Rebellion was something that I never thought that I would ever go to. I was always quite cynical about it and it seemed to me to be the very antithesis of what Punk was meant to be about (or at least the antithesis of what I thought it was meant to be about). I was convinced, in my punker than thou arrogance, that it was just a nostalgia fest that only served to fill the coffers of the organisers and that it was awash with far right boneheads. These opinions were based on stories that I had heard second hand so when asked by the good folks at the NHC to review the festival I thought it would be interesting to check it out for myself, opinions should be based on experience after all. A quick scan of the line up showed lots of quality bands were playing and seeing as my band The Fuck Ups had been offered a gig playing at one of the free pub gigs that run in conjunction with the festival the decision was made. ok...fuck it, pack the buckie and the spade, we're going to Blackpool.
We (I'm accompanied on this jaunt by my other, and better half Ellen who's meant to be taking photos but forgets to.....it's that kind of place, you meet so many people and see so many bands it can almost be an assault on the senses) head straight to the winter gardens after checking into our B&B to try and see the explosion of noise, colour and Riot Grrrl attitude that is Bratakus. Sadly, we didn't make it. However, having seen them a few times before I can assure you that they kick serious arse and are well worth a listen. The first act we actually do see is Strung Out Nights belting out some powerful and passionate acoustic punk anthems at the nearly acoustic stage. This is one angry young man that you should all check out, he's an irritatingly talented fucker. After a wee walk around to get our bearings and to inevitably bump into and chat to people that we know and to check in to our pals Alex and Karen's stall, which is our base camp/meeting point for when we split up to do other things (or when Ellen gets bored of the bands and just wants to get pished and talk shite with people) we head out to the Casbah outdoor stage to watch The Barstool Preachers blast out their life affirming positive street punk/ska songs. Their hi-energy catchy tunes of love, loss and hope are the perfect soundtrack for a sunny afternoon outside. Get 'em checked out if you haven't already, you wont regret it.
After a bite to eat, and some more drinks and laughs with people we meet, I head of to the empress ballroom to watch Peter And The Test Tube Babies who are surprisingly good, never really got it before, but tonight I really enjoy them (I don't enjoy the giant punk standing in front of me for the entire set though. When you're about 7 foot tall it's, quite frankly unfair to add 3 foot of mohawk into the mix). I stay in the empress for a bit of Leftover Crack, I've never been able to get into them so want to give them a chance to see if it works better live, it doesn't, so I head round to see Contempt in the pavilion. This is more like it, loud, fast and angry anarcho punk with an anthemic Oi! edge played with passion and commitment. No mean feat considering that their bass player is missing after breaking her hand, and the singer is playing the bass parts. After Contempt, shit gets real. Pennywise and Bad Religion, both big bands for me and Ellen, playing back to back....needless to say we lose our collective shit. Next up is Menace in the opera house, who deliver a strong set stuffed with all their aggro punk classics. The last band of the night for me is Acidez, who proceed to peel the paint of the walls of the arena with their vicious d-beaty hardcore punk. Uneasy listening before bed, you cannae beat it.
Ok, day 2 in the big punker house and I can confirm that punk is indeed not dead, it's just a bit dazed, confused and hungover. The first band we see today is Maid of Ace on the casbah stage. Four sisters grinding out a neat line in pissed off Distillers like punk rock....me likey. After them it's the even more incredible Svetlanas who pin everyone in the pavilion to the wall with their brutal rock 'n roll infused crust punk. Then it's time for the mighty External Menace, one of my all time favourite punk bands, who deliver a solid energetic set of all their best bits. M.D.C. Are up next in the ballroom and turn out to be one of Ellen's favourites of the weekend, mainly because they had the balls to play S.K.I.N.H.E.A.D. , a song which is not exactly complimentary, In a building fit to burst with them. After M.D.C. it's Boston hardcore behemoths the FU's....fast as fuck pummeling brutality, quite simply put, they are awesome. After jumping about like a looney in the heat of the ballroom it's time to head outside to scream along with Subhumans, every-time I see this band they always deliver and tonight is no exception. Rattus are assaulting the audience with their noisy, raging hardcore in the arena when I come back inside and I enjoy getting skelped about the head with everyone else. After Rattus, I stagger out of the arena, watch the Macc Lads murder 70's punk classics under the name F.I.L.F. A truly baffling experience. Then one of the highlights of the weekend happens....D.O.A. Are incendiary. Absolutely mind blowingly fucking brilliant. Everything that's great about punk rock encapsulated in an hour long performance. The last band of the night was going to be NYHC legends Sheer Terror but they ended up not playing because Hellbastard apparently poured petrol on the stage after their set and the arena stage got closed early, bummer, oh well...food and back to the B&B it is then.
