Thirty minutes before I started typing this I had no intention of writing a preview for Manchester Punk Festival. I’m not doing writing at the moment, I had no plans to start doing any writing anytime soon. I was happily playing Football Manager 2023 – where I am currently managing CSA in the Brazilian Premier League – minding my own business, then the wonderful Matt Speer posted a list of band that they were looking forward to seeing at MPF on Ear Nutrition. This lit a fire under me to talk about some of the bands I’m most excited to see this year. At the time I was also listening to the Shout Louder Podcast where Sarah had a live interview with Robin of Random Hand and Dani of Faintest Idea, discussing their “rivalry”, and I thought it would be fun to start a faux rivalry with Matt by only writing about bands he didn’t mention. Full disclaimer – I absolutely adore Matt and he is one of my favourite people to spend time with. I particularly enjoy pointing out all of the times he enjoys ska.
I’m sure everyone reading this knows what Manchester Punk Festival is all about and I don’t need to write an essay telling you how it’s the best Festival in the United Kingdom. At the time of writing, there are still some tickets available. If you haven’t bought one yet, crack on – ticket link is here and I’ll see you down the front at Easter weekend. (While I’m here let’s steal Sarah Shout Louder’s catchphrase and start more beefs).
A Great Notion
Peterborough’s A Great Notion return to Manchester Punk Festival for the first time since 2017. The four-piece play infectious punk rock with fantastic, introspective lyrics. A Great Notion are a band for the thinkers and the listeners, as well as the folk who love a big chorus.
Dundee’s ALLDEEPENDS are the most exciting new(ish) band in the UK punk scene right now. Playing banjo-driven hardcore punk rock with vocals delivered faster than your favourite rapper, the band are a force who you absolutely need to experience live. If you’re a fan of drums and drumming, you need to see Hooligan work their magic behind the kit.
DIY punk legends Bangers are playing a reunion show! This was not something I was ever really expecting to happen and it blew my mind when it was announced. Bangers were such a huge part of the DIY scene when I was first getting into it and I sadly missed their last show due to illness so I’m so excited to see them again. Loud, growling vocals and plenty of fist-in-the-air choruses are ahead. Could it be a one off? Could there be more shows? Who knows but let’s all enjoy Bangers once again!
When The Beltones were first announced for MPF I had no idea who they were. The organisers had described them as your favourite bands’ favourite band so I knew I had to check them out. I was not disappointed. What a fantastic band. The Beltones play fast and melodic pop punk with raspy vocals. Like I mentioned, they are a new band to me but I’m very excited to have the chance to see them live.
Big D & The Kids Table
MPF23 have gone big on the ska punk genre this year. The big headline name on the ska portion of the line-up is without a doubt Boston’s Big D And The Kids Table. The long running ska punk legends return to the UK for the first time since 2017 and the UK ska punk scene is excited. I’m expecting plenty of songs from their latest album, 2021’s Do Your Art, as well as plenty of classics from the band’s twenty-six year back catalogue.
Boom Boom Racoon
Bristol acoustic ska sweethearts return to play MPF officially once again, after last year when they set up a very well received guerrilla gig in the park. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Boom Boom Racoon loads over the years and every single time they seem to get better and better, all while tackling serious socially aware topics, educating you and being a whole lot of fun in the process.
Bruise Control feel as if they are about to become Manchester’s next big punk rock band. I stayed up past my bedtime to see them last year and felt like I was witnessing the start of something very special. The band play their own style of garage punk rock with Jimbob’s unique vocals being a particular highlight. Their debut album, Useless For Something, is due out on TNSRecords very soon and I’m excited to hear it. This MPF is going to be a big one.
Call Me Malcolm
Call Me Malcolm are easily the band on the MPF line-up that I’ve seen the most amount of times but that doesn’t mean I’m not super excited to see them once again. Their MPF debut at Gorilla in 2019 will forever remain one of my all-time favourite sets. Seeing so many people crammed into the big room singing along to these songs that I hold so dear to my heart was amazing. Call Me Malcolm are also doing a Reel Big Fish cover set for one of the after parties which will be so much fun.
