Pie Race Festival 2017 – Sunday
Queen Zee and the Sasstones, The Atoms, Incisions, Jaded Eyes, The Bloodstrings, Pizzatramp, Guns On The Roof, Snakerattlers, The Crash Mats, Panda Lasagne, Plot 32
Date: 12th November 2017
venue: Wharf Chambers, Leeds
Much like the Saturday, Sunday morning was rather a hangover filled affair and most weren’t quite yet on the pints at the time I arrived, and more of the tea and coffee to perk themselves up.
Kicking off the final day was local ska-punk upstarts Plot 32, they are so new to the scene that some members only learned their instruments in the last year in creating the band, however they have had the opportunity to support the likes of Popes of Chillitown and Faintest Idea, so they must be doing something right.
It was fun, very fun, a chirpy atmosphere to get your knees up to, which was perfect as one skank-worthy track was called ‘Get Your Knees Up’. However, it was covers of Catch 22’s ‘Keasbey Nights’ and Vengaboys’ ‘Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom’ that had the crowd bouncing a little and singing along early. The between song banter was rather amusing, and frontman, Stash, had a lively enough character to keep us all entertained by accidentally taking the mike stand apart, or jumping so hard the rack tom started to wobble. For a band so new, they were really tight, the brass melodies were captivating, the upstroke guitar rhythms were perky, it was a really good opening performance. (7)
Whitby punks, Panda Lasagne, were also rather joyful as they delivered a blend of-90s skate punk and 00s pop-punk for us to sink our teeth into as they produced crunchier riffs and a punchier atmosphere than the opener. The energy and tempo were elevated, the vocals were shouted and unleashed some angst, but had a hooking melody to them, making it rather tuneful and memorable in the process. The trio was full of beans and humorous anecdotes, though it was silly antics such as crotch thrusting with a guitar while doing a solo in the style of Kiss that got a laugh out of the crowd. There was a decent sized audience, yet one that was mostly happy to just observe with a pint in the hand a cheer at any given opportunity. (7.5)
The Crash Mats were one of the bands I was most excited to see after checking them out at Wotsit Called Fest just weeks prior to Pie Race Festival. The Oldham trio was incredibly excitable as Danny Barrett jumped up and down and shouted “YAAAY IT’S THE CRASHMATS!” before the band broke into a wave of fast and fun punk rock anthems with silly topics, including ‘I Don’t Want To Go Grandma’s House’. The crowd involvement picked up a little, a request for a human pyramid and sphinx was attempt and hilariously failed. We also had a reverse wall of death, in which you mosh first and separate, leaving a gap in the crowd. Most of the songs were full of crunchy riffs, though we had a double wave of ska-infused punk hits and upstroke rhythms as The Crash Mats played ‘Watchmen’ without the recorded brass segment and ‘Party At Lou’s Place’ back to back; this certainly got the crowd dancing. We also had back to back wrestling themed songs, ‘Terry Funk Forever’ and another about Rick Flair, in which everyone started “Woooo” chanting. This was a fantastic set, one of the most enjoyable of the weekend. (8)
Snakerattlers followed up with an interesting showcasing of rock n roll. The two-piece, married couple from York who combined rockabilly and “deathpunk”, unleashed something slower and aggressive for the most part, yet this made the higher tempo elements of captivating riffage stand out more with the snappy singalong moments. It’s not often you see it, but the drum kit was set up to be played standing up, with big bassy floor toms, a snare, and a single crash cymbal. From the start the beats were slow and steady as the guitarist, Dan Oliver Gott, growled in into the microphone like he was in a grindcore band, yet strummed calmly; this was a surprising blend. To add some oomph to the performance, the guitarist left the stage to perform up and close, in everyone’s faces and added that extra level of intimacy. It was different, a unique twist to what I’ve seen from rockabilly in the past, one that kept you on your toes. (7)
Unleashing the kind on 90s oi infused punk rock that could be compared to likes of Bouncing Souls and Rancid, Guns On The Roof hit up their hometown for the first time in a while for some fun sing-alongs and high energy shenanigans. Oddly enough my comparison to Bouncing Souls was made before noticing the frontman was wearing a BS t-shirt. This four-piece created some waves in their late teens a little over a decade ago and it was easy to see why; The collective musicianship, intricate drum patterns and enjoyable vocal melodies that were inviting you to at least hum along if you didn’t know the words, it was a full on happy atmosphere erupting from the stage. This was responded with a few rowdy dancers at the front, rocking out and creating a ruckus, all with smiles on their faces. I didn’t know much about Guns On The Roof before this performance, but it was a brilliant set, and I’m disappointed I hadn’t checked them out sooner. (8)
On the contrast, I think this was my sixth time seeing Pizzatramp in 2017 alone, and I was still as eager this time as I was the first. The Welsh trio arrived just in time to set up their gear and launch straight into a performance of ferociously entertaining hardcore punk, one that is chaotic and pit enticing from the dual vocals of Jim and Sam and the most distorted of riffs. We were treated to favourites such as ‘Charlie Don’t Surf’ and ‘Blowing Chunks’, though the highlight of any Pizzatramp is when they perform ‘Hope You Die’. The gimmick is that the trio plays the song several times with different lyrics. “I hope you fucking die” and “I’m glad you didn’t die” remained the constant two, this time as it was Pie Race festival, “Georgia’s eating pie” as their friend Georgia at some pie side stage as a hilarious new addition along with “I fucking love you mum”. The crowd reaction was great, lots of singing along, punching the ear, people having of the iconic girder and moshing around, the exact response you expect for one of the best performances of the weekend. (9)
