 3-piece that take influence from 90’s stoner grunge bands, although they bring the songs into a cleaner, more modern relief. The singer pulls off a Chris Cornell style that you don’t often hear. They go on to mix in some faster melodic punk songs – a gentle introduction to the weekend’s festivities.

There is already a reasonably good turnout for the Friday night, with a lot of hugs and catch-up chats exchanged. Things properly kick off with Dark Days, who provide vigorous, fun, melodic poppy punk. Guitarist, John Huffman, gets told off by the sound engineer for standing on the drum kit, so he capitulates and pulls out a high stool from the bar to stand on, before flaunting rock-star poses and writhing on the floor. Their sound contains a melee of references to current North American melodic punk bands, with an added dose of Kathleen Hanna inspired harmonies and a fuzzy, experimental guitar mess. They play a full-throttle cover of Nirvana’s Breed – the first of two Breed covers we’ll hear this weekend.

Kiss Me, Killer swagger on stage with a sexy, balls-to-the-wall riot grrl energy. Singer, Holly, steals the show somewhat as she cavorts wildly around the stage, as the band rages. She’s an excellent rock vocalist, which suits the hard-rock element in their sound It’s ferocious noise peppered with short bursts of rock ‘n’ roll guitar solos and enticingly sleazy bass lines. It’s infinitely dance-able from Rat Race to It’s Going Down (which actually sets off an alarm somewhere in the venue). As my friend eloquently shouts at me during the set, it’s also a pleasure to see, “Plentiful vaginas on stage.” Continue reading “Festival Review: Dugstock 2 @ New Cross Inn, London [30/03 – 01/04/2018]”

5 Things I Learned From Touring Japan [by Almeida’s Tom West]

Tom West of Almeida imparts some valuable advice to anyone touring or visiting Japan (a.k.a. the Punk Rock Holy Grail).

Article by Tom West (Almeida).

Last month, thanks to RNR Tours, Almeida realised our longtime dream of playing a run of shows in Japan – and had the honour of sharing a stage with Belvedere, Waterweed and our cruddy buddies Darko every night.

In my experience, playing in a band – particularly a DIY punk band – means that your proud achievements don’t always translate when talking to regular folks with regular lives. Cramming into a smelly van for hours and rating the service station toilets out of ten isn’t the most jealousy-inducing boast, no matter how many different countries you’ve rocked the fuck out in.

But there’s something about touring Japan that seems to really resonate with people and help them (accurately) realise, “Wow, you’re really serious about this!”

For this and a million other reasons, going to Japan was a highly gratifying landmark experience for Almeida, and if you’re in a touring band I’d highly recommend you start networking in order to get out there as soon as you can.

If you do get around to it, there will likely be a few culture shocks and bits you’ll forget to do, so here are some top tips to help you survive.

Travel

A 15 hour flight may be daunting (and very boring if your in-flight entertainment conks out – grazi mille, AIitalia airlines!), but if you’re used to long stretches of staring at the back of someone’s head on tour, you’ll be fairly well prepared.

Make sure you pack comfy gear like PJs and a good quality neck pillow – if you travel on a budget like us you probably won’t get much decent kip on the rickety old seats. It’s not just vital that you stay comfortable for the sake of your flight, but you don’t want to be spending your whole time on the road in Japan trying to pop your neck back into place.

We took our instruments and drum breakables on as hand luggage, which was a good way to ensure they weren’t getting smashed about by the airline – but make sure you’ve established whether it’s ok to do so, as you may incur heavy charges if you haven’t cleared it with them beforehand.

Almedia plane.jpg

Crew

RNR Tours were an awesome well-oiled unit to work with, helping us get from A to B, all the while making sure we got some time in to stroll around a 16th century castle in Nagoya, see the bright lights of Shinjuku, and frolic with feral deer in Nara. As ever, it’s important to not faff about too much in the mornings if you want enough time to see the sights.

We’d have been absolutely hopeless without our team. Unless you have a fluent Japanese speaker in your band, you’ll outright need to employ a tour manager at the very least.

The RNR team are incredibly efficient and assisted us every night with loading our gear in and out of the venues. If you get into a similarly fortunate situation, you can help them (and yourselves) by ensuring sure you label and number your bags to avoid something getting left behind. Probably good practice for any tour, to be honest. Continue reading “5 Things I Learned From Touring Japan [by Almeida’s Tom West]”

Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In March

We’ve done all the hard work for you and found the best punk gigs across the country in March.

