Rebellion Festival 2016 review - Martin McFadden

With only one of Rebellion festival under my belt I consider myself to be still new to the experience so I was looking forward to the full weekender of music, laughs, and of course a few refreshments along the way.
Especially as it was a father and son trip this time out, and no, I didn’t take my father.
I was instead the mature guiding hand (aye right) to my traveling companion Fudgie Jnr.
Two generation of punk and ska music fans joining together to make the pilgrimage to the Mecca of all things punk rock.

On arrival in Blackpool Fudgie Jnr did what all teenager do and waited patiently by my side for as long as it took to hand over the tickets and then he was off and left me to deal with the grown up things like booking into a hotel and making sure we had a place to rest our weary heads.
So thanks for that son.

Once all the mundane details were sorted out the first port of call was the illustrious venue that is The Winter Gardens.
I had missed Skaciety who had just finished their set, but managed to find Fudgie jnr who was chatting to their manager Andy Lamb.
A lovely guy, and one who we had the pleasure of meeting a few times throughout the course of the weekend.

The main thing that struck me apart from the usual overload experience of seeing so many punks in the one place was the heat.
The weather was pleasant enough, but within the Winter gardens with its glass roof it creates a greenhouse effect that does its best to wilt Mohicans and dehydrates everyone to the point that a beer is a necessity and not just a luxury, and of course that’s my excuse for hitting the bar and I am sticking to it.

Once the thirst was quenched it was time to sample the music and other options on offer.
Of the Thursday evening the best bits for me were the Don Letts interview in The Opera House where Mr John Robb of Goldblade - who always amazes me with his eternal youthful looks - conducted the half hour chat.
The interview was obviously focused on punk history, and no doubt the hardcore fans were aware of most of the content, but the story of how Don was first introduced to Bob Marley, and how he ended up his drug dealer when Bob was in London had me ending myself with laughter and trying not to fall out of my seat in the old theatre.
He also went on to say how he convinced Bob to listen to some punk and how Bob ended up writing ' Punky Reggae Party'.
Twisted truth or Urban Myth?
Who knows? I'll let you decide, but if anyone can play loose and fast with the facts then Don gets a free pass from me.

Fridays session started with Big D and the Kids Table in the Empress Ballroom followed by The Cundeez, some Exploited and then Buzzcocks.
There is just so much to catch that it is really impossible to juggle everything and there will always be the rock and a hard place choices about who to go and see, but ultimately there are no disappointments as we managed to catch enough of each one to make the running about worthwhile.

Let’s not pretend that by the Saturday and then the Sunday that fatigue can set in, but like warriors you just have to put your head down and charge into battle.
Especially when the first act is on at 1pm on the Saturday and it was the wee small hours before our heads hit the pillows from the Friday night entertainment.

Something that surprised me as we headed to the first show was the lack of a large police presence, inside and out of this great historic venue.
The pedestrian street directly in front of the main entrance was a gathering point for punks young and old to meet up, chat and get down to the business of having their carry out spanked before being hit with the £4 pint inside.
And yet there was no heavy handed response to the celebrations.
Mainly because the first impressions that are given don’t tell the real story.
It’s not a bunch of antisocial punks hanging about looking for a ruck, but
The street was always mobbed with toddlers to original 1977, back in the day, old school punks.
I seen a guy with grey hair spiked red on top, walking around with a zimmer frame. An old couple with studded leathers on and patches of The Clash and The Ramones wheeling around on two disability scooters!
Families, couples, singletons, groups of people, just people, all here for one thing.
To enjoy what Rebellion has done for twenty years.....getting punks from all over the World to enjoy the biggest International Punk Festival that there is.
It’s more a happy colourful carnival for all the family than what most would expect.
Over the course of the weekend I only saw two policemen all weekend.
This in itself is a great tribute to the people of Blackpool, and everyone who attended ....no trouble, no hassle, no violence ....just one Big Punk Party!!!

It would be fair to say that everything just fits.

Even the merchandise inside was aplenty too.
From t-shirts from bands on the bill to stall holders selling all manner of punk couture there was something for everyone, and at a fair price.
Not for Rebellion is the mark up we see at some festivals as most bands tour tshirts were selling for between £10 and £15.
The official festival tshirt was just £15 and an excellent design too.
In fact it was so good I bought us each one.

