Live Review: Strummercamp Festival (Saturday), 26th May 2018, Oldham Rugby Union Club, Manchester, UK

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Strummercamp Festival (Saturday)

Oldham Rugby Union Club, Manchester, UK - 26th May 2018

Thankfully yesterday’s rain has given way to a bright and breezy day for the first outdoor day of Strummercamp and we arrive to a soundcheck of The Ruts’ Backbiter blasting across the festival site as final preparations are in place for the second day of Strummercamp 2018. Sadly Eddie And The Hot Rods are unable to play as their vocalist Barrie Masters was involved in a car crash, hopefully he’ll make a speedy recovery and we at The Punk Site wish him well and I hope we get the chance to catch up with him later this year. After yesterday’s late finish there’s no better way than to start the second day of Strummercamp than with a beer and a wander round the Strummercamp Artshow, that displays a wide range of artwork that’s mainly based around punk, both past and present. 

The first band of the day are Brassneck, who wake up Strummercamp with a blast of old school punk rock that draws the crowd out of their tents after last night’s excesses. Over in the Shangri La! alternative cabernet stage Fro are making a discordant noise that comes across as an odd mix of punk attitude and volume that’s mixed with jazz rhythms and structure, along with a touch of early Muse thrown into the mix. Back over in the main stage Salford’s Red Light Effect are bringing a touch of anthemic stadium rock to the early afternoon at Strummercamp.

A return to Shangri La! sees Puppetual Motion, a car sponge puppet, an utterly filthy French sock puppet and a stand up monkey that means that this is as much of an attraction as the main stages, but for very different reasons. Such is Puppetual Motion’s appeal that we miss much of George Borowski’s set of political and empowering stripped down blues influenced rock. Italy’s Il Complesso kick off the TNS Records stage for the weekend with a charged set of European hardcore punk, one that coincides with temperature rising and the sun glaring down on Oldham. For me Il Complesso‘s welcome arrival in North Manchester well and truly kick starts the Saturday at Strummercamp.

The breezy summers day causes mild havoc with the tents, and sees a few late arrivals chasing theirs across the site, but the Shangri La! tent is secured in time for Joy France and Genevieve L. Walsh, the latter of which is delivering a set of her incomparable socially aware poetry, and their scattergun approach, including Joy France’s Rapping Nana Panda, is a welcome inclusion on the bill that hits the spot nicely. A quick sprint across the site means we get to catch Scotland’s The Media Whores on the main stage delivering a set of political punk power pop that is delivered with a rock ‘n roll swagger. In contract the hyperactive duo of Dog follow on the TNS Records stage with a noise rock meets hardcore blast that make an unlikely but welcome soundtrack to a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Randolph Swain And The Red Lights are bringing the strange to Shangri La! with their post punk psych that documents their interstellar travels, meanwhile V2.2, the latest incarnation of one of Manchester’s original punk bands, hit the main stage and hammer out a set of high energy punk rock, including an uncannily accurate cover Joy Division’s Shadowplay. This is followed by Italy’s acoustic Mauri Clash City Rocker, who does exactly what it says in his name, and given this is Strummercamp he draws an enthusiastic crowd for his set. In contrast Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man, who are playing as part of their farewell tour, delivered an absolutely pummelling set of hardcore punk that sees the first mosh pit of the weekend along with crowd surfing and human pyramids. Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man’s stunning set is one that shows just how much they’ll be missed at the end of their year long farewell tour.

Adventures Of Salvador are bringing their own brand of primitive rock ‘n roll to Strummercamp, their dirty surf punk is augmented with theramin and mellotron and the resulting soundtrack resembles The Fall in a head on crash with truck full of acid. Sadly my experience of them is cut short as The Kut are hitting the main stage in the wake of the release of their debut album, Valley Of Thorns, that has hit the top ten in the UK rock charts, and they bring a crowd pleasing and charged set of grunge influenced punk rock to Strummercamp. We catch Anti-Star closing the Shangri La! stage with a set of defiant indie rock, before we head back over to main stage for tonight’s unexpected headliners, Ruff Trade and Toxic

The penultimate band at what has been a memorable day is Ruff Trade, who bring an element of dub and reggae to the weekend, including an unexpected dub version of The Smith’s classic This Charming Man, and as this is Strummercamp it’s appropriate that they are are part of the line up as reggae was integral to The Clash’s sound. Eddie And The Hot Rod’s late withdrawal from the festival means that Toxic close the main stage and bring the day full circle with a set of old school punk rock, one that is centred round the first wave of punk and The Clash’s finest moments, before tonight’s aftershow party kicks into gear with two more local bands, The Kopek Millionaires and The Crash Mats.

The aftershow parry sees the majority of Strummercamp attendees crammed into the indoor venue that hosted the opening night of the festival, the venue is rammed and the soundtrack is ska, reggae, punk and soul prior to The Kopek Millionaires taking to the stage. Despite the late hour they deliver a full tilt set of punk ‘n roll that revives the crowd after two days of excess in all areas, finally The Crash Mats brings things to a close with a set of chaotic Northern punk that is sadly curtailed by a broken bass string, now it’s time to head home to try and grab a few hours sleep as the final day of Strummercamp is only a few hours away

The Strummercamp festival website is here

The TNS Records website can be found here

The Shangi La! website is located here

Live photography is by Dean Unsworth, his Instagram account is located here and you can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slide show of the images