MPF 2023: An Instant Itinerary

Manchester Punk Festival

‘MPF 2023: An Instant Itinerary’, is a product catalysed by a spur of thought breaking near total silence on this sporadic menu of audio nutritional recommendations. “Brand” cliche aside, Manchester Punk Festival looms. As with any festival, through tantalising updates, teasing statements and announcements invariably set to shake the very foundations of our brains, often without much longevity of thought, we will decide on definite sets we need to absorb. Through these resounding and subjectively powered discerning thoughts, we will decide what we want our own internal line-ups to be, often before any serviceable and inexorably mind-rendering day-splits throw it all into chaos. Oh, the precarious game of the festival devotee!

And that, despite everything I just described, is exactly what I’ve just done. Here is my instant “yes” list for Manchester Punk Festival 2023, hybridised as a list of personal recommendations. This list is in no particular order for the most part and I can also tell you to a very high level of accuracy, that the list of those I want to catch even but a few minutes of will absolutely grow between now and April.

So yeah, ‘MPF 2023: An Instant Itinerary’, or simply put, what I audibly exclaimed ‘YES’ to instantaneously.

Off With Their Heads

Before moving onward to the main body of a line-up pulling from a number of locales, the big names in the big fonts are there teasing you. 2020 was a layman-termed shitter. 2023 however, sees Off With Their Heads finally set to appear at MPF.  Speaking from personal experience at their live shows and via countless hours spinning their back catalogue, I feel it’s safe to say that they are a band that has helped numerous people through difficulty.

Powerful, buoyant, angular and as melodic as they are gruff, OWTHs are a staple of Punk-Rock expression through inner turmoil and on to catharsis. Though everyone thinks of ‘Clear The Air’ and ‘Nightlife’ as go-to’s, the depth of their varied catalogue sweetens the pot considerably. I would seriously consider their set, regardless of whatever fandom you have for them.

The Flatliners

The Flatliners were one of the first (at the time) smaller DIY bands I obsessed with when I was younger. From their breakneck Ska Punk and their fervent dedication to their Punk-Rock spirit, their journey through melodic Punk and soaring Alt. Rock has failed not once. The band were another whose appearance at MPF was hampered by THAT year.

I had the pleasure of seeing them twice in 2022 and in each instance, the proof was in the performance of why the four-piece have remained so strong. Plus, ‘Performative Hours’ might well be the best single of 2022.

Death By Stereo

Death By Stereo, quite frankly, are a band I fully got behind after I saw them live in the before-fore times in Bristol. Now, permanently adorned on my inner wrist and after 2020’s eerily titled, yet sublime, We’re All Dying Just In Time, the prospect of seeing them live in Manchester is an allure rife with powered vitriol, as well as a fervent commitment to a better world soundtracked by a hybrid of furious and melodious Punk-Rock, Hardcore and a barrage of metallic riffs and ripping leads.

That was a long sentence, but it stands. DBS’s back catalogue is a wild ride through the above and whatever sub-deviations you want to attribute to their continued status as a staple in Punk and Hardcore music. I’ll leave you with a favourite.

Petrol Girls

I’ve seen Petrol Girls a number of times in various different settings and the sheer presence of the band is incontestable. Not only a force for change lyrically, the band’s navigation through a refreshed, classic yet still unhinged Post-Hardcore also stands them as one of those you HAVE to see on any line-up.

From Rebellion to club shows and most recently at Punk Rock Holiday, each time I’ve seen them they have substantiated WHY they are not only as popular as they are with their excellent and thought-provoking live show but also how ESSENTIAL they are to the modern Punk scene.

Mobina Galore

I don’t recall exactly when I discovered Mobina Galore but it’s safe to say, they are now a staple of my regular rotation, keeping me up during a work-day I don’t care for. I can only get away with a reasonable amount of Punk music in the bar I run and with Mobina Galore’s melodic yet weighted and hook-laden sound ticking more than one box, there’s little reason not to utterly rinse their work to date.

Be it said hooks, bursts of harder Punk on either side of tempo darting for freedom or the raw to melodic and back again guitar work, the frantic energy of the Canadian two-piece is something I would wholly recommend if you are unaware.

