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PREVIEW: LIVE AT LEEDS 2019

Festival season is finally upon us and Live At Leeds are once again at the forefront of promoting the freshest new bands around. This year it has a mouth-watering selection of 100+ bands performing across 21 different venues in the Yorkshire paradise that is Leeds. 

Stellar names such as Metronomy, Kate Tempest, Tom Greenan and Sundara Karma will be joined by acts that will be shaping the musical landscape for many years to come such as Bloxx, Sports Team, Gengahr and Goat Girl. This is Live at Leeds’ biggest line-up to date so make sure you keep May 4th free in your calendar and bag yourself a ticket before you miss out on discovering your new favourite band.

Heading up the lineup this year are some of Live At Leeds’ true success stories, led by returning guitar heroes Sundara Karma. Since forming in Reading, their blend of infectious hooks and direct lyrics have taken on the globe – with a debut album that took them to headline nights at London’s Brixton Academy and beyond. After returning last month with the mesmerising ‘Illusions’ and a hotly anticipated second album on the cards for next year, their set at Live At Leeds is bound to be an unmissable spectacle of what a band can be in 2019.

One of the most acclaimed and creative bands of the past decade, Metronomy will return in 2019 to open up a bold new chapter. Formed in the creative mind of frontman/band leader Joe Mount, their tear-stained lines of indie heartbreak have become a signature sound – with five studio albums morphing and growing into swaggering neon-pop with a catalogue of anthems to boot. An unmissable live act, Live At Leeds 2019 will be in for a treat when Metronomy come to town.

Tom Grennan is arguably the breakout artist of 2018, with an incredible year that has sent him to some of the biggest stages in the UK. After scooping a Top 5 Album with debut LP ‘Lighting Matches’, Tom has packed rooms across the country – with his gravel-smooth voice and unstoppable stage presence making him one of the most beloved songwriters that the UK has seen in quite some time. Bound to bring passion and charm to Live At Leeds 2019, he’s one only set to get bigger and bigger from here on out.

This is no doubt one of the most exciting weekends of the year if you’re keen to discover great new music. Over the years Live at Leeds has cultivated itself a reputation as being one of the most eclectic festivals on the circuit and has always been a keen promoter of new and exciting talent.

Tickets are still on sale but make sure you grab yourself one quick before you miss out on one of the best weekends of the year.

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SINGLE RELEASE: Squid – ‘Houseplants’

WORDS BY: KANE MARTIN

“To hell with poverty, let’s get drunk on cheap wine” bemoaned Leeds monoliths of Post-Punk Funk, Gang of Four in 1978. With the latest Brexit statistics of meat and cheese prices skyrocketing but wine being okay. It’s a nihilistic response to a cultural crisis, but with the release of Squid’s latest single Houseplants we’re summoned to have a bit of a fucking boogie, chugging down lambrini to a motoric beat whilst everything turns to toss. 

 

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SAFE. @sxsw

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Houseplants, a follow up to the bands Dan Carey produced hyperventilating instant classic The Dial furthers the already established ironic yet earnest explorations in tight funk rhythms, ear-worming repetition and splashes of post-rock textures. Yet this time around we’re welcomed with more immediacy and we’re lauded into the groove that smacks your jaw like an on-time train from Northern Rail. This train that’s just hit you in the face we can imagine that the passengers look something akin to the lost souls in a Hieronymus Bosch painting except they’re reading all Sunday Telegraphs TV times supplement, updating their linkedin profiles and sorting out cocaine for the weekend whilst bleeding blue and yellow goo from their pours without realising it. 

 Absurd right? Well as is the genius of Squid. With Houseplants we see a claustrophobic attack on middle England, we as listeners are attacked with the unfortunate pedestrian concerns that we haunt ourselves with daily I.e. careering, buying a house, children’s television. Whilst the familiar is screamed at you by the band’s lead vocalist / drummer Ollie Judge, you begin to realise just how absurd the whole thing is.

It’s cruel optimism and the results of ongoing destruction of our souls daily by the neo-liberal agendas beyond our control set to a pulsing beat and infectious groove. It’s brilliant and exactly what we need right now it such times of divisions. Frustrations we can dance to. Squid seem to hold similar lyrical and sonic concerns to many of this new emerging sound of rhythm fuelled post punk (black midi, Handle, N0v3l) and with Houseplants, another jewel is added to this tapestry of militant post-funk resistance. Viva La Squid!      

