Twatterfest @ Manchester Rebellion

Oh, where do I find the words to talk about this day of drunken debauchery and, for lack of a better term, Twattery? Yes, the time came for the third Twatterfest. A day dedicated to the madness that is the underground metal scene with a wide array of bands that all came with their own special flavour of metal. As with most of these day-long music festivals, the day started slow and picked up momentum band by band. By no means is that a bad thing, it’s just how these days typically work. I will say you got your money’s worth in this day-long event. For the price of admission, you saw ten acts and a pro-wrestling tournament between the patrons at the back of the bar. The day was wrestling themed, so there were pro wrestling cosplayers dotted around the venue. It was certainly a warming atmosphere in the air as the feeling of general comradery was abundant. The day moved at a pretty decent pace too, with the earlier bands getting thirty-minute sets and roughly fifteen-minute change-over times. So, the day moved at a pretty brisk pace and it never felt like a dull moment.

Opening the day was the grungy stoner rock stylings of Underking. A fairly impressive opening act. Stomping around the stage and blasting their music. They had elements of southern boogie and groove metal. So all that combined made for some very entertaining music. The way they performed was immediately captivating as you really got a solid understanding of their style. I just really enjoyed how into their performance they were. I get the feeling if there wasn’t a crowd there, they would be doing the exact same thing. I liked how precise the drum work was. In all of the chaos that was happing on the stage, the drum work was super tight and kept everything together quite nicely. They warmed up the venue well and kept their cool even with the fact they were opening for a nine-hour-long day.

Moving swiftly on to the second band, Nebulesse certainly scratched that itch for anyone looking for weird nerdy metal that makes references to sci-fi shows, then you’re in luck. As the venue filled out a bit the bands were allowed to be a bit more expressive and that served Nebulesse quite well. They bantered with the crowd a bit and got people moving and singing. I will say my only real complaint was that the distortion was a little overkill for them and I was only barely able to hear the vocals at times. It wasn’t a deal breaker but something I wanted to mention. I enjoyed their punk attitude and the vocalist had that attitude that made it feel like she’d stepped out of the soundtrack from the film Clerks. They provided the venue with a fun atmosphere and they came off as very likeable from their first appearance on stage. I was happy they got their time to shine and hopefully I might run into them again in the future.

Things went from zero to sixty very quickly and Karma’s Puppet hit the stage. Their brutal metalcore was what was needed to get things going. It was one of those moments where I was thinking to myself “why haven’t I heard of them before”. They sounded brilliant with excellent sound production. Every member of the band was allowed to shine with clear guitars, bass, drums and vocals. They had everything I look for in a metal band with crashing beatdowns and moments of pure electric thrash. They took full command of the stage and the crowd, making for the first (of many) mosh pits for the day. Their set was so tightly packed and they effortlessly flowed from one song to the next. They had that brash carefree presence that made them entertaining to watch. They flew through their setlist of heavy and harsh music and their set felt like it ended no sooner than it had begun. An awesome band that well and truly kicked the day into high gear.

After a short break, we had our next act. Fractures In The Sky was a pretty decent contrast to the previous band. I’ll say it from the get-go, the lack of live drums wasn’t ideal. Yet, they made the best of it and I feel this was a fairly well-put-together set with lots of good things to say about it. Starting with the vocals, they were wonderful. The vocals soared on top of the live production and I was hooked. The progressive metal elements hit hard too. The complex guitar work and intricate basslines made for an engaging experience that was totally different from every other band so far. I liked the overall atmosphere that they provided. Their mix of progressive, symphonic, gothic and hardcore was a great blend. It was a little rough around the edges, but I still enjoyed them in concept. I got what they were going for and I was really digging what they were putting out there. They were a technically proficient and well-put-together act. Even though there were no live drums it was still mixed quite well. Well worth keeping your eye on.

How the mood in the venue changed when the Viking storm that was Vlka hit the stage. The all-father, Odin would have been pleased with them. It felt like a march into Valhalla and the crowd was getting packed in by this point of the day. Their use of simple props made for a more immersive stage presence. They had a commanding stage presence that made you want to stand at attention. The front of the stage was lined with Viking shields spelling out the name and the band were dressed as if they were ready to invade. Their music was this bombastic metal that won over the Manchester audience. Booming drum and bass work gave the overall sound an imposing tone, it was well put together. They really knew how to play to the crowd, getting some really loud cheers. The guitars roared life into the venue and the vocalist had such a versatile voice that kept the set engaging. Vlka impressed me a lot. I have to say I usually am quite sceptical of what I would call gimmick bands, as in bands that have a central core theme that influences all of their songwriting choices. You have to go over the top to impress and I think they managed it quite well here.

