The DIY Roots of Manchester Punk Festival

Sarah speaks to organiser Andy Davies about MPF’s dedication to the DIY approach, five years on from the festival’s humble beginnings.

Written by Sarah Williams, with contributions from Andy Davies. Photos by Cold Front Photography.

Manchester Punk Festival has grown significantly since its beginning five years ago. As one of the biggest punk festivals the UK has to offer, it remains fervently independent, affordable and free from corporate sponsorship.

Now that MPF is booking massive international headliners, increasing its capacity with new venues and still selling out of tickets (in 2018, there’s a handful left for 2019); it’s easy to forget the DIY roots of the festival… but the organisers definitely haven’t.

The festival is coordinated by a collective composed of three distinct Manchester promoters: TNSrecords, Anarchistic Undertones and Moving North. Outside of MPF, AU and Moving North are still putting on small DIY shows at least once a month, while TNSrecords are working hard championing and releasing records from up-and-coming punk rock bands. All three groups work to promote independent music, tirelessly and with no expectation of financial gain, and they apply the same mentality to Manchester Punk Festival.

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Darko smashing it at Gorilla at MPF2018. Cred: Josh Sumner

Origins of Manchester Punk Festival

Things all kicked off in 2013 with TNSrecords’ 10 Year Anniversary all-dayer; the biggest event they’d run by themselves. They’d had a stage at Strummercamp for a number of years, which contributed to their desire to run a bigger festival. In the year before, they’d seen a gap for a collaboration in the Manchester scene, which led to them calling a meeting of like-minded promoters.

Continue reading “The DIY Roots of Manchester Punk Festival”

Podcast: Tree from Manchester Punk Festival

We talk DIY, dogs and new music with Manchester’s tallest promoter.

As DIY giants Manchester Punk Festival have just announced the first installment of their 2019 line-up, we thought it was time for Ian ‘Tree’ Robinson to join us on the podcast.

Tree’s a staple of the Northern punk scene, known for booking regular gigs through the Anarchistic Undertones collective and tours via AU Tour Booking. He’s got years of experience in DIY bookings, plus a Northern attitude that makes him quite an entertaining guest.

We discuss Manchester Punk Festival’s changes, what he’s learned from 10 years of booking punk shows and some of our current favourite bands and labels. We also talk about Propagandhi. A lot.

P.S. The star of tonight’s show is our cover model, Bernie, who you can follow on Instagram @dci_burnside.

Continue reading “Podcast: Tree from Manchester Punk Festival”

Spotify Playlist: Manchester’s Best Punk Gigs

Follow our playlist to discover up-and-coming punk bands who are playing near Manchester.

Although we’re often on the road for gigs, Shout Louder’s proud to have its HQ in Manchester, UK. It’s a city with a vibrant music culture that embraces the DIY ethic at the core of our community, with an abundance of punk shows to choose from every single week.

On the fence about going to a show? Not sure whether you’ll like the support acts? Want to know about all the latest gigs? We’ve made this playlist to help you with that, and we’ll be updating it with new gigs as they’re announced.

Follow the playlist to keep up to date with the bands we’re most excited to see in Manchester in the next two months, in approximately chronological order (first on the list are bands playing this weekend). Anything we haven’t added? Let us know.

P.S.: We’ve included a few shows that are a short train ride out of town; fuck the borders.

Special credit to Anarchistic Undertones, Moving North, Horn & Hoof, Under The Bridge, Evil Music and The Old Town House for consistently booking excellent shows. You’ve got to appreciate people working tirelessly behind the scenes to bring music right to your doorstep, without them this scene would be nothing.

Gig Review: Consumed @ Aatma, Manchester [13/07/2018]

Consumed rip through their Northern album launch show, with support from Don Blake, Triple Sundae and Hoof.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos by Cold Front Photography.

We’ve been waiting for 16 years, but it’s finally here. Nineties UK skate-punk legends Consumed have chosen today to drop their EP Decade of No into our laps, after a long hiatus. Every chord, every note and every lyric is just as vibrant, exciting and relevant as their earlier releases and I’m supremely excited to celebrate the launch with them tonight.

