Manchester Punk Festival (Sunday)

  • Gary Hough posted
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Manchester Punk Fest 22

Manchester Punk Festival

Manchester City Centre - 17th April 2022

It’s an utterly glorious day in Manchester, as it weirdly always seems to be for Manchester Punk Festival, despite the bruises, scars and blisters yesterday generated, we’re back in time to catch Crazy Arm opening the final day in The Union along with my first beer of the day, this is the perfect soundtrack to open the final day of a weekend we’ve been waiting for since 2019. The Easter sunshine makes it tempting to lurk outside, and like many of the people at Manchester Punk Festival we are partaking of a hair of the dog and enjoying a rare sunny weekend in the rainy city, which, as it never rains at Manchester Punk Festival, leads to the question do they organise this somehow?

In spite of an early-ish start (hangovers are seen to be kicking in *all* over town), Oldham’s Clayface muster the muscle to power their gritty brand of skate-core. With their first EP, SQUEEL, being released nine years ago, and their latest, Don’t Hold Your Breath, being a mere five years old, there’s a sense of ‘of the time’, the addition of a few more ‘woah oh’s, and those kind of swelling drum rolls, and a chunk of the tracks wouldn’t sound out of place on, like, an early Fat Wreck Chords compilation. Except, the quartet’s gutsy temperament finds them more at home in the gutters of Greenfield, than the glitz of the California sun. There is talk of an album in the works (still), and the inclusion of the newer tunes that’ll make that up give the set a cohesive depth. The songs are super well-constructed, with neat tempo changes underpinned by a lolloping bass sound, and choppy chords that leave spaces for shimmery octave work. Employee Of The Month is a fucking gnarly closer, by the way. Drunk punk for punks that’ve drunk too much.. “Oh well, whatever, what’s the point?

Sewer Cats MPF 22

The same weekend as their debut album release on TNSrecords, The Sewer Cats take to the Zombie Shack stage, with the cool n’ cozy venue the purrfect (sorry) place to unleash their riotous racket. The duo may come across as unassuming (and despite Cass confessing to wanting to “do a little sick” beforehand), but from the off they rip through, and repurpose a repertoire of righteous riffs – through the grungy churn of My Dark One, past the disco-blues rampage of Delia and into the waltzing groove of What Do I Know About Men?, it’s relentless. The newer tracks are not the only ones to get a run out, though. The pair dust off the likes of the gung-ho garage of Raw and its ludicrous licks. So good. The intimate setting allows them to work, and interact with, the crowd, teasing them with prolonged, tense build-ups and clapalong interludes, and during the devastating denouement of Answer The Question and Cute Aggression both Cass & Josh end up amongst the audience at some point, flailing wildly to a cowbell crescendo. Fuzzed-up fun from the fur-midable (not sorry) duo.

If comedy had a band name it could well be Crapsons, as Mike Markey, Andy Gilbert and Pete (of Mr Ted fame) bring their Wirrall punk bollocks to Yes. They don’t hang about in baiting any Ian Brown fans in their audience as they launch into Ian Brown Is The Resurrection, a track from their latest album, Songs To Make A Brew To. As it happens we dislike Ian Brown and his conspiracy bollocks just as much as Crapsons and we fall about laughing as the crowd turns the tables on the band and harangs them into playing the song again but to the words of Ian Brown is from Warrington, which apparently, he is. The band duly oblige much to the crowds delight. Crapsons might only have played a 30 minute set here in Manchester but they went down a storm, a band with a wicked sense of humour that engage with their audiences really well and that’s no surprise to me as I’ve seen them on many occasions and they never let you down. Today they gained more new fans albeit none are fans of Ian Brown, nor it seems, Warrington.

The Crapsons MPF 22

With a name that conjures the vision of a veteran NYHC group, it quickly unfolds that Yorkshire’s Nosebleed are here not for a pit, but a party. The sharp-suited showmen kick off with Dance With The Devil, which previously only appeared on the TNSrecordsDIY or Die compilation that accompanied the beer collab with Chain House Brewing Co. It sets the tone perfectly for an afternoon of cavorting, compelling choons. The trio are in dazzling form, ripping through track after hip-twitching track, they come thick and fast: the jaunty, jolty rhythms and train-track toms guiding the crowd in their grins. The good times roll through the likes of Wrong, Scratching Circles and Time And Time Again. And, for the last two-thirds of the set, it’s jackets off, and a sojourn into the crowd for an immersive few numbers, climaxing with the rickety Rockabilly of What You Have Done?, wherein the ‘woah-ohs’ morph into Living On A Prayer. A dancefloor delight and a class act, that leaves both audience and artists sweaty and satisfied.