We wake up on Saturday feeling rough. Takers and Users sort us right out with their straight ahead no nonsense, catchy as fuck street punk anthems. Another highlight of the weekend, plus singer/bassist Darzo looks much worse than wear than we do. This lot are ace, definitely ones to watch. Los Fastidios are life affirming and emotional in the empress ballroom. Singing Bella Ciao with hundreds of punks and scary looking Italian skinheads will have that effect every time. Gimp Fist play their set in front of a huge backdrop of Business singer and Oi! Legend Mickey Fitz, their blistering set of songs full of working class pride and anger are a fitting tribute to the man and show off the skills of a band at the peak of their powers. Brilliant stuff. Back round to the arena to see United Bottles and get blown away by the sheer brilliance of their songs. I can't emphasize how good this lot are. Powerful street punk with Rose Tattoo like rock overtones....Get 'em checked out. Scream are up next and they're fucking superb. Scream were always one of my favourite D.C. Hardcore bands and I'm so glad that I got to see them, blistering stuff. Anti System are great in the pavilion, loved their stuff for years and never thought I'd get to see them so it's a special treat. Talisman on the casbah stage treat us to some top notch roots reggae in the sun. Misty in Roots however are quite simply spell binding. I am literally moved during their set. So so good. Part 1 (another band that I've loved for years but thought I'd never see) are creepy and sinister on the pavilion stage. Morbid death obsessed anarcho punk played with power and style. The Shapes are brilliant and surreal in the opera house, Sham 69 are....well, Sham 69 in the empress and then Sheer Terror play....Brutal isn't an appropriate adjective to describe what they do. It's just a shame that hardly anyone is there to witness their nihilistic power.
A wee bit of the Violators in the arena then it's time for bed. Dunno if it's because I'm tired but I don't really get into the Violators, which is a shame cos I love their recorded stuff.
Sunday's here and we're kinda done. I've got a gig to do today, and I've been over indulging a wee smidgin too much. Not in a good place, gig nerves and the horrors are not a good combination. We get to the cedar tavern, which is literally across the road from the winter gardens about 1pm do the gig, go down quite well. Watch the Dreggs, who are great. Watch some of 4pm, who're also good. The best thing about playing this gig for me was that it made me realise that Rebellion actually has the punk ethos that I thought it lacked. You can be a punter or a performer or both. Ok, so now it's time to get some food with a few mates then watch some bands again. I catch a couple of songs of Last Resort, including my favourite Violence In Our Minds, then watch some of Anti Pasti who are sounding ace then the Outcasts doing an acoustic set which is another of the highlights of the weekend. Time for a spot of vinyl shopping then it's of out into the rain to watch Culture Shock who, of course are amazing, back inside to the pavilion for the awesome Skinhead rock 'n roll of Arch Rivals. Tuneful and powerful like all good 0i! should be. After Arch Rivals it's time for another of my 80's favourites Uproar who are firing on all cylinders tonight. A healthy smattering of new songs and old classics keeps us all interested to the end. The last band of my first rebellion is Propagandhi out in the rain again. The rain can't dampen their righteous rage though as they power their way through a set of raging, technical punk rock. The perfect end to a perfect weekend. My cynicism has been cured, my punker than thou arrogance put in it's place and there was hardly a bonehead in sight. I'm a convert and I reckon that I'll be back