Jodie Faster // Youth Avoiders

What to say on Jodie Faster and Youth Avoiders then? Why am I including both together on this list? Well…

If for whatever reason you’ve missed the slew of French fast-Punk and Hardcore these past few years, that’s ok. There is a wealth of music out there in the DIY music verse but I cannot understate how much the ripping, jangly and Garage-spun Hardcore Punk of these two bands is required for your MPF experience.

Fuelled by their tempo as much as they are their raw and politicised criticism of their surroundings, beholding either of these bands on stage yet alone on their respective recordings is an experience for anyone regardless of where they are in the scene. I’ve only seen both bands once a piece but I can tell you, I was hooked within a respective few seconds of each. Though they are varied and indeed fantastic in their own right, my dumbstruck expression after each show boasted the same dumbfounded grin. I hope to see yours at MPF ’23.

Phantom Bay

You’re never left in want of sonic vibrancy at MPF. From fast, brooding Hardcore, infectious melodic Punk and shamelessly Emo-dusted Post-Hardcore, Phantom Bay released a true highlight of 2022 on the Berlin-based label, Krod Records.

The German three-piece perfect a modern emotive Punk sound, one laden with as much raw power as it is open contemplation. The eponymous album secretes speaker-spanning tendrils tieing you to it the very second you begin to resonate. This is not an album you simply listen to once and I can’t express how the prospect of seeing Phantom Bay live is such an exciting point in my near future. I hope you will feel the same.

The Domestics

The Domestics are often said to be one of the most relentless Hardcore bands to project their existential duress in the contemporary scene. At a glance, it’s truly difficult to recommend a starting point to begin with the band’s work. You can of course, begin your metaphorical ear-canal evisceration from the beginning and see if you can make it to the end but that’s up to you.

However, equally, and to the equation of said deconstruction of your lugholes, you can also jump straight into their furiously hybridised and vintage-minded Hardcore at any stage. Just in time, I might add, for all the skin to peel off your face only to join whatever is left of said ear-canal as it’s stomped into a bloody pulp on the ground. The Domestics are a respected, household name for a reason. Go watch them.

Zero Again

In times of strife, the Hardcore-veins of Punk-Rock are understandably plentiful. The festival knows this as well as we do and given the scene’s ongoing vitality, it is of little surprise that the contingent MPF have gathered is of such quality. Such, in the case of this entry, is only emboldened and substantiated by the absolute fury put forth by the collection of veterans that make up Zero Again.

Groove-laden and only as metallic as is necessary, the band are another unapologetic unit on the DIY circuit. One that unquestionably adds to the bonafides of the UK’s contribution to a genre that refreshes the old as much as it charts an abrasive course forward. With two vibrant and varied EPs and a split with the excellent Ättestor to their name, I would advise this very second for anyone who is not aware of Zero Again to become so.

Shooting Daggers

If you were to encapsulate, uncontestably define or even just shout louder than anyone else, a phrase or exclamation pertaining to a band having made 2022 utterly “their own”, then that band would be the London-based Shooting Daggers. The three-piece has quite literally become the change they wish to see. They have permeated UK Hardcore with their own brand of recognisable yet soundly unique Queercore with but a demo, some singles and an EP that I’d wager was on more than a few “best of” lists for 2022. Athames was released via New Heavy Sounds.

If like me, you’ve been unable to see the band just yet, there is enough photographic, video and eyewitness evidence to confirm your upcoming attendance to their set at MPF 2023.

The Human Project

Since 2008, The Human Project’s three releases and countless live shows have cemented them in the European technical Skate Punk and Melodic Hardcore scenes, as a benchmark of unadulterated quality. Often hitting like Bad Religion at their harmonic best but imbued with a UK-centric and existentially charged technical proficiency, The Human Project are another on this list at the apex of this subgenre of Punk music and within seconds of any of their releases or stage presence, said benchmark is entrenched to the utmost immovability. 

That was another long sentence but I can’t convey enough how strong MPF 2023 is for this echelon of the scene. From their tempo, lyrical conviction and said implied complexity onward to their sheer power, you will want to be a part of the band’s return. Here’s an old one.

