Sunday, 30 April 2017

Gig Review: Manchester Punk Festival 2017 Day Two 21/4/17


After a fantastic opening night of MPF, Emma and I were out and about quite early for the second day of Manchester Punk Festival. With some time in the day to kill we hit up three of Manchester's record shops and got some food at the awesome V-Rev Vegan Diner, a place that does amazing vegan junk food. If you're ever in Manchester and you are in need of food then we thoroughly recommend it - whether you are vegan or not! On with the punk rock!

Bear Trade were tasked with the job of opening up the festival's main home base for the entire weekend, Sound Control. If memory serves me correctly they were also the first band to play on the Saturday at the first MPF. Bear Trade had also just released their awesome new album named Silent Unspeakable, on Everything Sucks Music, the same day so in a way MPF was also their album release show. The Northern gruff punks' set was comprised mostly of songs from the new album and they all sounded ace. Bear Trade are one of those bands you can't help but want to sing along with. They play with such a charm and it's clear they love doing what they do.


After watching Bear Trade upstairs in Sound Control, we quickly headed downstairs to catch whatever we could of Nervus before Petrol Girls were due to kick off upstairs – it was non-stop punk rock from the outset! Nervus are a melodic indie punk four-piece from Watford who I’d heard a lot of good things about but not had the chance to see live. It was great to be able to catch them at MPF, even if we only really saw the last few songs of their set. There were certainly a lot of other keen punk fans there to watch the band, as we ended up standing at the back of the room – and Sound Control isn’t small. I’m keen to see Nervus again as soon as possible and until then I’ll be listening to their debut album, Permanent Rainbow.

Leaving the downstairs stage behind, we went back upstairs (lots of flights were logged on our Fitbits this weekend) and were just in time for Petrol Girls. Like for Nervus downstairs, the top floor space was also getting pretty darn busy. We managed to edge halfway into the room but there were plenty of packed in punks ahead of us all eagerly awaiting the band so we settled to one side. Petrol Girls have got to be one of the most talked about bands not only in the punk scene but in the wider alternative music world. With their strong feminist, humanitarian and anti-fascist views, they are a band that needs to be heard – and a band that is best heard live too. I’ll make it no secret that I don’t generally enjoy punk bands that are more on the hardcore or generally ‘shoutier’ side of things all that much, BUT I love a Petrol Girls live performance – maybe it’s something to do with the sense of female empowerment that frontwoman Ren gives me. Touch Me Again was simply amazing. In fact, I loved the band’s set so much that it was over all too soon. They left the stage and I left deeming Petrol Girls my favourite of all heavier punk bands.

We hung around after Petrol Girls to make sure we got a decent spot for Throwing Stuff. Featuring one of MPF's organisers Kieran Kelly on guitar, this was the third year running that Throwing Stuff have played the festival. Fresh off the back of their excellent TNS release Fine, Fit & Well, Throwing Stuff were guaranteed to be one of many high points of the weekend. If you've seen Throwing Stuff before you know you're in for a set full of fast hardcore punk music whilst lead singer Ben throws himself around the stage and the pit screaming his songs. How he manages to continue singing while going so crazy is beyond me. The new tracks sound fantastic with a highlight being the band's final song, Father's Day. This was also one of the most emotional moments of the whole weekend as the song is about Ben's recently deceased father and this was the first time it's been played live since his sad passing. Massive props also have to go to Kieran for playing the set despite badly breaking his knee a couple of months ago and still being on crutches. He must have been in agony by the end of Throwing Stuff's set.


We made a quick exit as soon as Throwing Stuff’s set finished so that we could claim a good spot for one of Colin's Punk Rock World’s favourite UK ska punk bands, Faintest Idea, who were playing MPF for their second year in a row. We caught the very end of Maid of Ace’s set in the packed out basement of Sound Control – it was great that both spaces in the venue were full and that there were different bands on offer to cater to all punk tastes. Faintest Idea were one of my favourite bands that I saw last year at the festival and it’ll come as no surprise if I say that they were one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing in 2017. As a TNS band, they always receive a great reaction from a Manchester crowd – hey, they receive a great reaction from any crowd really but maybe I’m bias – and MPF 2017 was no exception. Playing songs from their 2016 album, Increasing The Minimum, as well as plenty of favourites from older albums, Faintest Idea wasted no time in getting the Sound Control crowd moving. It was probably the set of the weekend that I danced, skanked and just generally moved the most to. Awesome stuff from the King’s Lynn band once again.


