Pie Race Festival 2017 – Saturday
Matilda’s Scoundrels, Millie Manders and the Shut Up, Nosebleed, Rotten Foxes, Batwolf, PIE RACE, Traits, Mr Shiraz, Skinny Milk, Almeida, IDestroy, The Burnt Tapes, The Fuckin’ Glorious, Mick O’Toole, Clayface
Date: 11th November 2017
Venue: Wharf Chambers, Leeds
The Saturday for Pie Race Festival started early, a midday opening in which it was obvious many people were feeling the hangovers from going too hard on the opening night. Some had decided to drink through it and be in the party mood.
With those hangovers in full effect, it wasn’t surprising at all that the crowd was rather thin for the opening act, Clayface, who delivered a wave of high energy skate punk to wake us all up. Sometimes you wonder if it’s worth it to get down early to see the first band, usually not a lot happens, but this was completely my jam. I’m glad I came down to catch some distorted hooks, fast beats, some banter between tracks. It’s exactly what I needed to kick off my day and get the blood flowing. As expected it the response was tame but the performance was pretty solid and enjoyable. (6)
Folk punks, Mick O’Toole perked the mood up more with songs about drink and puns about cider; ‘Still In Cider’ was a particularly amusing song name. The banjo and mandolin fronted punk increased the joyous element that was already in the room, and it wasn’t long until the singer, Arron Heap, had the crowd singing “HEY” chants back towards the stage. The crowd was still fairly light on people, but those that were there early had a little boogie and got involved, enjoying the chirpy anthems delivered by the band. There was a couple of sound issues with the banjo, and it was debatable if the last song was doable as it was rather banjo orientated, but things we fixed in time for us to witness the plucky intricacy. Another great set early on. (7)
Things started to feel busier at this point, more and more people turned up and the floor started to look fuller just in time to catch the newly formed local act, The Fuckin’ Glorious, which features former members of the likes of Acid Drop, Dead Pets, and Lowlife. The vibe was gritty, stripped band punk that took no prisoners musically, but liked to have a laugh with the crowd between songs. This was some old school punk, simple, aggressive and to the point; crunchy riffs and vocals that are barked with some proper oomph behind it. The crowd was starting to warm up a little, nodding their heads and rocking out a little. (7)
London based gruff punks, The Burnt Tapes, had a milder tone to follow up with. We were treated to tracks from the bands most recent EP, ‘Alterations’ with a performance laced with gritty vocals, the delivery was somewhat up-tempo and rather hooking, but balanced out with a lingering sombre atmosphere in the songs; each track had a mood like it’s been dragged heavily through a sewer with down-tuned riffs and an angst-ridden attitude. For example, ‘Oh Marie’ followed a dark edge lyrically, with the opening chorus line expressing, “I’ve been better, but you’ve looked worse, crawling on the ground for your last cigarette”. However, The crowd sing-alongs made the set feel more uplifting and excitable. (7)
Bristol grrrl punk trio, IDestroy came in with a Joan Jett fronted “Fuck the world” air to them, delivering punk-edged rock n roll that takes us back to the mods and rockers days of studded leather jackets. Performing one of the tightest sets I saw all weekend, the three-piece unleashed catchy anthems, with ear-pricking “wooah ohh” segments to sing along to, indie rock style riffs, funky bass rhythms and steady beats. The drummer had some great intricate fills that caught the attention. One amusing part that stuck our when singing guitarist, Bec Jevons, introducing their song ‘Annie’, she stated “we don’t really know who Annie is, we just know Annie doesn’t’ give a fuck” before breaking into another hooking singing along with lots of “oo” chants. Every song was responded with huge cheers and applause (8)
Time to talk about one of my favourite sets of the weekend. Progressive thrash outfit, Almeida, who provide an intense blend of metal and punk. Shredding riffs and intricate noodling on top of blast beats and ferocious roars were counteracted by appealing guitar melodies and higher pitched clean singing that reminded me of Pour Habit. The energy was intense, the performance was outstanding, and it was the first time all weekend I saw fans not just interacting and joining in by singing along, but being completely enthusiastic about everything emerging from the stage; the air guitar solos were particularly fun to see. This was my first experience of Almeida and I was blown away much like Hollywoodfun Downstairs blew me away the night before, the technical precision in the instruments played was sublime and blended well with the aggression. The charisma of the frontman too was like a volcano that had just erupted, his aura was a pure explosion and in your face. Why have I waited so long to catch these guys? (9)