Vampire Slumber Party

Vampire Slumber Party are a band whose amalgamative melodic Punk is relatable, aware and another example of the vibrancy of the festival’s efforts in 2023.

We live in a time where simple catharsis is an increasing daily requirement. We get up each day to charge the following day’s battery in a process we are destined to repeat time and time again. This is what charges much of the VSP MO, riding alongside Pop-Punk melodies without the overworn cliches. Add Indie-Rock wired with an intrinsic Punk drive to the mix and then the very latter yet again, this time reversed and woven with playful and juxtaposing Indie-Rock sensibilities and you have a sound you shouldn’t be torn about seeing at MPF in April. 


Melonball are a band from Nuremberg, Germany highly applicable to those of whom the words”fast” and “melodic” illicit a raised eyebrow. 2019 may have been a difficult time to form a band with what came next but since their inception, Melonball have actively set about cutting through the bullshit, rather than acquiescing and retreating from its miasmic, noxious corruption.

Skate Punk is time resistant, powerful and straight to the point in the modern scene and it is bands such as Melonball that toast a rich legacy as they hurtle forth into the future. The band will be releasing their debut album via both Lockjaw Records and Thousand Island Records on the 31st of March 2023. Just so you know.

Laughing In The Face Of

Laughing In The Face Of made their ever-layered, ever-complex, ever-honest fast Punk return with ‘Rubble’ in 2023 after their previous album, 2020’s Here Lies The Ordinary, tore everyone’s faces off, in the utmost unparalleled and surgically precise way possible. Here Lies The Ordinary was yet another benchmark of technical Skate Punk and Melodic Hardcore emanating from the UK’s shores and was a follow-up to the 2011, The Lubrication Of Social Anxiety.

Let’s face it, we may as well have something to be proud of. Mild sardonic woe aside, though ‘Rubble’ is the obvious choice for a track to place beneath, the band’s two previous full-lengths should come first for you to fully acclimate and prepare for their set at MPF 2023. Here’s a favourite. But fast.

Green Eyed Monster

Through the accounts of those lucky enough to tour Japan, the far-off nations’ Punk scene becomes all the more inviting with each tale. It goes without saying then, that via previous forays by the MPF team and also many of the UK’s premier proliferators of pace yielding the same tales, having the likes of Green Eyed Monster over to play is colossal.

The MPF team have really shown a prominent middle finger to 2020 with this booking and I cannot stress enough how much the fast Skate Punk, tuneful Pop-Punk and even heavier darts from G.E.M should not be missed for any other reason than maximum capacity.

Stone Leek

Another band who were supposed to force a re-evaluation of our understanding of precision Punk at MPF 2020 are Stone Leek. Listening to the four-piece on recording is comparable to a full-frontal invasion of your ear drum, even prior to ANY prospective conception of a future live show. Be it their harmonious gloss accentuating their often metallic but inexorable fury or their impeccably calculated technical Skate Punk and beyond, the Japanese band’s back catalogue is an experience I never tire of.

From every considered drum fill to shredded refrain, onward to their quickfire lacerating palm mutes and of course, their soaring melodies and dynamic approach to maintaining interest beyond simply playing fast. Stone Leek’s proficiency is another codified mark in the history of fast melodic Punk-Rock that more people should be aware of. I thoroughly implore you to sample their latest release, Revival, on People Of Punk-Rock Records.


Heathcliff’s lesson from the German school of fast melodic sound is an adrenalised and multifaceted take on the Skate Punk genre, one that confidently flexes a much-needed nuance.

From their genealogical ties to classic Pop-Punk intertwined with their foundational and tributary odes to Skate Punk classicism, powered by refined yet adrenalised drumming, Heathcliff have you. From charged chaotic strings that are contemporarily metamorphosised from vintage Metal and Thrash into a wilder, unabated contemporary powerhouse of hybridised Punk, Heathcliff have you. From their dedication and conviction to finding a better world for every one cut with their want of simply having fun and adding little Reggae and Dub to proceedings, Heathcliff have you. You should probably go and watch them.