It's amazing that despite the relative infancy of MPF that they managed to book Strike Anywhere to play. It's a great testament of how well the whole event has grown in just three years. Strike Anywhere were one of the bands that I was most excited for when bands first started to be announced. I'd wanted to see them for ages now and having missed the chance at Fest due to a clash this felt like a bonus chance. The upstairs area of Sound Control was completely packed, we only just about got in after watching Faintest Idea and had to settle with a spot towards the back of the room to watch Strike Anywhere's first UK performance in seven years. That didn't matter though as the band from Richmond, Virginia, got the crowd going with a set full of favourites. The energy the band displayed throughout their performance was nothing short of incredible. No member of the five piece seemed to be stationary for a second. This energy was infectious and spilled into the crowd, everyone in Sound Control was so amped up for Strike Anywhere. I found myself edging closer and closer to the stage, wanting to soak up every bit of this incredible atmosphere. Hearing my personal favourites, Infrared and Too The World, was a particular highlight for me. Strike Anywhere were extremely worthy headliners. Let's hope they don't leave it another seven years before returning to our shores.


After Strike Anywhere finished we quickly rushed to Zombie Shack to make sure we could get in to see The Clash cover set. When we arrived we discovered a band were already playing. This was Nosebleed playing a surprise set for those festival goers who unfortunately couldn't make it into Sound Control for either Strike Anywhere or The Toasters who were playing downstairs. This was a very pleasant surprise as Nosebleed put on a fantastic show of garage punk madness. Getting the small crowd of people that had gathered very involved in their set, whether it was crowd surfing band members or getting everybody to sit down just to get up again. This was a very fun surprise set.

When Nosebleed finished up their surprise set, it was time for everyone’s favourite classic punk band… The Clash! Well, the closest thing we were going to get to The Clash at Manchester Punk Festival in 2017 anyway. This was a Clash cover band comprising of Kieran of Throwing Stuff on guitar and Andy of Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man on bass – who both also happen to be MPF organisers – as well as two other members that we didn’t recognise (so apologies that I’m unable to namecheck their bands, assuming they are also in other bands). As I’m writing this review a week after seeing ‘The Clash’ I can’t remember precisely all of the songs that they played but I know that they kicked off with one of my absolute favourites, Janie Jones. I also recall a rendition of White Riot in which Andy took over vocal duties and gave the song a Revenge-style spin. I don’t remember hearing the obvious classics such as London Calling, Should I Stay Or Should I Go or Death Or Glory but we did leave their set early to ensure that we’d be able to get into Zoo for the afterparty – so I imagine they played one or two of those. I thoroughly enjoyed what we did see and if this is the only version of The Clash I ever get to see I think I’ll be content… I mean, I’m never going to see the real Clash unless time machines get invented anyway.



While the cover sets continued at Zombie Shack (Against Me! and NOFX), we made our way towards Zoo to make sure that we’d get inside in time for the start of Matilda’s Scoundrels’ set. Zoo is a large club-type space attached to a pub and is a little further away from the other more central MPF venues – it was actually closer to our hotel which worked in our favour at home time! When we arrived at Zoo we found a substantial, for a punk show at least, queue winding its way around the side of the building. I figured that they were late opening the doors rather than the venue already being full, although when we were allowed entrance we found that the room was filling up nicely. We also found that the band had already begun but I think it was the first song. Matilda’s Scoundrels were one of my favourites from last year but their set unfortunately clashed with another band and we split our time between the two – hence why I wanted to see all of their set this year! The 6-piece folk punk band from Hastings are such a lively and enthusiastic live band that it made perfect sense to have them at one of the ‘after parties’. Of course, they brought along their inflatable dingy for members of the audience to ‘crowdsail’ in. This just added to the choas that songs such as Sinking In Their Sins and Pissheads Anthem were already inducing. Apparently the dingy got confiscated by Zoo security but not before it took out part of the lighting rig. Well, it was a punk festival after all. I love Matilda’s Scoundrels and I can’t wait to see them again.


Sweet Empire were the next band up and I was really looking forward to seeing them again. It was my first time seeing them in four years, the first time was at Urban Bar in Whitechapel in 2013, a show I went to on a whim because my friend bet me I couldn't go to 52 gigs in a year (I could and I did). The Dutch quartet were another band who played an absolutely blinding set. Despite the late hour, the big crowd gathered at Zoo got rather rowdy for the Epi-Fat influenced skate punk. Lead singer Rowald was full of energy as he bounced around the stage and sung with a lot more intensity than I recalled from four years ago. It was great to see Sweet Empire again!


Finally it was time for the final act of the night and I have to admit that Emma and I were absolutely shattered by this point. We toughed it out though because Liverpool's hardcore punks Chief were playing their first show in almost five years (if you don't include the two warm up shows that they played in Liverpool and London). The Chief line up is pretty much punk rock royalty in my eyes featuring members of Random Hand and River Jumpers. It was gone past 1am and the energy everywhere was still amazing. Chief were putting everything they possibly could into this rare appearance and it was clear that they were having the time of their lives on the Zoo stage. I loved seeing Chief play live after all these years. Sadly, by this point I was pretty tired so don't remember a whole lot of what happened - but there was great music and bodies all over the place. A great way to end the second day of Manchester Punk Festival 2017.

This review was written by Colin and Emma.