The second night of the Manchester Punk Festival kicked off at 6pm at Sound Control, the main venue for the entire weekend. The venue was running two stages with bands from all styles of the punk rock genre playing. There were also two after parties being held, one back at Retro Bar (where the first night of the festival took place) and another next door to Sound Control - the tiki bar style Zombie Shack who were hosting a covers set gig.
(Emma and I chose bands to write for this night – Emma's bands are in italics).
Kicking things off were Only Strangers, a four piece punk rock band from Stoke. I've listened to these chaps a few times this year, along with reviewing their split with Pardon Us, and was looking forward to seeing them perform live. They did not disappoint. Playing gruff, shout along punk rock ala Hot Water Music they played an outstanding set to a room that had plenty of people in despite the early show time. I especially enjoyed the dual vocals that Only Strangers use with Dec and Adam sharing the duties. My favourite songs of theirs are when the duo do alternative lines during the song, this adds so much urgency to the performance. Great band to start off the night.
Rising Strike are a band that I've been aware of for a little while but in all honesty I figured they had split up until I saw that were announced for the festival. After the announcement I decided they were a band I had to see as I really love me some skacore. Before the set got going one of the band members put on some angel wings for no real reason other than it was fun before they launched into a blistering set. It was a performance full of loud and hard vocals accompanied by some up-tempo and bouncy saxophone blasts. Clearly a local favourite, the band enjoyed some fun banter with crowd between the songs. Fun set from an excellent band.
The Zatopeks are a band I have adored since first hearing their debut album Ain't Nobody Left But Us way back in 2007. Since then I've been wanting to see the pop punk fivesome but have never been able to. This made me sad. When the band were announced for the festival I am not ashamed to say that I fanboyed and immediately told Emma that whatever band they might clash with it doesn't matter, I'm going to see Zatopeks! They were without any doubt one of my highlights of the weekend. It's clear that they have been a band for a while now because of the amazing chemistry between them, joking around with each other between playing some excellently crafted pop punk. Lead singer Will De Niro was a fireball of energy as he paced, ran, climbed and bounced around the stage, before finishing the set on the floor in front of the big crowd downstairs in Sound Control. They played a set filled with tracks from all three of their albums, highlights included Daily Mail, Alert, The Summer I Fell In Love With Jimmy's Girl and Turkish Bread Chronicles. They also managed to build the first human pyramid of the festival.
After watching the first couple of bands on the downstairs Sound Control stage, we moved to the middle level for a band I was very much looking forward to, Roughneck Riot. Being a somewhat hometown show for the band – originally from just down the road in Warrington – and being much-loved members of the TNS family, we knew their performance would be a must-see. Unsurprisingly those gathered at the front of the stage went crazy as soon as the band burst into their energetic set. With an accordion, mandolin and banjo, Roughneck Riot aren’t exactly your average punk band. Clearly folk-influenced, they play with as much intensity as the best hardcore act. The whole thing was fast, loud and raucous – I expected nothing less and it was awesome.
Headlining the middle Sound Control stage on the Friday night were London’s Apologies, I Have None – a band that both Colin and I have seen countless times but were no less looking forward to seeing again. They were the first band of MPF that I knew I’d be able to have a proper singalong to and I knew I wouldn’t be alone there either. If you’ve seen Apologies before then you’ll know that Josh isn’t shy about talking a lot in between songs and so Manchester was no different – including some fine Josh wisdom, ‘This is a song about stuff. People relate it stuff.’. They did manage to fit in several songs from their debut album London – with the likes of The 26 and Concrete Feet receiving massive crowd singalongs – plus Raging Through The Thick And Heavy Darkness Of A Bloodlust from the 2014 EP Black Everything. We were also treated to two new songs, including Wraith from their new split with Luca Brasi, that sounded great. As amusing as Josh’s ramblings can be, it did mean that the band had to cut one song from their set which was a shame. Having seen Apologies several times before, I have to be honest and say that this wasn’t my favourite I’ve ever seen them, but I can’t deny that I had a great time singing along.
After Apologies, I Have None finished their set, Emma and I headed to Retro Bar for one of the after parties. When we arrived the bar was already full so we had to settle for a place at the back of the room with a very limited view. First up were a band from York named The Franceens who play an explosive style of garage punk rock. The three piece feature some lovely male/female dual vocals which gave the songs a bit of a fresh sound. Listening to them recorded rather than live there is a big feel of The Hives to them that I didn't pick up live. Live they seemed to play with a lot more intensity that I would have enjoyed to actually see live rather that spend most of the set with a very drunk gentleman's long hair constantly in my face.
Before Manchester Punk Festival Colin had got me listening to The Kimberly Steaks, a band that I jokingly like to refer to as ‘Scottish Green Day’. After seeing them live for the first time I can wholeheartedly say that they are so much more than that. In true pop punk style, the band played their whole set with almost no breaks – I think they might have stopped once! It was seamlessly brilliant and I’d love to see them again, well, tomorrow if I could. My only negative comment, which isn’t the band’s fault, is that it would have been great to see them earlier in the evening or the next day rather than as an after party band. Although it was great to have more bands playing after the main Sound Control event, Retro Bar is quite small in comparison and even when we rushed over after Apologies it was difficult to get a good spot.
Day two was done and we were more than ready for the third and final day of the Manchester Punk Festival.