Punk is dead right? We've been hearing that since 1978 and many probably believe it to be true. The problem with punk was always that it became fragmented almost as soon as it appeared, cliques were formed, the bitching began and the whole original scene imploded. Then came the second and third waves of punk, anarcho punk, ska punk, street punk and so on. Citizen Fish's Dick Lucas summed it up perfectly with the lyric "We've got Straightedge, Hardcore, this Core, that Core... too many dividing lines!". Over time these divisions have seen the suppression of grass roots UK punk in favour it's more media friendly US counterpart and the hardcore/metal crossover scene. Nobody is going to argue that there aren't some fine bands that have come out of that scene but with the demise of the serious competition surrounding the likes of NME and Kerrang all you get via that medium is what you're spoon fed. Take recent media darlings Gallows, a decent band for sure but come on, they're not groundbreaking and they're not the revolutionary gods that the media would have us believe.

So is that it? You're young, pissed off, you want to make a fucking racket but no one wants to hear it and there's nowhere to play? Well if you're prepared to look outside the mainstream press and venues, in Manchester at least there are a small but dedicated few that are doing there best to give new punk bands a foot up the ladder. One such local is Dave, better known as Fungal Punk who keeps the original DIY ethic of punk alive by putting on gigs and tours featuring often unknown bands, often for free but who feels he is often fighting a losing battle. The main reason for this is the apathy of punters who only want to turn out to see well established bands and to wallow in nostalgia. Speaking to him at the recent Subhumans gig at Manchester's Star & Garter he hit the nail firmly on the head "I could put on bands like Subhumans or the UK Subs every week and we'd always get a good turn out but if I put the same line up on the week after without the headliners there will be noone there!". He was spot on, there were a lot of people at that gig but he had to spend a lot of time rounding people up to make them go upstairs to see the support bands. The scene has to move on, there are still bands out there trying to keep the spirit of punk alive whilst bringing something fresh and vibrant to the table and that was always what was so exciting about punk first time round.

Making the effort to go out and see new bands is always a double edged sword, it's like a car boot sale, you're always going to get a fair bit of crap but eventually you'll come across a few real gems that make it all worthwhile. Put the effort in and you'll get your reward, if you're happy enough to sit back and moan about the plethora of mediocrity that the media bombards you with then it's time to realise that you're part of the problem!

So what about tonight's offering? Well the first band up tonight are Barnyard Masturbator draw comparisons with early 80s punk like Vice Squad but as their set progresses they show that there's much more to them. Featuring the lowest strung guitar you're ever likely to see, guitarist Schtevie McHaggis is a big guy and subsequently spends most of the gig bending down in order to play it! He does however manage to unleash a succession of impressive riffs over which American singer Scarlot da Harlot delivers forceful vocals and turns in a good performance on a small stage. She is somewhat hampered by the regular attention of one enthusiastic punter who continually climbs up on the stage (and promptly falls off it on his way back!). I'm beginning to think bass player Mike is glued to the floor as he doesn't appear to move at all but this is countered by Scarlot and Schtevie who give energetic performances and they go down extremely well.

The pick of tonight's support bands are Manchester's Revenge of the Psychotronic Man. They come out with all guns blazing and don't let up throughout their set. Guitarists Liam and Dave climb up on the monitors and really get in the face of the crowd, it's a great showing and their highly visual performance makes for compelling viewing. The songs are more melodic than what's gone before, leaning more towards Rancid circa 'Out Come the Wolves' with a touch of early Wildhearts perhaps? To a crowd made up of 90% hardcore punks they don't get the reception they warrant. They all take turns singing but it's the unfeasibly large tongued bassist Andy who takes centre stage. There's a touch of humour about the band as well, which is good to see and is something that is all too often missing from the punk scene. Definitely one to look out for.

Headliners Subhumans were as good as ever and remain a shining example of how you can push the boundaries within any genre. A full review of their set can be found here.

So 'real' punk may be dead and buried as far as mainstream media is concerned but it's alive and well on the underground, which after all is where it all began. So do yourself a favour, get off your arse, make the effort and check out your local scene, you might be pleasantly surprised! Fungal Punk's done some of the work for you, check out his website and discover a whole new world of