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

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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

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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 – Sunday

Sunday is recovery fun day at Leeds’ annual pastry-punk showdown, featuring Queen Zee & The Sasstones, Incisions, Pizzatramp and more.

Review by Sarah Williams. Photos by Hold My Pint Photography. Videos nabbed from Razmoyork’s YouTube page.

Firstly, check out our review of Friday and Saturday’s Pie Race.

The Sunday mood at Pie Race is notably subdued. People slowly return to Wharf Chambers, begrudgingly accepting the need crack on with the drinking and pie consumption once again. The day starts with a bar full of bedraggled punks nursing mugs of coffee or gingerly pushing their way through their difficult first pint. That said, there is still a buzz of excitement for more noisy nonsense to come. Today’s bill has a distinct sense of fun – plenty of ska, no brutal hardcore – exactly what you need on a rough morning.

I am pleasantly surprised by Plot 32. They spent Saturday spreading the word about their band via the excessive distribution of badges, but playing themselves down by explaining they were so new to music that they’d only just learned to play their instruments. As such, I approached their set with very low expectations and was wowed to discover one of my favourite sets of the whole weekend. The room is full of warmth for this band; they play good, simple ska with a party vibe, perfect for the recovery that the crowd are in need of. They throw a little medley of Operation Ivy and the Vengaboys, plus a perky cover of Catch 22’s Keasbey Nights that’s deeply enjoyable. Just the injection of skanking fun you need after a wild Saturday night.

Whitby’s Panda Lasagne follow them with some standard-but-solid punk rock, apparently playing their first gig in Leeds for 11 years. They’ve got demonstrable hangovers much like the rest of us, but they’re still fun and fast. Tunes like Housewives’ Choice are fun, but it’s rock ‘n’ roll tunes like Witness that really get the room going.

The Crash Mats are exactly what my hangover needs right now. There is nothing remotely sad or downbeat about this brilliant little ska-punk band, it’s all funky bass lines and jumpy upstrokes (with a few bursts of fast hardcore thrown in for good measure). They start off strong with Terry Funk Forever and Party At Lou’s Place early on in the set. They know as well as we do that it’s time for some silly punk shenanigans, and they use all their I’ve-got-a-microphone powers to make it happen. Baz suggests that rather than a human pyramid we create a human sphinx: a concept that’s better in the imagination than it is in practice, although the eager crowd make a valiant attempt. We’re a lot more successful at creating a reverse wall of death – starting off in a mosh pit and ending the song in two neat rows. Soppy Love Song remains my favourite tune, but their closing track Get Me Off This Ride is a close second, describing an LSD-fuelled rollercoaster experience, completed by Baz’s demented laughter over a backing of jumpy ska-core.

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Next up are Snakerattlers, which is the moodier reimagining of The Franceens. They open with a song that is instrumental apart from a series of howled guttural noises, slightly bewildering the audience and warning them that they’re in for a wild ride. There’s a dusty Tijuana vibe to much of their death-punk stylings, conjuring a taste of hot sand and desolation. They perform with just a distorted electric guitar and drums stripped back to a snare, floor tom and a crash cymbal. It doesn’t sound like a lot written down, but it’s played with a captivating spit-in-your face attitude that’s impossible to ignore. Much like a rattlesnake, they’re slightly intimidating, although songs like Let You Go are catchy and danceable. Guitarist/singer Dan Gott falls backwards out into the crowd with his guitar for Rattlerock Rumble, bringing a more intimate element to the performance. It’s extremely cool, sultry, swagger-ful stuff.  Continue reading “Gig Review: Pie Race Festival – Sunday”

Punk Rock Weddings: Kaz & Big Hands [Part 2 of 3]

Part 2: Kaz & Big Hands celebrate with two massive gigs and plenty of help from their friends.

Feature by Sarah Williams. Photos by Bev/Hold My Pint Photography.

Welcome to Part Two of our Punk Rock Weddings Weekender!

Earlier this year, Kaz and Big Hands hosted two of the biggest punk rock marriage celebrations I’ve ever heard of. Not only did they have a four-band line-up on their big day, they also managed to squeeze in an impressive ‘Hag Do’ gig at Gullivers in Manchester.

Chris Hinsley, better known as Big Hands, does data analysis by day but is the drummer in Revenge of the Psychotronic Man by night. Karen Hinsley (née Warburton, better known as Kaz) loves her job as an Animal Nursing Assistant, where (if her Facebook feed is anything to go by) she gets to care for incredibly cute puppies and kittens for a living. Together, Kaz and Big Hands are an integral part of the TNS Records family, spending their spare time packing merch and helping with new releases, as well as going to gigs and generally getting involved. They have also taken on the admirable task of running all the merch for Manchester Punk Festival.

