[Interview] Level Up Festival: Ska-punk is Alive and Skanking in South London

We had an in-depth chat with the collective of promoters working on the UK’s best ska-punk festival.

Interview by Sarah Williams.

Now in its second year, London’s Level Up Festival is proof that ska-punk certainly ain’t dead. Last year was a sold out skankstravanganza, but 2018’s line-up is even more exceptional, featuring the likes of Random Hand and Lightyear as headliners. In terms of DIY-level festivals, this by far the biggest and best ska-oriented event, taking place at New Cross Inn on July 20th – 22nd.

The event is an unusual collaboration between three promoters, bringing three distinct tastes to their bookings. Paul and Mike Smith who run Be Sharp are London based, with Paul spending his days as the Events Manager at the up-and-coming New Cross Inn. Chris Fishlock runs Bristol-based Fishlock Promotions, known for booking DIY all-dayers, including the well-known Fishstock event. Finally, Jason Berden brings his influence all the way from Belgium, where he also books the incredible El Topo Goes Loco Festival. We spoke to all of them, to get an in-depth insight into Level Up Festival.

LUP17
L-R: Paul Smith, Jason Berden, Chris Fishlock, Mike Smith

Level Up festival is looking incredible this year! Tell us what we can expect.

  • Paul: Some of the best bands in the world and happy faces. Last year was one of the most positive events I’ve been involved with, and that’s mostly down to everyone that travels from all over, purely to have a great time. The floor will be fine too.
  • Jason: Some old legends, such as Lightyear or Random Hand, making their return, as well as some of the best upcoming bands of the UK ska scene. I also added my fellow Belgians in Koala Commission to the Saturday bill, to show our island friends that the mainland scene is as strong as ever before!

Continue reading “[Interview] Level Up Festival: Ska-punk is Alive and Skanking in South London”

Gig Review: Pouzza Fest 8, Montreal [18-20 May 2018]

Joelle gives us her Top 10 moments from Montreal’s famous punk festival, featuring A Wilhelm Scream, After The Fall, This Is A Standoff and a lot of love.

Article by Joelle Laes.

Travelling from Belgium to Montreal was an adventure in itself; a journey for the love of punk. You can read my Road To Pouzza article to hear more, as it gives the perfect intro to this.

If you’ve never heard of Pouzza Fest, then where have you been? It uses the same formula as The Fest and Manchester Punk Festival. Multiple venues participate and there’s pretty much five bands playing at the same time throughout the day; you have to run around town to catch your favourites. Sensible shoes are a must. This makes choosing difficult, though they do try to not have bands in the same sub-genre clash.

Pouzzalineup.jpg

It is impossible to describe the whole weekend (especially in the midst of the inevitable post-festival mood crash), so here are my Top 10 moments of the festival, recorded in chronological order. I have selected these based on how the music made me feel, because sometimes that’s more important than an impressive performance.

Friday

Hate It Too

Getting back from our Toronto trip later than expected, we rushed to shower to get rid of bus smell and get down to registration, for our wristbands and get to Foufounes in time for Quebec’s Hate It Too. Filled with anxiety we rushed into the venue. With the first notes that warm feeling of happiness came flooding back. By now I’ve only seen this skate-punk band live twice, and twice I’ve been mesmerized by the bass. It’s not just me. Those warm bass tones might have something to do with it, and their phenomenal songwriting skills too, I suppose.

I have been in love with their album Purple Mountains since it came out in 2015. Having recently released a new song Cyanide Teeth, they had me stoked to hear it live. They definitely did not disappoint; I have nothing but love for this band.

Kali Masi

It’s my second time seeing this pop-punk ensemble from Chicago in two days! I said I’d give them a second chance, didn’t I? While they got somewhat lost in the lineup at the gig in Toronto, playing at Foufounes with a super-stoked crowd made them shine. For me they were a nice chilled break from all the fast bands and had me nodding along in no time. Despite being referred to as a ‘skate-punk aficionado’, I do quite enjoy some slower punk-rock as well. Continue reading “Gig Review: Pouzza Fest 8, Montreal [18-20 May 2018]”

Summer 2018’s Best UK DIY Punk Festivals

With so many great festivals popping up, it’s heard to know which to choose! These are Shout Louder’s top choices for Summer 2018.

