A Cultural Sanctuary For The Modern Punk - Manchester Punk Festival 2019

  • April 29th, 2019
  • Written by marcusoz

This bank holiday weekend I had the absolute pleasure and honour to attend Manchester Punk Festival for entire weekend. Not only did I have the chance to tear apart The Zombie Shack with my band Crooked Little Sons, but I also had the opportunity to interview a whole host of artists playing the event for BlankTV and got pretty wobbly in between. I had such an amazing time that I thought I’d write up a feature on the event to share my experience – so you can make sure you pre-order your tickets for next year!

 

 

We arrived on the Friday morning, completely drained from the night before and running on empty. We rocked up to the festival entry point at The Union – a colossal venue right in the heart of Manchester. This was the first sobering realisation of how big this event actually is and more importantly, the level of managerial expertise needed to pull off such an extravagant event for such a niche audience. It was also the first piece of undeniable proof to anyone proving that punk, is far from dead.

The queue was massive and incredibly daunting during the heatwave that purged the whole weekend. But the line moved a lot quicker than anticipated and we were soon out of the blistering heat, which is an achievement on its own considering the nightmare queue horror stories passed around about festivals every year. We were greeted by a really friendly security team and an incredibly enthusiastic doorman who handed us our passes for the weekend and helped us perk up a bit. As we made our way into the venue to find the festivals founder Andy Davis for our first interview of the weekend, we spotted him right in the middle of the venue so took the opportunity to get it out of the way before he was stuck in the thick of it.

This was my first time meeting Andy and he was incredibly friendly, helpful and understanding of our exhaustion (Josh found it hard to string a decent sentence together bless him). We just about managed to finish the interview and in classic punk rock fashion, everyone was incredibly helpful with any queries we had all weekend. This alone made the entire event instantly feel more comforting right from the off, inspiring us to take the bull by the horns and delve deeper into the roots of the festival and finding out what has made it such a fast-growing cultural sanctuary for the modern punk.

 


 

We spent an hour wandering about the festival and familiarising ourselves with the layout, with our hostel only a 20 minute walk away and the venues being within yards of each other – we found overall navigation to be incredibly easy and entry to each venue very welcoming. The venues themselves were all a lot bigger than I had imagined and begged the question of whether underground punk bands could even fill these spaces – so I was excited to find out. As I should have already expected, I was blown away countless times as every venue had a thick crowd of enthusiastic punks sapping up what they could before rushing to the next show. That right there is fucking magical.

 

 

Being able to see a large chunk of the UK punk scene coming together to enjoy their favourite bands in numbers that truly represent the quality of artists performing was phenomenal. For someone who has seen a lot of the artists playing before in the last 7/8 years, in front of crowds of only 10/20 people – this was such a humbling and empowering feeling that resonated with every artist we met over the weekend. Everyone was in awe of the community behind the scenes that makes MPF the absolute diamond that it is.

Saturday was a very, very heavy day for the CLS camp – as we were playing in the evening and interviewing during the day in blistering heat with a hangover from the day before. But we powered through and managed to enjoy every spare second we had and caught some amazing new artists along the way. We lent our gear out to Austrian punks in 7 Years Down and they treated it with the upmost respect and were incredibly thankful, which goes a long way with me personally as I’ve had various pieces of gear broken from being lent out in the past. We then realised that they were playing the Alkaline Trio cover set at 1am in Rebellion which we had been looking forward to all weekend – so we started smashing the beers once again with our new pals. At this point I was pretty wonky, but managed to keep myself alive for our set which caught the attention of every passing punter. We managed to get the entire crowd moving by the end of our set! We left the stage, dropped the car off and head back into Rebellion to catch the chaotic cover sets with spirits running high.

 

 

The after hours Rebellion parties were a real treat for those who were heavily invested in the underground punk scene. As it was an opportunity to let loose and party with artists that you had been listening to since you first joined the culture and they were all just as hyped as you to be there. The cover sets weren’t overly tight, but nobody cared about that. Just having the opportunity to see your friends come together to play your favourite songs was enough to make the audience go wild, every, single, time. We met a lot of very interesting people during these points of the evening and I even managed to completely embarrass myself talking to Tom May from The Menzingers about On The House – which was when I swiftly decided to end the night. I was taken back to the hostel by the band, shouted at some angry geese in the car park and passed out fully clothed in a room full of sweaty punks.

It was fucking great.

Everyone at the festival was pretty broken on the Sunday and I was no exception. The night before was a raging success and the Sunday was no exception (barring the 12 hour headache). So we finished off the last few interviews we had left with Not On Tour & Smoke Or Fire, grabbed a coffee and sat for an hour hating the thought of existing. But we sucked it up, caught the last few bands of the evening before heading back on a 5 hour drive back to Exeter.

I managed to catch sets from some of my all time favourite punk bands, including ASTPAI, Smoke Or Fire, The Arteries, Tom May from The Menzingers and a ridiculous amount of other artists that’d be too hard to make my broken brain remember. But luckily, you can check out our interviews & snaps of artist footage via the BlankTV YouTube channel very soon, so we can all try and piece together this corker of a weekend.

 

 

It would be an injustice to call Manchester Punk Festival anything less than an overwhelming success. I think that even the team behind the event were shocked at the outcome. Having the ability to bring together such an eclectic group of punks from all over the globe to enjoy the music that gave them purpose in the first place is incredible. Being able to provide them with a decent variety of music, food, drink and ongoing entertainment with an atmosphere so inclusive that everyone involved was able to have just as much fun as the punters – that’s nothing short of a miracle.

 

Written By: Marcus Osborne