By rule of thumb, ALL DAYERS suck! The sound is shoddy because the sound engineer is working for too long and underpaid, the early bands tend to be shoddy local bands, all the bands start to sound the same and by the time the main bands are on you are usually too pissed to enjoy them. Not at WONKFEST!
What we got from start to finish is quality bands from all over the country, playing a different range of styles, with perfect length 25 minute sets, a free buffet & BBQ, and shit hot sound throughout. The beer was expensive, yet that’s just London – at least they had a range of bottled real ale on offer. This was how to do a mixed bill and it exposed the mundane nature of other established punk festivals who always stick to the same formula. The Wonkfest quite rightly labels itself as “21st Century Punk” – great keyring by the way! All in support of friends of the Wonk Unit, a local foodbank, and highlighting the plight of bees.
The Dome is a great venue. It has a large square hall with a wooden floor. The sound is loud, the set up means you can hear the music perfectly from everywhere in the room, and the lighting gives it a nice big show feel.
The first band we saw was BLACK VOLVO, a three-piece fast & heavy punk rock act, who had a singer seemingly sporting dyed blonde hair, and a drummer that enjoyed standing up. Then it was the turn of THE FUR COATS, one of the few bands from outside the UK, playing infectious pop punk. Back upstairs and it was time for Leeds’ TOSSERLAD playing fast rock n roll punk. It was great to hear some strong Yorkshire accents, and the guitarist had an amusing t-shirt that read: Curry makes you shit hot – appropriate Wonk humour. BOSCO ROGERS cancelled, so then it was 7 DAY CONSPIRACY, who shredded through a mix of mid 90s epifat riffs and skankable numbers. They had a good song with a catchy chorus about someone being a cunt. Their set was an important milestone for us, as we managed to keep up with our promise of not starting drinking until 2pm so that we could get through to the end of the night.
MEANSTEED then brought a welcome break from the punk-rock by thrashing their way some party metal hits. At one point the guitarist was being carried round the crowd on someone’s shoulders whilst still playing riffs: A great fun band. Then we were treated to a bit of Oi!/Classic Punk from THE REVERENDS, and it always heart-warming to see people in their 50s still rocking out on stage. Then it was the turn of SHEEPY playing some emo style pop punk. They had a song that only used the words relationship and no, which was quite amusing. Cute guys. Then it was the time for REVENGE OF THE PSYCHOTRONIC MAN who got the mother fucking party started. They blitzed through loads of songs, and managed to get the crowd doing circle pits, walls of death, and human pyramids! It wasn’t even 4pm and it was kicking off big time. BILLY LIAR didn’t play in the end, he was probably stuck somewhere writing another song about being in love with a crazy chick. PETROL GIRLS were a great discovery, a bit anarcho, a bit hardcore, and a bit Rage Against the Machine heavy awesomeness. The singer had a great homemade shirt with the words: Women Wonk Too, which had an anarchy sign inside the o of wonk. Things then started to wind down with an acoustic set from SIMON WELLS. Southport couldn’t play because the drummer couldn’t get any time off from his job a Pizza Hut. We got to hear three Southport and two Snuff songs, including the awesome ‘Martin’, which had a great back story about some dude from Leeds who used to hang out with the band and ended up being thrown in prison for selling drugs. I love it when punks go acoustic and during the spoken bits, go into more depth about the meaning / context of songs.
That brought about our designated half time break. We took a breather and went for a walk to the SOUTHAMPTON ARMS, which is the best ‘Ale, Cider, Meat’ pub in London. On the way back we stopped for a strategic piece of chicken and a can of Gin & Tonic with the crusties sat outside the local off licence.
MING CITY ROCKERS walked on stage looking like the bastard children of bad hair metal and the Libertines, yet treated us to a set of quality MC5 style, fast rock n roll. Then it was BEAT THE RED LIGHT who were playing one of their last ever shows, and they gave us some great ska-punk to boogie to. THE DEAD CLASS from Ireland reminded me of Alkaline Trio for some reason, they were really humble about being asked to reform for the show. WACO suffered from some technical difficulties which unfortunately lost the momentum of their set, they were good though. I have wanted to see THE ROUGHNECK RIOT for some time now and they were fucking class! Great celtic punk with celtic instruments and a raspy vocalist. They even played a cover of ‘You’ by Bad Religion, which pleased me no end. THE MURDERBURGERS were as class as ever, and then it was a nice novel surprise to see that the SLAVINKO WARRIORS was actually just a name for the secret set by SLAVES, who are adored by the music industry at present. They were really good, and appreciative to the Wonk for supporting them before they got big; so much so they are taking them on tour in big venues later in the year. Of course, WONK UNIT killed it and everyone was going mental for them. I somehow managed to stage dive and miss everyone completely, splatting my body onto the floor. We were both way too drunk by this stage, so unfortunately had to miss CULTURE SHOCK in order to head on back home, which was a shame.
All in all, it was a fantastic festival, with a range of quality bands and positive people. Long live the Wonk! 10/10