Manchester played host to dozens of amazing punk bands over the weekend, but a lucky few started the festival in style with a bonus Menzingers headline show at Manchester Academy 2, with support from The Dirty Nil and punk veterans The Flatliners.
Opening the night are The Dirty Nil who are set to release a new compilation album this Friday consisting of tracks from early 7″s, their 2014 EP Smite and a previously unheard track Caroline. The Ontario trio’s set is a fun little number that screams the best aspects of pop punk, wrapped up a more alt rock package. We’re not often sold on showmanship alone here at Intertainment, but we have to admit frontman Luke Bentham blowing bubbles with his gum between tracks was a fun little addition. Luckily for The Dirty Nil they’re charm is matched with some riffy fun, and with lyrics about getting high and hanging out with your friends taking us back to our simpler days of youth, their set is a gem we were pleasantly surprised by. Menzingers fans might have grown older since the band first started out, but we’re glad to see The Dirty Nil are here to appeal to our inner teenager.
The Flatliners continue that theme of making us ageing punks feel young again, in their case with a set that spans 15 years of strong album and single releases. Although they skip over the majority of their older ska punk tracks in favour of their hard rockier recent albums, their set is a ferocious one. It’s also worth noting that The Flatliners delivery of their tracks is unique in a way that you’ll rarely hear from a live band. The Canadian veterans don’t simply play their tracks note for note to recreate their recordings, instead opting to raise the intensity of their tracks and give their set an urgency, aggressiveness and general energy that’s a perfect fit for both their crowd and their venue. If you weren’t lucky enough to attend one of their dates supporting The Menzingers you’ll also be happy to hear that The Flatliners will be returning to the UK in October and if you need to know they’re nice guys before you fork out for a ticket, you can have a read of an interview we had with them shortly before their Manchester gig. See you again in October guys.
The Menzingers are of course the highlight of the night, and with two such strong supporting acts, that’s still a pretty special accomplishment. There are no gimmicks involved in their set, just track after track of grade A punk classics, which are sung back by the crowd with roughly the same intensity as the band deliver them. Stand out moments include closing track Your Wild Years from their latest album After the Party which is screamed by what feels like an army, with an intensity you could never recreate on an album recording in the same way a sea of hundreds of fans have the ability to. There’s a true sense of community during the more chorus focused tracks, of which Menzingers have many, including every track taken from their highly acclaimed 2012 album On the Impossible Past, which has become a kind of bible for Menzingers fans.
Menzingers, along with the scene set by their supports, are a perfect reminder of why live music will always have a particular place in our hearts. No amount of recording equipment can deliver the emotion that a sea of individuals coming together in one mass of punk fuelled emotion can. So go pick up a Menzingers album, learn all the words, and then get yourself down to a show and make some memories. It’s exactly what a live performance should be.