I don’t think there’s a ska band in the world that people are more excited about than Philadelphia’s Catbite. The band will be embarking on their first ever UK tour in the build up to MPF and there seems to be such a buzz for them. I had the pleasure of seeing them play live at The Fest in Florida last year and was absolutely captivated by them. It felt like a real honour and privilege to have the opportunity to see them play a small room – it’s something I don’t think they’ll be doing for much longer in their careers. Believe the hype about Catbite.
Derry pop punks Cherym were one of my favourite discoveries of 2022. I had the chance to see them at the Exchange in Bristol and what a treat it was. Fast, fun pop music played with plenty of attitude. I feel like, with some more exposure, Cherym could be a great gateway band for the young folk in their journey into the world of punk music. For us older folk, they give a great feeling of nostalgia and, for me at least, put a big smile on my face.
Oldham’s Clayface stepped into the MPF line up in 2022 as a last minute replacement and I’m super glad they’re back again in 2023. They play the melodic punk rock sound that I really enjoy but sadly don’t play many shows down south so this is a great opportunity to see them again. Clayface have been working on new music too which is very exciting.
I love me some Euro pop punk and it’s not very often we get to see such bands play the UK so DeeCracks playing MPF made me do a big “hell yeah!” The Austrian three-piece are celebrating twenty years of being a band in 2023 and MPF will be the perfect place to bring their catchy, buzzsaw pop punk to party.
Distral are the only band to feature on both mine and my great nemesis Matt’s list. We’re locked in a heated battle of words, honest. I wasn’t originally going to include Distral but I just had to. Seeing them at Punk Rock Holiday last year was an experience I am not likely to forget any time soon. They were playing at the festival’s Beach Stage in the middle of a heavy storm. The sand in front of the stage turned into a big mucky sludge pit and the stormy back drop seemed to suit their sound perfectly. Playing fast, heavy, melodic hardcore punk, I was absolutely mesmerised. I’m looking forward to seeing them play again – hopefully I won’t get quite so damp this time though.
TNSRecords’ own Faintest Idea are back at Manchester Punk Festival once again. 2023 is going to be a big year for Faintest Idea with the release of their long-awaited new album The Road To Sedition and a tour of the USA planned for the Spring. Faintest Idea are one of my favourite bands to see live and they always draw a great crowd in Manchester. Expect big sing-alongs and plenty of dancing.
Fidget and the Twtitchers
The West Country’s Fidget and the Twitchers are one of the newer bands in the UK ska punk scene but they are quickly picking up steam. Our friends in Baldhead and the Dreads are big fans of Fidget and The Twitchers which makes me very keen to check them out. I did get to see Fidget play a solo set at Level Up Festival last year and that got me itching to see them full band.
Flinch started as a solo project for Slowlight’s Beth Black. Beth wrote and performed the majority of their superb debut album, Enough Is Enough, during lockdown, before taking the bold move to release the vinyl LP themselves. Flinch has since morphed into a full band project that is set to do some very cool things. Flinch are a band I’m very excited about. I’m keen to take the opportunity to see a new band on the scene that I won’t often get to see around the south of England.
For I Am
I’ve known For I Am guitarist Bjorn for a few years now but I’ve never managed to see his band. I’m stoked to finally have the opportunity. I did get to see lead singer Hanne join a couple of bands to sing at PRH last year and what a stunning voice they have! If you’re unaware of the Belgian band they play superb skate/pop punk music and only write bangers. Since that disaster the UK committed with Brexit it’s become rarer and rarer for us to get the opportunity to see EU bands – make the most of this!
Goodbye Blue Monday
I bloody love Goodbye Blue Monday – not just as a band, but as people as well – and they are one of the absolutely can’t-miss bands on my list for MPF. The misery punks have been picking up more and more fans all over the place and the joyous ruckus that comes from their live shows is the stuff of legend. Let’s go Goodbye Blue Monday!
I felt like I was following Hell’s Ditch around last summer – or were they following me? Hell’s Ditch are a bit of a DIY punk rock supergroup who came together a few years ago. Since then they’ve been working hard playing shows and putting out smash hit after smash hit. You can’t help but want to sing-along with the band, they write some very nice ear-wormy punk tracks.
