Did you all see the huge announcement for the Manchester Punk Festival last week? Propagandhi are playing! Incredible! How has this DIY festival in Manchester pulled off such a feat in just its fourth year?! Because it's the best festival of any kind in the UK. Here's why.
Before my love letter to MPF begins, here's a little bit of history about the festival. Manchester Punk Festival is a not-for-profit DIY punk festival based in Manchester (you probably guessed that by its name) created by a group of Manchester music promoters - TNS, Moving North and Anarchistic Undertones. The first edition of the festival was in 2014 and was headlined by The Filaments and Apologies, I Have None. For my money the line up that year was one of the greatest line ups ever put together for a UK punk festival. The next year things only got bigger - with the addition of another stage and some big headline acts in the form of Citizen Fish and The Flatliners. They again topped this in 2017 with the addition of yet another venue, Gorilla, and headline appearances from Strike Anywhere, Belvedere and Paint It Black, who were making their first UK appearance in years! The speed at which the festival is growing is incredible. Then this year Propagandhi get announced?! You really don't get much bigger than that but, at the same time, you just know that the MPF lads will find a way to top it. The growth that the Manchester Punk Festival has achieved in such a short space of time is nothing short of remarkable.
So why has MPF grown so quickly? Firstly you have to look at that first year. There was only one non UK act on the bill, Joe McMahon of Smoke Or Fire. The rest of the bill was comprised of some of the best of the current UK scene as well as some old favourites reuniting for the festival. It's a credit to the strength of the punk scene on our tiny island that so many great bands could come togther for, what at the time was, a two day festival and help put on an incredible weekend. From then on, the international acts have been coming to Manchester and the bands themselves have gotten bigger and bigger to the point where no band seems like an unrealistic announcement anymore. If it wasn't for the great UK acts helping to lay the MPF foundations that first year would MPF still be a thing?
Secondly it's the location. MPF is based in the centre of Manchester's city centre at a variety of different sized venues all within walking distance of each other. For the first three years of MPF Sound Control was the home of MPF with two stages used at the venue. Sadly this year Sound Control won't be used and will be greatly missed. So many of my favourite MPF memories have happened in that venue. Another favourite venue of many who have attended MPF is Zombie Shack. This small bar only has a capacity of 140 people but is always a party. You'll get as big a kick out of the zombie/tiki themed decor as you will the dozens of excellent bands playing at the venue all weekend. Last year saw the addition of Gorilla as another big stage and it was a very welcome addition to the festival. All the venues at MPF are fantastic for punk rock shows of whatever size.
The people you will meet are another excellent reason that MPF is just the best. It's very rare to bump into someone you dislike at a DIY punk show, everyone is usually super friendly and wants to be your best friend. Now add this attitude to a festival where people, not just from the UK but from all over the world, gather to see some of the best bands in the world. If you talk to a stranger, and I urge you to do so, you will no doubt make a very good new friend. There is something about the festival that just brings people together and it's something the world as a whole needs more than ever. A punk crowd is such a good example of strangers being together, getting on despite any differences and just being a good friendly bunch of folk.
Lastly and most importantly MPF is so good because of its organisers - Andy, Bev, Kieran and Tree. These four men and their volunteers work tirelessly on the festival alongside their full time jobs and other punk rock commitments - all for the love of punk rock. They get no financial gain for the time and effort they put in to putting on the best festival possible. It takes a very special type of person to sacrifice so much of their time to do something that is so special to so many people. I can't help but feel like there is a ridiculous amount of stress involved in putting together the weekend and then ensuring that it runs as smoothly as possible and that everyone has the best imaginable time. I've said this many times over the past three years, and no doubt I'll say it many more times in the future, but thank you fellas.
I urge each and every one of you reading this to go and buy a ticket to the festival. It will be the best decision of your year!
I'll see you there!
Buy your ticket to Manchester Punk Festival here: https://manchesterpunkfestival.co.uk/tickets/
This column was written by Colin Clark.