Our very own Lee Morton has pulled together this detailed preview just weeks ahead of this year’s Manchester Punk Festival. You won’t find a better guide…
Now in its’ fourth year, Manchester Punk Festival continues to go from strength to strength and is fast becoming one of the premium UK punk festival in the calendar, drawing a mix of established names, international acts as well as the pick of the DIY scene.
Building on the success of previous years it has now expanded to 90+ bands across 7 venues covering the whole spectrum of punk. There’s plenty to pack in, so let’s take a look at what’s in store.
Thursday 19th April
The opening night of the festival is guaranteed to go off with a bang with the return of ska-core pioneers Random Hand from self-imposed hiatus. Having bid us farewell back in 2015 this will be a chance to hear tracks from last album Hit Reset in the live environment as well as many favourites from their back catalogue.
As well as the headliners there’s plenty of other great acts to catch. Devon roots-punks Crazy Arm are currently putting the finishing touches to album number four so hopefully we will get treated to some new tracks whilst Ducking Punches, fresh from their European tour, will be gig-hardened and ready to deliver their heartfelt songs with gusto.
If skate punk is more your flavour then check out the exciting Captain Trips; whilst if you want some heavy hardcore then you could do worse than catch Rebellion regulars In Evil Hour or Manchester locals Fair Do’s, who should be dropping some new music from upcoming full length, Leopards.
My last pick of the Thursday night action are those loveable folk punks Roughneck Riot, who as anyone who’s seen them before can testify are not to be missed.
Friday 20th April
Friday is when the festival really kicks in to gear. With over 30 bands playing across the venues it’s difficult to pick who to see, especially with the inevitable schedule clashes, but here are a few highlights that I hope to catch.
Early doors at Rebellion will be energetic pop-punks Eat Defeat, sure to brighten up any hangovers in the room swiftly followed by Aerial Salad. These local lads have been creating some buzz and with the recent release of their debut album Roach are sure to pick up some new fans.
Over at the Underdog, it’s a mostly acoustic singer-songwriter stage and having previously reviewed Arms & Hearts I’m looking forward to catching Sam Millar and hearing tracks from his Too Much Sleep, Not Enough Dreams EP.
With both Drones and The Raging Nathans playing at the same time it’s a tough choice as to who to see. The socio-politically charged Drones are an exciting prospect, famed for their live reputation where-as The Raging Nathans bring an unpredictable attitude armed with catchy melodies.
Aussie party starters The Bennies are a massive favourite of mine and with new album Natural Born Chillers in the bag are sure to bring the fun in their indomitable style but if it’s heavy you want then check out the raging hardcore of Wolfbeast Destroyer.
Ex-King Prawn bassist Babar Luck closes the night over at Underdog with his innovative mix of punk, hip-hop and world music but the other venues continue long into the night and you’ll next find me at The Bread Shed for DIY legends Wonk Unit’s unique punk sound. With new album Terror just completed you can expect some fresh tracks along with old favourites. It promises to be both weird and wonderful.
The headliners at each venue on Friday night are all worth seeing but unfortunately as they are all on at the same time you need to pick one, good luck with that… Guess it will boil down to what’s your preferred flavour, if it’s ska then perhaps you’ll be tempted by the reformed Lightyear who promise some new tunes as well as classics from their 20+ years as a band. Anything can happen and generally does as anyone who’s seen them before can tell you. If hardcore metallic thrash is your bag then you’ll be licking your lips in anticipation of Death By Stereo. The LA band are celebrating their 20th anniversary and are bound to have something special up their tattooed sleeves. The final band to choose from are anarcho power punks The Restarts, whose ska-laced songs are sure to incite mass pogo-ing.
The night doesn’t end there either as over at the Zombie Shack will be the ever popular covers night featuring Green Day, Oasis, Crass and Operation Ivy and if that’s not enough Welsh speed merchants Pizzatramp will be playing a late late show over at The Bread Shed.
Saturday 21st April
With around 50 bands currently scheduled for Saturday, it’s all about pacing yourself. The Underdog venue opens its doors at 1pm but the first highlight of the day for me will be Forever Unclean over at The Bread Shed. The Danish trio released one of my favourite EP’s last year, the incredible Float and this will be my first chance to catch them live.
Over at the Underdog friend of The Punk Archive, Millie Manders will be playing a solo set, mixing band tracks along with some songs from her recent acoustic EP. Heartfelt and powerful, Millie has one of the strongest voices in punk and is well worth catching.
UK skate-punks Darko made massive strides with their last album, adding broader strokes to their speed-driven attack. Expect mosh-pit mayhem and mass singalongs. Talking of mosh-pit carnage, then look no further than local heroes, and members of the MPF collective, Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man. Having announced a farewell tour and compilation album, this will be their last appearance at MPF. There may be tears, there may be a human pyramid, there will definitely be fast punk and beers.
If it’s something a bit easier to sing-along to you want then there’s a choice of two American bands to check out. Counterpunch deal in melodic skate punk anthems whilst The Copyrights‘ fizzing pop-punk has earned them the attention of Fat Wreck Chords.
All the shows around 8pm prove how inclusive MPF is, with all the bands being female fronted and originating from Canada, Russia, London and Yorkshire. It’s not just their locations that differ as they all play different strains of punk but all with the same DIY mentality. I’ve not seen any of these bands so take you pick from the power punk rock of Canada’s Mobina Galore, the catchy pop-punk of London trio The Tuts, the intense thrashcore of Svetlanas or the hardcore fury of Yorkshire’s Natterers. Personally, I’m edging towards Svetlanas, who have the legend that is Nick Oliveri on bass and a live reputation as unpredictable and dangerous.
Now, I’ve already heard people moaning about the Saturday night headliners clashing, which is understandable as both Propagandhi and Iron Chic are bona fide punk legends and worthy headliners and who wouldn’t want to see both, but you can’t please all the people all the time and bands are going to clash at a festival like this. I’m going to lose punk points by saying this, but I’ve not seen either live so I’m equally disappointed that I’ve got to choose between them. Both have recently released new material in Victory Lap and You Can’t Stay Here, to critical acclaim so expect to hear plenty of new songs in amongst the classics.
It really is too tight to call and may be decided on a last minute flip of a coin.
The action doesn’t end there though as both The Bread Shed and Zombie venues are open until the early hours where you’re find the musical melting pot that is Beat The Red Light, Dublin’s Chewing On Tinfoil and Germany’s postpunks Finisterre all vying to wring the last drops of energy from the audiences.