Now in its third year, local Brighton promoter Patrick McNaught’s Washed Out Festival continues to go from strength to strength. Even with Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar no more, there’s no stopping the show as new venues Latest Music Bar and Patterns are added to the roster. Due to weather and other commitments, it’s a slightly truncated visit for us this year – missing all the warm-up fun on Friday night – but nevertheless the usual one of discovery into the DIY punk scene.
Our day starts with Fast Fade at The Quadrant, home to many of the poppier bands for this year. With his Bowling for Soup t-shirt, it’s clear to see where singer’s Ryan Mansell’s influences come from – an early 2000s skatepunk sound, and much of same attitude of not taking themselves too seriously on stage. In much the same vein, half way through the set they realise the kit isn’t up to scratch, and Aerial Salad’s Jamie duly interrupts proceedings by lending them a new amp head. Main single ‘Walkie Talkie’ is a stand-out moment, being more than just bit reminiscent of early Green Day and Blink 182, and deservedly gets all the crowd dancing.
Describing themselves as “Manchester Punk Rock”, it’s fair to say the aforementioned Aerial Salad are a band with multiple influences. Songs vary from jokey chorus-lead pop punk all the way through to Deaftones-esque heavier numbers, including the excellent ranting anthem ‘Habits and Problems’.
Much like their predecessors, Brutalligators are a strange bipolar mix of a band. Lead by Luke Murphy-Wearmouth, there are clear nods to more traditional punk acts like The Smith Street Band and PUP, especially on ‘November 4 2016’ – a genuinely great pop-punk song with singalong ending coda. It’s a shame then, that there isn’t more of that, as the inclusion of two screamo/hardcore songs at the end of the set seems at odds with everything that has gone before.
In the first venue change of the day, it’s over to Latest Music Bar in a slot meant to be filled by Mean Caesar, but now replaced by Throwing Stuff, due to the latter’s tardiness. It’s their first gig together in six months, with singer Ben back from his new home of Myanmar especially for a short run of shows including Manchester Punk Festival. He spends most of the set screaming lyrics in the crowd – completely wet-through up to his ankles after a trip in the sea earlier – while the band try to remember the tunes, mostly successfully. It’s fair to say this mostly isn’t their audience, but it’s appreciated nonetheless.
Last year saw Woahnows frontman Tim Rowing-Parker play an incredible solo set, and this year they return as a full band, albeit with a new bassist playing their first show. Following the release of their excellent and deeply personal third album ‘Young and Cool’, we are treated to hearing the record in full from start to finish. While excellent on tape, the live staging in Patterns really adds to the atmosphere and brings the record to life. Although Tim remains slightly nervous and sometimes charmingly overwhelmed, it’s balanced by the confidence and energy of drummer Adam Wherly. With their usual balance between indie pop heartbreak and punk rock, it’s a triumphant performance with the crowd singing many of the newly released songs word-for-word already, and one that will hopefully propel them to playing many more live gigs in the future.
Back over at The Quadrant, political five-piece Drones are bringing the night to life. Lois McDougall leads from the front, or more precisely anywhere she can reach, climbing on chairs, bundling into the crowd, rolling on the floor, jumping on amps and even leaving the room to sing from the stairwell at one point. It’s a highly energetic and charged set, backed up by a similarly motivated set of metal punk songs, all sounding well-rounded and polished already, despite their young age. Recent single ‘Anchors’ has deservedly been gaining some traction lately, as they seem like a band destined for much bigger things.
To end the night it’s over to something far more tranquil at another new venue, Rossi Bar Music, which replaces the previous outdoor acoustic and spoken word stage at The Green Door Store. Brightr is a Washed Out Festival regular, having played all three iterations so far. Despite simultaneous sets elsewhere from Gender Roles, DITZ, and the Menstrual Cramps, a reasonable size crowd fill the basement bar to listen to Laurie’s usual acoustic tunes and between-song chat, including new EP ‘Two sides’. Even a broken amp and reverb issue can’t halt proceedings with the set ending with the upbeat ‘New Years’ and fan favourite ‘We’.
And with that we return home with our heads held high, from yet another triumphant Washed Out Festival – here’s hoping to see it firmly back in 2020. Keep your eye on the social media feeds for Early Bird tickets.