Top 5 Punk Festivals of 2017

Shout Louder’s selection of the most raucous punk get-togethers in the UK and further afield.

Article by Sarah Williams.

The only thing better than an all-day punk show is multiple days of punk shows. Festivals are undoubtedly the most important part of my year. You get to see your favourite bands, discover new ones and if it’s a bigger event there’s a good chance that your friends will travel from far and wide to party together. I love how punks from around the UK are drawn to gigs like Manchester Punk Festival or Wonkfest like a big punk rock Mecca; there’s nothing better than weekends spent watching bands, catching up and crashing on mates’ floors.

Admittedly, I’ve only been to a handful of major festivals this year. This Top 5 is intended to be a personal and somewhat self-indulgent recollection of my favourite bigger events of 2017. Hopefully reading it will bring back some positive memories for you too.

#5: Wotsit Called Fest

  • When: September 29th – 30th
  • Where: The Palace, Hastings
  • Festival Highlight: Matilda’s Scoundrels’ riotous set

Wotsit Called Fest.jpg

2017 saw the second Wotsit Called Festival – a little DIY fest run by a collective in Hastings. It was a wonderful weekend away by the seaside, without a dull moment musically.

Friday was the huge party, serving as Matilda’s Scoundrels‘ release show for As The Tide Turns. They played an absolutley storming set full of dancing, crowd-surfing, human pyramids and all that malarkey. Following them were Nosebleed who caused their usual well-dressed ruckus, including a stage-invasion, getting out into the crowd and generally causing chaos. Getting to witness two of the UK’s best live acts all in one place in such an intimate setting was really rewarding.

The diversity of the line-up was what bumped Wotsit Called into the Top 5 for me. I greatly enjoyed starting the day with some skiffle covers, followed by melodic gruff from The Dead Anyways and then gradually descending into the entropy of Riggots via PizzatrampNatterers and The Crash Mats, among many others. This is still a relatively small punk gathering, but definitely one to watch for next year.

Check out our reviews here: Friday and Saturday.

 

#4: Wonkfest

  • When:  June 1st 2018
  • Where: Tufnell Park Dome and The Boston Arms, London
  • Festival Highlight: The raucous Pizzatramp pit

Wonkfest.jpg

At the start of Wonkfest I was joking with a friend that it might be funny to find the drunkest person at the festival at attempt to interview them. Later in the evening, I reached the unfortunate conclusion that the drunkest person at the festival may actually be me. As such, my memory of the headline bands is a tad hazy (Wonk Unit played, right?) and on the way home I fell backwards over my own bicycle and got trapped in a hedge for ten minutes. I’m not proud, but I did greatly enjoy waking up bruised, broken and covered in gold glitter. In hindsight, perhaps drinking vodka on the train at 9.30am wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had.

Although it’s the drunken debauchery that will stick in my memory, the festival itself was as fantastic as it is every year. The gig is split between two stages, running 20 minute sets back-to-back with few breaks. It’s a format that works well, although you do have to skip a band if you want to eat, smoke or drunkenly make out with someone. Matilda’s Scoundrels opened the show with an aggro-folk riot, Spoilers were the closest things to Snuff that you’re going to find apart, perhaps, from Simon Wells playing a sweet acoustic set downstairs. Nova Twins were my highlight for the second year running; they’ve got an unprecedented amount of swagger. Aerial Salad and The Kimberly Steaks played exciting and energetic sets, between them managing to be so close to early Greenday that I felt justified in jeering at all the people paying to watch Greenday at Hyde Park the same night. Finally, the pit for Pizzatramp was one of the most wonderful, enjoyably violent experiences I’ve had all year. We got a huge rowboat, people crowd-surfing on inflatable pizza slices and general elbow-dodging chaos. What an incredible rollercoaster of punk fun. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Festivals of 2017”

Gig Review: Pie Race Festival – Friday + Saturday

Pies, pals and pints at Leeds’ premier annual punk party. Featuring Matilda’s Scoundrels, Ducking Punches, Millie Manders, Nosebleed, Batwölf and many more.

Review by Sarah Williams. Photos by Hold My Pint and Paul Hannah.