Following the fierce blast that was Almeida was Skinny Milk, a Brighton based two-piece, a lo-fi alt-rock two piece that seemed to take influence from Royal Blood, but with a psychedelic, shoegaze, fuzz-rock edge to it. Hurling muddy distorted riffs and echoing vocals our way. The drummer’s technique was incredibly hooking, with hard-hitting beats and thoroughly captivating fills. It was a decent set, but following the intensity of the previous band, I just found this a little lackluster in comparison. (7.5)
At this point of the day, I felt it was time to take a much-needed break and try the Pie Race Festival pies. Vegan-friendly savory pies with vegetables and gravy, it was very nice and a real hit for pretty much everyone attending the event. I did, however, get some dodgy looks for not having mushy peas or a form sauce to go with the pie.
While I had my pie, Mr. Shiraz was on in the other room, an aggressive hardcore punk band with punchy riffs and a lot of shouting. I did miss most of their set though, apologies, the pie was far too nice to rush. I was later informed that they were a bit of a nostalgia act for the festival, having been one of the first bands to ever play Pie Race.
Being a big fan of Random Hand, I was particularly looking forward to Joe Tilston’s most recent project, in which he has teamed up with members of The Human Project to provide us with catchy punk rock tunes and a joyful mood. Much like with IDestroy, the tightness in which this foursome performed was outstanding as they delivered some infectiously hooking themes to dance and sing along to. musically it sounded like a cross between skate punk and pop-punk, based on the punchy riffage backing up the chirpy vocal melodies that completely grabbed your attention. Not that I knew any of the words, but I was happily humming along. (8)
Possibly the most unique thing about this festival is the actual pie race, in which five people are selected from a raffle to compete in a pie eating competition, a rather large apple pie with whipped cream to be exact. The winner gets the Golden Pie for the year, and in previous years there had always been one winner for such prize, Steve Wilson, who had won the race four years running. However, Steve wasn’t at the festival this year and couldn’t defend his crown.
The enthusiasm for the race and everyone watching was high, people chanting and shouting, others commentating on the speed and technique of certain contestants. Joe Tilston of Traits took an early lead with his crushing up the pie method, though it was Tim Bevington of TNSRecords that took the crown, someone who was usually a runner-up in previous years. It was pretty close between him and Joe though.
This was an incredibly fun break and mood lifter (not that moods needed lifting) between bands, a thoroughly entertaining addition to the weekend. I suggest Wotsit Called Fest does something similar with Wotsits.
Dutch punks, Batwolf are fairly new as an act, born from the ashes of the now defunct Black Volvo and other bands, this was their first time performing in Leeds, and in the UK I believe. The quartet unleashed waves of punk-fronted rock n roll with awesome groovy riffs, bouncy drum patterns and an all-around upbeat and fun vibe that seemed to unlock a nice level of crazy in the crowd. People were back to swinging about from the beam and doing human pyramids. Batwolf received a phenomenal reaction with huge cheers and applause after every song. (8)
Brighton’s “death-punk” four-piece, Rotten Foxes, followed up with a raunchier tone to the display, playing in the tightest of tight cut-up jean shorts. They certainly looked snug. Musically it was far more aggressive, and right up in your grill as the frontman came into the crowd to shouted in peoples faces and tried to increase the intense energy that Batwolf introduced into the room; the rowdy pits soon followed, and the odd drinks were spilled to the hard-hitting, anthems that erupted from the stage. Apart from the aggressive music, Rotten Foxes were quite humorous between songs with their banter and singing songs about wrestling. A rather entertaining performed overall. (7.5)
Nosebleed has become one of the best band punk n roll bands I’ve seen live since discovering them in late 2016. Since then they have delivered some of the wildest sets I’ve seen in my hometown and even stole the show at Boomtown this past summer. However, this was the first time I’ve seen the trio in their own stomping ground of Leeds. I don’t really know what I was expecting because it would be hard to top what I saw at Boomtown and at Wotsit Called Fest just five weeks prior.