I wanted to find out whether their experience of DIY gigs influenced their marriage choices, how two noisy punk gigs translate to a successful wedding, and whether Kaz managed to crowd-surf in a wedding dress.

Kaz and Big Hands Wedding 1

How did you both meet?

  • Big Hands: We kinda met years ago but didn’t really talk to each other – I was dressed as the Alan Partridge zombie along with Revenge. Bizarrely Andy from Revenge (and best man at the wedding) used to teach Kaz at college.
  • Kaz: I’ve known some of the guys from Faintest Idea for over 10 years now and I used to go down to Norfolk quite a lot for weekend trips. One of those times was for a Halloween gig that Revenge were playing. I was actually just getting into the punk scene at the time so I hadn’t actually heard Revenge before… and I hadn’t watched Partridge so I totally didn’t get their costume choice! I didn’t really say much to Chris at all that weekend but I remember we were at the same house party that night for a few hours.
  • Big Hands: We first properly spoke to each other at Strummer Camp 2011 as we both knew Faintest Idea, so we blame Dani for that one.
  • Kaz: We went out for a drink a week or so after that and I haven’t been able to shake him since!
  • Big Hands: It was six years the day before the wedding. I proposed on our anniversary, and we decided to get married the same weekend two years later, so with my shocking memory I only have to remember one date!

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Before we get onto the wedding in detail, tell me all about the hen / stag do.

  • Big Hands: We both have the same friends (male and female), so we decided to have a joint one: hence our ‘hag do’. It meant that A) we could all party together and B) it was really hard to choose bands to play the wedding, so it gave us a chance to put some others on. We ended up with Pizzatramp, Matilda’s Scoundrels, Casual Nausea, Rising Strike and The Lab Rats. We also managed to convince Sense of Urgency to reform for it, which was amazing. We roped in Col and Laura of MBBP fame to run it for us, so we have them to thank for that one.
  • Kaz: The hag do was also on the day of my 30th so it was a joint celebration. Col and Laura did a great job and it was such a cracking gig!
  • Big Hands: Also, to finish it off, we managed one last night in Retro Bar before that got closed down.
  • Kaz: Yeah, originally we we only going to do the hag do and not your typical hen and stag do’s, but my wonderful maid of honour, Kim, had other ideas. She planned a surprise get away to Ibiza for me and some of my close girl mates. Big Hands also had a weekend in Berlin. She called it a ‘not hen do’ and we didn’t have any of the typical hen party tat. We just went away for a long weekend and had a good time together. Also, my 63 year old mum came and got her first tattoo, in Ibiza… on her bum!

Continue reading “Punk Rock Weddings: Kaz & Big Hands [Part 2 of 3]”

Gig Review: Wotsit Called Fest – Saturday (30/09/2017)

Part Two: The main day at Hastings’ premier DIY punk fest, featuring performances from The Restarts, Riggots, Pizzatramp, Millie Manders, The Fuckin’ Glorious, The Barracks, Natterers, The Crash Mats, The Dead Anyways and Cheap Dates.

Photo credit: Massive thanks to Sara-Louise Bowrey from Festival Flyer (Cheap Dates – Barracks) and Mark Richards (The Fuckin’ Glorious – The Restarts) for bringing this to life with their tremendous images.

Check out my review of Part One: Wotsit Called Fest – Friday for the full story!

After scoffing lunch on the beach I’m back at The Palace and ready to start another rollicking day of DIY fun.

Although Saturday’s gig doesn’t start until the respectable time of 3.30pm, bedraggled punks gradually stumble into the bar from 2pm onwards. The drink of choice this morning is the espresso martini: both the beginning and the end of the hangover.

It feels like The Palace has been designed specifically for Wotsit Called Fest. Toxic Wotsit’s logo, colour-scheme and matching cocktail (the Toxic Avenger – held responsible for many of Saturday’s haggard faces) are all a fierce nuclear-waste green, coincidentally the colour of The Palace’s tiny back-room. The sound is reasonably good, but otherwise the room is rough, ready and clearly not designed for bands; the walls are adorned with giant mirrors and oil painting of dignitaries riding horses. It all adds to the DIY punk feel.

Cheap Dates at Wotsite Called Fest 2017

Local skiffle-punks Cheap Dates are a fitting opening act: coaxing us gently back into the land of the living with some varied covers. They’re a quartet with a mandolin, washboard and an acoustic guitar, plus a bass constructed from a bit of rope tied to a plastic crate. They all sing, and occasional cameos from a kazoo and a melodica add to the fun. By far the highlight of their set is a version of All Saints’ Never Ever – now that’s what I call a cover.