The troopers at Anarchistic Undertones have organised tonight’s album release party at Aatma in Manchester, with a varied line up of supports in the form of Don Blake, Triple Sundae and Hoof. What better way to finish of your working week?

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I’m gonna get straight out there are say it: I bloody love Hoof. They don’t seem to have the big furore around them that you occasionally get with DIY bands, but there’s an understated charm to them and what they play is just very, very good. They fall into the camp of 90’s EpiFat-era skate-punk (and I’d hazard a guess Consumed are a big influence on them), producing a sound that’s comfortingly familiar and exceptionally well executed.

In the interest of building anticipation, they break a string approximately five notes into the set, leading to a lengthy re-stringing break before the show’s even started. Fortunately these guys are the masters of off-hand stage banter, and at least it didn’t halt the set halfway through.

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Back up and running again they rip through Epitaph and Petty Thieves, the title track from their relatively recent EP. It’s fast, hard punk rock with a strong grasp of melody and a tight technical edge, particularly on the snappy drum fills and odd twiddly riffs. They’re firmly in the class of bands incapable of playing less than breakneck speed, ideal for kicking off a show. Continue reading “Gig Review: Consumed @ Aatma, Manchester [13/07/2018]”

Podcast #8: Crawl-of-Death, Bribery, Masturbation and Unfulfilled Promises

Tune into the next instalment of the Shout Louder punk podcast! Tunes from Eat Defeat, SKIV, Wolfrik and Hummer.

Podcast #8 sees the return of everyone’s favourite: Mark Bell! This episode is all excitable Mark and Sarah music banter – we cover a huge range of topics, including all the gigs and punk rock antics we’ve experienced lately. We’ve play tunes from Eat Defeat, Wolfrik, SKIV and Hummer.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Soundcloud and many other good podcatchers. Alternatively, listen direct here:

We midly lay into Jimbob from Pizzatramp in a tale that involves a crawl-of-death, public masturbation, bribery and unfulfilled promises. We lament the passing of MySpace as a medium, Mark asks Sarah to dissect some poorly auto-tuned rap lyrics and Sarah shares Personal Worst story from Podstock 2 involving pratfalls, poo and pints.

Mark gives us the gossip on Hell Hath No Fury Fest, with Bolshy, Natterers and Brassick. Sarah chats about gigs she’s been to in Manchester, including Tim Loud, Custody, Holiday, Bear Trap and Incisions. Continue reading “Podcast #8: Crawl-of-Death, Bribery, Masturbation and Unfulfilled Promises”

Fair Do’s: No One’s Going To Set Standards For You [Interview]

Manchester’s finest talk working-class roots, quality-control and how hard it is to learn your own songs sometimes!

Interview by Sarah Williams. Live photos by Alia Thomas.

Manchester’s melodic hardcore shredders, Fair Do’s, have just announced that they’ll be releasing their first full album Leopards on July 27th, through Lockjaw Records. I have been begging for this album since 2014 and I can’t believe it’s finally happening.

There are few bands that combine hardcore punk with metal in the way Fair Do’s manage to, and they back it up with a hard-earned technical prowess that makes them stand out from the crowd. They formed in 2009 and released an impressive EP Trying Times in 2014, going on to kill it on stage all over Europe, playing with the likes of A Wilhelm Scream, After The Fall, The Decline and H20, including major festivals like Punk Rock Holiday.

I caught up with vocalist/guitarist Danny Cummings and drummer John Holt over a pint, to learn about the hard work they’ve put into Leopards, their working-class sensibilities and why you might hear hints of Beyonce in Danny’s choruses.

You’re releasing a new album: Leopards! That’s exciting. What took you so long?

  • John Holt: Oh, Jesus.
  • Danny Cummings: It took a while recording it, because we did it over weekends.
  • John: I tracked the drums in September 2016.
  • Danny: It was a different beast to the EP. The EP was thrown together: recording guitar at one studio, drums at another. We made a vocal booth in the corner of Josh’s flat for that. Whereas this we’ve done it properly, tracked everything.

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Quality is clearly a major focus for Fair Do’s – it has to be to produce something so wonderfully technical. How do you keep the bar set so high?