Like this? Read up on all of our blog posts HERE 👀

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SINGLE RELEASE: Honeyblood – ‘The Third Degree’

WORDS BY CRAIG HOPKINSON

Honeyblood is back once again with The Third Degree, the blues-heavy, punk-inspired, grunge rock single taken from upcoming album; In Plain Sight, due to release 24th May this year.

The Glaswegian singer and songwriter, Stina Tweeddale, formed Honeyblood in 2012 as a duo along with guitarist Shona McVicar, whom left and was later replaced by Cat Myers. After signing an exclusive recording contract with Marathon Artists, a London-based independent record label, in 2019, the band announced that they would release their third studio album. The Third Degree is the first single release from the same album; a bluesy, post-punk piece somehow incorporating a 1960s wall of sound.

Deep and heavy, live kick drums introduce the song to the listener as if The Third Degree, was somehow produced by Jimmy Bowen of Phil Spector for a band like The Blossoms or The Ronettes in the early ‘60s. The whole song has such an analogue feel to it, as though nothing digital was used to engineer it. It sounds like the whole thing was recorded on an old reel-to-reel Akai recorder and sent through some archaic multitrack mixer from Chuck Berry’s basement. Conversely, the lyricism and tone of the vocals throughout the song are quite evidently influenced by the punk era. There’s a level of angst in the singer’s voice that neatly contrasts with this ‘60s production and arrangement giving the whole song the post-punk element that Honeyblood has crafted over the years.

The mastering and sound maximisation for this track is awesome. The whole thing pops out of the speakers while leaving room for every sound made available without upsetting or taking away from any other layer. Each instrument resides within its own shelf or frequency perfectly, something I rarely hear from even the most commercially produced musicians. The Third Degree, is such a great track. Showcasing some fantastic production work and instrumentation, great use of the traditional rock and roll sounds and then it is very cleverly topped off with a touch of punk. Lovely.

Like this? Read up on all of our blog posts HERE 👀

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The aim of the Spoken Word night, Speak, is to provide a friendly and welcoming environment for those who wish to perform something they’ve written. There are no rules (time is limited so everyone else can get to perform too), no theme or any restrictions on content (nothing racist, discriminatory or prejudiced – not a rule, just an expectation). Some were funny, others deeply poignant and some sketches had important political points to make. All were brilliant, in their own way.

Things were opened by co-organiser and compere, Alex Slater. He set the mark high with his hilarious and expertly timed poem about a northerner in London (that he called Britain’s second City!). Alex was intense and very much a physical performer, flailing his arms about and moving over the stage, dropping innovative rhymes that you just couldn’t see coming, but, worked so brilliantly. After that, Alex introduced the first guest poet, but not before he laid down the level of applause that he expected for everyone who was performing. During the first half some performers were experienced at performing, with some even doing it professionally, others were making their debut. There were poems written using only a single vowel sound (known as a Uni-vocalism), which relied on creative interpretation of language and shortened words, to deliver its message and draw laughs from the crowd – both of which were accomplished with success. The first half saw five open-mic slots of around 5 minutes each. The crowd didn’t let Alex down and whooped, clapped and cheered, as each act provided wonderfully enthusiastic entertainment. Between each performer Alex let everyone know who’d just been on and who was coming next. The atmosphere was electric; the basement room it took place in was packed out. Incredible, to that nothing but words, guts and a microphone could provide so much excitement for everyone. It was clear that the performers were enjoying things every bit as much as the crowd, making banter and cracking gags. There was a definite synergy going on, with both needing the other to make it all work. All this was just the first half of the night, too.

Following a short break, Rosie Fleeshman (the other organiser and joint “speak chief” along with Alex) came on as compere. Like Alex, Rosie knew what she was doing, and has very clearly worked hard to get to such a high standard. She jeered up the audience again, after the short interlude (during which the energy never dropped, with people chatting about what they’d just seen and taking in the sizzling atmosphere). With toilet breaks taken and drinks refilled it was time to get things going again. Rosie launched into her own poem, about the misogyny that she has come across as a performance artist, and that no doubt countless other women have and do (not at Speak, though – inclusivity is a massive part of why this night is unmissable and such a lovely event to attend). That shouldn’t be what’s remembered though, or define the performance – the delivery, wit and intelligence of the piece should, with pauses where they should be and drilled rhythms and beats.