The Dead Anyways at Wostsit Called Fest 2017

Up next is The Dead Anyways, who provide smiling, self-deprecating punk in a typically British style. They’re one of my favourite bands of the day; they may not be the liveliest or most hardcore act to take the stage, but they have an instant melodic appeal that aligns perfectly with my taste. Combining earnest songwriting, foot-tapping rhythms and a gritty vocal, they’ll appeal to fans of Southport, Spoilers and Bear Trade. They plod between songs with understated humour and an affable stage-presence, aided by the appearance of the guitarist’s two young daughters. The kids give us a giggle and a photo opportunity, both leaning head-in-hands at the side of the stage, evidently dissatisfied by the lack of Peppa Pig covers. They’re the only two disappointed customers in the room.

The Crash Mats at Wotsit Called fest 2017

Following The Dead Anyways is the band most likely to cover the Peppa Pig theme tune: The Crash Mats. They don’t, but instead they throw in a delightful version of the Chucklevision theme that makes me grin like a lunatic. The grizzly three-piece play cracking sausage rock ‘n’ roll straight out of Oldham, with short, snappy ska segments. Their songs cover a variety of profound topics, including wrestling, meat pies and Neighbours, mainly taken from their new album 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics. My favourite tune is Soppy Love Song, which works even better live than on the album: beginning with slow parody ballad before all hell breaks loose at the end. Continue reading “Gig Review: Wotsit Called Fest – Saturday (30/09/2017)”

Gig Review: Kick The Crutches All Dayer @ The New Cross Inn (23/09/2017)

The most fun I’ve ever had for a fiver, feat. The Kimberly Steaks, Pizzatramp, Natterers, Werecats, Mug, Misgivings and more.

Disclaimer: Brace yourselves, these may be the worst gig photos ever taken! I decided they were slightly better than none at all.

On the punk circuit there is a risk of seeing the same 10 touring bands again and again, so it’s always appealing to discover new acts. It takes cheap all-day gigs like the Kick The Crutches all-dayer to enable us to do that: when it’s only £5 to see 12 bands you know it’s going to be worth it.

Although there are bands I already love on the line-up today (I’m most excited for The Kimberly Steaks, Pizzatramp and Werecats) the real draw for me is the bands I’ve not seen before. On A Hiding To Nothing, Nietzsche Trigger Finger, Fastfade and Strange Planes are all bands I’ve listened to and heard a lot about lately, but who I’ve not had the opportunity to see live. There is also plenty of genre diversity in the line-up to keep people on their toes for the whole day. I can’t wait.

Fastfade open the show, amusingly already running five minutes behind schedule. They’re a young three-piece from Enfield, playing strong back-to-basics fast punk, like NOFX but smarter. It’s really enjoyable. Three songs in, there’s a drunk heckler shouting ‘one more song’, apparently missing the fact that they’ve got quite a few left. It’s proves for an amusing between-song piece, before they crack into a song appropriately named Idiot. Playing at 2.45pm they grumble about it being too early to start boozing, but late enough for the coffee to have worn off, but they still provide a lively, energetic show. On the last song they toss a drumstick out into the crowd, only to ask us to throw it back because the drummer actually needs it: one of those lovely small-gig moments.

It’s not often that a band blow you out of the water like Nietzsche Trigger Finger. I’ve heard of the duo from Bristol, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to see them. They’re a complete revelation; I pity the poor punters who haven’t made it to the venue in time for their early set. They play stripped-back thrash with off-the-wall lyrics and funny referential song titles like ‘Gone Girl’ Cat vs. Twitter Eggs, 9/11 Two and Reinventing Kanye West. They drift beautifully from diabolically heavy, to fast hardcore, to clever, percussive acapella sections. I can’t wait to catch them again, and I strongly recommend that you go listen to everything they’ve ever recorded. It’s intricate, interesting and totally unique.

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Next up is Strange Planes, who play bass-driven melodic rock with hints of punk. At this point, I’m drinking a coffee from a shop round the corner that tastes like diesel and pure hatred combined, which is mildly distracting. Conversely, the musical change of pace is accessible and instantly enjoyable. They achieve a great mix of different tones in their vocal harmonies, and the excellent, complex bass really stands out. I love every slow, moody second of their set. The coffee tastes better once it’s stripped away my tastebuds.

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It’s time for super-fun upbeat punk from Werecats. Their poppy melodic tunes never fail to get the crowd moving and singing along, and this is no exception. The title track of their latest EP My Boyfriend’s a Werewolf sounds great, with Pip and Cici switching lead vocals between songs and nailing the harmonies. They’ve got an energetic Fat Wreck feel, in the camp of Teenage Bottlerocket or Bad Cop/Bad Cop, while toeing the classic Ramones line. Werecats are more fun than a ball pool full of puppies wearing party hats, and tight to boot. It’s lovely to see them again, and I can’t resist having a dance-about. Continue reading “Gig Review: Kick The Crutches All Dayer @ The New Cross Inn (23/09/2017)”