Gig Review: A First-Time Experience Of Manchester Punk Festival

Mark overcame anxiety to pop his MPF cherry, celebrating with Kermes, Charmpit, Big Joanie, Incisions, Fastfade, Burnt Tapes and more.

Although there will be reviews aplenty, at Shout Louder we want to offer two unique perspectives on the fifth year of Manchester Punk Festival. Sarah Williams is an MPF veteran who volunteers at the event, who’ll be giving us a behind-the-scenes perspective, whereas Mark Bartlett’s has given us his highlights as an MPF first timer. In this article, Mark explores his nerves about attending alone, and why the effort was worthwhile.

Here are some thoughts about my first ever trip to the Manchester Punk Festival over the long Easter bank holiday weekend.

My first ever MPF can only be described as a completely heartening, life nourishing experience, which was briefly prodded by the occasional anxious freak out.

By the time the weekend was done, my notions of what punk is or isn’t was challenged by the massive breadth of genre variety on offer. Ultimately, I felt that the living spirit of punk rock is the ethos, outlook, morality and community of the few thousand individuals who make this annual pilgrimage.

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Incisions @ Gorilla. Photo: Josh Sumner

I fully expected to feel awkward a lot of the time. I’m a real loud mouth once I get to know a person properly, but alone I’m very shy around strangers, and that’s further exacerbated when I’m around people who I think are talented (no shortage of that here). I naturally assume that people dislike me and in groups I always feel very visible and awkward. It’s a behaviour I have to work quite hard to deprogram myself of.

If I’d had somebody to go with, I would have loved to have come to any previous MPF, but the general feeling of being lonesome and weird was insurmountable. Last year, I felt the pangs of jealously having heard about all the fun everybody had, and I was resolved to go no matter what, come rain or shine. Luckily for all of us, the weather was completely glorious and, even as a solo traveller, I didn’t feel alone for any significant portion of my weekend. Honestly, I was surprised to find out that so many people I met have so many of the same social hang ups. I enjoyed the weekend from a social perspective every bit as much as what was on offer musically. It’s a brilliant atmosphere and it was great to finally get the chance to meet some long term social media pals in the flesh, as well as catching up with some old friends. Continue reading “Gig Review: A First-Time Experience Of Manchester Punk Festival”

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)”