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”

Top 5 EP Releases of 2017

Shout Louder’s picks of the best short releases of the year.

Article by Sarah Williams.

It’s been an extremely strong year for releases in the world of punk. For the Shout Louder end of year round-up, I’ve decided to embrace the classic Top 5 format. Over the next few days you can enjoy all of the following:

First up are my Top 5 EPs of the year. This was a real struggle. As a cheaper and easier alternative to a full-length album, it seems to be the format of choice for many of the bands I favour at the moment. There were more EPs vying for the top spot this year than there were albums.

Just short of making the cut was Alaska Alaska’s Another Planet’s Hell. I have also listened to No Trigger’s Adult Braces a hell of a lot, however it’s mostly on the strength of one song – Dogs On Acid. I ought also mention On A Hiding To Nothing. They are one of my favourite live discoveries this year, and their EP Formaldehyde is stupidly fast, complex and awesome.

Without further ado, here are my Top 5 EPs of 2017.

#5: Incisions – Quit Now

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Incisions are a gutsy foursome from Manchester who create proper, noisy fast-punk full of swagger. It feels like they’ve taken a rowdy punk band and added a hard rock guitarist, driving the songs with irresistible riffs and grooves. Jordan Lloyd’s coarse vocal and snappy fuck-off lyrics tie it all together, dripping with attitude and agression.

Absolutely zero fucks were given in the making of this record. Or, at least, that’s what the attitude in the lyrics convey. In reality it clearly takes a lot of talent to make an EP this good while making it seem effortless. I loved this the first second I heard it, and my only regret is not seeing it played live until November. Live or recorded, Quit Now has an undeniable power to make you to rock the fuck out.

 

#4: Toodles & The Hectic Pity – Call In Sick

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I have to thank Colin Clark’s impeccable music taste for this one. He recommended this band to me earlier in the year, shocked that they only had ~100 Facebook followers despite producing an incredible record. It’s five tracks of bouncy, fast acoustic folk-punk that’s pleasantly uplifting, in a similar vein to bands like Jake & The Jellyfish. Call In Sick has shed a bright beam of positivity on 2017 for me, and I want to share it with everyone.

Coming from Bristol, Toodles & The Hectic Pity produce quick, snappy and percussive punk ditties, overlaid with witty lyrics, delivered in a vocal style that cracks and strains and makes you want to sing along. My favourite song is by far the title track, hitting a real nerve with me with the words, “You shouldn’t have to work so hard to barely get you by.” The theme of the song in part gave me the confidence I needed to leave my job and change my life this year. Well done, Toodles, it’s an incredible record. Continue reading “Top 5 EP Releases 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: The Sinking Teeth @ The Old Blue Last [26/10/2017]

The Sinking Teeth bring raw post-punk straight from Melbourne, with support from Darko, The Burnt Tapes and Miami Nice.

Review by Sarah. Photos… also by Sarah. Prepare yourself for some truly terrible photos.

After a long week, sometimes small rooms full of big noises are exactly what you need. I’m just about coming to terms with the dark October nights and I’ve said a fond farewell to beer garden season. Shoreditch still looks colourful on a Thursday night, and the glowing lights of The Old Blue Last are like beacon of hope on this chilly evening.

I hadn’t heard of Miami Nice before this show, and I’m thoroughly impressed the second they hit stage. It’s certainly far better than I had expected from a band opening a free show organised at short notice; they’re fantastic. Once I discover that these locals have previously been in bands like Young Conservatives and Grand Central it’s less of a surprise, and everyone I speak to sounds equally impressed. The singer has a raw, stony quality and he belts out words with a huge weight of force and emotion behind them, sounding like his voice could crack at any moment. The band has some fantastic bluesier melodies in the backing, particularly on some of their later songs.

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I’m not going to lie: I’m a tad obsessed with The Burnt Tapes at the moment. Alterations has had so much play on my iPod recently that I think it’s permanently etched on my eardrums. Their signature gritty lead-vocal swaps between Pan and Phil give them a unique edge, showcased early in the set on Ghosts. It might be one of the weaker moments on their EP, but has some strong shout-along potential live. Similarly, Oh Marie has an enormous regret-fuelled chorus that grabs your heart and squeezes hard.

Throughout the night, all the bands are drowned in the classic blue lights of The Old Blue last, and at no point is it more fitting than for The Burnt Tapes. They’re the masters of sad punk, transforming some deeply depressing themes into songs you want to dance to. Phil introduces a song by saying, “This is a sad one…” Normally that might be a bad thing, but I’m immediately filled with excitement knowing they’re about to play Things Get Weird. The chorus is so visceral that you can nearly feel the broken teeth in your mouth as you sing along. Continue reading “Gig Review: The Sinking Teeth @ The Old Blue Last [26/10/2017]”

EP Review: The Burnt Tapes – Alterations

The new EP from London’s favourite ‘regret punks’ is a moody, melodic masterstroke. FFO: Iron Chic, Leagues Apart and Red City Radio.

Review by Mark Bartlett.

