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”

Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In March

We’ve done all the hard work for you and found the best punk gigs across the country in March.

Article by Sarah Williams.

There is a huge amount going on in March! The biggest treats are over the Easter weekend right at the end of the month, but there is plenty to keep you warm until then.

Without further ado, these are our top picks for the month:

Gig of The Month: Dugstock 2

  • When: March 30th – April 1st
  • Where: The New Cross Inn, London
  • Who: Headliners include Counterpunch, Crazy Arm and The Murderburdgers
  • Check out the Facebook event

This stacked line-up in London has a bit of something for everyone. This is Umlaut Records now-annual celebration of all things fast and fun so , as you would expect, there’s a focus on melodic, upbeat skate-punk in keeping with their label sound.

There are plenty of Umlaut acts showcased on the bill, including Captain Trips, Coral Springs, Burnt Tapes, On A Hiding To Nothing and Strange Planes. I’m particularly excited for Coral Springs, as they’re bringing their anxious, poppy joy all the way from the Netherlands. There’s also plenty of technical melodic hardcore in the form of Fair Do’s, Almeida, Counterpunch and PMX. If you prefer things a bit more ‘punk’ there’s also riot grrls Kiss Me Killer, soon-to-be-gone noise merchants Revenge of The Psychotronic Man, Bogans, Billy Liar and Spoilers. You can even catch our favourites Nosebleed, who’ll be kicking the party into full swing on Saturday.

It is a really diverse line-up with plenty of fun for any punk rock fan. The variation in the bill means you can use this as a great opportunity to catch some new bands, or you can take a breather and grab some food if you need to.  Pop in for a day or for the weekend – tickets available from Umlaut Records.

Old Town House Eastervaganza!

  • When: March 30th – April 1st
  • Where: The Old Town House, Warrington
  • Who: Headliners include Popes of Chillitown, Pizzatramp and In Evil Hour
  • Check out the Facebook event

The Facebook event promises that this gig will leave you, “mystified, mesmerized, terrified, exhilarated, enraptured, captivated and captured as we host a manifold carnival of some of the finest in high-octane punk rock, ska, hardcore, prog, funk and many more personalities to keep you moving, grooving, laughing, crying and lashing your heads backwards and forwards.” What more can you ask for?
Continue reading “Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In March”

Top 5 Predictions For 2018

We cast our minds to the future to predict the trends in UK DIY punk for 2018.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Warning: this article is 70% ambitious, 20% self-indulgent and 10% late. Also, trigger warning: some mention of sexual assault.

The beginning of the year is the perfect time for big, sweeping generalisations. How many times have you recently heard that ‘2017 has been a great year for music’?

In 2016 the big news in the entertainment industry was the unprecedented number of celebrity deaths. Last year focussed more on the aftermath of two disappointing votes: in wake of Brexit, Trump and the disappointing UK general election I found my ever-dwindling faith in humanity diminishing further, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

The world of DIY punk was even more uplifting than usual in the context of the depressing political climate. The creativity, talent and camaraderie present in our insular music haven is what gives me hope for society as a whole, and it has flourished in response to the shitstorm around us. I think that creative growth is likely to continue in the new year, which made me consider what else might be on the horizon for 2018.

Through a process of extreme guesswork and mild narcissism, below I’ve compiled my top predictions for 2018. I would love to know whether you agree and what your predictions would be.

#5: We’ll see some weird and wacky merchandising ideas

I encountered a plethora esoteric merch in 2017: miniature vinyl, hats based on obscure in-jokes, a band-branded jars of vegan honey…. There is a tradition within DIY punk to offer something other than the mainstream, but the rise of digital formats and pay-what-you-want releases pushes bands to invent new ways of staying afloat financially.

I’m sure I’m not alone in having more band t-shirts that will actually fit in my wardrobe (I recently spent 30 minutes debating whether to organise them by genre, alphabetically or by size – suggestions welcome). Although I want to financially support small bands at every opportunity, there are only so many shirts I can handle. Patches and badges are obvious; lighters and hats aren’t uncommon; Pizzatramp and Wonk Unit have baby-grows but I don’t think they’ll fit.

