A last minute change to Satan’s Hollow seems like a disastrous plot twist in what would be the best punk gig in December. Fortunately though word of mouth spreads the news quicker than any new Title Fight tour and the crowd starts out thin but eventually flourishes into an army of punks ready for to seize the day and night with good times, good music and good beverages. Let the antics begin!
And they begin very abruptly with Esoteric Youth. The band quickly ravage through their set but unfortunately there’s only a few to witness what the band have to offer. It would’ve been much better if the band had more people to play to. More interaction is always good. (3/5) (MB)
A very northern sounding Brogue Kicks are one of the more punk bands on the bill today and the 3 piece offer enough to entertain and encapsulate those inside Satan’s Hollow, as well as reel in more of the awaiting audience from around Manchester. There’s plenty of energy from the frontman who seems pretty damn engaged considering it’s still early in the afternoon. (3.5/5) (MB)
WExHAPPENEDxNEXT are over before they’ve even started. A punch in the face and a kick in the teeth as the set frantically launches between songs. It may not be clear when one song has ends and the next one begins but they’re all full of that same slap around the face. If you wanted to break shit then now is the time, although you’d have to be quick. A nice wake up call and a much needed warm up for the behemoth that was to follow… (3.5/5) (MB)
Hammers are loud. The loudest band on the bill today easily. Having been a band for just over 4 years they have honed their sound to something remarkable and likeable for people who aren’t into the heavier side of things. Blasting through a 20 minute set, I have a feeling Hammers are the most watched band of the day currently (even though we’re only 4 bands in). Each time I see them I enjoy their music more and more and it makes me want to abandon all my soft punk roots and hit the hard stuff. (4/5) (RK)
Until today, I will honestly admit that Doctrines have never interested me much. I’ve seen them play before and I’ve never been too fussed but today, for some reason, I guess it just clicked. With a Replacements kind of vibe, on the brink of the more indie side of the punk rock built bill today, Doctrines have people interested, and Manchester is already seemingly in love with this band. (3.5/5) (RK)
The Dauntless Elite are golden oldies (not saying you’re old, but you’ve been a band for as long as I can seem to remember, so maybe I am saying you’re old). With this though come fans, and our first sing-a-long crowd participation of the day. Playing a blend of American Steel punk rock, these Leeds favourites play a solid set. They’re obviously not breaking the barrier, but they’re good at what they do and it shows. (3.5/5) (RK)
After a fairly slow start to the day, Northern rowdy guys Throwing Stuff inject a much needed caffeine boost to the day even if the resulting technique means a set of pure hardcore punk shenanigans. They may not be the most serious band to watch nor are they musical geniuses, but the band sure knows how to bring the fun back into the crowd. What follows is custard creams all over the floor, personal belongings lost and seemingly looted, guest vocals from several friends, a cover of ‘I Don’t Wanna Hear It’ and terrible jokes; from then on the madness can truly begin! (4/5) (AL)
From the smiles on their faces, you can tell that gruff sounding punks Pure Graft are having the time of their lives playing on the circular stage. The band sound huge with their brand of thick sounding melodic punk which has plenty of anthemic bite and enjoyment to sink your teeth into. (3.5/5) (AL)
Despite one of their members being absent or ‘dead’, The Arteries attempt to bring the house down with their shouty rock ‘n roll punk formula. The resulting answer for this attempt is a half triumph with three quarters of the band dancing about manically, whilst their lead vocalist paces around the stage shouting melodically but still having a whale of a time. Even though their vibes and moods attract the attention of a small number of loyalists singing along, it is a fun set to watch regardless. (3/5) (AL)
The moment you come back through the doors after the usual 15 minute break between bands, you realise just how beloved Sheffield pop punks Calvinball are. This is for very good reason as the band sound brilliant coupled with their fans who sing loud and proud making the entire moment anthemic and spectacular. The quality of the band’s set can be summed up by the first of four human pyramids which simply acts as a testament to the band’s honest and good hearted performance. (4/5) (AL)
Wooderson are definitely the biggest surprise of the day thus far as they perform a tight set that is loud, quiet, and features music that simply plays with every fabric of the imagination. The Sheffield four-piece incorporate a post punk sound that is reminiscent of the best in the business including Fugazi, Minutemen, and Gang of Four. Each of the band’s members take turns in vocal duties creating a broad range that goes from the abrasively sharp to the despairingly soft zones of reality; all of this is propelled by an innovative and eye widening instrumentation which few bands can successfully master. (4/5) (AL)
Cornish trio Bangers tastefully deliver the goods in a neatly wrapped gruff layered package which is brimming with catchiness that dives into your vocal chords and makes you want to hold an alcoholic beverage high in the air. From then on any individual infected by this begin to fight over the microphone and form a vocal intimacy with the band, and also help lay the foundation for the second human pyramid of the day; this is punk rock shenanigans at its finest! (4/5) (AL)
Successfully closing ManchFester 2.5 is the gritty phenomenal power drive that is Crazy Arm who commands for all their fans to clamber over the barrier and join them in a committed intimate relationship signalled by glorified unity in sing alongs and sheer authenticity. The Plymouth folk riff sages spear head a storming set of some of their most anthemic ‘fuck the world and find the solution’ songs they can muster including ‘Bandalito’, ‘Still to Keep’, and ‘Blind Summit’. Whilst they seem untamed through such songs, the band show their more subtle side during ‘Song of Choice’ but even then there is an underlying warning and tension to take heed of via the song’s content. This all leads to a grand peak of epic proportions when the band close the night with the mastered forgery of ‘Broken by the Wheel’ which sees their audience clamber onto the compacted circular stage singing in unison showing what equality and community is all about; a sincerely superb ending to a great day. (4.5/5) (AL)
Keep an eye on Already Heard at the start of the new year for plenty of live songs from the day.