What we did get was more of the same; fun rock and roll fronted punk rock anthems. Catchy classics like ‘Time and Time again’, along with ‘Secret’ in which guitarist Eliott Verity and bassist Ben Hannah came into the crowd like they usually do to party with the fans. Of course, this only excited an already excitable audience, and we were all witness to more silly overhead beam antics and energetic rocking out. While the guitarists were on the floor, one fan thought it would be a good idea to try and offer drummer Dicky some wine from the bottle as he frantically played. The highlight might have been seeing Ben Hannah’s dad, Paul Hannah hanging from the beam at some point during the set.
It was one of those sets that if you’ve seen Nosebleed in recent months, it wasn’t a lot different, but it was nonetheless highly enjoyable, full of all the fun crazy behavior we can all expect from the trio; a performance laden with great singalong dancing, overall a fantastic atmosphere. Millie Manders even jokingly made the comment “How do I follow that? Why did they make me do this?” (9)
Sadly, the Millie Manders and the Shut Up set wasn’t quite as fluid, for reasons that were beyond the band’s control. Technical issues plagued the set before and during, to the point the set was somewhat delayed and even interrupted midway through due to sound problems. These things happen and the band plowed on through them the best they could.
Manders set free her unhinged temperament early with ‘Teddy’, one of the band’s harder hitting and punkier anthems in which the singers acted incredibly erratic and purposely creepy throughout. What followed was waves of ska and punk hits to make us skank, rock out and sing along, with highlights including the brasstastic ‘Obsession Transgression’, the drinking game during ‘Baccus’, a song about the god of win or ‘Sick’ in which it was just fun to sing “bababa da baba” repeatedly and watch Manders scream her lungs out ferociously. It was a set to properly get your knees up and lose your voice. When things went well, they went really well, everyone had fan and danced around. But, when things went bad, it did seem to hinder the performance. (7.5)
Matilda’s Scoundrels are one of these bands I’ve followed from the earliest stages of their career, playing pub shows in Hastings on a regular basis and getting themselves out there strongly. This hard work has pushed them to be a headlining act at a DIY festival, 300 miles from home. In just a few years that’s a mighty feat to be one of the most anticipated bands in a lineup of almost 30 acts in total.
Even though I’ve seen them countless times I don’t think I actually anticipated the level of chaos that exploded once the folk punks started playing. The floor was packed and nobody stood still. A rubber dingy came out pretty early, with singers from Rotten Foxes and Plot 32 taking turns in crowd surfing in it, even after it looked to have burst. And one point a cable from the lighting system was dangling just above the crowd, in which organisers were desperate to tape it back up as the crowd moshed hard around them.
‘Sinking in our Sins’ had a mass amount of people rowing on the floor as singer, Quinn, sang the words, “Row row row ya bastards”. However, it was a set that heavily featured favourites from the new album, ‘As The Tide Turns’, such as ‘Shackles & Bones’ and the awesome mass singalong invite for ‘Godforsaken Sea’ and ‘Bow To The Powers’. Even after that, there was a chant for “one more song”, one was only ever going to be the ultimate drinking song ‘Pisshead’s Anthem’. It was a crazy set, and once again wonderful to see the Scoundrels do so well far away from home and a receive thoroughly wild crowd reaction. We even had a wall of death, which I think is a first for the band. It was a fantastic end to night two. (9)