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FESTIVAL REPORT: Manchester Punk Festival 2024

When: 29 – 31 March 2024

Where: various venues, Manchester, England

You know what’s not punk about Manchester Punk fest, how damn well organised it is. In its third year of running, MPF2024 takes place across multiple venues in Manchester over the space three days and every band I saw was right on time, when does that ever happen? Especially at a punk festival. So, I did my best to cover as many artists over the weekend as possible, I wore my newly acquired stripy harem pants specially for the occasion, predominantly because I envisaged the need for an elasticated waistband after all the beer and carbs I knew I’d be consuming, and I customised my feet with big boots knowing how many times they were likely to be trodden on.

All the same I couldn’t cover everyone I wanted to because 1) I’m an ageing millennial punk who needs to sit down from time to time and 2) because of clashes with other bands, so shout out to everyone who played the festival but didn’t get a mention here.



Friday’s event begins at the Breadshed for me, where I’m poised to catch the London based band Rifle. They are one of the few bands set to play over the weekend that have more in common with 1970’s British oi bands. There’s the full cockney swagger from the vocalist, who appears to have taken his sartorial cues from Only Fools and Horses, kitted out in a string vest, chinos and loafers, gold chain draped around his neck and giant specs covering half his face. He does look as though he could own a three wheeler car which he sells ripped DVDs from, out of a sense of ironic retro nostalgia for a time when small time criminal activity could pay for a round at the local.

Musically speaking, the sense of irony and humour is not amiss either, they are clearly not a band who are here to take themselves and the world too seriously, even if, on the surface it sounds like “angry music”, it’s clearly intended to be playful and it’s good entertainment. Although, it is a shame that it’s left to the vocalist to carry the entire band via his extensive energy as the rest of them face glumly down at their instruments as though they’d rather be in a shoegaze band.


Staying in place for the next artist means I’m nicely positioned for US, thrash-punk, hardcore band, Spaced. In a similar vein to bands like Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front, Suicidal Tendencies and that kind of East Coast hardcore, they know who they are and just like the aforementioned bands, they know how to bring it. It’s an early peak but they are definitely one of the best live acts of this weekend.

Historically, it’s fair to say that Hardcore Punk like this has been typically led by men who convey a certain power, camaraderie and aggression through music, a bit like a musical equivalent of a Fight Club, so kudos to frontwoman Lexi Reyngoudt for putting her own stamp on that and conducting the crowd like a finely tuned orchestra as they moshed and formed circle pit after circle pit amidst random beach balls which were strewn across the venue. The rest of the band were really tight and honestly if you’re into this kind of music and they’re playing in a town near you, don’t miss them. I hope to see them back at MPF next year in a later slot because they should definitely be a little bit closer to the headline acts.


I’d like to know what the avant garde, punk-poet producer MERYL STREEK does to psych himself up before live performances because I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone enter a stage with that much fury before. Of course, with the vast majority of his lyrical content being about Catholic Church scandals and poverty, decline and wealth gaps that have only been exasperated through a neoliberal order, it’s hardly jolly content to be bopping around to. The fury is apt. The effect is heightened as Streek wears vampire- like contact lenses which really gives him the appearance of an insane demonic force to be reckoned with.

Photographers litter the front row of the stage making it difficult for Streek to connect with the audience so it’s possible that this is the reason why he makes his way off the stage and performs a chunk of the set in the middle of the crowd. He plays out to the tune of his manifesto ‘Death to the Landlord.’And this song goes out to any two-faced prick politician making money off a mother and two kids for a bedsit. Your day is gonna come” to a vitriolic audience, cementing himself as a leading voice of the working class.


And now for something completely different. Cheekface are poppy, lighthearted band from the US. They could easily be regulars on Mystery Science Theatre and musically speaking they’re not a million miles away from They Might Be Giants, which is certainly a compliment. The lead vocalist appears to have come dressed as Alan from Barbie today, in a pastel patterned shirt, his resemblance to Michael Cera also helps to cement this image. They are playing at the Union which is the largest venue of the weekend, and as it’s a University connected venue, also the one with the least “vibe”. But they fill up the space with sunny humour, songs about noddle pots and largest muscles, and their cheeriness is a welcome danceable break from some of the heavier acts.

Tsunami Bomb

Tsunami Bomb have, since 2015, accrued a addition to the band in the form of vocalist Kate Jacobi and are wary of extensive touring now, having felt the emotional and physical toll it can take on a small band without the means of a giant tour bus and five star hotels to crash in every night. They are a band that has certainly toiled their way into a headline slot this evening, they’ve been on the scene for a long time and they’ve kept at it so it’s good to see that their hard work has paid off.

