Sweaty photos of fans in the pit at Outbreak 2023

Sweaty photos of fans in the pit at Outbreak 2023

Chris Bethell captures the UK's biggest and best hardcore festival from the belly of the beast.

As Aaron Bedard put it during Bane’s headline set at Outbreak 2023, there’s never been a moment quite like this in hardcore. From Turnstile being nominated for a GRAMMY, to The New York Times declaring a “renaissance,” to the long list of artists from Soul Glo to Militarie Gun giving things a genre-defying kick up the arse, hardcore has skyrocketed both in popularity and creativity. The shared DNA between punk and hip-hop genres has also evolved in recent years to erase many of the lines between scenes and sounds, ushering in a new era of cross-pollination that finds the subculture at its most diverse and, as a result, most interesting.

Top to bottom: The goth cowboy Denzel Himself crowd-surfing during his set. Someone on their arse during Converge.

In the UK, nothing reflects this shift better than Outbreak. The DIY festival began in a youth centre in Sheffield in 2011 and has since grown into one of the best alternative events in the country, reliably pulling fans from all over Europe and the US. After celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2022 with a stacked line-up of international heavy-hitters including Turnstile and Touché Amoré, this year it made the jump from community and mid-level venues to Depot Mayfield – a 10,000 capacity former railway station in the heart of Manchester. The line-up switched things up to match and cast its net as wide as hardcore’s current Venn diagram, with alt rappers like Earl Sweatshirt, Denzel Curry and Armand Hammer joining scene staples like Trapped Under Ice and new gen revivalists like Scowl and Zulu.

Chris Bethell was there to capture the energy of the weekend from the belly of the beast, braving his equipment and also his teeth to photograph fans in the pit for Converge, High Vis, Denzel Himself and more.

Fans in the pit for Soul Glo at Outbreak Fest 2023.

Find more of Chris's work on Instagram.

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