Finland, akin to many nations in the colder reaches of Northern Europe, has a lot to offer with its Punk and Hardcore exports. Distral, I would argue, are a band that stands as perhaps one the best examples of how furious, intense and vehemently real Melodic Hardcore can be despite a consistent salvo of ear-worming, path-finding and hook-laden leads, all accompanied by huge, infectious choruses and emotive vocal delivery.

Distral’s underbelly contrasts this flowing melodious lacquer to the perfect degree, through a powered, groove-laden rhythm section compromising nothing in between the band’s most streamlined assault to its most severe barrage of riffs. I am probably somewhat excited and I think perhaps you should be as well. Here is an old one.


The ’90s didn’t JUST give birth to a myriad of fast melodic bands as its resultant legacy and many a conversation will suggest. Grunge, Alt. Rock and Riot Grrrl are all names that deserve just as much reference and reverence and that is entirely where Falmouth’s Swansong reside. The band are absolutely no stranger to navigating such with their previous work, however, the tail end of 2022 saw it go further.

On Happy To Be Here, in their own riff-heavy fashion, their barrage is innately imbued with as much disinterested tonal reaction to more of life’s bullshit as it is cut with a sometimes but far from always undulating rhythmic clout, itself destined not to be fucked with on its hopeful quest. Swansong’s latest, Happy To Be Here is a must-listen and the band a must-see.

Other Half

Sonically and beyond that, the Hardcore spectrum in 2023 is an expansive space, going its own way as much as it is in active nuance and tribute to the efforts of previous trailblazers. Post-Hardcore is a particular facet that I would argue to be in a huge, vibrant and fantastical revival and Other Half, I would also argue, are very much “up there” with the best of the current crop.

Kick back to the old-school tones of Fugazi, onward to Sonic Youth, Pavement, Killing Joke and more (they have a playlist that inspired their latest) and you’ll have an idea of what Other Half’s still evolving sound is producing. I missed them in London in 2022, found their record in All Ages Records in Camden and in that instance after its rotation and after their latest, Soft Action, I remarked the words: ‘Proper Post-Hardcore’. From their conversational storytelling to their lumbering, foreboding and often unhinged structure, they are a band that is key to the contemporary Punk scene.


From an occult gothic twist to their fiercely leftist seaside Punk segueing through vintage Punk and Hardcore and into existentially gloomed Post-Punk, Dischord have cut their teeth to whatever metric is used in the DIY scene since 2012.

Capturing an anger that has only festered throughout years until now, you can dive into any of the band’s albums to date and you’ll be met with sharp guitar strings, shrill, cutting screams and unabated honesty. Though today, Punk is seen to be shooting an angered expression in every which direction and deviation, sometimes, the stripped-back passion of the gritty, no-bullshit old school hits just as hard as anything under the ubiquitous Punk-umbrella. 

The Sewer Cats

The mighty “two-piece” is somewhat of a tradition in the world of Punk-Rock born from the UK’s various nations and usually, though especially in the case of The Sewer Cats, its frenzied blunt force trauma punches well above its surface-level stature. With ease that is.

The band’s Garage Punk bedrock was seriously expanded upon with 2022’s Cute Aggression. Their latest release saw frenetic forays into the relatively near grounds of Post-Hardcore and also as far away as wild Post-Rock. Not only that but it did so all the while doubling down on the jolts of innate Hardcore Punk found on the debut, this time amplified with a greater, weighted and bitter defiance.

Or something like that. Point being, you should likely go and experience the band beyond what your speakers can yield from the comfort of your home. 

Well, that was ‘MPF 2023: An Instant Itinerary’, a list of bands that filled me with a rush of excitement and anticipation in but a second of seeing their names cohesively together. Each of those listed is a recommendation from my personal well of taste and joins a line-up yet again equating the indomitable wealth Manchester Punk Festival brings in each year.

Finally, there will also be a collection of melodic mustard seeds playing at some point over the three days, if only to add a little fragrance to the hoard of (apparently) “stinky” Punks strewn across Manchester city centre. 

Now, time to journey through the rest. See you in April.


Official Website




Spotify Playlist


Founder of Ear Nutrition, Matt is sadly over 30 and first cut his words writing for the now defunct site, Musically Fresh. He enjoys a variety of guitar-driven music but can usually be found navigating a web of Skate Punk, Hardcore and everything in between.