An unexpected bonus is the last minute addition of Mikey Erg, after scratching my head about how this was a last minute addition given the geography, Instead I just decided to be grateful to catch a man who’s been a fairly consistent feature of the soundtrack of my life for the last few decades in The Ergs!, Star Fucking Hipsters and The Dopamines to name but a few of the acts he’s been a member of. This is just Mikey and his guitar, nothing else, just an unexpected highlight of the final day of a perfect weekend. 

Mikey Erg 2 MPF 22

There’s a modest, but dedicated following assembled in the Union for EuroPunkers Cocaine Piss, who take to the stage looking aimable, even eccentric, in a mish-mash of sparkly jackets and shellsuits; but the music they produce is a cohesive mix of disco-thrash and noise, with some breathable passages in which they lock down some serious grooves. 90% apocalyptic, and 10% tenderness. They can somehow appropriately flip from “fuck you” to “la la la” in an instant, the tracks are piercing, and often perverse. Sandwiched inbetween, is a spacey prog-ballad, which culminates in vocalist Aurélie screaming about something “salty in my mouth..” against a climbing guitar scale. Not that there’s any evidence that this song exists anywhere outside of this set (help, anyone?). Newer singles Bad Kid, and Cool Party, with its irresistible, churning bass, and holler-along refrain, are aired, giving Aurélie the opportunity to swap her elevated position for a prowl in the pit, sticking around for a writhe about for finale, Fuck This Shit, which becomes both its lyrical content, and mission statement. An intimate, and engaging spectacle.

Zombie Shack MPF 22

Incisions are in an incendiary mood. Coming in hot off the back of latest single Gasoline here, the opening track of a set that fully ignites the crowd, they’re fully charged with energy and emotion, later on dedicating tonight to scene stalwarts Mark ‘Doom’ Stopford, and Calvin Sewell (Grand Collapse). Without pause, the squealing Repeat Prescription makes a lot of people lose their shit in an unbridled frenzy, and the tight set continues to flex all facets at the lads’ fine-tuned disposal. They serve up, amongst others, the building intensity of We’re Not The Same and the savage Fuck The World from last year’s oustanding long-player, Bliss, dip into the archives for the chugging War In Your Head and a rousing rendition of The Wreck, and throw in a few new tracks, fabricated from their trademark ferocity, a hint of melody, and integral pit-stirring breakdowns. A punishing performance, that leaves the venue absolutely rattling.

Riskee & The Ridicule MPF 22

Once pizza had been acquired it was back into The Bread Shed to finally catch Riskee & The Ridicule live, another band I’ve been meaning to see for a good few years. Frontman Scott Picking constantly prowls the stage as they deliver a working class roots grime punk soundtrack that covers their back catalogue from the recent Too Young To Be Blue EP right back to their roots. They deliver a simultaneously defiant, honest and hopeful message to a packed Bread Shed. They looked surprised at the turnout and reaction, “I didn’t think anyone would turn up”, their set is greeted rapturously further proving the band’s fears were misplaced. They close their set with the anthemic Molotov Cocktails and a frantic Body Bag Your Scene that sees them joined by Geoff Lagadec from Jaya The Cat, another band I inadvertently missed over the weekend, that secures a memorable ending to a set that has flashed by in instant. 

Plot 32 hit capacity early in the Zombie Shack leaving a throng of confused people on a spiral staircase before we all made our way down, for what it’s worth they sounded great through the ceiling of the pub underneath the venue. However, security do relent once the crowd has dissipated so our pints and downed and we head back up the spiral to catch the end of their set in an overcrowded Zombie Shack. I can confirm they are better experienced when they are not filtered through six feet of victorian brickwork.

The first problem Midwich Cuckoos face is fitting their entire line up onto the stage, but once that minor logistical problem issue is sorted out we’re in business. Midwich Cuckoos’s blend of alt punk is something that ends the weekend in fine style. The Zombie Shack is by now like a communion for the many, bands, staff and punters who are crammed into the venue and this feels like a party, a really fucking good party at that. The genre straddling outfit embrace everything that is right in the world, reality might be returning tomorrow but the last three days have reminded me just how much we lost, but also what stayed and that punk is alive and well and Manchester Punk Festival is, as they say, proper mint.

Our final band of the weekend is Going Off as Sunday eases into Monday, brutal political punk that sees out a weekend like no other, thank you Manchester Punk Festival and to everyone who organised, participated in or attended this good natured not for profit festival. There really is nowhere else I’d rather have been this weekend, which is handy as Phinky and Adam live here, and we’ll see you next year barring any further world changing events. As we trudge back down Oxford Road the rain starts to descend and Manchester returns to it’s usual damp self, and that’s it until next Easter. Manchester Punk Festival you’ve been magificent, and we’ll hopefully see you in ‘23.

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