After the giddiness of the first day of Manchester Punk Festival, we spend Saturday morning trying to work out how you watch three bands at the same time. Not unlike every year, the line up Manchester Punk Festival have put together is a vast and exciting combination of bands from all walks of the punk scene.
WORDS: BEN ADSETT / IMAGES: DORY VALENTINE
Looking around The Union, there are a lot of sore heads as Jodie Faster explode into life. This feels like a kill or cure moment because their French hardcore/grindcore crossover is loud, brash and unapologetic. Songs fire from the stage at breakneck speed and it feels like the circle pit is never going to be big enough to satisfy the band. In the gaps between these short, sharp bursts of organised chaos, this is a band who use their words very well, from dedications to lost friends to outpourings of love for their scene, and these moments connect the crowd. This is a band who move round a stage like its second nature, constantly crossing paths without ever getting in each other’s way and this adds a touch of class to a beautiful, infernal racket. By the end, as people catch their breath, the room is back on form and ready for another big day of back to back bands.
With the room ready, PkewPkewPkew bring the fun. Their drinking pop punk songs sound even better when the sun is out, and soon have fists, fingers and beers held in the air from first to last song. Musically, they are well versed and share the focus throughout the set with a very polite stage presence. Part of the charm is their engaging stage patter, winning any undecided audience members over between each song and creates a huge atmosphere by the end of their breathless set.
Boom Boom Racoon
As Boom Boom Racoon take the stage, it’s hard to tell what an acoustic guitar, bass and a trumpet are going to sound like. To be honest, even after they played it’s hard to tell. Every song in the set offers something completely different from Manouche jazz, crust punk, folk, ska and, beyond the musical combos, are engaging throughout. Lyrically, this is a fiercely political experience with opinions on gender, the prison system and sexuality shared within and between songs. The cleverest thing about Boom Boom Racoon is their ability to write songs packed with serious influences, both musically and lyrically, that will have the most reluctant toes tapping along to their upbeat rhythms.
After seven years, the expectant atmosphere in The Union for Bangers is electric. As they hit the stage, there is a moment where a sense of relief is replaced by pure excitement and within what seems like seconds, the last chords are played and the band leave the stage. With a set that rapidly tracks a very strong back catalogue, there’s something for every type of fan, and what better way is there to discover a band than through a greatest hits set within this atmosphere. Who knows what’s next for Bangers but if this is goodbye, it was absolutely wonderful.
Label mates ONSIND have a similar backstory and importance, and throw a “Ten Years Of Thatcher’s Death” party on the same stage. This is a very different band from the two piece acoustic act that started the project off over a decade ago. With one singer unable to sing but fortunately able to still play, they drafted in a replacement and what followed felt like a once in a lifetime set. With a last minute change on vocals, the crowd were enlisted to help out and boy did they help out. In a set that closed with an entire room singing ‘Never Trust a Tory’ at the top of their lungs, it is impossible not to leave inspired (and slightly croaky).
Death By Stereo
There are so many legends on the Manchester Punk Festival line up but were they on the Punk O Rama 6? In the case of Death By Stereo, the answer is yes. With decades behind them, this is a band who know what they are doing with a crowd and they held them in the palm of their hands from start to finish. Conducting the pit and encouraging the ever spinning circle to speed up and slow down at their will; all of this whilst also delivering a punishing set of hardcore with the occasional harmonised break before the crushing rhythms take back over.
If you were looking for a bit of chaos, Lightyear’s set complete with human tombola, venue climbing and endless taking the piss out of each other was the place to be. Somehow coming across as a band who have absolutely no idea what is going on, they still manage to play catchy and mood enhancing ska punk to a very high standard. This is a set that was pure chaos but one of the most purely fun things the weekend had to offer.
And with that – a quick snooze before another heavy day of running around Manchester Punk Festival.