German act The Bloodstrings fronted themselves as a punkabilly band, taking to the stage with a giant double bass. However, they came across as more of a skate punk band, with the smallest hints of rockabilly influence. The sound was harder hitting, the beats were a lot more erratic and fast and the vocals were a nice mix of powerful singing and harder shouts. Without wanting to pigeonhole a female fronted band with others in the genre, The Bloodstrings sounding just like a blend of The Distillers and Tsunami Bomb, there was the same kind of riffage, and vocalist, Celina, unleashed an angst that was reminiscent to Brody Dalle and a great sense of melody that can be compared to Emily Whitehurst. It was fun. What let the performance down was the technical issues with the guitar, it just kept losing power and hindering any flow to the set. Dicky from Nosebleed even sat by the plug to make sure it worked, but the efforts only helped a little bit. Regardless of the disruptions, the set was still rather enjoyable. (7)
Jaded Eyes came in with some old school, aggressive hardcore punk, setting free all the ferocity and aggression, distorted riffs and created a fantastic chaotic atmosphere. It was angry, yet like pretty much every band on the bill it was still catchy within the rhythms and vocals styles, even if it was mostly shouted. Just like with Pizzatramp, the crowd was happy all to let loose and mosh, showing how wild they can be when they wanted. The pits matched the erratic music and the enthusiasm was mirrored all around the room as after every song we heard monster sized roars and applause. Jaded Eyes might have been one of the bands with the highest average age, but with that experience came one of the tightest sets I’ve seen in a while. It just seemed so effortless and flawless, making a crowd go crazy looked so easy to them. (8.5)
Manchester foursome, Incisions, kept that aggression flowing with something that was, even more, hardcore influenced, a sound closer to Off With Their Heads and Dillinger Four. The gritty punk side was there, but the guitars were more down tuned and raw, the songs were shorter and angrier too. Of course, this was a trigger for more pits and relentless energy, but you could feel there was a tired energy in the room. Those that had been at Pie Race all weekend or even just all day could sense the lull and mimicked the same lack of energy that didn’t quite match the impressive display of low fi fuzzy riffage and shouting angst from Incisions. (7)
This lull also flowed into The Atoms set too, though it felt more fitting for the pop-rock fronted punk, the music was a lot softer than the hardcore that came before, giving the crowd a breather to get their stamina back. The amusing irony was The Atoms even played a rather soft song that I think was called ‘Lets Open This Pit’, which as about all the bruiser types at shows. The Derby lads produced a mixture of tempos and tones, some tracks were quite fast and punky, others were chilled out and quite melodic, giving us a nice bit of variety late on in the day. The overall tone was chirpy and was fun to witness, but it didn’t quite stand out against the energetic likes of Pizza Tramp or Jaded Eyes. (7)
Queen Zee and the Sasstones were picked to headline the whole thing, a choice I originally was a bit skeptical about. I’d seen the Liverpool punks before at Manchester Punk Festival and I wasn’t quite won over and didn’t stay long enough to witness the awesome that could have been. This time, it was a completely different story, the quintet hooked me in from the get-go with the sheer aggression from lead vocalist Zee and the ferocious shouts on display. Whatever lull was in the room before, that was gone, the crowd had woken the hell up to possibly the punchiest performance of the weekend. Matilda’s Scoundrels created carnage the night before and I’m sure Queen Zee matched it, just without inflatable boats and rowing on the floor.
The pits were hard, people jumped off the stage, Zee even hung from the girder at one point, it was an absolute mess, a brilliant one. The display was so full frontal that it took me a while to realise the synth box was set up on top of a keyboard stand and a skateboard. The band is heavily open about being positive towards to LGBT community and took a moment to preach words in its favor, shouting “fuck homophobia and fuck transphobia”, words that got a phenomenal amount of support from the crowd. That quickly evolved into a cover of Electric Six’s ‘Gay Bar’ to finish off the set, that just elevated the excitement and there was a massive roar for one more song, in which we were offered a cover of a Britney Spears song, or ‘Bonkers’ by Dizzee Rascal; ‘Bonkers’ was the popular choice. I never knew I wanted a punked up version of that song before, but my god I’m glad I heard it, the crowd went batshit crazy one last time and it was beautiful to watch. it was hilarious and amazing. Quite frankly this Liverpool act stole the show and possibly the festival. I’m not quite sure why I wasn’t won over at MPF, but I certainly was here. (9)
On that stance, Pie Race Festival as an event had completely won me over, not that it needed to, I was already excited before I stepped foot in the venue on day one. The choice of bands was awesome, the overall atmosphere was so friendly and fun, the performances more times than not were outstanding. The venue suited the music and vibe, I fell in love with Yorkshire cider, the pies were a great option and a reason to stay in the venue instead of hunting for food elsewhere. In spite of each day over running somewhat to the original schedule, the organisation was pretty spot on. It’s a fantastic “mates fest” style festival where nearly everyone knew each other. I already can’t wait until next year. Pie Race Festival is a fine example of why the DIY punk scene in the UK is going so strong.