• Josh Hughes

GIG REVIEW: CRAPFEST, EBGS/JACARANDA

Updated: Oct 7, 2021

Who'll babysit the goths?

Ash Rowe


18 MONTHS. That's how long it's been since I've gone to a show. I dipped my toes in with a Society Of Losers night in Black Cat at the end of July, but I was way too nervous to take my pen and pad to review it. However, rejoice! Birkenhead junk punks Crapsons brought back their seminal punk all-dayer Crapfest for the August bank holiday weekend, and this time it's bigger than ever. Expanding the fest across three stages is a great move, and it's DIY heaven, with a bill packed to the brim with the best underground bands from the North West and beyond. Even more impressive is that tickets sold out two weeks before the big date, a feat that's rare for such a grassroots festival, but they pulled it off. So let's delve into the basements of EBGBs and Jacaranda and see what's lurking...


Shamefully, I got caught in bank holiday traffic on an e-scooter, so I missed one of the bands on my hitlist, Bleach Sweets (10/10). They opened the day in EBGBs with their fantastic melodic noise rock, but I only managed to make it for set closer "Nice Guys". It's my favourite song of theirs, so there was some solace in my lateness, and for that they get a default perfect score. I implore you to catch them when you can, because the limited time spent with them was stupidly brilliant.

Dan Cain Photography


Following them on the same stage was Tits Up (9/10), a band I'd known about for ages but had never experienced live before. They didn't disappoint, testing the alertness of the crowd with "Psycho" with the slightest of nerves before comfortably sinking into the driver's seat and pulling off an immense performance.Their sound was like a mix of Dream Wife and Veruca Salt, but that's not to say they didn't have a varied sound. At times, they reminded me of Babies In Toyland, and some points, their slow and seductive sound was akin to Slowdive. Also, I love me some dual vocals, so the shared duties between drummer Amanda Scheibert and bassist Aoibhinn Aindreasa was an interesting dynamic, topped off by guitarist Jess Beesley's killer work.

Dan Cain Photography


Tits Up were the band to start the motions and groove in EBGBs, but I sprinted down the road to find Birmingham's Wave Of Sheep (9/10) with the same task to fulfil over at The Jacaranda. Another band I'd only heard about, their pop-punk sound was electric from the very start of their set. Save for a bit of unplanned awkward stage banter and a couple of jokes, they were fresh and punchy, reminiscent of an early Green Day. The standouts were singer Joe Tattersall's amazing stage presence and drummer Sam Hignett's incredible drum work. Sadly, I had to pop off early for the next band at EBGBs, but I left smiling as more people flooded in to the the quartet.


Next up were melodic heavy trio KIN (8/10), whose brand of Reuben/Jamie Lenman infused rock blends thunderous riffage with gorgeous melody and a lot of screaming and shouting too. Ash Rowe handles the more melodic parts and Solomon Murphy brings the shout, but both are equally excellent at their roles. I've always loved how the duo swap instruments partway through their set, showing off their versatility and creativity as musicians, not to also mention the impeccable work of David Gaskell on drums. I don't think there's a better trio of madheads in the Liverpool scene right now. Get on them.

Dan Cain Photography


After a rather sweaty set and a £3.50 bottle of Carlsberg!!!!, it was back to the Jac for smart art rockers Elevant (10/10), another band I'd been meaning to see for years, and holy shit, they were the highlight of the day!!! From the moment frontman Michael Edward put his pick to his strings, it was game over for the crowd; they were putty in the hands of the eclectic quartet. They were tighter than the price of my aforementioned bottle of brewed piss, with perfectly crafted twin guitar work from Edward and fellow guitarist Oli Cummins weaving its way through the low ceiling of the basement, backed by a devilish rhythm section comprised of drummer Tom Shand and bassist Hannah Lodge. It's a crime that these aren't bigger than they are, so give them all of your attention next time they play in your area.

