The main reason I relocated to Manchester was the luxury of having fantastic punk rock shows right on your doorstep, every single weekend. This particular gig, held at Fuel Cafe in Withington is a stone’s throw from my house, and is therefore the shortest distance I’ve had to travel to see bands since I lived on Camden High Street a decade ago. I’m living the dream.
MBBP have a reputation for putting on raucous live shows, always trying to pack six or more acts onto a short bill. It’s incredibly exciting to see a variety of hardcore punk bands from around the country playing tonight, including Welsh acts Habits and Social Experiment plus Yorkshire’s Pat Butcher and Satanic Malfunctions. The highlights of the line-up are reliably ferocious East Anglian act The Domestics and esoteric Spanish foursome Ill Guerra.
The room upstairs at Fuel is an unusual venue space: it’s a small room divided by an archway, with a stage painted with black and white zigzags. The night begins oddly, with Habits closing the windows and drawing the sumptuous red velvet curtains behind them to kick things off, like the band haev suddenly been transplanted onto the red room set of Twin Peaks.
Habits are a band that I would happily watch headline. They play dark, furious post-hardcore, buoyed by a lot of lush guitar tones and stormy chord changes. It’s like More Than Life, Have Heart and Defeater had a Welsh DIY baby. Nosebleed begins with a solid moody section but mutates suddenly into a much harder-rocking tune, before descending into a frantic, drawn out breakdown. Work is an indignant polemic, although the sound is ultimately positive. Other songs drift through themes of jealousy, sex and drinking yourself to death. The singer introduces each song by name and a brief explanation of the subject manner, which is super-handy for note-taking twats like me. Continue reading “Gig Review: Ill Guerra & The Domestics @ Fuel Cafe [10/03/2018]”
Tonight isn’t merely a quiet, cold Wednesday night in Manchester. It’s also Valentine’s Day. As a result, tonight’s acoustic gig feels warmly romantic; I feel lucky to spend my evening in the company of Teenage Bottlerocket’s Ray Carlisle, soulful charmers Sam Russo and Arms & Hearts, and everyone’s favourite feisty Scot Fraser from The Murderburgers. The small room hosts a handful of couples and singletons, all excited for Moving North’s exceptional selection of acoustic acts.
Fraser kicks things off, commenting that he’s pleased to be correclty referred to on the poster as MacDaddy Mudderbang. This sets the tone for an evening of in-jokes, as all the acts really engage with the intimate audience. He opens with Born For This which, like many of his songs, is catchy, energetic and self-deprecating. His vocal has a gritty, edgy tone which works well as part of an acoustic show, although we’re more familiar with him belting it out live with The Murderburgers. It also sounds great on his poppy cover of Descendents’ Hope.
Halfway through the set he seems to shed some nerves. He actually declares that he ‘thinks he’s enjoying himself,’ before going on to play Another Way Out Of Here – a tune about ‘trying to find a way out without tying a noose and kicking a chair’. He also plays Wank, Florida, Wank, the gloriously named new single from his other band Fuck (It’s Pronounced Shit). He shouts out audience members (well, mainly just Mikey Wong) and chats to Ray, who’s sitting at the back of the room. It makes for a very intimate and friendly show. Everything about his set makes me happy and I’m grinning with laughter by the end of it.
Up next is Arms & Hearts, which is the moniker of solo singer-songwriter Steve Millar. He opens with a tune called Sore Sight For Sorry Eyes, a good example of the clever, emotive turns of phrase that he often uses in his lyrics. He seems to write with traditional tattoos in mind; if Arms & Hearts gains more popularity, soon everyone will be walking around with his words inked in banners around roses and skulls. Every word comes across crystal clear because Steve has a good, practised microphone technique, allowing you to fully appreciate the rich range in his voice. Continue reading “Gig Review: Ray Rocket & Sam Russo @ The Peer Hat [14/02/2018]”
This was a gig full of surprises. I was surprised to find a tiny venue in the back of The Eagle Inn in Salford, a building that has more in common with a mythical labyrinth than a pub. The venue has more height than floor-space, a minuscule stage and a lot of exposed brickwork, all found via a maze of corridors. A floor has been removed to make way for a stage, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to see an open fireplace 8 feet up the wall, just above the guitarists’ head.
When I arrive the crowd is a little sparse, so by the end of the night I’m pleased to see the room full of people dancing and cavorting, with plenty of further surprises along the way. The evening serves as proof that you can find a room full of drunk Belgians having a great time just about anywhere, even in Salford. So much great punk rock seems to be coming out of their country at the moment that it’s almost unfair on the rest of us – F.O.D. and For I Am are just some of the highlights and I’m chuffed they have decided to tour this far.
Also, I was surprisingly late. I’m still getting the hang of the Manchester bus system (by which I mean I still expect them to move quickly, rather than oozing their way round town like treacle) and, as a result, I unfortunately missed Clayface. I was gutted, as they were great when I saw them at Pie Race last year.
I do make it in time for Aerial Salad. I am always excited to see this fresh power-punk trio, although I think it’s the first time I’ve seen them in their hometown. [Irrelevant side note: I did have the chance to see them at the Manchfester all-dayer 2 years ago, but I skipped their set because I was hungry and I thought their name was shit. I’ve learned my lesson.]