Article by Sarah Williams. Cover photo by Mark Richards.

The sun’s out, the beer’s flowing and I can hear the echoes of a band sound-checking somewhere over the thrum of conversation. All my friends are here, I’m afternoon-sozzled and teetering perilously close to evening-wasted, ready to do something dumb that I won’t hear the end of for weeks to come. It must be festival season.

I live for this. Warm weekends wasted in sweltering venues; stumbling out into the cool late-night air in a sweat-soaked t-shirt; watching band after band and loving every second of it. Summer of 2018 is loaded with punk festivals, with increasingly more DIY events popping up around the country. It’s beautiful to see so many more people getting involved and organising their own weekenders: booking a gig is stressful enough, let alone a whole festival. The scene is thriving.

These are our lovingly curated top picks of UK DIY festivals taking place this summer.

Wotsit Called Festival

  • Where: The Palace, Hastings
  • When: 28th-30th September
  • Cost: £20 weekend
  • Facebook Event Page
  • Bonus Points: Film night on Thursday + hangover acoustic on Sunday + Wotsit Called themed cocktails!

Wotsit Called Festivall.jpg

One of our top picks of last year’s festivals, we are pleased to see it growing even bigger this year. Music will be starting earlier on Friday and they have added a film-night on Thursday and an acoustic hangover session on Sunday afternoon. Music on the Friday and Saturday remain the main attraction of the festival, with this year’s main draws taking the form of a handful of TNS bands, including Wonk Unit, Faintest Idea, Matilda’s Scoundrels, Casual Nausea and Revenge of The Psychotronic Man.

The latest announcement from Wotsit Called includes the full music line-up for Friday and Saturday, featuring some really big names. Ska-punk stalwarts Inner Terrestrials will never fail to get a room skanking, and feisty Scottish punks The Murderburgers are reliably riotous. Recently announced are Skinny Milk, Punka, Haest, who will be joining The Barracks, Butane Regulators, Plot 32, The Mentstrual Cramps and Batwolf.

The other advantage of this festival is that it’s right on the beach and, although it doesn’t take place until late September, we’re British so we can handle a bit of cold, rainy sea action. If you’re not too hungover there’s also time to enjoy the arcades and quaint shops of Hastings, plus delightful coffee and vegan grilled cheese at Sham City Roasters. This southern gem of a festival is organised by a collective including members of Matilda’s Scoundrels, The Barracks and The Dead Anyways. It’s small, DIY to the core and definitely worth a trip to the South Coast.

Cromstock: Metal, Punk & Thrash All-Dayer

  • Where: The Green Door Store, Brighton
  • When: 14th July 2018
  • Cost: £12 + booking fee
  • Facebook Event Page
  • Bonus Points: There’s a Spotify playlist to get you up to speed with all the crossover thrash!

Cromstock

Cromstock is a brand new all-dayer taking place in Brighton that represents a fresh direction for underground thrash, metal and punk in the UK. This event will appeal to punks who came to the scene from a love of metal, tech or hard-rock… or anyone who used to go to Download before their bookings went downhill.

If you’ve seen prog-thrash-metal melee Almeida before, you’ll know that a) they’re exceptionaly talented and enthralling live and b) they stick out like a sore thumb on most punk line-ups because they can’t be pigeonholed into one genre. Well, they’ve taken matters into their own hands and curated this collision of punk and metal all in one bill. Continue reading “Summer 2018’s Best UK DIY Punk Festivals”

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]”

Gig Review: Wotsit Called Fest – Friday (29/09/2017)

Part One: The first day of Hasting’s new DIY punk festival, featuring Nosebleed, Matilda’s Scoundrels, Knocksville and Rotten Foxes.