I was at Gatwick Airport queuing for something when it was announced that Joey Terrifying would be playing a reunion show at Manchester Punk Festival. I believe I let out quite a loud “holy shit” as I read the announcement on my phone. If you don’t know who they are, Joey Terrifying are Scottish DIY punk legends featuring the wonderful Derrick Johnston of of Uniforms, Tragical History Tour and, of course, Make-That-A-Take Records. Playing a distinctive brand of skacore, I expect Joey Terrifying to bring quite the ruckus to MPF. Joey Terrifying might be the band I’m most excited to see at the festival, I never got to see them when they were active and I never really expected to get the chance. I’m so pleased I do now.
Another band from Scotland I’m really excited to see are Ecossemo kings Kaddish. I’ve had the unique pleasure of seeing them play Book Yer Ane Fest in Dundee a couple of times and was moved emotionally on each occasionally. Kaddish play emo music at its most raw, powerful, technical and, of course, emotional. They don’t play a whole lot of shows south of the border so this will be a special occasion and one you probably shouldn’t be missing.
There’s been a massive ska punk boom in the United States over the last few years and Kill Lincoln have played a huge part in that. This will be their first time in the UK and it seems long overdue. Kill Lincoln play fast and upbeat ska punk that isn’t too far from the sound of the 90s heyday of the genre. From videos I’ve seen of their live shows, they play with an energy that will no doubt spill over to the audience and create a wall-to-wall skanking pit.
Lead Shot Hazard
Continuing with the ska punk, long-running UK band Lead Shot Hazard make their long-awaited MPF debut. I’ve been watching this band for years and they still seem to get better every time I see them. Featuring dual vocalists and one of the best brass sections in the UK scene, Lead Shot Hazard always bring it live. I’m so pleased to see Lead Shot Hazard getting to play MPF.
One last ska punk band and it’s the legendary Lightyear! What’s left to say about Lightyear? They are one of the best bands to ever step foot on a stage. Whenever they play it’s joyous chaos and nobody knows what antics are going to happen – usually not even most members of the band – but it’s always so much fun. It’s not all about the stage show with Lightyear though. Listen to their songs, they are filled with deep and meaningful lyrics – Chas is one of the greatest lyricists of his generation.
Pkew Pkew Pkew
Pkew Pkew Pkew are guaranteed to start one hell of a party at MPF. The Canadian rockers have fast become a firm favourite of everyone in the punk scene far and wide. It doesn’t seem that long ago that they released and then re-released their debut self titled album but they’re now out to support their third album, Open Bar, and already have the fourth ready to go as well. There’s no slowing these boys down.
The Slow Death
The Slow Death are a punk rock supergroup fronted by Jesse Thorson and feature a rotating cast of collaborators from bands such as The Ergs!, Dillinger Four, Tiltwheel and The Raging Nathans. Do I need to say more? That’s some cast! The band play melodic punk rock music that got big in the 2010s. Given that the band seems to have a rotating cast of members I assume they don’t get to tour often, so to get the opportunity to see them in the UK feels like one you just have to take.
It seemed like everyone was talking very excitedly about Sniff last year – and rightly so! The newest project from Bobby Funk’s Alex Smith, Sniff is a garage/pop punk act with a twist. I don’t want to give too much away about their live show but I can guarantee that it will be like nothing else you’ll see over the weekend.
Whilst I was getting over excited about Joey Terrifying in Gatwick Airport, Emma was getting overly excited that Stöj Snak was back at MPF. The Danish act are long-time friends of TNSrecords and have collaborated numerous times. Whenever they make it over to MPF it always feels like a bit of a hometown show – it’s very special. Frontman Niels has this amazing voice that is one moment heartbreaking and the next ferocious. This will be a lot of people’s can’t-miss set of the weekend. Make sure you catch it too.
Tearjerker are one of the newest bands on the MPF line-up. So far the band have only released two singles but the fact that they are on Little Rocket Records really speaks highly of the quality of the band. Listening to the songs, I’m really reminded of Hot Water Music (a band I’d love to see at MPF in the future) and I’m hooked. It’s always nice to see MPF bring in those shiny big name punk bands from all over the world but it’s also really exciting when you get to see a brand new band get a chance to show a big crowd what they can do.
This is just a selection of the bands I’m excited about at MPF. You’re not going to get a much stronger collection of bands playing a festival anywhere in the world this year – the quality is bonkers. I’m going to end this now, Emma has asked me not to make this too long as she has to edit it afterwards and we’re all out of practice with this blogging thing. Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to check out some bands you might not have heard of.
Cheers for reading. How do you end blog posts again?