Colourful vinyl variants are now standard issue, satisfying the need for a physical product to accompany an album release however, with legions of DIY bands out there vying for our attention, there’s a demand for more unusual products.

I like to think that Andy Davies of Revenge of The Psychotronic Man is ahead of the curve in terms of creative and utterly ridiculous merchandising. In 2017 they’ve brought out an EP on cassette only, created a lift-up and reveal Mr Blobby themed t-shirt (below left) and produced two lines of baseball caps based on a drinking in-joke (below right). That’s on top of their epic ‘it’s fucking booze time’ clock.

Andy’s not alone in his endeavours. In 2014 Darko included ‘essential’ beard oil in some US releases of Sea of Trees, although I’m still waiting to be sold a Bonsai Mammoth plant. In 2015 Random Hand proved that punks love mugs, and yet I haven’t seen a DIY band selling mugs since (Mug are seriously missing a trick on that one).

Some things will be cost prohibitive but we can dream big. Matilda’s Scoundrels branded inflatable dinghy, for all your crowd-sailing needs? A plastic bobble-head version of Faintest Idea’s trombonist, Robin ‘Bobble’ Smith? Grand Collapse could have the monopoly on Jenga knock-offs. On the other hand, perhaps bands like Shit Present should stick to t-shirts… Continue reading “Top 5 Predictions For 2018”

Gig Alert: Wotsit Called Festival 2018

Inner Terrestrials, Faintest Idea and Revenge announced as first bands for Wotsit Called Fest!

Regular readers will know that last year’s Wotsit Called Fest was one of our top 5 punk festivals of 2017. Well, to brighten this dreary January morning, Toxic Wotsit have announced the first bands for this year’s incarnation of the festival!

Wotsit Called Festival First Announcement

For  the uninitiated among you, Wotsit Called is Hasting’s premier punk festival. This will be its third year and, following all the smashing feedback on their last shindig, it’s growing a hell of a lot in 2018.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Dates: September 28th – 30th 2017
  • Venue:  The Palace, Hastings
  • The gigs will be starting earlier on Friday and Saturday so that more awesome bands can be crammed onto the line-up
  • The promoters have also added a hangover-friendly acoustic line-up on the Sunday

Only three bands have been announced and it’s already looking incredible. Mighty ska-punk veterans Inner Terrestrials will be headlining the Saturday night, and they will be joined over the weekend by my personal faves Faintest Idea and fast-punk hooligans Revenge of The Psychotronic Man. I’ve caught Inner Terrestrials quite a few times in the past and they always turn out a lively show that’s guaranteed to get you skanking. I can only begin to imagine how great they’re going to be in a venue this small! Continue reading “Gig Alert: Wotsit Called Festival 2018”

Top 5 Punk Gigs of 2017

Shout Louder’s favourite gigs of 2017.

Article by Sarah Williams.

This was an unbelievably tough call. I’ve been to more gigs this year than I ever have before, and the vast majority of them have been worth shouting about. It’d probably be easier to do Top 5 Worst Gigs.

Strangely, some of the best gigs I’ve seen haven’t been punk at all. I spent a lot of this year working at The Smokehouse, a DIY music venue in Ipswich, so I’ve attended a lot of shows that I wouldn’t normally give time to. Easily my most memorable gig this year was Rich Quick, a fast lyrical MC from Philadelphia. The night was quite poorly attended, which meant that those of us behind the bar could actually go and enjoy the performance. Rich spent the whole set roaming through the crowd, rapping straight in our faces and handing out prints of his artwork. It was really unique, intimate and one that I’ll be telling people about in years to come.