Photo credit: Massive thanks to Sara-Louise Bowrey (Festival Flyer) for the brilliant photos.

Now in its second year, Wotsit Called Fest is a 2-day DIY punk extravaganza in Hastings. Organised by Toxic Wotsit, there’s a great diversity of bands across the two days: hardcore, skiffle, aggro-folk, ska and plenty of snotty straight-up punk. This is its first year at The Palace and my first year as a punter, so I’m excited to see what all the hype is about.

Bumbling into the bar on Friday night, half an hour before the music’s due to start, it’s good to see the venue already looking packed. There are a lot of excited punks here, including many like me who’ve travelled from further afield, treating the weekend as a little seaside holiday.

Rotten Foxes at Wotsit Called Fest 2017

Rotten Foxes kick off the festivities with loud and lairy hardcore, and an immediate demand to get pints flying through the air. Unlikely bastions of body-positivity, they’re wearing the absolute minimum on stage: bare bellies, leopard print boxers, denim cut-offs so short that you don’t quite know where to look. Bassist, Jimi, has a costume change into a Stone Cold Steve Austin vest midway through the set, in celebration of a wrestling themed tune. They close their set with an enjoyable shoutalong about Danny Dyer – the best kick-up-the-arse the crowd could wish for.

Following them, Knocksville properly get the party started with a hip-shaking rockabilly riot. They blend in punk and ska, to create a potent combo that’s impossible to resist dancing to. There isn’t a still body in the house for their cover of Tainted Love. The smoke machine (amusingly located in a spot that suggests the mixing-desk has caught fire) kicks in just in time for the breakdown, getting everyone moving.

Knocksville at Wotsit Called fest 2017

Jason Walder uses his heavily stickered double-bass as a crowd-pleasing prop throughout the show. He whirls it through the air, straddles its side, and lays it on the floor to play an instrumental section during their biggest stomper, Lockdown. The peak is a song played while standing precariously on the side of the bass, where he courteously pauses mid-tune to give the front row a photo-opportunity. It’s a winning performance and a huge hit with the crowd.

Knocksville would be the ideal lead-in for the headline band, Nosebleed, however before them we have the most hotly-anticipated performance of the weekend: the launch of Matilda’s Scoundrels’ new album As The Tide Turns. This is the first hometown show for the infamous folk-punks since releasing the record on September 8th. Dan and Jens also form half of Toxic Wotsit, the promoters responsible for the festival. This is their show, their hometown and their time. Continue reading “Gig Review: Wotsit Called Fest – Friday (29/09/2017)”

Gig Guide: Bands You Need to See in September

We’ve done the hard work for you and found the best gigs September has to offer. Get out there and support your local venues.

You’ve survived the summer. You’ve had a hectic few months of eating, drinking, socialising, spending and sunning yourself. You’re savouring the last opportunities to enjoy a pub garden after work on a weekday. Hopefully you’ve caught plenty of sweaty summer shows, some outdoor community concerts and maybe even a festival or two.

Once the August Bank Holiday weekend is over you can stop, right? You can knuckle down to the daily grind, vegetate with Netflix on your sofa and save up your pennies for Christmas. Nope! I hate to break it to you but there’s still an awful lot happening…

We’ve done the hard work and found the best of September’s gigs for you to enjoy:

Wotsit Called Festival

  • Where: The Palace, Hastings
  • When: Friday 29th and Saturday 30th September
  • Who: The Restarts, Nosebleed, Riggots, Pizzatramp…
  • Event Page HERE / Tickets £10 advance, £15 OTD

Hosted by the lovely folks in Matilda’s Scoundrels under the Toxic Wotsit moniker, Wotsit Called Fest is two days of straight-up bangers bound to get you stomping feet, throwing elbows and sinking pints with aplomb.

Nosebleed will be royally cavorting around The Palace as headliners on Friday – there are few more exciting things than their riffy punk ‘n’ roll. It’s also the launch party for Matilda’s new album As The Tide Turns, so folk-dancing with reckless abandon is mandatory.

