Witch Fever


When I first saw punk band WITCH FEVER in March, they made such an impression on me that I really didn’t want to miss out on their headline show at Yes (The Basement). In between then and now, they have toured with Lady Bird and GURU, but tonight is their first show back in Manchester, with support from Bleach Body and Feral Family.

Bleach Body, a noisy trio based in Manchester, kick the night off. Although the show is sold out, the room is not too packed during their set, and only a few people make it to the very front. Already during their opening song, the chemistry of the band, especially between singer/guitarist Ioanna and bassist Luke, is remarkable. They are full of energy and continually dancing while they’re playing, approaching and boosting each other.

Through combining strong vocals and distinctive basslines, the group manages to create a really refreshing sound with elements of punk and grunge. Especially during their solos, it becomes apparent what skilled musicians they are.

One of their songs (‘Wish You Well’) is dedicated to Ioanna’s sister, who is down here to see them live for the first time. Although it still is a loud punk song, and not what I would call a traditional love song, her emotions and love for her sister are noticeable, making this a lovely performance.

Their 30-minute set closes with a song about Greece (‘A Place in the Sun’), which is where Ioanna is from. This song seems to be the highlight for the band; the vocals are now even louder and more enthusiastic, Ioanna kneels while playing, and even drummer Adrian is dancing now. Apart from the fact that they sound really good, their energy, and the fact that they have so much fun themselves, makes this a great set.

After some tunes brought to us by DJ Alan McGee, the venue fills a bit more and Feral Family enter the stage. Just yesterday, the fourpiece from Sheffield released their new single ‘The North’, a socio-critical anthem.

The band combines elements of different genres and have a rather diverse sound, so that I am struggling to assign them to a genre. It’s not only that each song sounds fairly different, but even the individual songs themselves are influenced by several genres. What seems like an alternative rock song at first, suddenly has a skate punky hook, or a slightly experimental bridge. Jamie Lowe’s vocals range from aggressive shouting to really melodic singing, even both during the same song. Yet, what all songs definitely have in common are the heavy basslines and raw vocals.

Their performance is definitely energetic, however, they seem a bit more cautious and sullen than Bleach Body. Their dynamic is mostly expressed through Lowe and his aggressiveness.

Naturally, what you get at every gig by a band from Yorkshire, and what’s not missing tonight, are the people in the crowd that randomly start shouting “Yorkshire! Yorkshire!”. Although Lowe only acknowledges it at first, he later raises his fist and joins their shouting before he gets off stage.

Overall, their set has a unique sound and is quite diverse, however, I struggle with their vibe as I’m not exactly sure why Lowe is so angry at us – even when he smiles he doesn’t seem content.

As WITCH FEVER are about to get on stage, the room is really packed and you can basically feel the anticipation for the headliner. The crowd welcomes them with loud and appraising shouting.

They open with their usual strong sound and dynamic, and immediately get the crowd going. During their second song, singer Amy Walpole grabs her microphone, leaves the stage, and walks through the crowd. Funnily enough, she is rather short and I only realise she left the stage as she stands next to me. Later, she climbs on the bar and performs a song on top of it.

The people here tonight definitely seem like the band’s loyal fanbase, and even Walpole seems kind of confused as at least half of the audience are singing their lyrics along with her.

As they are about to perform a slower song, Walpole announces that her parents are at the show tonight, and that her mum just beat cancer this year. The crowd starts shouting and applauding, which seems to encourage Walpole even more, and although the song is slower, it is no way quieter than the others.

They introduce another of their songs as a reaction to a horrible experience they had while playing in Bristol. As a feminist band, they stand against and fight sexism and misogyny, and the fact that they frequently are subjects of sexist remarks themselves, just shows how relevant this is. They also mention the newly passed abortion laws in the US, state their disapproval of them, and make clear that everyone who agrees with those laws should better leave their show.

What makes WITCH FEVER really likeable (apart from their skills as musicians and political stance, obviously), is that they are just lovely when they’re interacting with the crowd. There is no ‘fuck you all’ or overdone and unnecessary rude attitude which you often find at punk shows. In fact, when I had some chips before the gig, Walpole and her parents happened to sit at the table next to us. If you didn’t know anything about her, you would never have guessed that she’s about to scream at several dozen of people later that evening.

With their sound, their dynamic with each other and with the crowd, and their empowering demeanour, WITCH FEVER show once again what a skilled and special band they are. No wonder their show sold out!

WITCH FEVER: Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

Dahlia Owusu

My decision to leave Germany and move to Manchester was most definitely influenced by my love for music and going to gigs. I came here in 2018 and am now studying English and Journalism at Manchester Met. When I’m not at a gig, you’ll usually find me reading or in a café.