Playing at Gorilla this evening, and having an unfortunate clash with Northern pop-punk legends – Martha who are over at Union, the venue is as full as I will see it this weekend. They have certainly built up a large cult fan base and it’s not surprising considering their slick harmonies and melodic blend of pop punk with a bite, has been honed to perfection over the course of a couple of decades. There’s no denying that these punks have got grit.


The Earth and Me

Saturday’s hangover is met by the soothing post-rock sounds of instrumental trio The Earth and Me, sounding a bit like American Football, they are probably the least “punk” band of the weekend and impressively they’re playing to a full room at Zombie Shack around 2pm. The ambience is pretty special, with low lighting and tiki bar décor, the sound of their twinkly guitars and post-rock build ups and breakdowns offset the room perfectly.


Cosmit are a little bit like if the Descendants met Martha. They are, for me, pop punk in exactly the right way, playing a really neat set of blended, soulful harmonies and melodic hooks without the cheese. Despite being on early in the day, they are sporting big smiles and puncture through their set like pros, it’s a joy to watch. Towards the end of their set they bring up a friend in the form of another artist scheduled to play this weekend “Chewie” to duet on a song and although the audience isn’t exactly buzzing at this time of the day, the chemistry is palpable on stage and their set has impact. It was my first time hearing this band and it definitely won’t be my last.

Erica Freas

Erica Freas is the guitarist in Cosmit and having just played a set at Gorilla with the full band she’s now off to Yes to play a solo set in the Pink Room where it’s her vocals and nimble finger picking that take centre stage. A few seconds in to her first song she forgets the lyrics and chastises herself but continues strumming so there’s no awkward dead air, actually she forgets the lyrics a couple of times but improvises sounds and magically manages to pull it off without it being an issue.

Her voice is truly something else and I’m clearly not the only one to recognise that as the room quickly fills up to capacity during her set. She is an industry standard performer and could easily be frequenting BBC 6 playlists, Glastonbury slots and dare I say…the charts. Whether she’d want to is another question, but I hope more people discover her music and definitely go see her live because it’s pretty darn special and you may not get a chance again to do so in a small venue.

A Wilhelm Scream

The theatre has arrived. Wow, A Wilhelm Scream are a force to be reckoned with; this is what is meant by high energy. I don’t know how much these guys have to work out to keep up this kind of adrenaline but Nuno Pereira is wearing athletic shorts with lining. Crowdsurfing really begins to amp up and security step up a gear. The lead security person at the Union looks about 12 but he takes his job seriously only not in a jobsworth way but in a cool way. He is probably the only security guard I’ve seen get a round of applause from the crowd for insisting that the people at the front should try to turn the crowdsurfers sideways so they can get them down safely. The set goes by faster than lightning but that is the nature of this group after all.

Hot Water Music

It’s not everyday you get to see post-hardcore punk legends HWM play, mainly because they split up years ago and then reformed, sort of and well, now they’re playing gigs again. If A Wilhlem Scream are red bull and vodka then Hot Water Music are bourbon and coke. They are not such high octane adrenaline junkies but rather classic, gritty and long standing favourites. Starting the night with ‘Remedy’ and breaking straight into fan favourites for the next few songs, followed by ‘A Flight and a Crash’ and ‘Jack of All Trades’ it’s a strong start.

The band take some time to thank the community that they recognise has contributed to their success. They play out their encore with ‘T’rusty Chords’ which is amazing but I am a little bummed they didn’t play my personal favourite song ‘Paper Thin’, still it’s an unforgettable moment to actually get to see this seminal and humble band perform.

Punk Rock Karaoke

“Grafteoke”, as this event is formally known, is brought to us from a Newcastle based initiative who I believe are connected or partially in the band Irked (more on them later). Anyway, it’s an incredible idea and I want one immediately in my town. The gist of it is, people are encouraged to send over punk songs they’d be up for performing with a live band, presumably the band then go away and learn how to play the songs and then on the night they call your name up and you take it from there.

The live band are dressed as the ghostbusters tonight and the room at Rebellion is absolutely chocka for this so I only manage to stay for a few songs before having to exit for some breathing space but I do get to catch performances of Minor Threat’s ‘Minor Threat’, NOFX’sLinoleum’, Danzig (can’t remember which song now) and my personal favourite Fugazi’s Waiting Room.’ Incredible vibes, I only wish the venue had been a bit bigger so I could have had a bit more space to enjoy it.

Ritual Error

London based trio Ritual Error are my nightcap this evening. They sit on the harsher, noisier side of the punk spectrum, inciting a kind of maniacal urgency in which to end a long day of punk rocking. Guitars swelling over the repeated riffs begin to sound like sirens, and their pace and stamina certainly draw valid comparisons to bands like Pissed Jeans (more on them later), and Metz.



