Festival Review: Girlz Rawk! – Factory, Manchester (9th March 2019)

Today’s event is the inaugural Girlz Rawk! Weekender. A tale of two cities, my northern hometown of Manchester and that there London. Factory plays host to club nights and bands alike. Ten bands on the bill and not a lot of time allowed for changeovers would cause some issues later – for the bands and and me personally.

Splintered Halo

Splintered Halo (c) Scott Moore

Splintered Halo describe themselves as character metal. They have character and they do play metal. I think this band will divide metal fans’ opinion (like so many other bands, I hear you cry!) but that is no bad thing. Unless of course you want everyone to like you which just is not possible. They are extreme in their performance and their songs so I doubt there is much middle ground. Again, this is no bad thing and something that so many metal bands now have taught us to expect.

They ask you to open the chained up door to their asylum, walk past the cobwebs with no torch, nothing to protect you or no means of obvious escape and come on a journey through this nightmarish place with them. Well, we’re here so let’s go with it.

It certainly isn’t the easiest but it is a remarkable and thought provoking journey. Art is subjective and for many this kind of a show might just be too much but being made to think about what I’m listening to and what I’m thinking is definitely different and intriguing. The guitar work is complex and impressive, I think Splintered Halo are currently looking for an additional guitarist to don another mask. The rest of the band all hold their own in a similar fashion with Evilyn performing to the fore with some suitably excellent yet unsettling vocals covering a great range of clean, harsh and just downright bonkers vocals. Evilyn switches props and costume during the show and not having the background to the songs I’m not sure what’s going on but it is very effective in creating atmosphere.

I love the intro to “I Bathe in Blood”, the second tune up. Not long after the guitar coaxes us in, The Dandy Man on bass joins simultaneously with Dollface and Evilyn. This could and probably should be a soundtrack to a slasher movie. Even better might be a backing for the Circus of Horrors.

Band Members

  • Evilyn – Vocals
  • The Test Subject – Guitar
  • Jabberwocky – Guitar
  • The Dandy Man – Bass
  • Dollface – Drums

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Fear Me December

Fear Me December (c) Scott Moore

How do you follow that? With our favourite adopted Argentinian Mancunians of course. Victoria throws her dreads around with reckless abandon from the off. FMD are familiar to me, having listened to all of their material and having several failed attempts to see them live previously, I was really looking forward to this show. The four piece and additional bass track put out a hefty slice of nu-metal.

Fans of the band will note that Victoria has switched from bass now to help focus on vocals. I don’t think this was supposed to include a backflip over the amp at one point though, judges holding metaphorical 5/5 score cards. Fortunately the band sort out the technical hitch that was plaguing the amp after that during the song and Victoria seems ok. It’s a solid set from the Latin Mancs and despite these setbacks they carry on and entertain regardless, showing a high level of professionalism and commitment.

Set opener “Crystallized” was featured on the FYM YouTube channel to rave reviews and this sets the tone. “Not Wired the Same” has quite a pop punk feel to it with a really catchy chorus. “Between Violence and Silence”… this is the stuff that FMD are about with all guns blazing.

It’s just a shame they haven’t got longer than their allotted thirty minutes, but it’s a great taster and sets up the next band well.

Band Members

  • Victoria – Vocals
  • Valentín – Lead guitars
  • Stuart – Rhythm guitars
  • Antony – Drums

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IDestroy (c) Scott Moore

My previous experience of IDestroy was practically zero. I’m happy to report they were an unexpected breath of fresh air and I’m at a loss as to how I have missed them previously as they are exactly the kind of band I look for in something new to listen to.

Their sound has a pleasingly retro feel to it with this stripped down but remarkably fun full three piece. They describe themselves as punk. This is not the punk that scared radio stations into banning singles or packed out the CBGB’s but the attitude and energy is all there. They definitely have a modern feel to them despite this retro vibe and it’s working really well live.

The backing vocals on “98%” are infectiously catchy and the bassline will have you wanting to jump around like a crazy person. “You got a face like you been sucking on Lemons you ain’t no fun…” Lemons. They write lyrics that make me smile.

IDestroy are exciting to watch and to listen to. I highly recommend checking them out live and they have a couple of EPs available which are worth a punt. I hope that this band records more material soon and keeps growing in stature.