Two of my other favourite shows (that didn’t make the cut) were Run The Jewels at the Albert Hall in Manchester, and the Youngblood Brass Band at Islington Assembly Hall in London. Although both performances were incredible, energetic and extremely memorable in their own right, it was the venues that really set these two gigs apart. The Albert Hall is a restored Wesleyan chapel with wood panels, stained glass windows and a huge pipe organ that was a quirky contrast to RTJ’s emblematic fist-and-gun stage display. Islington Assembly Hall is a Grade 2 listed hall full of 1930s art deco features, including a sprung wood floor that made it so much fun to dance around to the band.

But, after much deliberation, I managed to select these five shows as my top gigs of the year:

#5: Descendents @ Kentish Town Forum, London

Descendents 2

This gig would have been higher up my list if it weren’t for the support acts. Without being disrespectful of The Kenneths and Abrasive Wheels (who are both good in their own right), when you’re paying £35 a ticket you expect to see bands closer to the genre and calibre of Descendents. As such the evening felt a bit disconnected.

That being said, Descendents turned up and put on an unbelievable show. Opening with Everything Sux, they charged through 32 hits back-to-back, including not one but two encores. I’ve never seen a crowd demand two encores before, but it was absolutely warranted in this case. They’re as tight and accomplished as you would expect of a band their size. There wan’t a single moment in the set that I didn’t really enjoy.

Check out our review of the gig here.

 

#4: Kick The Crutches All-Dayer @ The New Cross Inn

As far as I’m concerned, this gig is what DIY punk is all about. £5 for 12 bands. A brilliant venue in London. Record label distros. A relaxed atmosphere and a line-up that didn’t stop. It was a completely accessible day of music in London.

Better-known acts like The Kimberly Steaks and Pizzatramp (and Vanilla Pod, although they had to pull out last-minute) are worth going to see on their own, so as part of an all-dayer they’re a fantastic excuse to rock up and check out some band you’re less familiar with. My biggest take-away from the day was Bristolian act Neitzsche Trigger Finger, easily one of the strangest and most entrancing I’ve seen all year. I also got to catch Fastfade, Strange Planes and On A Hiding To Nothing for the first time, and completely loved all of them. It was also a treat to catch Mug, Misgivings and Werecats, all of whom are consistently great. In short, the standard was held extremely high for over ten hours of fast-punk frivolity. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Gigs of 2017”

Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In December

Skip your boring work Christmas party and get yourself down to one of these noisy nights out instead.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Christmas is coming. For many of us, December is a time of tradition, consumerism and excessive alcohol consumption. If you survive the guantlet of the office Christmas party (advice: don’t get off with anyone’s boss, especially not your own) then you still get to face the awkward questions from relatives you’ve not seen since last year. “What happened to that nice boyfriend?” Oh, the one that cheated on me three months ago? “Are you still doing that… ‘job’?” Yes, Gran, I’m still a world class fuck-up, thank you for asking.

As one of the busiest and most expensive times of year, gigs can sometimes take a back-seat. There’s no need for that as there’s plenty going on and, let’s face it, a room full of loud noises is a lot more fun than playing Cluedo with your in-laws. We’ve got all your Christmas and New Years treat wrapped up for you:

Gig Of The Month: Umlaut Records Christmas Party

  • When: December 16th
  • Where: New Cross Inn, London
  • Who: Consumed, Spoilers, Müg, No Matter, Ships Down, Launch Control, Our Lives In Cinema, Shark Party and Tape It Shut
  • Tickets HERE, Facebook event HERE

Umlaut Records Christmas Party.jpg

This is such a banger. Scrap your stupid work Christmas party and all the other invites you’ve had (this is literally the busiest night of the whole month for me – there are 10+ gigs to choose from) and get your arse down to the New Cross Inn.

Consumed are legendary in the UK punk scene, having pioneered the British late 90s/early 00s skate-punk sound. They even reached the fabled heights of the Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 soundtrack. There are few bands in England that I ever get more excited about seeing, so Christmas is genuinely coming early for me with this booking.