As the second half played out, it was obvious to see that this crowd were well and truly bought into what was going on, getting louder and louder with their applause. They had plenty to praise, too. There were varied agendas within the poems performed. Some spoke of being marginalised, some of bewilderment at the state of society and the oddities of the human condition. All were bound by their power to evoke response. There more first timers, who were made to feel extra welcome and loudly supported by those of more experience. This wasn’t a place to outdo anyone or try and be better than the rest. Some performances were an explosion of language, boomed, thundered, (even sang, at times) and others lightly breathed truths by some, that reached inside and truly reminded how strong words can be. There was so much bravery on display. Yes, people showed off their skills and talents, but, the lack of any ego as a dominant force is what made things so special. Encouragement, enthusiasm and engagement were the factors at play, and in endless supply. Rosie did a fine job of keeping these things going, responding to what everyone had just seen, in between sets, and, reminding everyone that the headline at was still to come. By this time, she didn’t need to work to get the applause for the acts. There was no need for the audience to politely provide any consolation clapping, just for bravery. The noise made was a genuine appreciation at the spectacles on offer. The acts in the second half were equally as brilliant as those in the first. It was hard to imagine that the night could go up a gear from here, and, the atmosphere any fuller. It did, thanks to the headlining act.

Scott Tyrrell is a multi-award-winning performance poet and has also dabbled in Stand-Up Comedy, too. His range of work is evident in the life experience that forms the basis of most of his poems. With an incredible ear for language and an ability to make it sound exactly how he wants it to, Scott was a class act. He was as warm as he was funny too, inviting the audience to hear about him and his family life, revealing details about the ways that mental health has impacted upon him and his love and gratefulness to those who’ve stuck by him and offered support. Scott didn’t hold back in regaling the horrible truth about depression and his struggle with it. Scott looked back at times in his life, recorded in his work, and managed to find a way to laugh. A deeply humble person, with a giant heart and an even bigger talent.

 

 

Amongst other books, Scott read from his latest, aptly named Honest. In this collection is the piece ‘If We’re Being Honest’, a lengthy poem, about coming to terms with yourself, and, how that can take a long time to do. Hidden behind playful phrases that are designed to be “sketched” on stage, is an intelligence and sensitivity. Scott really was the real deal; it’s little surprise that he’s achieved so much. The set he gave was a rollercoaster of emotions, which reflected so brilliantly what he was saying – life is far from straight forward and full of the unexpected. Scott caught that aspect of life we all feel, at times – just when you think you’ve got it all worked out, suddenly you realise you’ve been trying to solve the wrong puzzle. With a combination of slapstick physicality, an array of comedic voices and the gift to so accurately make a point through humour, Scott provided a finale to what was a real show piece night.

Speak is on at Jimmy’s Bar (situated in Manchester’s Northern Quarter – Jimmy’s is close to Piccadilly Gardens ), Newton Street, every 3rd Thursday of the month. You can find details on Social Media and request to perform, too (you’ll have to be quick, though, as, this popular night is only going to get bigger, with more demand to perform). At a phenomenal £3 entry (THERE’S ABSOLUTELY NOTHING YOU CAN GET FOR THAT PRICE THAT EVEN APPROACHES THE SAME LEVEL OF BANG FOR YOUR BUCK!), for all that amazing entertainment, if you think you’d enjoy language like you’ve never seen it before, and in a scorching setting, then get yourself down. You’ll be warmly welcomed. You won’t be sorry – but you will when you realise what you’ve been missing out on. A truly phenomenal night and an important date in the calendar of Manchester’s expanding Spoken Word scene. A night like no other, Speak at Jimmy’s offers and unmissable experience that will leave you counting down the days, until next time.

Speak is at Jimmy’s on 15th November 2018.

 

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In this mini-article series MCR Live will be looking back at October and discussing the various events that took place to help commemorate the month that saw the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s seminal novel, Frankenstein (1818). Even those who’ve never read it will at least have some knowledge of one of literature’s most iconic monsters, having probably seen it in one of the many film versions.

On the afternoon of 24th October 2018 one of a series of readings of the novel took place, in Cheetham’s Library. There’d been a reading at the University of Manchester that morning, too. We caught up with those involved at Cheetham’s, around 3pm. A suitably spooky and gothic location, for the shared experience of various people reading individual chapters or passages. MCR Live were fortunate enough to be invited to take part and be one of many readers of the day.

