Thursday, 11 April 2019

Top Tens: Brett's Top Ten Bands To See At Manchester Punk Festival 2019

Attending MPF with Colin, Emma, and Robyn last year was an amazing experience. It easily surpassed the hype and once it was over I knew that going to MPF 2019 would be inevitable. MPF has all of the makings of a great festival for me: good people, a cool and friendly vibe all around town, hotels/Airbnb instead of camping, a packed schedule, and no shortage of bands to see and enjoy.

The number of amazing bands on offer this year means that making a list of only ten bands to see is difficult, but it speaks to the great job the organisers have done in building a diverse festival that’s community and DIY focused, and that brings people together from around the world.

Now that the schedule is available to agonise over, some tough decisions will have to be made by most people attending so hopefully reading these CPRW lists can help sway you in one direction or another.

Here are the bands I’m most excited about seeing at MPF 2019!

The Affect Heuristic (Friday at Zombie Shack 14:50–15:20)
In March 2018, Lockjaw Records posted about a split album by Money Left To Burn and a new band called The Affect Heuristic. Upon listening, you wouldn’t say that the five songs on this split were from a newly formed band of guys from Scotland and Belgium. The songs are expertly put together, combining the energy and speed of skate punk, the aggression of hardcore, and a healthy dose of melody and technical precision. It all makes perfect sense when you look on the band’s Facebook profile at the long list of influences from all over the spectrum of independent punk, hardcore, and metal music. I’m excited to hear some new songs from these guys and hopefully there is a full album on the horizon.

After The Fall (Friday at The Union 16:20–16:50)
Since hearing their album Unkind in 2013, After The Fall have been a favourite of mine. They play music that feels like a combination of Kid Dynamite, A Wilhelm Scream, Comeback Kid, and No Trigger with a twist of their own unique delivery and style. They’ve also covered songs by 88 Fingers Louie and Kid Dynamite, so there is a lot to love about this band. Although they are painfully clashing with London (and CPRW) favourites Call Me Malcolm early on Friday, I would recommend the excellent live show put on by the Albany, NY band over almost anything. Seeing them play to a packed crowd in Tampa at Pre-fest 4 was a highlight of the entire Fest 15 experience for me and if you were able to see them at MPF 2017 then you will understand the amount of passion and energy that the band puts into every moment on stage.

The Arteries (Friday at Gorilla 17:00–17:35)
I had originally picked A Vulture Wake as one of my must-see bands at MPF but sadly they announced in February the cancellation of their UK/EU tour, which meant I had to pick another band to write about. The MPF line-up is pretty stacked with many awesome bands so choosing just one is not an easy task. Luckily, Robyn hinted at The Arteries a few weeks ago and on first listen I immediately thought that they sounded like a perfect Fest band, and then found out that we actually missed their set at Fest 10. The Arteries manage to blend their metal and punk influences with ease into a cohesive and unique package filled with punchy bass lines, guitar flourishes, interesting melodies, and plenty of sing/shout along moments.

Consumed (Friday at The Union 20:10–21:00)
Consumed have never been a band that I’ve really noticed. Although a few songs from some early Fat Wreck compilation CDs have stuck with me over the years, it feels like the band never really got the attention and recognition they deserved here in South Africa and the band’s break up in 2003 wouldn’t have made anything easier. Consumed reformed in 2015 but only caught my attention again with the release of their new EP A Decade Of No last year. Over the years, Consumed were able to refine their sound and songwriting while never straying too far away from the unpretentious punk sound that so many fell in love with, and their latest EP is a natural progression fitting in with the rest of their catalogue. The live show should be filled with heaps of thrash-metal headbanging moments mixed in with the circle-pit inducing melodies of classic skate punk.

