This month the mighty Manchester Punk Festival returns for its fourth year. It will be my third time attending the festival and this year looks set to be the best yet. With more bands than ever before, including some pretty big names in punk rock from all over the world and not just the UK, I for one am very excited. Here are my top ten picks for Manchester Punk Festival 2018.
Crazy Arm (Thursday at Rebellion 20:40–21:20)
Returning to MPF for their third time, Crazy Arm are without a doubt one of my absolute must-see bands. Of all the bands on my list they are probably the one I have been listening to for the longest and, having seen them live more than a few times in the past, I know just how good a performance they will put on. There’s folky, bluesy and Americana influences in the Crazy Arm sound but overall they are a pretty hard rocking punk band. I’m excited for the eventual release of their fourth album so maybe they’ll share a few songs from that as well.
Roughneck Riot (Thursday at The Bread Shed 21:40–22:20)
Roughneck Riot are another band returning to Manchester Punk Festival and, as one of TNS Records’ own, they are certain to be very well received. When I saw them at MPF 2016 it was my first experience of Roughneck Riot live and, if I was to use just one word to describe it, that word would be rowdy. Rowdy in a totally good way that is. This is a folk punk band but not a soft, gentle acoustic type folk punk band (not that there’s anything wrong with those sort of bands). Roughneck Riot are loud, fast and most of all just such fun live. They will definitely be bringing the party to the first day of MPF and warming the crowd up nicely for Random Hand.
Eat Defeat (Friday at Rebellion 14:45–15:15)
Tasked with opening up the second day of the festival, at least at Rebellion anyway, are Leeds-based skate-pop punk band Eat Defeat. I’ve seen the foursome live once before at the New Cross Inn in south east London and let’s just say they put on a memorable performance which may or may not have featured a crowd surfer on an actual surfboard. With their upbeat and melodic tunes, Eat Defeat are sure to blow away any cobwebs from the first night of Manchester Punk Festival (although, at nearly 3pm in the afternoon, I would hope people aren’t that worse for wear). This will be a great start to the second day of MPF.
Arms & Hearts (Friday at Underdog 16:40–17:10)
Some of my favourite sets from last year’s MPF were the ‘acoustic’ acts at Underdog and I’ll definitely try to catch as many as possible at this year’s festival too. My must-see act for 2018 at Underdog is acoustic punk troubadour Arms & Hearts. I’ve been a fan of his since Colin insisted I would love Set In Stone, his 2015 EP – and love it I did. Arms & Hearts plays heartfelt and honest songs in the vein of Brian Fallon (of The Gaslight Anthem) and Chuck Ragan (of Hot Water Music) but, being from down the road in Northwich, feels all the more down to earth than those famous American punks. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Arms & Hearts live for the first time in Manchester and you should be too.
Forever Unclean (Saturday at The Bread Shed 14:30–15:00)
Forever Unclean were one of my favourite live bands of last year when Colin and I saw them in a pub in Camden early on in the year. Their latest four track EP Float has been on constant rotation in our household and so when the Danish trio were announced as playing MPF 2018 we were both very excited. Their brand of melodic singalong indie pop punk is infectiously good and honestly I can’t do the band justice in words. Of this list, they are very close to being the band I am most looking looking forward to seeing. Just go see them please and find our for yourself just how great they are!
All Aboard! (Saturday at Zombie Shack 16:30–17:00)
All Aboard! are straight-up punk rock band from Germany that I had not heard of before listening to the MPF 2018 playlist. That’s the great thing about a festival like this, there will always be great new (to some people) bands just waiting to be discovered. That goes for before the event on playlists and such and on the day – you never know where you might stumble across your new favourite band at MPF. As I’m new to All Aboard! I don’t really know too much about them but – there’s this great thing called the Internet so I’ve done some research – they’ve been a band for 8 years and last came to the UK 6 years ago, when they toured with Leagues Apart, so their appearance at Manchester Punk Festival is going to be pretty special.
Russo (Saturday at Gorilla 18:00–18:35)
Everyone loves Sam Russo, right? I think I’ve seen him live more times than anyone else (well, aside from Frank Turner). I always enjoy his live set, whether it be in a small pub, like at The Thirsty Scholar for MPF 2016, or a larger venue, like supporting Dave Hause at The Garage in London, and I always love a singalong (Soooometimes…). BUT what I haven’t seen yet is Sam Russo with a band and that’s exactly what ‘Russo’ is. I really don’t know what to expect from Russo, particularly as Sam Russo with just a guitar is surprisingly loud for a solo acoustic guy but what I do know is I won’t be missing out on this opportunity.
The Tuts (Saturday at Rebellion 20:00–20:45)
The Tuts are one of those bands that I’ve heard a lot about – both good and bad, to be honest – but I’ve never actually got around to catching live myself. Manchester Punk Festival has helpfully offered me up the perfect opportunity and, after listening to their back catalogue, I have eagerly accepted. This pop punk trio write seriously catchy songs with passionate lyrics about subjects that they greatly believe in – including combatting and calling out everyday sexism and promoting feminism and inclusivity. Those are subjects that I can definitely get on board with and I hope other attendees of MPF will too. I’m expecting The Tuts to draw a pretty decent crowd and I’ll certainly be joining them.
Iron Chic (Saturday at Rebellion 21:05–22:05)
There are a number of really big names playing Manchester Punk Festival this year and arguably the biggest band of all is Propaghandi. Also playing (at the same time) are Iron Chic, a band who I love a hundred times more than the Canadian giants. It’s not just that I’m not that into Propaghandi (yeah, sorry, I’m not), it’s also that Iron Chic are damn well incredible. Their songs just make you want to stick your fist in the air and scream along with every word Jason Lubrano utters and the whole experience of an Iron Chic live show is pure catharsis. I have no doubt that I will absolutely love watching Iron Chic at MPF and I know that those who also choose to watch them will too. We always do. This will also be my first time seeing Iron Chic since the release of their third album, You Can’t Stay Here, so it will be awesome to hear some of those songs live as well as all the singalong classics.
Chewing On Tinfoil (Saturday at The Bread Shed 23:35–00:10)
If I had to pick just one band from this list that I am most excited to see at Manchester Punk Festival 2018 then I would go for Chewing On Tinfoil, or Chewy as they are affectionally known by many. It’s appropriate really that they are at the end of my list – appearing at the Saturday night after party at The Bread Shed. Chewing On Tinfoil are an Irish punk band who have some hugely melodic, immensely singalong-able and hook-laden tunes. There’s a bit of ska thrown into some of their stuff and a bit of folkiness in others but, whatever sub-genre they’re playing, Chewy are just so good. So good that I’ve never seen them live before! I know, shame on me. I will fight all kinds of tired and acheyness, that I will no doubt be feeling towards the end of MPF, to enjoy every second of this band’s performance. I can’t wait!
My honorary mention goes to the Oasis covers set on Friday night (Zombie Shack 23:25–23:55) that is being performed by a new local supergroup tribute act, Blowasis, featuring Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man, Danny Do’s and, MPF organiser, Tree. I’ve personally always liked Oasis so I’m well up for this although I know Colin isn’t a fan – maybe a punk version will win him over. I’m also looking forward to telling my friend and colleague Gavin about it at work afterwards as he’s a huge Oasis fan – if it wasn’t 160 miles away he might even have come along.
Manchester Punk Festival is the best and 19th of April can’t come soon enough.
This top ten was written by Emma Prew.