Gig Review: Beat The Red Light Resurrected At Manchester Punk Festival

Ska-core heroes return in an majestic performance that leaves Slayer, Metallica and Maiden for dust.

Review by Sarah Williams**. Photos by Mark Richards.

Watching Beat The Red Light reform at Manchester Punk Festival 2018 was greater than witnessing the resurrection of Jesus. Their moving ska-core set was nothing short of poetry in brutality. Move over Slayer, there’s a new band in town.

Tipped to be headlining Download Festival next year, Beat The Red Light were a huge booking for an event like Manchester Punk Festival. Playing immediately after Propagandhi, there were hordes of people outside the venue begging to be let in. They took the stage to the ominous strains of Vital Remains’ Let The Killing Begin; the room felt ready to burst with anticipation.

They roar through a greatest hits set, shredding every note with the flawless skill of Opeth or Dream Theatre. The crowd know every word to Regulators and Rut, clambering over one another to scream the words back at the band. Every horn-line is chanted throughout the heaving venue. As the title suggests, Saviours is the saving grace of a festival that needed a band of this calibre to really hurtle it into the mainstream.

You would be hard-pressed to find seven more ruggedly handsome musicians on this earth. Vocalist, Daniel Pook, floats above the crowd, the stage-lights forming an appropriate halo as he reaches out to his adoring fans. Wadeye’s Gilbo clambers on stage to try and steal drummer, Tim Gardiner’s, sweat-drenched towel, no doubt with a view to making a killing on eBay. He’s gently coaxed off stage by the big-handed security guard, who are struggling to keep the enraptured audience at bay.

There are tears flowing in the front row; moist knickers flying through the air as they are hurled on stage. Bar staff drop their glasses and they stare on in awe. At the back of the venue, I spot TNS’s Tim Bevington being carried out after fainting with joy, overwhelmed by the calibre of this once-in-a-lifetime performance.

With this incendiary performance, Beat The Red Light have cemented their position as the saviours of British metal. They have single-handedly wiped Propagandhi and Iron Chic off the map. Band of the festival? Band of the Universe, more like.

Review by Sarah Williams**. Photos by Mark Richards.

**Sarah may or may not have been bribed to write this review.

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

Ducking Punches cred Mark Gaertner.jpg

“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.

Random Hand cred Jimbob Taylor.jpg
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.

Darko cred Jimbob Taylor.JPG
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”

Top 5 Manchester Punk Fest Survival Tips

Our top tips on how to make the most of your weekend at Manchester Punk Festival.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Now in its fourth year, Manchester Punk Festival 2018 is bigger than ever. It maintains the atmosphere of a small festival, however there are over 1,000 attendees and multiple venues to navigate. A lot of people are visiting the festival for the first time this year, so I thought I’d share my top tips for getting the most out of the weekend.

Last week, someone asked my friend who he was was most excited to see at the festival and he couldn’t tell them. “I haven’t even looked at the line-up yet. I just follow Sarah around every year, she’s like a walking program.” I don’t claim to be an expert, but here are my top tips as a festival veteran:

#1: Prepare!

I’m a massive advocate of semi-obsessive organisation. Sure, it’s potentially the least ‘punk’ thing in the world, but lending some time to prepare for the festival means you’ll get more out of it. This is especially true at MPF, where there are multiple venues to navigate and so many incredible bands that you’ll struggle to find 10 minutes to inhale a falafel wrap while jogging between stages.

The MPF organisers have gone into meticulous detail to make it as easy for you to plan as possible. They’ve provided all the following:

  • A new MPF app where you select your favourite bands (in the line-up section), so that you receive a notification 15 minutes before their set begins, plus a map and regular updates
  • The famous Clashfinder, giving you the clearest view of the line-up, including a printable version
  • A detailed website with descriptions of every single band plus Bandcamp links
  • Free Bandcamp compilations and a Spotify playlist
  • A very detailed free program which you can download, or pick up in hard copy at the festival, including a detailed description/FFO for every band

We’ve also gone to quite a bit of effort here at Shout Louder. We’ve recorded a podcast with heaps of hints and tips to get you through the weekend, plus a run-down of the line-up. We’ve selected our Top 10 International Bands To Discover at the festival and run a series of ‘band spotlight’ interviews. Check out the full series here.

#2: Get There Early!

The festival has slightly increased the number of tickets this year, however capacity at the individual venues is still limited. If there is a band you desperately want to see, make sure you get there early (well before the set is due to start). This might require a bit more forethought than you’re used to having to invest in a festival, but it’s harder to fit everyone in when you’re not in a grassy field!

Some people have pointed out that there are quite a few clashes on the line-up, but this is a necessary evil. You might be a fan of both Iron Chic and Propagandhi, or Culture Shock and The Stupids (all of whom clash on Saturday night) but they’ve got to be booked at the same time to avoid any of the venues being too overwhelmed. The alternative is to have 500 people happily watching Propagandhi, while the other 500 stand grumpily outside Gorilla, wondering why they didn’t bother to turn up earlier.