When I first saw The Burnt Tapes on a poster (a year or so ago) I’d already decided that they were awesome before ever hearing a note of music, such is the power of an excellent band name. But a band needs to be more than just a really really cool name. On Alterations the London-via-Athens band deliver six tracks that stand toe to toe with their peers and cement their position at the top of the pile of London’s best punk bands. Tone Apostolopoulos (vocals & bass), Phil Georgoulopoulos (lead vocals & guitar), Panos Tessaromatis (vocals & guitar) and Jordan Hall (Drums), have delivered one of 2017’s standout melodic punk releases.

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Short opener Alterations sets the tone and pace nicely. Sonically, it all begins in a fairly sunny fashion, with triumphant progressions and some flowery harmonies that are effectively betrayed by vocals that take the granite chewing grit of Hot Water Music’s Chuck Ragan, viewed through a modern Iron Chic-esque lens. “‘Cause at twenty-eight, what the fuck can you change?”

Lead track Oh Marie was the first song I was exposed to. I immediately got vibes that took me back to circa 2001 post-hardcore/emo classic bands. Musically, the chord changes are a bit Good Mourning-era Alkaline Trio. The opening progression is menacing and bubble-wrapped in glass half-empty pessimism. Lyrically, we’re in a dark place here: “I’ve looked better, you’ve looked worse. Crawling on the ground for your last cigarette.”

It’s followed by one of the two strongest tracks on the record. The excellently punny Wayne Regretzky opens with a huge, sparkly pop riff that leads into the most dynamically interesting verse-to-chorus changes on the EP. Lyrically, it’s poignant and personally affecting with the refrain, “All good things pass, real fast,” delivering the record’s best lyrical moment. Continue reading “EP Review: The Burnt Tapes – Alterations”

Gig Review: Might As Well Fest III (07/10/2017)

An exciting London charity all-dayer featuring Kamikaze Girls, Almedia, Eat Defeat, The Burnt Tapes, Sombulance and more.

Photo credit: Awesome pics courtesy of Roberto Gasparro @ LivePix.

Now in its third year, Might As Well Fest is socially-responsible all dayer split across two tiny London venues: The Macbeth in Hoxton and the infamous Old Blue Last in Shoreditch. If the cracking line-up isn’t enough to coax people down, the promoters are also using the forces of music for good, raising money for two worthy causes: CALM and SANDS.

When I hurriedly stumble into The Macbeth at 3.20pm, I’m concerned that I’m late but turns out that I needn’t have worried: they’ve had some troubles of their own. Don Blake and Sweet Little Machine have pulled out last minute, and You Know The Drill’s van has broken down outside Birmingham. As a result, they’ve had to shift timings, drum kits, amps and expectations. The change in the set times is actually a positive: the opening bands will now have a bigger crowd and the heel-draggers like me, who couldn’t make it earlier, won’t be missing out. Nonetheless, I’m reminded that we ought to be extremely thankful to anyone with the resilience to put on DIY shows!

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A handful of early-birds assemble to watch Thirteen, a Scottish group who’ve joined the bill at the last minute. They play old school punk with a rock ‘n’ roll flavour, which is good, but slightly out-of-sorts with the rest of the line-up, which is a combination of fast-punk and pop-punk. It’s good pub-punk and not a bad way to kick things off for the day.

As I reviewed their EP recently, I have been very excited to catch Our Lives In Cinema live. This is only their 8th gig and their freshness shows: they look a little awkward on stage at the beginning of the set, settling in after two songs.

They open with Cut and Run – an awesome throwback to a lot of energetic early noughties punk. You can hear a strong Jeff Rosenstock influence in Mark Bartlett’s frantic, emotional singing which is conveyed better live. Bartlett has a unique style of performance: he packs as many words into a bar as possible while shaking around the stage. Currently it looks a little awkward, but with more practice I expect it to become an integral part of their act. Otherwise, they’ve got a good, solid rhythm section, strong drumming and great backing vocals. They close on their most anthemic song, I Got This, leaving the audience happy. Once they’ve got a few more shows under their belt, I look forward to seeing a much more confident and comfortable band.

Lay It On The Line are up next at The Macbeth. They’re the most hardcore band of the day. It’s a brutal and disordered performance, with frontman Mike spending much of show writhing, crouched or lying on the stage while screaming bloody murder. He gives the impression of a man on the edge of breakdown extremely well. It’s all held together with some warmer guitar backing, adding a more melodic edge to their otherwise extreme sound.

It’s unusual to see bands with two standalone singers (Casual Nausea’s the only one I can think of), but it really works. Mike and Alice and equally adept at screaming and conveying a lot of anger and emotion. It’s hard to make out the lyrics but their explanations of the songs are both surprising and entertaining – one song’s dedicated to fans of the Marquis de Sade (of which they assume there are none in the room), another is about a head teacher who was killed by a rent boy after he failed to pay up…  It’s fascinating to know what inspires people’s song writing sometimes. They pull out a fantastic cover of Rotting Out’s Positive Views and end the set in a wail of feedback.

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Recap are up next, and they are fantastic. That’s the least you can expect from Dave House and Mark Pavey’s latest project – a reincarnation of Pacer and follow-up to The Steal. They jokingly say it’s only their second show, but they’re anything but new to the game. Continue reading “Gig Review: Might As Well Fest III (07/10/2017)”