Article by Sarah Williams.

There is a huge amount going on in March! The biggest treats are over the Easter weekend right at the end of the month, but there is plenty to keep you warm until then.

Without further ado, these are our top picks for the month:

Gig of The Month: Dugstock 2

  • When: March 30th – April 1st
  • Where: The New Cross Inn, London
  • Who: Headliners include Counterpunch, Crazy Arm and The Murderburdgers
  • Check out the Facebook event

This stacked line-up in London has a bit of something for everyone. This is Umlaut Records now-annual celebration of all things fast and fun so , as you would expect, there’s a focus on melodic, upbeat skate-punk in keeping with their label sound.

There are plenty of Umlaut acts showcased on the bill, including Captain Trips, Coral Springs, Burnt Tapes, On A Hiding To Nothing and Strange Planes. I’m particularly excited for Coral Springs, as they’re bringing their anxious, poppy joy all the way from the Netherlands. There’s also plenty of technical melodic hardcore in the form of Fair Do’s, Almeida, Counterpunch and PMX. If you prefer things a bit more ‘punk’ there’s also riot grrls Kiss Me Killer, soon-to-be-gone noise merchants Revenge of The Psychotronic Man, Bogans, Billy Liar and Spoilers. You can even catch our favourites Nosebleed, who’ll be kicking the party into full swing on Saturday.

It is a really diverse line-up with plenty of fun for any punk rock fan. The variation in the bill means you can use this as a great opportunity to catch some new bands, or you can take a breather and grab some food if you need to.  Pop in for a day or for the weekend – tickets available from Umlaut Records.

Old Town House Eastervaganza!

  • When: March 30th – April 1st
  • Where: The Old Town House, Warrington
  • Who: Headliners include Popes of Chillitown, Pizzatramp and In Evil Hour
  • Check out the Facebook event

The Facebook event promises that this gig will leave you, “mystified, mesmerized, terrified, exhilarated, enraptured, captivated and captured as we host a manifold carnival of some of the finest in high-octane punk rock, ska, hardcore, prog, funk and many more personalities to keep you moving, grooving, laughing, crying and lashing your heads backwards and forwards.” What more can you ask for?
Continue reading “Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In March”

Top 5 Punk Rock Songs to F**k To

Valentine’s Day Special: 5 banging punk rock tunes to bonk to on this most hallowed of commercial holidays.

Article by Sarah Williams. Disclaimer: SATIRE. Total satire.

Valentine’s Day. A time of roses, romance and rampant consumerism. It’s also time to make tender, passionate love to your sweetheart, or at least to bang whichever crusty reprobate you stumbled into at the grindcore show last night.

We here at Shout Louder believe that you can (and should) incorporate punk rock into every element of your life, so why not let it be the soundtrack to your sexy time? We have trawled through thousands of punk rock songs to bring you this carefully curated list of bedroom bangers.

We have tried to ensure there’s something here for everyone: from the light-hearted bonkers, to the hardcore heavy-weights, even covering couples who just can’t stop arguing. Don’t worry if Cupid hasn’t sought you with his arrow this year. I am sure these tunes will make an equally suitable soundtrack to your tearful, lonely masturbation, if you’re willing to pause the James Blunt.

In the interest of honesty, I have not personally road-tested (duvet-tested?) these tunes. I have had some memorable experiences to the likes of Pendulum, Papa Roach and Tenacious D over the years, but I’m not normally one to put on my mate’s DIY band while I’m tearing my clothes off. Please do give these a try and give us a blow-by-blow account of your experiences in the comments section.

The Offspring – Self Esteem

“Aaah, it’s time to relax, and you know what that means. A glass of wine, your favourite easy chair and, of course, this compact disc playing on your home stereo. So go on, indulge yourself…”

The Offspring’s aptly titled classic album Smash offers a plethora of punk songs for sending your partner into knee-trembling oblivion. Bad Habit and Killboy Powerhead would both provide a powerful and moving experience, or perhaps you’d rather invite them to Come Out And Play?