Another relatively quiet start to the day, it’s like the organisers know how hungover punks are going to be. Lakes are a post-rocky, emo-ish kind of arrangement. It’s nice in the way that this kind of music is nice.


Irked are a little hungover today after punk rock karaoke last night but that doesn’t stop them blitzing through an array of oi-punk bangers. There’s lots of audience interaction and meanderings into the crowd, as well as anecdotal banter about the songs in between musical numbers. I particularly enjoyed the backstory to one of their songs which is apparently about the time the vocalist of the band went hang-gliding after eating a lot of seafood and submitted to a bout of diarrhoea in air which then landed on a nun. Not sure how they know it landed on a nun but I hope to find out at another one of their gigs!

Noah and the Loners

Noah and the Loners are by far the youngest band playing this weekend, I think their parents are taking up the front row. After a short technical delay they break into their first song and it becomes apparent that Noah appears to have taken his cues from the Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist. He brings a cockney swagger that reminds me of the all-singing and dancing pick pocket of yonder tales, albeit with a punk twist. Still, it takes a lot of confidence to perform to a room of ancient, gripey punks and I can appreciate any artists who are passionate about what they do and bring that to a platform in which to share with other people.

King Prawn

Kicking off this evening’s antics it’s time for British ska punks King Prawn who I last saw about 20 years ago. It’s incredible to see them looking so fit and healthy after they have by their own admission had a “rough” night last night. The great thing about this kind of British ska often signed to Household Name records years ago, is that it is unique to Britain, if you think American ska punk, you think cheese but acts like King Prawn were always drawn to dub and hardcore elements that somehow never seems to have translated overseas.

They play a good range of newer songs as well as the classics like ‘Day in, Day Out’,and ‘Dominant View.’ I can’t help watching the set with a big grin on my face as I’m reminded of my teenage self. It’s an absolute treat to watch and I’ll definitely make sure that there isn’t another 20 year gap between seeing them again.

Pissed Jeans

Bringing their brand growling misanthropy to the headline slot at Gorilla tonight are the mighty, hardcore punks Pissed Jeans. It’s busy but I was expecting it to be slightly busier but they are clashing with Random Hand this evening. Still, it means there’s some room to breath which is nice. The band have a new record out and it’s great to hear some of the punchier, more riotous tracks off that like ‘Anti-Sapio.’

Vocalist Matt Korvette stomps around the stage, booted and wearing ripped jeans not pissed jeans (I hope), he punches through a cardboard box and sings into the microphone for a little while, barely standing still for a minute. At one point the stage-tech springs into action because the kick drum is moving too far forward due to the power that it’s being pummelled, he attempts to tape bits of it down. The set is loud, acerbic and snarling, just what you’d expect really.


As a grindcore band, HORSEBASTARD are certainly the outliers of this weekend. The programme for the weekend contains a list of artists and details similar artists that “are for fans of” but when you get to HORSEBASTARD it just reads “HORSEBASTARD for fans of HORSEBASTARD”. Anyway, seeing as I’ve never heard them before and I’m not even a huge grindcore fan, their savvy marketing has worked because I’m now seeing them for the “lolz”. Between songs the vocalist simply says “HORSEBASTARD” before breaking into another 60 second onslaught of chaotic noise. It is pretty funny. But in seriousness, it’s not easy to play well like that, I’ve heard “bad” grindcore before and this ain’t it, the band are tight and sure, it sounds like a toilet exploding because it’s grindcore but it’s definitely the good kind.

There’s a fair turn-out for saying it’s 11pm and the afterparties have already started, the vocalist remarks how he genuinely expected about three people, but there’s a hardcore contingent who are determined to slamdance and windmill their way through this set. We get some brief history about the choice of bandname, “it’s just a funny word” and we chant it altogether for a little while. What can I say, HORSEBASTARD are just out their bringing folks together and I guess that’s what punk is all about.

No Doubt covers by Smoking Gives You Big Tits

There are a couple of groups who are performing live sets of covers this weekend. Sadly, I missed The Distillers one performed by Honey Joy but I did make sure to catch No Doubt by the group Smoking Gives You Big Tits (SGYBT). This band could definitely do this for a living, singer Helen Taylor isn’t just doing her best Gwen Stefani impression, she really is Gwen for this set.

Her vocals hit exactly the same range and it’s honestly probably as good as you will every get to hear all the best No Doubt songs live (they did state they were only going as far forward as ‘Hella Good’ and it’s a relief to know they recognise all the No Doubt best bits). Unfortunately, I did miss SGYBT set of their own material but I’m so glad I didn’t miss this. My rucksack strap even breaks in the moshpit because I’m bouncing around so much. It truly is the best way to spend my last night at MPF24 and I will be back next year for sure.

Photos by Thomas Mannay.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.