Pie Race is Leeds’ annual punk-stravaganza; a regular date in the Northern punk calendar since 2010. This year’s event saw three days of punk, pie and pals at Wharf Chambers: one of the most welcoming DIY venues I’ve ever visited. Friday’s show was like a regular gig, but Saturday and Sunday combined to make 22 hours of noisy fun and an absolutely pukka weekend. It’s more than just the music, though: Saturday also featured the festival’s famous pie-eating competition. In short(crust), it was more fun than swimming in a barrel of gravy, and I can’t wait do it all over again.

In the course of this write-up, I have attempted to celebrate not merely the punk, but also the pies. As such, I aim to punish you with pie references although (I wouldn’t pie to you) I slightly underestimated the sheer amount of effort it takes to write atrocious pie-jokes. I gave up halfway through Saturday’s write up, but there’s still plenty of pie. Enjoy.

Friday (PieDay?)

I arrived at Wharf  Chambers exceptionally early on Friday, but there were still plenty of pals to run into. Pie Butcher, sorry, Pat Butcher, are first up, featuring a very tall man playing a very small guitar. Jokes aside, they play some hearty hardcore, featuring a couple of seriously meaty beat-downs. The highlight of their set is their carrot race, presented as a precursor to Saturday’s pie race. As it turns out, watching five punks try to wolf down a whole carrot in a minute is an unforgettable experience, and surprisingly tricky for the contestants.

Due to The Zipheads running late, HollywoodFreyBentos Downstairs (better known as Hollywoodfun Downstairs) set up next. Watching this heavy duo from New Zealand is like a blast in the face from a hand grenade. They are the most memorable act I have seen all year; they’re a band who don’t abide pie the rules. They turn out the main lights and set up the drum kit, amps and mic stand in front of the stage. Illuminated only by bright white strip lights beside their amps, the venue takes on a surreal post-apocalyptic vibe. Musically it is a beautifully harsh cacophony of distortion and I can’t tear my eyes away from the show as the drummer hammers away with stunning, grind-level skill.

The Zipheads are a change of pace, opening with a super-bouncy version of rocksteady classic 54-46 Was My Number. They follow with upbeat covers of Sublime, the Flintstones soundtrack and Got to Pick a Pocket or Two from Oliver, plus their own original material. In their own words they offer, “Sloppily played rock ‘n’ roll,” with the double-bass dressed up as a pint of Guinness (ideal as both a filling or an accompaniment to pie) giving it more of a rockabilly feel.  Continue reading “Gig Review: Pie Race Festival – Friday + Saturday”

Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In November

The nights are longer, but the music’s louder. Here are the best ways to support your local scene this month.

This is my favourite time of year. I could wax lyrical about the beauty of the leaves descending from the trees, but really it’s all about getting wasted on Halloween and pretending the next day’s eye-bags are part of your zombie costume. It’s the best time of year to waste money on minor-explosives to decorate the night sky, rarely pausing to wonder whether we’d have been better off had Guy Fawkes have successfully made a firework of the Houses of Parliament. Hopefully we’ll see some effigies of Donald Trump popping up.

Another reason I love November is that it’s just before all the commercial bullshit fully kicks off in the advent of Christmas. This may be the last time you can leave the house without fear of tinsel and cheesy musak for the forseeable future! Make the most of it with these awesome shows.

Gig Of The Month: Pie Race Festival

  • When: November 10th-12th
  • Where: Wharf Chambers, Leeds
  • Who: Matilda’s Scoundrels, Ducking Punches, Queen Zee & The Sasstones and heaps more
  • Tickets HERE, Facebook event HERE

I have shamefully never made it to Pie Race in the past, despite being desperate to go. I’m excited to be heading to Leeds for the whole weekend this year, and you ought to be too. Wharf Chambers is the ideal venue for a DIY show – small and full of character. There’s a wealth of great bands spread across three days, with plenty of spare time to catch-up with mates old and new.

The festival is curated by Ben Hannah of Nosebleed / Acid Drop fame (check out our interview here), and it’s basically a well-organised excuse to throw a party with all of his pals. Friday is a little treat for the early-birds, which sees Norwich’s best folk-punks Ducking Punches headlining, with a smaller evening line-up of Hollywoodfun Downstairs, The Zipheads and Pat Butcher.

