It’s taken only two years for the one-day punk festival to expand its wings to a whole weekend of music and mates. This year’s collaboration between Above The Waves and Failure By Design Records set up three themed stages with the Friday at Juniper Berry (Bill’s stage), Saturday at The Talking heads (Freaks Stage) and Sunday at the Joiners (Geeks Stage).

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Promoter of Above The Waves, Kate Coulson solely put on 28 bands across three days in two venues, with Failure by Design chipping in for Friday’s stage, “it was one hell of a feat for us,” Coulson tells us. “The feedback we received from the bands and those that came to the fest was overwhelming. It was huge step up for us and we hope to keep going, making So Punk bigger and better in the years to come.”

The weekend had begun early with a collection of up-and-coming DIY bands from the south coast hitting off the Friday straight after you’ve finished work. Headliners Muskets, who are no strangers to playing punk shows in Southampton, smashed their way into the Juniper Berry, after itoldyouiwouldeatyou, The New Tusk, Gun Shy and Gender Roles played their mighty sets.

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“It was great to have the guys over at Failure By Design on board again. They really have their finger on the pulse and are great people to work with,” Coulson adds. Last years line up featured Yearbook, Wallflower, Weatherstate, Homebound and openers Redwood who ended the Sunday of the festival. Vocalist and bassist Conor Bond talks a bit about the importance of independent venues and promotes. “Southampton is like our second hometown, in how we are welcomed by friends and promoters alike. So Punk Fest is an incredibly important time for so many like-minded bands, creative and friends to come together.”

This new turnover of being three days was certainty a lot more hectic for everyone involved, but Brighton’s Muskets certainly appreciated Coulson’s dedication, telling us that “it was cool to see some familiar faces and Kate killing it as a promoter.”

Indeed the festival was a nice place for bands from all over the UK small or big, So Punk Fest has always been a warm and welcoming place for anyone to enjoy, not only for lovers of punk, but also to chill out and meet up with some mates.

Its importance to the Southampton punk scene has been crucial, and 2017 brought a new wave of bands such as, Drawstring, Pet Library, Fresh, Sad Blood, Lightcliffe, Apologies, I Have None, Don’t Worry many more thriving musicians.

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Music wasn’t the only highlight of the festival; with the help of Dooley’s kitchen everyone was well feed. “I’ve just started a pop-up cafe that serves vegan food and I served Cajun sweet potato bean burgers at So Punk Fest. The whole weekend was absolutely brilliant and I’m so glad that I launched my business there,” Mollie-Rose Dooley tells us. Dooley’s homemade treats were absolutely divine, and it’s little things like this that really ties the community together, and that’s exactly what this festival brought to Southampton.

Words and photos by Isha Shah

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