88 Fingers Louie (Friday at The Union 21:20–22:30)
The early 2000s was a formative period for my music taste and life in general. RPM had been released by Rise Against and I needed more. I learned that the band was formed by 2 members of 88 Fingers Louie and it took about a day to download some songs off of Back On The Streets from some dodgy peer-to-peer service provider, but it was well worth the wait. After being in and out of the spotlight for a few years, the band reformed and returned in 2017, releasing the acclaimed Thank You For Being A Friend and reminded me why I had loved them in the first place: fast paced songs with great production that will stay with you for days. 88 Fingers were able to capture the perfect balance of melody and hard-hitting punk rock again, as if they had never left. For me, 88 Fingers have been on my list of absolutely-must-see bands at MPF 2019 since they were announced.

Astpai (Saturday at The Union 15:30–16:00)
When we made the decision to travel to Manchester for MPF last year, I knew that Astpai had played the festival before and was really hoping they’d be announced. As it turns out, they weren’t (which is probably for the best considering the schedule last year) but I was overjoyed when they were part of the second MPF announcement for 2019. We missed their set at Fest 10 in 2011 as they didn’t really arrive on my radar until the release of Efforts And Means the following year. For me, they are one of the most consistently good bands around. I have enjoyed every single one of their releases and I’m positive seeing the band live will be one of the highlights of my year.

Adrenalized (Saturday at Gorilla 17:50–18:30)
I arrived late to the Adrenalized party, only hearing about them in 2016 after watching some Punk Rock Holiday 1.5 videos and was immediately drawn to their style of technical punk. With the exception of their debut album, which by the band’s own admission is “quite far” from what they play these days (it’s still pretty good in my opinion), the Adrenalized catalogue is all fast, all technical, and all great. Fast melodic hardcore is my favourite kind of punk and Adrenalized do it really, really well. The band has continued to raise the bar with their latest album, Operation Exodus, which I’m sure will make my top 10 for 2019. Having watched countless videos of them playing at festivals around Europe for a few years now, I’m very excited to finally get to see them in person at MPF. Get to the venue a little earlier to catch Fair Do’s as well; they made my list last year and definitely lived up to my expectations.

March (Sunday at Gorilla 17:00–17:30)
One of the best things about MPF is the number of new bands I get to hear about through each announcement. One of the many, many bands that I have been introduced to this year is March, a four-piece from the Netherlands who play punk infused with a little bit of rock ’n’ roll, reminding me of early Distillers but with a more melodic sound. March’s debut album Stay Put is full of big riffs and hard-hitting songs with just the right amount of dirt that are sure to get you moving in the pit, in your car, or sitting in your desk chair. A new single ‘Fear of Roses’ was released in January 2019 and it provides a small taste of the band’s forthcoming second album. I’ve only watched some YouTube videos of the band live so it will be good to get to see the band rock out in person.

Main Line 10 (Sunday at Zombie Shack 18:10–18:45)
A massive thank you to Sarah at Shout Louder for bringing Main Line 10 to my attention when their album The Fox made her top 10 of 2018. The four-piece from Spain play fast, melodic hardcore punk, drawing inspiration from the likes of Mute, Belvedere, and This Is A Standoff with positive and uplifting lyrics and melodies that will get you dancing and playing the air-instrument of your choice in no time. If their live performance is half as tight as their recordings I can only prepare to have my mind blown by the quality musicianship that will be on stage. They’re one of the bands that I never thought I’d get the chance to see live, so I was incredibly stoked to see them on the third MPF announcement.

Not On Tour (Sunday at Gorilla 21:00–22:00)
I’ll shamefully admit that the only reason I know about Not On Tour is because their 2015 album Bad Habits was produced by Yotam Ben Horin of Useless ID. I loved the well-executed balance of pop-punk and aggressive skate punk I heard on that album and quickly added the rest of their catalogue to my library. Considering all but one of their songs don’t break the two-minute mark, the band’s three albums and eight-song EP don’t take long to play through but the songs are so good, featuring catchy melodies, perfectly placed variations, and great production that will make you want to put it on repeat and listen multiple times. Not On Tour have a new album, Growing Pains, which will be out a few weeks before MPF and I’m excited to see them blaze through their hour-long set including some new songs as well as some older favourites.

This top ten was written by Brett Coomer.

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