It all kicks off properly on Saturday, with a mix of genres to keep you on your toes. Without mentioning everyone, I’m most excited to see The Fuckin’ Glorious, The Burnt Tapes, Almeida, Traits and, of course, Nosebleed and Matilda’s Scoundrels. It’s not dissimilar to the line-up we saw for Wotist Called Fest earlier in the year, and if it’s anything remotely like that it’s going to be incredibly fun.

Sunday’s another full day of punk, with a slightly more relaxed line-up and a few less bands (presumably to give us all some recovery time). I’m looking forward to catching some acts I’ve not heard of, as well as finally getting to see Incisions, who released a banger of an EP earlier this year. We’re also guaranteed the good times of Pizzatramp and The Crash Mats. Liverpool’s Queen Zee & The Sasstones will be headlining, bound to close the weekend with aplomb.

Makky’s written a brilliant preview of the festival so that I don’t have to. Check it out at Broken Arrow Magazine.

The JB Conspiracy – 10 Years of ‘This Machine’ Anniversary Tour

  • When: November 1st – 17th
  • Where: Across the UK
  • Who: Support from Tree House Fire

This Machine is one of my favourite albums of all time, and I can’t believe it’s been out for 10 years. The JB Conspiracy are celebrating this milestone with a UK tour, taking in London, Manchester, Leeds, Southampton, Norwich, Brighton, Plymouth and Bristol, plus three dates on the mainland. They’re also releasing This Machine on vinyl for the first time, in a lovely shiny blue.

I’m reluctant to describe The JB Conspiracy as a ska-punk band because they are so much more than that. Sure, they write tunes that are loaded with brass and upbeat, bouncy upstrokes, but their compositions are so complex they’re almost orchestral. There is layer upon layer of intricate horn-parts, piano and full-band crescendos. It’s marvellous. Even if you’ve never heard of This Machine before it’s definitely worth checking The JB – they’ll have you dancing and singing in no time. Tree House Fire are supporting, and are equally guaranteed to leave you in a sweaty, satisfied mess.  Continue reading “Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In November”

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)”

Nosebleed: Boomtown, MPF and Getting High on Frisbee [Interview]

“We change our suits every time we do a record. The embarrassment of our smell is the incentive to write more material.”

For three years, Nosebleed have been gallivanting around the country, bewildering audiences with their energetic live performances. They play lo-fi punk ‘n’ roll with panache, with a reputation for being band-of-the-night even when they’re not top of the bill.

Their live shows defy comparison: it’s something you need to experience for yourself. Ben and Eliott are seemingly incapable of remaining on-stage and usually cause a ruckus by hauling their mic-stands and guitars into the crowd, continuing the show in the middle of the dancefloor. It goes far beyond the average pit-and-pyramid format seen at most punk gigs (although you get that too). Stylishly decked out in blue velour suits, western ties and polished brogues, visually they have more in common with a ‘50s variety show than the hardcore punk bills they tend to play.

Since 2014 they’ve also released two EPs and a Greatest Hits album Hit After Hit After Hit (which contains every song from the EPs). To say that every song they’ve recorded is a greatest hit isn’t an overstatement: they’re all infectious garage-punk bangers that’ll stick in your head for weeks on end.

I was lucky enough to have a natter with the northern trio ahead of their recent gig at The Smokehouse in Ipswich: Eliott Verity (guitar + vocals), Ben Hannah (bass + vocals) and Dicky Riddims (drums + massive grins).

They’re just as entertaining to talk to as they are on stage. Enjoy.

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Ben and Eliott out in the crowd at The Smokehouse.

Welcome to Ipswich! We’re seriously excited for your set. Have you always done the jumping-out-in-the-crowd thing?

  • Eliott: Yeah, from the very beginning we’ve done that.
  • Ben: I think it started in London. It was the bar!
  • Eliott: I was really thirsty [during our set in London] so I went to the bar, and I just carried on playing. And then it became a thing. I mean it kinda came from my brother, who was in a band called The Franceens. They did it a lot, and I thought, yeah, that’s cool. I’m doing that.
  • Ben: You stole it.
  • Eliott: We stole it. It made them go away, and now it’s just us.