The clashes are the price we pay for having a quality and diverse line-up hosted in such a wonderfully unique array of venues. MPF is a celebration of Manchester as much as it is a celebration of punk – the festival wouldn’t have the same charm in a different format. Continue reading “Top 5 Manchester Punk Fest Survival Tips”

Top 10 International Bands To Discover at MPF

Manchester Punk Festival is a brilliant opportunity to catch bands from around the world that you might never see otherwise. These are our top picks.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Every year Manchester Punk Festival bring some brilliant bands from around the world to our little Northern city, this year upping their game with international headliners like Propagandhi, Iron Chic and Death By Stereo.

Although there’s no shortage of acts to see, it’s worth grasping the opportunity to experience artists from further afield. There’s a wealth of talent from America, Russia, Japan, Australia and mainland Europe to enjoy. Last year, my favourite sets included Edward in Venice (Italy), Sweet Empire (Netherlands), Kollapse (Denmark) and Clowns (Australia), none of whom I’d had the chance to see before.

Note: The aim of this list is to highlight some great bands that you might otherwise dismiss because you’ve not heard of them – some are less well-known, others are big names that I’ve highlighted in case they’ve slipped by you in the past. However, I have deliberately excluded major acts that I assume everyone knows (i.e. Death By Stereo, Propagandhi, Iron Chic, The Copyrights). Obviously you should check them out too.

Either way, here are our top international bands worth discovering at MPF 2018 (in no particular order):

The Bennies (Melbourne, Australia)

I tend to assume everyone’s heard of The Bennies now, but then I’m reminded of the last time I saw them back in July last year. They supported their besties The Smith Street Band on tour and, apart from in London, they seemed to surprise audiences in every venue they played. In Norwich, the crowd began the set looking utterly bewildered, but by the end they were dancing and chanting, “Hey motherfucker, I’m a party machine!”

If you’ve seen The Bennies before, you’ll be going to see them again. If you’ve not seen The Bennies before, I highly recommend you go party with them; they are the ideal festival-fun band. Coming all the way from Australia, they play a mix of dance, ska, psych, funk, doom, 80s rock and punk that’s mashed together in this incredible spandex-clad surfer-beach-hair can’t-not-dance catastrophe.

The Bennies are playing in The Bread Shed at 18:05 on Friday.

Svetlanas (Moscow / Milan)

I’m not going to lie, the first time I listened to Svetlanas they scared the hell out of me. It’s proper hard-rocking punk straight out of Russia, like Motorhead have been doused in Petrol Girls, lit on fire and let loose on Red Square. Singer, Olga, has amusingly (and surprisingly accurately) been described by Jello Biafra as having a voice like an angry, cornered mongoose and they’ve been celebrated for their chaotic live presence.

Alongside their ferocious music, they are known for their vehement politically left bearing and, despite gaining a lot of critical acclaim, they’ve remained firmly DIY. After releasing a split with The Dwarves, they also attracted the attention of Nick Oliveri, who officially joined the band in 2016.

Svetlanas are playing in The Bread Shed at 19:45 on Saturday.

Mobina Galore (Winnipeg, Canada)

Mobina Galore are coming all the way from Canada with their pals Propagandhi. You may already be familiar with them, as they’ve toured here before with Against Me, PUP and Milk Teeth, and they’ve previously played Groezrock, etc.

It’s very easy to compare punk bands with female vocals to Distillers, but the comparison stands here, although Mobina Galore’s sound is cleaner and more stripped back. They’re a female duo who play heavy power punk in the form of consistently strong, memorable tunes, with an impressive undercurrent of attitude. This is proper, vocally aggressive, chainsaw riot grrl punk.

Mobina Galore are playing in Gorilla at 19:55 on Saturday, just before Propagandhi.

Continue reading “Top 10 International Bands To Discover at MPF”

MPF Band Spotlight: Wolfbeast Destroyer [Interview]

Manchester Punk Festival Band Spotlight: Wolfbeast Destroyer will be delivering some enthrallingly heavy D-beat crust.

It’s all gone a bit MPF mad here at Shout Louder HQ. There are so many great bands that we don’t know where to begin! To help you make the most of the festival, we have spoken to a handful of the bands we’re most excited to see. Even if you’re not coming to MPF, there’s plenty to learn and enjoy.

We will be posting every other day in the lead up to Manchester Punk Festival. Check out the full series here.

Band Spotlight: Wolfbeast Destroyer

Wolfbeast Destroyer are one of the heaviest bands on the years bill of this year’s Manchester Punk Festival. They are a supremely loud, enthralling D-beat hardcore 5-piece from Boston, near Lincoln. We’re quietly partial to a bit of crust here at Shout Louder so we strongly recommend you check them out if you want your bones rattled and your blood boiled.