Douglas Clark (pictured below), of University of Manchester, a Lecturer in English Literature was one of the event’s main organisers, alongside his colleagues. The whole idea is to group together people from many different backgrounds and professions/occupations – with different ages and genders ensuring diverse representation – and hear the story from them, with each reader offering something unique to the proceedings.

Matt Foley, of The Manchester Writing School’s Haunt! team was a guest reader on the day. Commenting on the story’s structure, he stated, ‘The reading out of this story takes on a special meaning, due to the way that the story is framed, which sees various characters telling things from their perspective’. This only added to the fun and thematic atmosphere that one of the reading rooms at Cheetham’s offered, with its impressive stone architecture, and open design of space. This meant that the voices of readers could be projected well and the slightly cold feel in the room gave even more spookiness.

                                                                                                

 

 

Following the reading, that saw Douglas finish off the scheduled chapters, the tale wasn’t done yet! The final part would take place at Manchester Central Library, between 5pm-6pm, to give those who were at work earlier a chance to come and experience some of the event, as well as members of the public. There were another set of readers to finish off, including actors, drama students and various academics, as well as younger students. Inclusivity really was a huge part of the ethos behind this day.  We managed to speak with Douglas, before the readings at Central Library:

‘The Gothic has always been associated with the marginalisation of characters in the stories. Some people identify with that. The idea is to bring together the literary (and wider) community and appreciate the novel from a fresh perspective. Hearing any story, especially one such as Frankenstein offers a fresh perspective. There are few books in the genre as well known as this. The book’s popularity is high as ever. Other readings are also taking place all over the world’.

                                                                                        

 

It’s perhaps unsurprising that a city with as much literary activity as Manchester has was so actively involved. The choice of location for the last readings of the day was an inspired one and drew quite an audience. The readings weren’t in a quiet room, somewhere tucked away, they took place in the middle of the main floor. This helped to create a real buzz, with many customers happy to stop what they were doing and observe a rare treat. The remaining readers certainly gave them something to watch, too. The deliveries of the chapters shared in the library were accompanied by animated and impassioned readings, complete with flailing arms and even people’s created character voices! Everyone who took part played their part in making the day a culturally significant event, as well as a fun-filled family friendly one.

After the last words of the last chapter were read out, Douglas thanked everyone who’d helped make things possible and asked for a round of applause for all their hard work, especially to those who read. The idea and the successful carrying out of it, breathed fresh life into what became a creation of multiple parts, of its very own. It seems that Mary Shelley really did create a monster in her story; and, its one that refuses to die. Today, it was very much a living and breathing representation of why certain works of literature have given and continue to give more than their authors may ever have imagined. Though the creator has long gone, the monster lives . . .

 

 

 

 

 

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REVIEW: One Cut of the Dead @ HOME

WORDS BY ALICE SALMON

When you think of horror-comedy, you’ll probably go straight for the Scary Movie franchise – and with good reason. It takes something special for laughs and scares to sit comfortably in the same script without lapsing into parody or farce – did somebody say Sharknado? One Cut of the Dead is a breakout zombie horror classic that marries the two in award-winning fashion. It screened at HOME last night as part of Film4’s FilmFear season.

One Cut of the Dead is the brainchild of Japanese writer-director-producer Shin’ichiô Ueda – and it simply can’t be reviewed without first acknowledging the 37-minute single-take opener that has audiences going mad. At first, it’s disorientating: who is it that keeps wiping blood spatter off the camera lens? It only becomes clear later on that this isn’t an overlooked continuity error – it’s actually the central axis of a stellar meta-comedy.

“POM!”

But back to the plot. The film opens in a disused water filtration plant, somewhere in rural Japan. A megalomaniac director berates two young stars for their apparent ineptitude during filming of – you guessed it – TV zombie flick, One Cut of the Dead. They take a break after a scene’s 42nd take as the mood gets fractious. Needless to say, the cast are then split up very quickly, after some brief exposition – which is when the zombies come to play.horror, one cut of the dead, home, manchester

As the living and undead play a game of cat-and-mouse around the abandoned plant, the director pops back at the worst possible moments, delighting in how realistic everyone’s fear seems – and how great his film is shaping up. Watch out for make-up lady Nao’s invaluable self-defence lessons and being surprisingly handy with an axe.

Side note: it’s really difficult to not give away all the spoilers on this one, so it’s best you witness how the plot unfolds for yourself…

Every film genre features the joke-within-a-joke trope. Yet here it feels organic, the plot more relatable and the humour more…human.