Dicky, when Ben and Eliott are out cavorting in the crowd, you’re left all on your own on stage. Do you ever feel a bit left out?

  • Dicky: Well, I always say that I come out to play music with my mates and I always end up sat on my own. No one recognises me.
  • Eliott: No one knows who Dicky is. People walk past him to come to me, to say, “Is there someone here selling your merch?” Some guys asked Dicky, “Do you know anyone in Nosebleed who could sell me a t-shirt?”
  • Ben: We were in Oldham last week. This guy comes up to me to say ‘good set’. He shook my hand and then just looked at Dicky and nodded. Dicky [looked a bit deflated] and the guy was like, “What was up with him?”
  • Dicky: It’s awful. [Cracks up laughing]

2sickmonkeys-nosebleeds-bobbyfunk-12Do you ever wish you could sit down and do a nice acoustic set?

  • Eliott: Not even an acoustic set; I wish I could quit music.
  • [Laughter]
  • Ben: It was originally talked about for Boomtown. Alec and Laura Freestone [who run Last Gang In Town / Devil Kicks Dancehall] asked if we would be interested in playing acoustic, as they only normally put acoustic on The Last Stand… I can’t imagine how that would sound. I’m actually terrible at bass, I just hide it with distortion! Eliott solos all the time but it’d be a bit plinky-plonky on an acoustic guitar.
  • Eliott: We could do one of the swing sets we’ve done: swing covers and stuff like that.
  • Ben: We’ve recorded some lounge music.
  • Eliott: But that’s just for us. It was going to be a ghost track on a CD but it never happened.

Continue reading “Nosebleed: Boomtown, MPF and Getting High on Frisbee [Interview]”

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”

Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In August

Festival season is upon us! Time to drink warm cans in a field full of grubby strangers and enjoy a well-deserved break from the real world.

There are so many high-calibre punk shows this month it’s going to be hard to keep up.

For me, August is going to be ruled by a week in Slovenia for Punk Rock Holiday. I’ve wanted to attend for years, but this is the first time I’ve managed to secure tickets. Never before have I had the opportunity to combine bands, beers and beaches – I can barely contain my excitement.

Headliners this year include Propa-fucking-gandhi, Good Riddance and The Offspring, plus heavyweights like Snuff, Face to Face and Teenage Bottlerocket. Of the less-obvious bands on the Beach Stage, I strongly recommend checking out Not On Tour, BONO! and Sombulance. I’m concerned that I may not survive 5 straight days of beer and heatstroke but I’m gonna give it a bloody good try.

PRH Lineup

I also recommend visiting Boomtown Fair for their unparalleled array of partying options. As usual Last Gang in Town’s selections for the Devil Kicks Dancehall stage are sterling: King Prawn, The Filaments, Wonk Unit, Inner Terrestrials, Pizzatramp, The JB Conspiracy to name a handful… Check out the full line-up, there isn’t a bad apple on the whole list.

The weekend before is Rebellion up in Blackpool: a social experiment to determine whether punks can survive constant exposure to loud noises, solely with the help of lager, chips and fry ups. The annual punk extravaganza always pulls in big names from across the scene, including many of the same bands as Punk Rock Holiday, plus hundreds of others like Bad Religion, Sham 69, Slaves and many of the smaller UK punk regulars.

I should also be making my annual pilgrimage to Devon for Beautiful Days – a chilled-out grassroots festival run by Levellers. It sells out every year based only on word of mouth: there’s no advertising, no sponsorship and no bullshit whatsoever. This year’s line-up includes Stiff Little Fingers, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Hepcat, Matilda’s Scoundrels, Ferocious Dog, Therapy? and Songhoy Blues. If you’re heading down there, make sure you have a cold pint down The Bimble Inn for me!

Bimble.jpg
Enjoying the Bimble Inn slightly too much in 2015.

For those of you less inclined to spend £100s getting drunk, sunburned and rained-on in a muddy field, there are plenty of tent-free shows worth going to. Read on for my top picks in August. Continue reading “Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In August”