Band Members

  • Bec Jevons
  • Jenn Hills
  • Nicola Wilton-Baker

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Salvation Jayne

Salvation Jayne (c) Scott Moore

Salvation Jayne brought an unexpected sense of glamour and sophistication to the proceedings whilst still managing to rock the Factory to its foundations. Which is dodgy when you consider we are by a canal. They are another band that stretches the diversity of the music on offer in today’s festival. Salvation Jayne play an absolutely solid collection of alternative rock to bring out the foot tapping, head nodding antics of even the most conservative onlooker.

After the obligatory technical hitch with the bass player’s pedalboard we are underway and said bass is driving us forward on the good ship Salvation Jayne. “Cortez” is a great way to open a show and everyone is hooked. The drum intro of “Black Heart” invites the rest of the band and crowd to join in another belting tune. As good as all the other bands were I feel like we have stepped up a gear. We aren’t half way through the bands and we are in danger of reaching untold heights. The majority of the set is from last year’s self-titled EP. It’s checkmate (sorry) as “Chess” lays down some superb vocals. Wrapping this shindig up are two vastly different tracks – the beautiful “Juno” with luscious guitar work and the rocking “Whorehouse”. A great show from Salvation Jayne and yet another band that I will be looking forward to seeing again.

Band Members

  • Chess Smith – Vocals
  • Holly Kinnear – Guitar
  • Dan Lucas – Bass
  • Tor Charlesworth – Drums

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Evyltyde (c) Scott Moore

It would be hard not to enjoy this band live. They are performers, all of them. “Eye for an Eye” sets the bar high with ferocious riffs from Danny and a powerful vocal performance from Hannah. More about the mental rhythm section presently. Reading the bands influences is like a who’s who of metal with some of my all-time favourite bands. Time well spent being inspired by Sabbath and Metallica in my opinion. They are not just clones of these bands though, they very much have their own style and sound.

With two albums and various singles in the bag, Evyltyde have plenty of material to draw upon. “Dark Within” lets Danny show off his licks and his vocals are unleashed. Noah on bass is a behemoth in stature and sound, he rarely stays still for long and is all around the stage and off it. The new drummer Alice is amazing. She holds it all together in the corner of the stage and she is out to kill her kit. I swear down if Animal had a sister it would be Alice, respect to drum kit manufacturers and if Natal etc. need a crash test dummy they need look no further.

A really enjoyable set. I hope they can just get to that next level somehow. Yes, it is another band to go and see.

Band Members

  • Danny Merton – Guitar
  • Hannah Delany – Vocals
  • Noah Scott – Bass
  • Alice Bates – Drums

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Weekend Recovery

Weekend Recovery (c) Scott Moore

I felt that Weekend Recovery had a lot more in common with IDestroy than the other bands, down to the rawness and energy of the band. Two guitars fitted them well allowing Lorin to concentrate more on vocals but still give that great grungy backing guitar.

Weekend Recovery are exciting and I’d like to see them with a more partisan crowd top of the bill with kids crowd surfing much to the anguish of security, harkening back to the glory days of Sub Pop.

As it is they are still playing to enthralled crowd and are a lot of fun. “In the Mourning” is typical of the set but has a real hook. “Bite Your Tongue” has a great rhythm and is easy for the crowd to sign along to in places.

A great performance from Weekend Recovery and I would be surprised if bigger things aren’t afoot for this young band.

Band Members

  • Lorin – Vocals/Guitar
  • Owen – Lead Guitar
  • Josh – Bass
  • Marcus – Drums

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Bad Pollyanna

Bad Pollyanna (c) Scott Moore

After what seemed like an age and probably wasn’t, the vocals for Bad Pollyanna were sorted out and the show, as they say, could go on. Thankfully. My notes for Bad Pollyanna consisted of amazing, professional, intelligent, and thoughtful. Let me expand on this.

Bad Pollyanna have been around awhile and they have two very strong albums out with another one to be released around May/June. Bravely they played a couple of tunes from this upcoming album.

Olivia has one of those voices that given the right material can make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Bad Pollyanna gives Olivia plenty of scope to do this. Opening up with a track from their Broken Toys album is “Bionic Heart” and we see Olivia going into role of a seasoned performer feeling her way into the music. Professional and natural but probably with hours of rehearsal. The festival is going through those gears swiftly now. The band are firing on all cylinders with 2014’s album title track “Monstrous Child” continuing the amazing performance from everyone in the band.