The trailer points towards One Cut of the Dead being just another gore-fest at the hands of an unknown director. But that’s just a secondary device around which the main plot is based – which in itself replicates the reality of Ueda’s entire project. Any initially clunkiness adds to the comedic credibility of the latter stages of the film as Ueda’s intent slots into place.

This film comes highly recommended for those who aren’t so good with gore. Ueda portrays the trials of filming on a tight budget with aplomb, making easy bedfellows of contrasting concepts: a cast making the best of things, a father-daughter reconciliation and the universal appeal of slapstick.

No wonder it has a coveted 100% rating (97% viewer rating) on Rotten Tomatoes. Heartily endorsed by Film4 Channel Editor and FilmFear curator David Cox, One Cut of the Dead lovingly pokes fun at the genre it inhabits. This irreverently self-referential offering is one to watch, laugh and recommend to everyone you know: you won’t regret it.

You can still buy tickets for FilmFear here, taking advantage of HOME’s multi-save ticketing system.

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COMMENT: M.I.A. and the Sound of Identity

Words by Alice Salmon

It’s widely agreed that art is the sum of its influences. Pick any great beatmaker, composer or lyricist, and you can hear their identity. For starters, there’s an endless array of artists that cite J Dilla as their biggest influence – his iconic sound is heard today hip hop, jazz and classical genres alike. Hear how Peggy Gou opts to sing in her native Korean throughout It Makes You Forget (Itgehane). And of course, witness Amy Winehouse’s famously mercurial back catalogue – her enduring love of hip hop and trad jazz reframed by a later exploration of Motown.

Arguably top of this list is the Sri-Lankan (via South London) rapper, M.I.A, whose newly released documentary Matangi/ Maya/ M.I.A. unfolds as an impassioned, intricate tapestry of the two cultures that shaped her and her art. Cut from over 700 hours of archive footage shot by M.I.A. and her family as well as long-time friend Stephen Loveridge, Matangi/ Maya/ M.I.A. unflinchingly contextualises one of the most politically-charged artists of our time.

Set in the family home in London and the Arulpragasams’ dwellings in Jaffna, Sri Lanka (via Coachella, the Grammys and the 2012 Super Bowl), the film’s relentless cross-continent leaps seem a deliberate reflection of Maya’s steadfast grip on her cultural identity amidst unpredictable surroundings.

“Wanna hear my story? I’m gonna show you my story”

M.I.A talks candidly throughout the film, recounting her (at times chaotic) formative years. She recalls coming home from school one day to see the neighbours lined up, removing her family’s possessions from their Hounslow home. She told them that they could take what they wanted as long as she could keep her radio. Spoiler alert: they took the radio. As a result, she was forced to hear the unfamiliar sounds of hip hop blaring from the adjoining flat as she lay in bed that night. And from this, she says, her sound was born.

She doggedly pushes her reality into the Western consciousness throughout the film, with staggering reactions from the mainstream media. It’s in the face of such opposition that her music takes on a renewed relevance and meaning: we had no idea we were cookin’ for commandos / everybody came in four-wheeler truckloads (Macho, unreleased, 2004).

 

The documentary is a perfect illustration of how every morsel of art you ever consume is born from something else: music exists on one level to be enjoyed for what it is, but when you delve a little deeper and explore lyrics, artwork, beats and samples, there’s a wealth of riches to be devoured.

This film is a must-see for anyone with even a passing interest in M.I.A’s music. If it doesn’t make you want to revisit a track that has become an internet meme or re-evaluate M.I.A as a feminist icon – or just acknowledge her as a straight-up badass (search “M.I.A, NFL”) – then it will give you a poignant insight into what it really means to march to your own beat.

 

 

Matangi/ Maya/ M.I.A. is now showing at HOME. Book your tickets here.

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Lindstrøm

Preview: Lindstrøm @ Joshua Brooks for Lost in Music’s 1st Birthday

Manchester disco outfit Lost in Music returns for their 1st birthday by bringing the Norwegian nu-disco godfather Lindstrøm to Joshua Brooks on 22nd September, alongside Edinburgh’s Natasha Kitty Kat and Manchester native Chris Massey.

In their first year, Lost in Music has specialised in bringing the best disco artists to the city including debuts from Dr Packer, Fingerman and Get Down Edits, alongside shows from Aeroplane and John Morales. This focus on bringing debuts to the city and promoting artists that have not played in years, is what has set them apart from the rest.