Aerial Salad are the tightest I have seen them by a distance; their recent extended tour with Wonk Unit has clearly given them the practice they needed. That said, they’ve still not quite got the hang of talking to the audience rather than to each other between songs, although Jamie’s awkward anecdotes about leaving his corporate sell-out job are endearing. Continue reading “Gig Review: F.O.D. and For I Am @ The Eagle Inn [16/02/2018]”
It’s a small miracle that I make it to Star & Garter at all. I’ve been plenty of times before but I’m walking from a different part of Manchester, so I consult Google Maps to see if there’s a quicker route. There is! Or, well, it looks like there is, until Google leads me down an alley that has more in common with a motorway siding than a footpath, all mud, brambles and metal railings, to somewhere that is definitely not the Star & Garter.
Fortunately, I do know where the venue is, so I navigate blind through Mancunian highways and make it to the pub just in time to hear the soundcheck. Doomy bass rumblings tumble down the staircase under a howled, guttural mic-check. It’s already sounding beautifully bleak.
Local three-piece Leeched open with a surreal salvo of window-rattling noise and the guitars proceed to squeal with distortion between every song. They drop into an onslaught of progressive, hardcore darkness that the fairly sizeable crowd is already enjoying. I don’t understand a word the singer growls, which is typically a good sign. The drummer is delightfully terrifying, corpse-pale apart from his facial tattoos, playing cloaked in a black hoodie, slowly shouldering his way through a feral onslaught of blast beats. There is an angry cry of, “Why are you not moshing, people? Please mosh for the next one,” which turns out to be a surprisingly polite request from a punter spitting into the stolen mic. Leeched continue to trudge through a catalogue of crusty dark metal that’s low and heavy, ending on a drawn-out decrescendo of six-string distortion.
Gets Worse are up next, offering an assault of songs that are short, heavy and fist-in-the-gut ferocious. This heavy 4-piece from Leeds shake the room with supremely fast powerviolence sections, punctuated with low slow-motion mosh breaks that expertly build anticipation for the next attack. Above the patchwork of heavy metal shredding are caustically spat vocals. All members of the band contribute to this, but it’s the drummer somehow making time to tear words from his throat that offers the fiercest noise. They slide catastrophically into harder, heavier songs with a handful of quieter, bass-led pauses. The bleak crunch of distorted guitars primes the room both for soberly dressed, serious head-nodding and frantic elbow-smashing bursts of hardcore. Continue reading “Gig Review: Corrupt Moral Altar @ The Star & Garter [09/02/2018]”
The Oldham trio have just released 28 minutes of irreverent ska/punk ‘n’ roll nonsense that captures all the energy and hilarity of their live shows. FFO: Snuff, Teenage Bottlerocket and having a good time.
This weekend super-fun ska punks The Crash Mats released their second album 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics. It’s 28 minutes of solid comedy gold, out on Horn & Hoof records now. Spoiler alert: there’s not a panpipe in sight.
The trio from Oldham have been around since 2008, and yet ‘maturity’ is the last word you’d use to describe this record. Their songs are short, snappy punk ditties and that can’t fail to plaster a grin on your face, covering such thought-provoking topics as The North, getting high and how your parents may react to finding a dead babysitter. If you’ve had the joy of catching The Crash Mats live before, you’ll know they’re unbelievably fast and fun. Before I saw them I’d never had the opportuntity to skank along to the Chucklevision theme tune and I am eternally grateful to them for that. 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics take all of that energy and delivers it staight to your living room.
The album opens with an invitation to join them on a Hot Air Balloon Ride (“Would you like a ride in my hot air balloon?”), rolling through to Drive Me to Drink (“You drive me to drink, you drive me to drink.”) and heavier Oldham’s National Anthem (“Meat pie, chips and gravy!”). The Crash Mats are by no means lyrical genuises, but they sure do get their point across. It’s fun on record, but the drunken-singalong potential live is second-to-none.Continue reading “Album Review: The Crash Mats – 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics”
June is blessed with staggeringly good line-ups – these are the best of the best.
June has the potential to either be a shining success or a hopeless disaster. Based on recent voting catastrophes, I’m fully prepared for an awful result on June 8th, and I do sometimes wish that shining beacons like Corbyn wouldn’t come along a give us leftie liberal types hope.
So, while you prepare to lose every shred of faith you have in humanity all over again, distract yourself with this splendid array of socially-conscious noise-mongers. There is no doubt that June holds some of the most exciting punk gigs on 2017 so far, and acts will be even angrier, feistier and more politically-charged than usual!
Known for being an absolute mauler of a night out, I’m seriously chuffed to be heading up to Manchester for the last ever Punx Inna Jungle. I can already taste the hangover.
MPF co-captains Anarchistic Undertones have pulled out all the stops with their last line-up, giving something for everyone. Drumroll please!
Politically-charged ska-punk from faves Faintest Idea
Riotous drunken folk punk from Matilda’s Scoundrels
Enjoy a punch in the face from Grand Collapse’s unrelenting melodic thrash
Throwing Stuff giving it hardcore thrash
Scottish veterans PMX playing melodic punk
Chaotic anarcho-ska from Wadeye
Tech-metal-meets-skate-punk brilliance delivered by Fair Do’s
Energetic punk fun from London DIY kings Wonk Unit
All this chaos will be taking place in the inappropriately named Antwerp Mansion. Apparently it’s never been a squat, but it definitely has that crusty, lived-in air, adequately setting the scene for debauchery that will last into the small hours. I look forward to seeing you all there, although there’s a good chance I may not remember it!
There is only one effective cure to Post-Festival Blues: make plans to do it all over again.
Are you a weak, bruised husk of your former self? Do you keep clambering onto stranger’s backs, trying to make a human pyramid? Do you have a sudden urge to eat salad? You may be suffering from Post-Festival Blues.