We spoke to Craig and DTL (guitars) to learn more.

Why should people come check out your set at Manchester Punk Festival?

We try to keep things heavy, we try to keep things fast and we have a stupid name. Why wouldn’t anyone want to check that out?

What should people do to prepare for coming to see you?

I don’t think it will take a lot of preparation, just have a drink and come party with us.

Which bands are you most looking forward to seeing at the festival, and why?

Speedozer and Regret, both great bands.

If MPF was the olympics, which festival sport would you win gold in?

Is eating chips a sport?

Propagandhi or Iron Chic?

It’s a mixed bag some of us like both, some of us like one and some of us like none. Hope that clears things up. Continue reading “MPF Band Spotlight: Wolfbeast Destroyer [Interview]”

MPF Band Spotlight: RUSSO [Interview]

Manchester Punk Festival Band Spotlight: Enthralling songwriting genius Sam Russo will be playing a rare full-band set.

It’s all gone a bit MPF mad here at Shout Louder HQ. There are so many great bands that we don’t know where to begin! To help you make the most of the festival, we have spoken to a handful of the bands we’re most excited to see. Even if you’re not coming to MPF, there’s plenty to learn and enjoy.

We will be posting every day in the lead up to Manchester Punk Festival. Check out the full series here.

Band Spotlight: RUSSO

Easily one of the most exciting prospects of this year’s Manchester Punk Festival is the opportunity to catch Sam Russo with a full band. Known for his clever lyrics, enthralling storytelling and affable, wry persona, Sam Russo’s charming acoustic folk has been a highlight in the punk scene for many years. RUSSO as a full band take all of Sam’s songwriting talent and bring to it a gusto and force that simply isn’t possible with one man. We can’t wait to hear it.

As it’s one of their first outings as a full band, we spoke to Sam Russo to find out more.

Why should people come check out your set at Manchester Punk Festival?

  1. To get a good spot for The Copyrights.
  2. Our guitarist is going to wear a black velvet shirt with embroidered tribal dragons on it. He sweats a lot.
  3. New full band Sam Russo punk rock songs that rip.
  4. Turgid banter.
  5. Life is short.

You’re known for your solo performances, however you’ve recently put together a full band: Russo. Why did you decide to put a band together now, after years on your own?

I’ve always wanted to play full band, and most of what I’ve written solo is written with a band in mind. I guess I just never got the right people together. It’s hard enough for me to get three people together for a beer let alone to form a band! I guess I’m hard to play music with!

When the people I’m playing with now agreed to give it a shot I just ran with it. We’re all great friends – I think that’s the key. I can’t play music with dicks. Well, I can’t play music with dicks I don’t like… I like these dicks a lot, I trust them, they’re cool as hell and we have fun so it works.

We’re actually all very different people which makes it really hilarious. I’m by far the least talented in the band: Katie’s a real musician – total multi-instrumental hero – she’s played with Pablo from Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros and rips a mean sax. Chris is one of the best tattoo artists in the country, as well as a director and photographer, and he’s played in a bunch of awesome stadium rock bands. Marty is a full-time drum teacher and kid’s party magician with a music degree. I’m the only guy with zero legitimate skills and a Squier guitar haha! That’s the secret people, surround yourself with weirdo geniuses and eventually you’ll pick up a thing or two…

I’ve heard the full-band Russo experience described as ‘magical’. What would you describe it as?

An orgy of solitude.Sam Russo Live.jpg Continue reading “MPF Band Spotlight: RUSSO [Interview]”

Shout Louder Podcast #4: Manchester Punk Festival Special

Mark and Sarah discuss all things MPF 2018 including insider tips and line-up clashes, plus we announce the Wotsit Called Fest headliner!

We are so excited to share Podcast #4 with you! This is our favourite one so far; we just hope you love it as much as we do. You can listen on iTunes, Soundcloud and many other podcatchers, or on the link below.

Recorded in the extremely silly, hungover aftermath of Dugstock Festival Mark and Sarah discuss all things Manchester Punk Festival in detail. We pick through the whole line-up, talk about the festival’s history and give you insider tips on surviving the weekend. Even if you’re not attending the festival, it’s worth a listen to hear some fantastic punk tunes and to laugh at how tired we are.

Stay tuned till the end as we will also be proudly announcing the Friday night headliner of Wotsit Called Festival. Wotsit Called was one of our top festivals of 2017 and it’s growing even bigger this year. It takes place on the last weekend of September at The Palace in Hastings – you can book tickets here. We can’t wait to tell you who they’ve booked!

The podcast is available on iTunes (here) and all other good podcatchers, or you can listen to it right now:

These are the songs we play:

Continue reading “Shout Louder Podcast #4: Manchester Punk Festival Special”