Joshua Brooks
Joshua Brooks

By bringing Lindstrøm back to the city for the first time since Parklife in 2013, Lost in Music is cementing its place as one of the best promoters around. Like one of his endlessly building tracks, Hans-Peter Lindstrøm is only moving further upwards. The Norwegian space-disco wizard has just released a new EP, ‘Windings’, containing three tracks of that now-classic sound closely associated with Lindstrøm’s name: skyward synths, effervescent rhythms, and melodies that spiral beautifully into the great unknown. This is Lindstrøm in the zone and is representative of what you can expect at Joshua Brooks.

Alongside Lindstrøm, music will be provided by Edinburgh’s disco specialist Natasha Kitty Kat and Sprechen’s Chris Massey. With recent releases on Tribe, Ghetto Disco, Masterworks Music, Hot Digits and Midnight Riot, Natasha has also solidly entrenched herself in the top tier of modern disco producers. Chris Massey has built up a strong reputation by heading up the Sprechen label and working with DJ Paulette on a duet EP release on Yam Who’s? Black Riot label.

Alongside the event, Lost in Music are holding a pre-party at Hatch in association with Chris Massey’s Sprechen from midday; an exclusive screening and Q&A of ‘Northern Disco Lights: The Rise & Rise of Norwegian Dance Music’; and a recovery session at Disco Brunch at Gorilla the following morning. To get your tickets and for more information head to their Skiddle Page.

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Dragpunk Tour Diary: The Kids Are Alright; Meeting the Millennials on tour with Adore Delano.

With great pleasure and enjoyment My last week and a half has been spent supporting Adore Delano’s Whatever Tour across seven cities in the UK, along with my Birmingham drag family, Dragpunk. This presented many challenges, not least of all how do we, as lipsync artists create a show that fits with Adore’s live singing and rock band? We are a collective of subversive, punk drag queens. Born and raised in dark murky basements of Birmingham’s underground, 18+ nightlife venues – how do we cater for a 14+ audience there for the main act, not us the support?

So we set about planning. Making a full show of our 35 minute set. Background music, microphone time, and mixes and looks that serve all that Dragpunk is about. We wanted to provide a full show, and most of all make a statement. The reaction was entirely surprising and revealing about the ‘state of the youth’.

For us drag mixes entertainment with queer activism – the megaphone that we can use to talk about queer and gender identities, to challenge the lurking insipid homophobia, transphobia and racism within the LGBTQ community and outside of it. Dragpunk’s Amber Cadaverous, whose gender is only relevant for clarity, is a cisgender woman. Her whole performance within our set was an explosion of songs about being precisely that – female. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. It’s A Woman’s World. Man I Feel Like A Woman. Interspersed with relevant soundbites, it all wrapped up with Amber picking up the mic and giving a speech telling this young audience that their existence is not second to anyone else’s. It’s more than okay to be female.

My own number, a lipsync featuring Jinkx Monsoon’s beautiful rendition of Radiohead’s Creep, finished with a similar moment on the mic that to be strange, unusual – weird even – is absolutely okay too. Pursue that difference, be kind, open, learn, and you may find that happiness, confidence, and self esteem are earned in a world that actively resists the unorthodox.

After the first opening night in at the Manchester Academy, it became quite clear that we left an impression. Over the course of the tour it became all the more clear that all of the Dragrace fangirls and fanboys, the hundreds each night making up the audiences, amounting to thousands over the tour, who were there for their love of Adore Delano, actually just love drag and difference. Adore represents a punk brand, latched onto by her fans whose love and devotion to her was strong and deep to say the least. Yet these fanboys and fangirls, often dismissed for not supporting ‘local’ drag were there to have fun, and to spend the little money they had on one awesome drag experience. Many have no outlets to local drag or queer nightlife for they do not live in the big cities or are simply not older enough. With Adore Delano, her band, and what we provided was that access to the local drag, to UK drag, and what it can stand for.