Music wise we caught the Old Firm Casuals who our friend Chris Herron interviewed when they played Glasgow - and you can fine elsewhere on the site if you care to have a gander – an acoustic set from Skaciety, Steve Dewitt, The Men They Couldn’t Hang, The Damned, Steve Ignorant and Paranoid Visions and the absolutely brilliant Liouse Distras. The fuss about her is truly warranted.
The best band of the weekend was for us Jaya The Cat.
They played a blinder in The Pavillion at 1.00 am on the Sunday morning.
Fudgie Jr had introduced me to them a few months back, but I never expected the atmosphere and crowd to be so buzzed for the event!
All the main stages closed at 12am so this smaller venue was packed to the gunnels come 12.30am.
Fudgie Jr characteristically said his goodbyes and made his way to the front when they came on and I met up with a couple I knew who so very kindly stood with an auld punk who cannae handle the front anymore!
Jaya The Cat, a reggae/ska band who base themselves in Amsterdam, had the whole crowd in the palm of their hand from the start and from my vantage point it was impressive to see the play between band and crowd.
The interaction only stopped when the lights went up and it was very obvious that band and crowd would have happily ignored the curfew.
If this is the first that you have heard of them then it is do yourself a favour time and go and check them out.

Sunday also brought with it Ayrshires very own The Minority Rule.
A band who's oldest member is 18 years old and already making headlines as some of you may know.
Their only too short set on the Introducing Stage did however attract a large crowd and they powered through it with the balls and teenage angst and anger that some of their older peers could do with revisiting.
Debut single 'Her Black Dog' highlighted all the promise the band have and stood out as one of the songs of the weekend.
These guys are going to do well.
Youngsters with a great attitude about them and plenty of talent in their song writing and musical ability.
A very timely reminder that punk of today isn't disappearing anywhere fast!

Sometimes when you think you can’t push on through it is worth it to make the effort because the last two acts on the new outside ' Tower Street Arena' stage nailed it.
Jello Biafra and The Guantanimo School of Medicine took to the stage around 9.30pm and as with a lot of the bands this weekend because Jello and the GSOM don't play Scotland that often this was one of my "have to see's".
And they didn't disappoint!
Jello puts Bono in the corner with a cone shaped hat on when he charges through his 'speeches' inbetween songs, and he never let anyone off the hook.
David Cameron, Theresa May, George Osborne and Nigel Farage's ears would all have been burning throughout the set and the crowd absolutely loved it!
It wasn’t just the UK's most prolific Parliamentary bums getting a roasting though as he started into Big Time.

Donald tint hand Trump got it all four ways before Jello introduced the newer version of an old Dead Kennedys song ' Nazi Trumps Fuck Off ! ' .
Taking a leaf out of Iggys book of your never to old to stage dive he was head first into the moshpit without missing a word or the beat.
The crowd at this point lost it.
So much so that the band had to ask for him to be returned to the stage.
It certainly got the heart raising and a great set full of Jello's own Marcel Marcea-esque mime artistry that I've never been able to work out just added to the lunacy
It's all part of his show and it's great entertainment for fans and even non fans to see.

Last on was Stiff Little Fingers.
Now some people would have opted to go and see someone else but I love SLF and I don't get to see them enough.
Their short set (as all of the main stage acts - about an hour each) consisted mainly of the old classics with a couple of not so old and a newish one from their last album entitled , 'My Dark Places'.
A great track telling the story of Jakes own personal battle with depression.
The crowd gain loved it and bounced along with its upbeat and punky chords.
SLF never fail to disappoint me, never ever.
Even though he is getting on in years, as are we all, Jake gives it everything and that commitment really impresses me still to this day.

They never bothered going off stage at the end of their set as Jake said, "What’s the point in walking off and coming back on? That takes too much time and they are going to switch us off at some point anyway!" before they turned it up for Gotta Gettaway and the time was right for it. Perfect in fact. This song means so much to me personally and I was glad to get to have it ringing in my ears as I started heading for the exit to go and meet young Fudgie - who was again down at the barrier – before we could go and grab a burger at the burger joint that had become our go to spot for a final much before hitting the hotel.
Even as we turned the corner to head towards the North Pier I could still hear the band and the last chord pulling the crowd towards giving the band a rapturous round of applause.

I walked away a happy and contented man, knackered and a bit sore from the weekends revelry, but happy I had been and done a full Rebellion at last.