Your best bet is Self Esteem, which offers a bleak reminder that you’re being used, that you’re worthless and your partner is probably fucking all your friends. It’s okay because you like the abuse.

So, if you’ve spent Valentine’s Day staring at your phone, waiting for your someone to text you back, only for them to turn up on your doorstep late at night, drunk again and looking to score, this is the song for you. You don’t need to stick up for yourself. Embrace it. Stare deeply into your lover’s eyes, hovering just inches from their face and gently stroke their hair with the dangerous intensity of a would-be stalker. Remember, the more you suffer, the more it shows you really care. Right?

Almeida – Kinslayer

Have you ever wondered what it would like to be a drum kit in a hardcore band? Well, this is your opportunity. Keep pace with this track and you’ll get a blast beating straight through the headboard.

If you like your nights to be loud, fast and hard with some intensely technical finger-action, Almeida are the band for you. You’ll be howling like Tom West’s soaring choruses in no time. As evidenced in this video, they’ll even come hang out in your bedroom if you ask nicely enough. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Rock Songs to F**k To”

Top 5 Punk Gigs of 2017

Shout Louder’s favourite gigs of 2017.

Article by Sarah Williams.

This was an unbelievably tough call. I’ve been to more gigs this year than I ever have before, and the vast majority of them have been worth shouting about. It’d probably be easier to do Top 5 Worst Gigs.

Strangely, some of the best gigs I’ve seen haven’t been punk at all. I spent a lot of this year working at The Smokehouse, a DIY music venue in Ipswich, so I’ve attended a lot of shows that I wouldn’t normally give time to. Easily my most memorable gig this year was Rich Quick, a fast lyrical MC from Philadelphia. The night was quite poorly attended, which meant that those of us behind the bar could actually go and enjoy the performance. Rich spent the whole set roaming through the crowd, rapping straight in our faces and handing out prints of his artwork. It was really unique, intimate and one that I’ll be telling people about in years to come.

Two of my other favourite shows (that didn’t make the cut) were Run The Jewels at the Albert Hall in Manchester, and the Youngblood Brass Band at Islington Assembly Hall in London. Although both performances were incredible, energetic and extremely memorable in their own right, it was the venues that really set these two gigs apart. The Albert Hall is a restored Wesleyan chapel with wood panels, stained glass windows and a huge pipe organ that was a quirky contrast to RTJ’s emblematic fist-and-gun stage display. Islington Assembly Hall is a Grade 2 listed hall full of 1930s art deco features, including a sprung wood floor that made it so much fun to dance around to the band.

But, after much deliberation, I managed to select these five shows as my top gigs of the year:

#5: Descendents @ Kentish Town Forum, London

Descendents 2

This gig would have been higher up my list if it weren’t for the support acts. Without being disrespectful of The Kenneths and Abrasive Wheels (who are both good in their own right), when you’re paying £35 a ticket you expect to see bands closer to the genre and calibre of Descendents. As such the evening felt a bit disconnected.

That being said, Descendents turned up and put on an unbelievable show. Opening with Everything Sux, they charged through 32 hits back-to-back, including not one but two encores. I’ve never seen a crowd demand two encores before, but it was absolutely warranted in this case. They’re as tight and accomplished as you would expect of a band their size. There wan’t a single moment in the set that I didn’t really enjoy.

Check out our review of the gig here.

 

#4: Kick The Crutches All-Dayer @ The New Cross Inn

As far as I’m concerned, this gig is what DIY punk is all about. £5 for 12 bands. A brilliant venue in London. Record label distros. A relaxed atmosphere and a line-up that didn’t stop. It was a completely accessible day of music in London.

Better-known acts like The Kimberly Steaks and Pizzatramp (and Vanilla Pod, although they had to pull out last-minute) are worth going to see on their own, so as part of an all-dayer they’re a fantastic excuse to rock up and check out some band you’re less familiar with. My biggest take-away from the day was Bristolian act Neitzsche Trigger Finger, easily one of the strangest and most entrancing I’ve seen all year. I also got to catch Fastfade, Strange Planes and On A Hiding To Nothing for the first time, and completely loved all of them. It was also a treat to catch Mug, Misgivings and Werecats, all of whom are consistently great. In short, the standard was held extremely high for over ten hours of fast-punk frivolity. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Gigs of 2017”