After each set we were approached for photos, hellos, and thanks for our drag and message. Our personal and Dragpunk social medias exploded. Tired, eating far too many crisps, whilst travelling between cities we spenthour after hour, quite happily, responding to floods of DMs, comments and tags. Four individuals from Birmingham with paint and fabric strewn about them, under the name of Dragpunk, were now being thanked by these young people for inspiring them with our drag and for telling them that it’s okay to be yourself. And often for simply saying hello to them in person. Stories about people’s own struggles, about how they felt some validation at our show, became the norm. Some survived the Manchester bombing. other’s survived self harm, chronic depression, and crippling loneliness. These are not fads, these are not over-sensitivities. These are not ‘snowflakes’. It was and is still immensely humbling. We did not plan it to be this way. It helped that our drag, our performances, and our mixes were decent, for without them the message may not have reached. Most of all it helped that through entertainment, a shining message landed. No lecturing, no talking down, we spoke sincerely without realising that it would resonate. You know you have successfully penetrated gay youth culture when you receive such an outpouring of love from fans via popular LGBT messenger app and online brothel Grindr.

What does this mean, about this young generation so easily dismissed disparagingly as ‘millenials’, as ‘snowflakes’, who often to give meaning to their fandom by self-identify as ‘stans’ on that notorious hotbed of Twitter? (Stan essentially being a super fan, named I am told after Eminem’s early classic Stan, about an overzealous fan). Well it seems that they are not actually being engaged. Low and behold, society is failing them. All we saw was passion, and some of the most fun and positive individuals around. Are we really throwing out a whole young generation, again? Is it because they have online platforms to comment and criticise the corrupt world around them? That because some, just a few, take it too far? These audiences were a cross-section of an open queer-minded youth, who were happy to be happy given the chance. Twitter is their main outlet in a world where adults – as with in every era of our history – puts down the youth. When we provided a message of empowerment, they lapped it up. We sent some very clear messages in our show, as Adore did, about sticking two fingers up to misogyny, trying to fit in, and assimilation into a straight-laced society. Where else are people providing these messages and actually living them?

To say the least, it was refreshing and if we can see the potential of engagement, then others can. The key is understanding rather than the smug chastising, condescension of the follies of youth that too many older people’s minds can succumb to. We felt empowered and emboldened that drag is activism, and that as Dragpunk, we have a statement to make. We hope that others take it on board to pursue as well.

 

Paul Aleksandr, the author of this article is one quarter of Birmingham’s most prolific drag collective, the indescribable drag punk. He blurs the line of gender subtly, and draws influences from goth and alternative culture, horror films, and societies boogeymen and creeps. His first language is Russian and his hobbies include birdwatching, amateur abortionism, and tasteful nude self portraiture. You can find him on Facebook as Paul Aleksandr or on instagram at @paul_aleksandr.

If you’re attending Birmingham Pride this weekend, Dragpunk’s legendary Emo Party I’m Not Ok Will be opening the future stage at 2:30. If you’re a fan of the weird and wonderful, get on down.

You can keep up to date with his work as well as tour dates and parties being thrown by the Dragpunk collective on Facebook or via @dragpunk on instagram and Drag_Punk on Twitter. 

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Preview: Mint Festival

Mint Festival is back and it’s bigger and better than ever for its seventh edition. The North’s most essential dance gathering isn’t resting on its laurels and it’s curated one of the best line-ups you’ll find anywhere. There’s also more stages, more production and a few surprises in there which will not disappoint!

Based in Leeds (venue TBA) it celebrates the best from the worlds of house, techno, disco, bass and electro and welcomes some of the biggest names in these genres to this Yorkshire paradise.

Stellar names such as DJ EZ, Kerri Chandler, Adam Beyer, Moodymann, Peggy Gou, Derrick Carter, Eats Everything, Tom Zanetti, Patrick Topping and Skream will all be in attendance making sure that there won’t be a single person there not dancing.

There will be four different arenas this year. The first is The Bunker which is a brilliant no-frills space made from shipping containers. Next is Area 51, a vast hangar that is usually used to store fighter jets. This is possibly the largest single festival structure in the UK!

Thirdly, there’s the Woodstock Disco which will be showcasing the world’s biggest disco ball (and it’s where you’ll find me all afternoon and evening). It’s as high as a three story house and covered in a kilometre of reflective tiles so will be the focal point of a 360 degree party as you dance underneath.

And finally, there’s the Arcadia Afterburner which will host separate day and night parties. Those who frequent the UK festival scene will be familiar with Arcadia and will know exactly that partying there is unlike any other partying experience you can imagine.

With sick new stages like The Hangar The Red Bull Arena also returns and there will be loads of tasty street food, cocktail stalls, glitter stalls, posh loos and a perfect chill out area where you can take it easy and absorb the atmosphere.

Tickets are moving fast and theres a flash sale on right now so make sure you snap yours up right away here – www.mintfestival.co.uk

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