Well that’s a wrap folks! 0161 Festival 2018 is finished, all that remains is some shattered bodies and glistening memories. Word on the street is that this edition of the Manchester Antifascist festival was the best one yet. Let’s be honest with ourselves, that isn’t just idle gossip, that’s indisputable fact.
The fifth installment of 0161 blew us away. I mean Moscow Death Brigade on the same bill as an Antifascist Black Metal band (they’re called Dawn Ray’d and they really caught punters attention for all the right reasons), the legendary Stage Bottles (we’re sometimes anti-social, but we’re always antifascist!) and Anarcho-punk legends Cress (hands up, who else counts The Greed Machine and The Money Tree in their top 10 Anarcho-Punk releases of all time, I do). That was just half the Anna Campbell stage line up on the Saturday. There wasn’t a band or act on either the Anna Campbell stage or the Almost Acoustic stage that I wouldn’t be happy to spend my hard earned on seeing at another gig.
I’m not going to do a rundown on every act I had the pleasure of seeing, I really couldn’t do them justice. Just take a look at the line up over the weekend and it will speak for itself. So many Antifascist staples in attendance; Oi Polloi were down from north of the border, The Bois went long haul from Singapore, Fatal Blow up from Wales (former members of much loved Oi! band The Oppressed), and as previously mentioned Stage Bottles were in from Germany and Moscow Death Brigade managed to scrape together visas from Russia. You can only imagine how hyped the crowd was, chants and sing alongs all round, just how we like it.
Instead let’s talk about the atmosphere and what makes this such a special occasion. It’s the reasons we all travelled to a wonderful Irish Social Club in the Manchester suburbs. Antifascism, Community, Solidarity. These three powerful words, words many of us live our lives by on a daily basis and the baseline of what brings all of the bands, crew, punters and stall holders together. Bands and acts from different scenes, people from different subcultures or from no subculture at all, from various political backgrounds and ideologies, all under one banner. When you scrape the surface of many festivals you just find a mass of drunk punters there for music, preferably with no fuss attached which allows full escapism, which is great and there’s nothing wrong with that. Honestly we’re in full support of those too! 0161 Festival however is something more, it’s empowering, every year striving to do it’s bit promoting the defence of our communities from fascism and bigotry, and this year they took it to the next level.
We met so many people who had travelled hundreds, even thousands of miles to be there. Chatting in between the acts about where they come from, their experiences and their stories. So many struggles coming together. With a great mix of stalls, from regulars Fire and Flames who bring their label, distro and streetwear over from Germany to Disabled People Against the Cuts keeping their daily struggle at the forefront of our minds like it should be. Familiar faces from Bristol Antifascists representing with their usual great merchandise selection and ofcourse yours truly trying to offload our gear between soaking up the good vibes (seriously, big shout out to anyone who bought something from us, especially our new t-shirts. You’re awesome!).
As we have mentioned in the run up to the festival the main stage had been renamed in memorium of Anna Campbell, the first female British national to be killed fighting for the YPJ. On the Saturday everything came to a halt as people gathered in the main room, so that we could be moved to the brink of tears by the memorial speech given by some of Annas closest friends. Following this the hall erupted into chanting, a fitting tribute and Anna truly lives on in our hearts and minds. This all fits seamlessly into the wonderful community that 0161 has built around itself.
Once again St Kents couldn’t have been more welcoming, unsuprising after they proved themselves to be great hosts last year. Top notch vegan grub from the kitchens, friendly and helpful locals and bar staff. St Kents really is the place to be! The crew who give up their time to muck in and make sure we can all have a great time, from the folks n security to the sound team and stage managers, the great folk on the door, the media team, they deserve a huge round of applause for such a successful weekend.
So that’s a wrap and the hard work begins all over again to make 0161 Festival 2019 even better. We can’t wait to see what next year brings and there’s no doubt you’ll be seeing us back for another round!
Written by John at Moral Decay Distro