Manchester Punk Festival (Saturday)

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Manchester Punk Fest 22

Manchester Punk Festival (Saturday)

Manchester City Centre - 16th April 2022

MPF Eagle 22

After falling into an exhaustion and beer induced coma we’re heading back into Manchester for day two of Manchester Punk Festival, yesterday is still making itself felt but that’s not going to stop us, although we might be moving a bit slower. We head into town to do it all over again in the Spring sunshine starting with a pint in the company of an eagle, or possibly a seagull, from Kringer & The Battle Katz, before we catch Drones on their penultimate show, but better late than never. Drones are a band we’ve wanted to catch since the release of their last album, Our Hell Is Right Here. And they don’t disappoint, anthemic alt punk that straddles the genres perfectly and provides the perfect wake up call for a Saturday afternoon that oddly feels like a Sunday. Based on todays early set they will be missed when they wrap things up after their final gig. 

A painful stagger down Oxford Rd takes us back to the Zombie Shack for Hell’s Ditch, sadly because I misread the clash finder this results in a slightly swifter walk back up Oxford Road sees us reach our intended destination, Hell’s Ditch. We arrive as they are delivering a Clash cover, the one and only old school punk cover I heard over the weekend, but it’s when they launch into their own material that I’m glad that I’ve tortured my feet to make it back, influenced by the old school but not stuck there, they close with their upbeat and upcoming single, Take Cover, as the hangover from Friday finally dissipates. 

After calling it day (back) in 2019, Holiday chose a Bank Holiday..Easter resurr..ahhh, where’s this going? There’s something undeniable in the air: that ‘classic’ punk n’ roll sound, the immediacy of the harmonies, an audience with some kind of nostalgia in their hearts. Dipping into an effervescent, socially-concious catalogue, with new recruit Joseph Hooligan given a couple of days to learn everything on bass, the mood in the packed-out room channels the late afternoon weather, with the band’s own caveat, “Happy Songs About Unhappy Things” (fittingly, the band’s social media handle is @sunshinemyass), part of their inherently Northern disposition; best exemplified in the terrific singalong to the opening salvo of Lunch Break, “Sick and fucking tired of the drugery..” Too right, and what a way to take a breather from it all for half an hour or so.

Beng Beng Cocktail MPF 22

Meanwhile, in Yes’s packed basement new TNSrecords signing Beng Beng Cocktail are skanking up a storm and we are the last two to gain entry to the venue before it reached capacity, something that makes Yes into a dense sweaty throng who are packed in like sardines for the anarchistic acoustic skacore trio’s set, one that goes down a storm in the cramped confines of the venue’s cellar. After this the trio of The Punk Site’s contributors, who are by now only one third sober, converge, initially for pizza and beer, before heading to Gorilla for two eagerly anticipated sets from Bobby Funk & Knife Club.

Bobby Funk 2 MPF 22

Continuing the pattern of catching surreal bands as the night draws in we catch Bobby Funk in Gorilla, the band are led by Ollie Mayrick who tonight is dressed like a cross between a children’s tv presenter and Chucky. The Off-kilter coastal outfit lay a bit of a trap in being distinguished by their ‘quirkiness’. For all their frenetic energy – Ollie giant-size stomping, nay, prowling across the apron – lyrical repartee – on breakfast / Brexit : “I want a barrier between my egg and beans..a sausage counts as breakwater in The Irish Sea..” – and compositional acrobatics – sure, the straight-ahead thrash of K Grind makes space for a bizzaro snippet of Walking In The Air halfway through  – it’s easy to forget, until today, it appears, how *fucking* hard and fast they play.

Bobby Funk mix tracks from their most excellent record, Longing for The Bonging, while digging into earlier EPs for the likes of the storming Incoitus Interruptus, gives a wild spread of sturdy-scrappy-surfy cuts to both slam and smile to. Surrealist highlights include seeing The Sewer Cats yell “Fuck you. Meow !” to roof-raiser I’m A Cat, and an ironic transformation of the venue into a literal Gammon Club as the crowd construct a conga at the fictional Wetherspoon Terry’s behest. A superlative set, full of savagely-delivered silliness.

We stay in Gorilla for Knife Club, formed just ahead of the start of the pandemic their mysterious campaign to launch the band fell flat on its arse as restrictions kicked in, this didn’t stop them releasing a superb debut and subsequent lockdown recordings, this has been a long time coming. The TNSrecords collective are in full flow and have dressed for the occasion.  Despite being spread across at least 3 ‘corners’ of the country, and being their first Manchester Punk Festival appearance, this has still got to be considered a kind of ‘homecoming’ for Knife Club, given vocalist Andy Davies’s prominent hand in organising the weekend. And, suitably, they’re greeted like absolute heroes.

Knife Club 1 MPF 22

Kicking off with the one-two punch of Making A Big Meal Of It and Schnitt mit dem Küchenmesser, it all gets very interactive, very quickly – neither Davies, or co-vocalist Zoe capitulate to being tethered to the stage. As fan faves, like the immortally infectious Tibby Tan Tiger, dead-on and devastating Working Class Tories, and (Adam’s personal darling) Do You Want a Knife with That Salad?, are convivally cranked out, there’s choreography for the masses, a parting of the punk sea, and a room-length return-trip crowd surf for a Sambuca shot. Artex, Bozo Is An Underused Insult..a debut for No Motivation & Remember the Gold Dollar Sign Hoodie?. A *legit* festival conquest by everyone’s favourite, and most inclusive, clique.

Oi Polloi MPF 22

After a respite to allow for beer and recovery we head into The Bread Shed for Oi Polloi. Ahead of their set the soundtrack in the venue winds the clock back to the dawn of punk, appropriate given that Oi Polloi are now approaching their 40th anniversary. Progressive anti-fascist oi, delivered pumped up and with a sense of humour. Their brutal set of anti-fascist anthems saw an intense mosh pit to delirious crowd of fans who are clearly well acquainted with the band, such is the ferocity of their set and the joy of their following I find myself caught in the moment and down the front for their set, despite stating earlier that I’m way too old for the pit. A brutal and battle scarred hour later and we’re outside and I realise we’ve missed almost everyone we planned to see today, does it matter, well, no. We saw and met so many people tonight, missed so many bands I intended to catch, saw others that weren’t on my radar, shared beers with so many and got dragged up out of the pit by friendly hands when I went down. Today has been exactly how a punk fest oughta be 

Written by Adam Pytro and Phinky, photography by Gary M Hough of Shot From Both Sides