  • John: There’s no one there to set standards for you; you can’t expect anyone to go, “You should be better than that.” It’s your job to do that for yourself. No one’s going to care that you had a bad show apart from you.
  • Danny: And the three people stood next to you.
  • John: When people see Fair Do’s as a band stood next to each other, they think we’re going to kill each other. You have to be able to say things and just move onto the next business. Harsh things need to be said occasionally, so sometimes you have to have a shouty, sweary match.

Do you argue with each other a lot, then?

  • John: One of the pitfalls of Fair Do’s is that we produce tunes before we can play them. The songs are written and composed but we can’t actually play them.
  • Danny: We can play them at that we demo them, or try some midi drums. We make sure we’re writing stuff that we can play.
  • John: Yeah, we’re not faking playing stuff, but we’ll come up with ideas that are not obtainable until after many moons of practice.
  • Danny: Dave’s alright, but for the rest of us it’s the sort of stuff we have to sit down and spend an hour a night working on it for six weeks to be able to nail it.

Continue reading “Fair Do’s: No One’s Going To Set Standards For You [Interview]”

Top 10 Moments of Manchester Punk Festival 2018

MPF 2018 was a special weekend for reasons beyond just the music. Sarah’s rounded up her personal highlights from the festival.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos from Mark Richards, Jimbob Taylor, Josh Sumner and Marc Gaertner.

Now widely known as Manchester Pals Fest, MPF 2018 has been even more of a blinder than previous years. I guess we knew that it would be from the moment the line-up was first announced, with Propagandhi topping it. In a landslide of Facebook posts, messages and hugs once the weekend was over, the word out there is that it’s the best festival in the UK. The three-day weekender in the Rainy City is drawing like-minded punk rock fans from all around the world.

The festival is special both as a personal and a collective experience. If you attended, you would have been amazed by the number of familiar faces in crowd. I barely had time to chat to someone properly before running into the next person. With that many dedicated, creative and intelligent people surrounding you, it’s easy to see that the UK scene is thriving at the moment. Although it felt like we were all sharing this one great, special experience, as the weekend is split between five venues around town, it’s possible that you could have had a completely different experience to a friend who also attended.

With that in mind, these are my personal Top 10 experiences of the weekend. What were yours?

Ducking Punches closing Thursday’s show with Smoking Spot

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“This is about how punk has taught us all our ethics; this is for all of you,” Dan Allen says between songs, instantly capturing the spirit of the festival. While most of my friends were queueing to get into Random Hand and getting turned away, I opted to catch Ducking Punches at Rebellion on Thursday night and I really don’t regret it.

Earlier in the day, Danny from Fair Do’s had said, “Look around you. This is what a beautiful, intelligent and ethical punk community looks like.” Both are examples of how appreciative the bands are of the event they’re attending. Far from being a big fest where you turn up, play and fuck off, Ducking Punches were around for the whole weekend, partying and enjoying the music like the rest of us. I had a transcendent moment during somewhere between Sobriety and Big Brown Pills from Lynn where I remembered that all my friends in the world are in this city with me, enjoying an incredible time. There is an overwhelming sense of community that I’ve not felt elsewhere – partly from the punk scene and partly from Manchester, a city with a strong sense of identity.

Closing on Smoking Spot was the perfect move from Ducking Punches, who’ve really grown with their new album Alamort. “This is a song about having the best time with your best friends,” Dan says. Perfect.

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Here’s a photo of Random Hand for good measure. Photo: Jimbob Taylor.

Watching my friends’ bands playing to sold out rooms

For many bands it’s their first time at the festival (and their first time in Manchester), but every act played to a huge crowd. Through general gigging and through this website I’ve become friends with some of my favourite bands, so I’m absolutely bubbling with pride when I see them getting an enthusiastic reaction from a big audience.

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Darko. Photo: Jimbob Taylor.

On Thursday, No Matter opened the festival to an almost full room at Rebellion. Following them were Captain Trips, a skate-punk group from the South Coast that I have a massive soft-spot for. I’ve been trying to get as many people to hear about them as possible, so to see Rebellion full for their set was incredible. Not only was the venue rammed – the crowd were dancing, moshing and generally enthusiastic about seeing them. It made my heart melt a little bit. Continue reading “Top 10 Moments of Manchester Punk Festival 2018”