Starting early, Saturday features London thrashers The Restarts, Wigan’s heaviest duo: Riggots, northern post-hardcore from The Fuckin’ Glorious and ska-punk comedy gold from The Crash Mats. There will be cocktails and DJs until 2am which sounds like a delightfully dangerous combination. Not to be missed!

In the meantime, enjoy their pre-fest playlist:


Kick The Crutches All Dayer

  • Where: The New Cross Inn, London
  • When: Saturday 23rd September
  • Who: Vanilla Pod, The Kimberly Steaks, Müg, On a Hiding to Nothing
  • Event Page HERE / Tickets £5 early bird

I can guarantee this is the most fun you will find for £5 this September.

Deep breath! For this princely sum you can see… Vanilla Pod, The Kimberley Steaks, Pizzatramp, Natterers, Misgivings, Müg, BROCKER, On A Hiding To Nothing, Werecats, Nietzsche Trigger Finger, Strange Planes and Fastfade. Phew!

With that many bands, I’m not sure how they’re going to fit any punters in the venue. The merch table’s going to need its own postcode. There are probably some bands you’ve heard of and some you haven’t, so why not get down early and enjoy the whole lot? It’s a great opportunity to discover someone new.

If you catch one band, make sure it’s The Kimberly Steaks. They’re everything that Greenday could have been:

Continue reading “Gig Guide: Bands You Need to See in September”

Punk Rock Holiday 1.7 Review Part 4: Friday – The Big One!

The final dose of my PRH adventure, featuring 13 hours of bands, lot of crowdsurfing, and some inappropriate jokes about how much I enjoy Propagandhi.

Article by Sarah Williams.

The final instalment is here! And it doesn’t get better than this line-up.

If you’ve only just stumbled upon the review, make sure you also check out:

Kid Crowdsurfing Punk Rock Holiday

Friday

  • Mainstage Highlight: Propagandhi (duh)
  • Beach Stage Highlight: La Armada / Darko
  • Cover of the Day: Straightline – Boom Boom Boom Boom!!

On Friday morning I wake to discover a small lake forming at the front of the tent. Luckily the dam I built with sullied clothes has kept it at bay and, in fact, it’s evaporated a little in the heat. We venture out of the campsite to a makeshift bar on the roadside, starting the day with battery-acid €1 coffee and Slovenian schnapps called Unicorn Tears. It beats an alarm clock.

Friday is the big one. Although the rest of the week has been fun, there’s not a single band on today’s line-up that I’m willing to miss. The Beach Stage is a Lockjaw Records extravaganza of heavy, technical chaos, and the evening bill is knicker-moisteningly intense: 88 Fingers Louie, Snuff and Propagandhi. Propa-fucking-gandhi! Ask anyone earlier in the week who they’re looking forward to seeing: the answer is always Propagandhi. I’m worried I may die from excitement. Or alcohol poisoning.

Sat at the roadside bar we can hear ominous ripplings of thunder from over the hills, and the skies open once again. I grab another tongue-melting coffee and wait for the storm to pass, knowing that I’m going to need to bail the tent out again.

Amusingly, when the rain lets up, I notice a few people roaming around the campsite, foraging for rubbish. Garbage is a valuable commodity at PRH. You pay €10 on entry that’s returned when you hand in a full trash bag: a system so efficient that it’s a challenge to find enough litter to reclaim your deposit. The €1 cup-deposit scheme also means there’s not a single cup to be found on the ground (the complete opposite of many English festivals). On the last day we wind up optimistically searching bins for discarded cups, just to reclaim out deposits – that’s how clean it is!

Beach Friday Punk Rock Holiday

I get down to the Beach Stage early and listen to Corbillard sound checking while dipping my toes in the glacial water. The beach is quiet, with a light mist rising from the river. The water’s no longer clear because the storm has shaken up the silt overnight. As the singer ‘one-two-one-two’s into the mic it booms madly around the mountains, making the strangest echo.  Continue reading “Punk Rock Holiday 1.7 Review Part 4: Friday – The Big One!”