The rest of the line up is all fast, melodic and awesome. Britain’s catchiest punks, Spoilers are on before Consumed, so get your singing voices ready. Umlaut label bosses Müg are also, in my opinion, one of the most underrated bands in London right now – plenty to rock out to. No Matter are trekking over from Ireland to give us some super-catchy pop punk. Ships Down are one of the best punk rock acts I’ve seen in 2017; they take cues from bands like Belvedere/Rise Against. Keep your ears open for Launch Control‘s Christmas song (I assume they’re doing one this year). Our Lives In Cinema are what you get if you chuck Alkaline Trio and Jeff Rosenstock in a musical blender, well worth getting down earlier for. Before them, catch Shark Party and Tape It Shut. What’s not to like?

Enjoy one of my All Time Top 5 Best Punk Songs Ever:

Anarchistic Undertones: New Years Eve Party

  • When: December 31st
  • Where: Gullivers, Manchester
  • Who: Stand Out Riot, Riggots, Revenge of The Psychotronic Man, plus more.
  • Facebook event HERE

New Year’s Eve is a consistently crashing disappointment, so I aim to keep my expectations as low as possible at all times. This gig represents a glimmer of hope in the mire of plastic champagne flutes and overpriced entry fees (seriously, one NYE I was charged £10 to get into a pub where I lived and worked). While I’m keen to maintain a cynical facade at all times, this is pretty fucking exciting!

Ska-punk heroes Stand Out Riot are reforming for this one-off show – it’s their first gig since MPF 2015. Revenge of The Psychotronic Man will no doubt play as fast as phsycially possible, hurtling you into 2018 at full speed. You can also look forward to  having spit, guitars and dischordant noises hurled at you by Riggots. If that’s not enough, there’s Wadeye, Habits and The Mighty Bossmags. Grab a ticket before they sell out – otherwise you’re going to be stuck in a shitty overpriced bar, or wanking alone on your sofa to the hollow charm of Jools Holland. Continue reading “Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In December”

EP Review: Tim Loud & The Psychotronic Men – Some Of These People Have Come From Stoke

Tim Loud and Revenge of The Psychotronic Man translate a drunken idea into a beautiful reality.

Review by Sarah Williams.

Tim Loud & The Psychotronic Men’s little EP Some of These People Have Come From Stoke is one of those marvellous bits of nonsense that make the DIY punk scene the best place to be.

The EP is a three-song collaboration between Revenge of The Psychotronic Man (famous for delivering ridiculously fast, fun noise) and Tim Loud (famous for fronting long-dead aggro-folks Bootscraper, and for his own antifolk solo material). Whilst on tour in April they drunkenly decided that a joint recording would be a great idea; the result is three quite different tracks, reflecting their individual tastes rather than their normal musical output. It’s a rollicking ride through punk rock mayhem, and it’ll be a great gem to look back on in years to come.

The EP opens with an Alan Partridge quote that explains the title, although it’s also a nod to Tim Loud and (drummer) Big Hands’ Stoke heritage. The first track The Queen is Dead, Long Live The King Singers is pretty classic, catchy anti-establishment punk, talking about knocking people off their pedestals. 

The second track Oh Yeah, Motorcycle is all hair metal, with a huge doom-laden build-up that’s every bit Motorhead. The song descends into some shreddery before returning to the heavy introductory riff, closing on a decrescendo of feedback and distortion. It’s masses of fun to sing-along to the lyrically profound chorus, “Ooooooohh yeeaaah, motorcycle!” although the song’s actually about what wankers motorcyclists can be. This is premium pit-fodder, and I really hope Revenge start playing this one live. 

The third and final track Sensible Party is a return to a fuzzier punk rock format, although it’s still got plenty of rock ‘n’ roll guitar licks. The clear highlights of this song are the brilliant tongue-in-cheek lyrics: “If you’re still here then grab a coffee son, the party has only just begun,” or, “If it’s too busy we’ll find a fucking book and hide.” One almost gets the impression that these guys may not be inclinded to have a ‘sensible’ party as they’re so virtuously proclaiming. This is my new favourite party anthem, and it’s been firmly lodged in my head for over a week. Continue reading “EP Review: Tim Loud & The Psychotronic Men – Some Of These People Have Come From Stoke”