Richie Yates


I went outside for a smoke to catch up with some old friends (holding out for that Disastronauts comeback) before heading back in for ANOTHER band I've yet to actually see despite knowing of them for years. It's almost like Crapsons formulated this as a catch-up festival for me. Last Reserves (8/10) have been a big name on the local punk circuit for years, and in recent years have picked up some steam around the UK, and I'm not fucking surprised. The music is simple but effective; straight-up punk with a gnarly edge and the occasional sick solo. But their spirit and heart is in Alice Nancy, probably the most authentic and brutally honest frontwoman I've ever had the pleasure to see perform. Between swigs of water and writhing about on the floor in pure angst, she talks about issues such as animal welfare, mental health and politics in the most sincere way. Nancy and her band definitely have a promising career ahead of them, with a killer combo of astonishingly real punk energy and one of the frontwomen I've ever seen.

Sarah Sidwell Photography


Another swig of water and Amstel, and it was back to EBGBs for potentially the most anticipated band of the day: Salt The Snail (9/10). Now, Alice Nancy may be one of the top frontwomen in punk, but Krystian Hudson is already the modern GOAT for punk frontmen. He can stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Pelle Almqvist from The Hives, Henry Rollins from Black Flag and Joe Talbot from IDLES. The quintet force feed adrenaline to the ravenous crowd with each and every song, Hudson himself spending most of his time in the middle of the pit armed with a setlist lottery and only tethered to the rest of the band with his microphone cord like some sort of musical umbilical cord. As members of the crowd picked out increasingly more raucous tunes, the inflatables the band brings to every show were battered around the room, making sure it touched every single sweaty bonce in the venue. I even got caught in the adrenaline frenzy, pumping my newly acquired anti-Crapfest placard on stage with the might of a million madmen. To put it short, don't sleep on them. They've just sold out a show in Bristol and look set on breaking through in 2022. They are truly one of the best and innovative bands on the live circuit right now.

Sarah Sidwell Photography


After that, I was shattered, so I was unable to experience the likes of Problem Patterns and Mouses, two more bands on my hitlist. However, I was revived in time for Crapsons headline set by Busk With Us (10/10), a boss outfit from Manchester. You'll usually see them in the streets of Manc armed with a small kit, endless junk percussion and an invitation to join in. For Crapfest, they'd previously been going around dressed as health and safety workers and roving reporters, adding a welcome twist to the day's events. They were hilarious and had inventive interactivity with the crowd, and evidently put a lot of time and effort into their contribution to the fest. This culminated in a "protest" against Crapfest just before Salt The Snail's set before setting up in the Heebie's courtyard and struck up a hootenanny of dented pans, big band drums and cowbells with both gig-goers and Bank Holiday revellers alike. It brought a sense of community that I feel punk should be all about, and they were a massive highlight of the day.

Dan Cain Photography


Revived from the wholesomeness of Busk With Us, it was finally time for Crapsons (9/10), the masterminds behind this event. Andy Gilbert and Mike Markey put blood, sweat and tears into an all-dayer that wasn't just for the punk masses to enjoy, but also to raise money for Open Door Centre, a local mental health charity, an incredible and selfless feat for a couple of fellas who sold out their own festival. They came on stage to a deserved ripple of applause, and kicked straight into their set with a boom and didn't let up the whole time. Markey is another guy who has the audience in the palm of his hand, whilst Gilbert smashes away on his minimalist kit. It was around the point that Salt The Snail's Krystian slinked in to take to the stage dressed as a nun that the day finally hit me; I was done. I unfortunately had to clamber out of the venue and onto the 86 so I could rest my bones after such a physically challenging day of darting between venues and headbanging the last of my brain cells out of existence. The only reason this is coming out today is because I've been absolutely knackered whilst packing for a move this weekend. Viva la Crapfest though.

Sarah Sidwell Photography


Overall, Crapfest was more than just a gig; it's the mark of the scene coming back in full force. The whole thing was a truly authentic and genuinely invigorating day from start to finish, as much as my muscles and bones would like to argue against that point. And save for a couple of late starts and an odd booking here or there, the day went off without a hitch. To pull of such an immense alternative event amongst the sludge of DJ David Soul in the Seel Street car park and countless drunk fools stumbling down the road is one of the highlights of the local music scene and should stand as the high bar for other promoters and events to aspire to be at. Thank you Crapsons and others, thank you to the venue staff, and thank you to everyone who liked my homemade t-shirt.

Ash Rowe


Rating: 9.3/10

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