Several tracks in it’s all going swimmingly then we have “Hollow”, a former single. What an amazing track and there’s that hair standing on end moment again. The defining moment (groan) for me would have to be “Define Me” with thought-provoking and intelligent lyrics.

A fantastic performance. I’m looking forward to the third album and seeing them more live.

Band Members

  • Olivia Hyde – Vocals/Piano
  • Nikki Kontinen – Bass/Programming
  • Paul Glover – Guitars

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Mask of Judas

Mask of Judas (c) Scott Moore

The first time I heard of Mask of Judas was from that man Kevin Yates on FYM Reacts. OK these are going to be pretty good. They have recently issued an album so check that out – it’s available in the usual places and on the Bandcamp link below.

MOJ are intricate, technical and melodic. Their music weaves a complex pattern of metal rich and vibrant. “Alive” is the set opener and typifies the music of MOJ and when the songs over I’m thinking “can I have that again? I missed about a million notes”. If like myself you haven’t been listening to them a lot you will need more than one listen, the complexity of the music warrants this.

“The Conspirator” is the single that FYM Reacts featured and it’s a very strong track with at times jazzy vibes underpinning the ferocious metal beat. The musicianship of these guys is phenomenal and Jo’s clean vocals dip and soar whilst the harsh vocals hit you like a brick. Jo’s growl at the beginning of “Empire” is astonishing, for example.

The sound that the five of these produce is intense and intelligent. Tempos change, riffs crash on the walls of the Factory like waves on rocks. The other band members respond in fashion. The important thing is though it’s never dull. Whilst some of the earlier bands benefited from their simplicity, MOJ benefit from their wealth of complexity.

Another great set. Check out their social media, music, merch and all that good stuff from the links provided.

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Band Members

  • Jo Challen – Vocals
  • Sam Bell – Guitar
  • Jof Walsh – Drums
  • George Bell – Bass
  • Reece Fullwood – Guitar


Thundermother (c) Scott Moore

The penultimate but final band for me personally are from Sweden. They have come a long way and sadly they are having to cut their set short so they wing it midway through, changing what they were going to do. There was a lot of interest in this band beforehand from the crowd. They have gone through a number of personnel changes but to my eyes and ears were absolutely rock solid. Losing four members of a band would crush many bands but Thundermother have come back from that strongly.

Thundermother couldn’t be more different to MOJ if they tried. This is no frills, “let’s have a good time” heavy rock. They wear their influences on their collective sleeves and are fantastic. If AC/DC had sisters with instruments then this would be them.

They know how to work the crowd, “Put your cameras down and your hands in the air!” Filipa is rocking her Explorer then off the stage and in the crowd soloing and posing for selfies. It’s all crowd pleasing stuff and then she downs a beer in one and plays slide guitar with the empty. Every rocker’s dream woman! A brilliant show and probably the best response yet from the crowd.

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Band Members

  • Guernica Mancini
  • Filippa Nassil
  • Emlee Johansson
  • Sara Pettersson

Unfortunately as the bands ran over I had to leave as Kalidia, the final band of the evening, were just setting up. Apologies to Kalidia for missing this – I’m sure they were fantastic. Hopefully I’ll catch them another time.

What of Girlz Rawk’s first festival though? For me it was a success with a few caveats that I hope they will reflect on. 15 minutes changeover time between bands is a tad optimistic and things will go wrong with gear so maybe have more time next year? The diversity of the bands was, I feel, a boon but also a detriment as it was obvious that some people came for certain bands then left, so by the end of the night there was very few people in attendance.

People have so much to occupy their time with these days it is hard for promoters to get people through the doors. Ten bands for just £10 is dirt cheap and it’s a crying shame to me that it was not better attended. If local people don’t support events that are put on locally for them then these things will not be able to run in future which is a great loss.

So why was it a success despite the crowd and lack of time in between bands? It was celebrating International Women’s Day and this was a perfect platform to show the uniqueness, intelligence and diversity of these women working in the music industry. The music was great and for those that did attend it was a fantastic sampler of just a few bands that have women as part of their setup, or all of it in some cases!

Photos by Scott Moore Photography

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