Crossing the halfway point of the day and now it was time for something completely different. Without Andrew brought a different vibe to the day. Straight-up party, pop-punk. You know what, I’m here for it. I think they fit the theme of piss-take debauchery pretty well. Their fast-paced punk stylings were enjoyable enough and their charisma was refreshingly normal, after what we had throughout the day so far. I would have liked them slightly more aggressive, but that’s a pretty minor point. They were a silly laugh of a band and they were clearly loving their time on stage. Which is always great to see. They gave me vibes of the late 2000s and early 2010s pop punk and to some degree very inspired by bands like NoFX. I think the best thing about them was the infectious, ever-present energy that, I’ll admit, I was quite into. Although they were the most out-there band of the day, they definitely had their place.

Lesbian Bed Death hit the stage next. This was probably the most solid set of the day. No really. I think the others had either concentrated chaos or immense stage presence on their side. However, Lesbian Bed Death pulled a rabbit out of the hat and hit the Twatterfest crowd with one of the most technically sound, well-executed sets of the evening. There’s a saying, keep it simple stupid. That very much applies here. There’s something to be said of a well-polished, tight, fun and engaging set. They absolutely nailed every song with a kind of well-defined dignity. I certainly enjoyed them a lot and from the response they got I think the rest of the crowd did too. The only problem I had was that they had no live lead guitars. Though it did take me a hot minute to realise that as it was well mixed into the rest of the band. There was just that cognitive dissonance of hearing the lead guitar play and you don’t see it. The vocal performance was clean and strong. When they hit their chorus lines, you felt it. Great band with some absolute stellar tracks. There’s nothing more I could ask for.

In their own words, hailing from the mythical land of Stoke-On-Trent, Warlock A.D. made themselves known. They played to the crowd brilliantly, capturing their attention with just their sheer cool factor. Props to them for getting a full-on circle pit and wall of death going this late in the day. I mean the crowd would get crazier for the co-headliners to come, however, I think Warlock A.D. got the best response from all of the undercard. Their music was clearly inspired by deep fantasy mythos and all that nerdy good stuff that metal fans love. Again like Vlka earlier in the day they very much had that kind of stage presence. I liked their style quite a lot, I feel like they definitely connected to the audience. Their songs were filled with these little musical moments that landed so well. The riffs were catchy and the choruses felt quite epic. They were a pretty good warm-up for the double headliner to come.

I mean, what do you even say about Raised By Owls? Like, how do you put into words the pure insanity that they performed on stage? I mean in no other heavy metal setlist will you find references to Ricky Martin, Ainsely Harriott, Mr Blobby, Dying Fetus and an argument on the correct pronunciation of the word scones. But here we are. Speaking seriously for a moment the band provided an immense amount of entertainment. They’re very much a satire of a metal band. Yet, their musical foundations are still pretty solid. Their music is manic and unstable with moments of brilliance and moments of unstable amounts of just sound. Seriously I think I could dedicate an entire Twitter feed to out-of-context moments from their sets. It’s quite jarring going from their screaming and raving to the frontman talking pretty casually to the crowd. It feels like tonal whiplash. In all honesty, I loved it. OK, it’s not for everybody but when you’re at an all-day event called Twatterfest, you might as well go with the flow. What truly made this set was their comedic styling. From breaking every now and then to read out facts about Ricky Martin from collector cards to having their mate dressed as 90s TV character Mr Blobby and have him flail a dildo in a mosh pit. You’re just not going to see that at many other metal shows.

Finally, we reach Footprints In The Custard. These guys are underground metal heroes in Manchester. I’m sure you’ve probably heard of them. If not, then I think I should introduce you to them. These guys have such a unique connection to their crowd. There’s something to be said for a band that has so much humour and keeps the quality standards high. The riffs are tight, the guitar solos rich and complex and the live production is absolutely stellar. The dry whit mixed with absurdist comedy and humour directed toward the metal community is enjoyable. They make everyone in the audience feel like they’re in on the joke too. Their crowd banter is absolutely on-point with sarcastic jabs and drunken ramblings. They blasted through an hour setlist and made it feel like twenty minutes. Every moment was well-paced and tightly controlled whilst coming across as disorganised and messy and I think that’s impressive.

What a day! I was well and truly knackered by the end of the day and the journey home felt long. Yet, I’m very happy I was able to make it out for the entire day. This was a well-organised and highly entertaining day out at Rebellion in Manchester. Ten quality acts all bringing something unique and fun to the stage. I personally came away with so much new music to check out. The idea of a good festival is to have so much on that any member of the audience will have something new to come away with. The atmosphere was excellent with everyone in on the humour and hype. Absolutely belting day.

Words by Mick Birchall and Photos by Laura Piggford



Mick Birchall

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