Live Review: 2019 Rebellion Festival (Saturday)

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2019 Rebellion Festival (Saturday)

Blackpool Winter Gardens, UK - 3rd August 2019

Day three of a very hot and sweaty Rebellion Festival. Even in the relative cool of the early morning, there are plenty of Rebellionites, some of them a bit jaded, out and about, enjoying the calm before the punk storm in the Winter Gardens. Slagerij blow the cobwebs away with furious ska punk that’s reminiscent of a stripped down version of the much missed Dead Pets, heavy dub and ska bass lines are fired at you with terminal velocity and put a bounce into the early afternoon on another hot and sticky day at Rebellion. Meanwhile in the Empress Ballroom lurks Spider, an eight-legged punk band from LA that have nailed the angry political old school grind. Stoogey-proto punk done very well but an early slot in a cavernous Empress is not doing them any favours in terms of audience. A later slot would have been a different story probably. There’s a bit of a theme emerging with these earlier slots. The DeRellas‘ brand of Johnny Thunders garage rock is a bit lost in the big, seated room of the Opera House. Very acceptable, swaggering and sleazy rock with a definite huge nod to the NY scene but for full effect, you’re going to want to experience this in a small but no less sweaty club. Bags of attitude and a great sound but not original enough to win over a crowd separated from a band and with no lighting effects the impact is somehow diluted.

Back in the sauna of the Introducing Stage, Norwegian power pop punks Sugar Louise are making their Rebellion debut. They bring a hot stew of melodic punk rock to the day. Live they are harder and faster than their recorded output, no bad thing in my book, but they keep the melodic sensibility that first drew me to them. On one of the many circuits of the Winter Gardens, a necessity as the smoking area has disappeared this year, we catch Muddy Summers And The Dirty Field Whores who are busking outside the Winter Gardens in between their sets in The Opera House and the Almost Acoustic Stage, perfect folk punk for a warm summer’s afternoon after escaping the oppressive heat inside for a few minutes, something that makes me miss the outdoor stage that used to be a feature of this event. 

After the gentle and self-deprecating interlude outside, Liverpool’s Last Reserves are like a bomb going off. A bomb from the 1970s. Not derivative, but a clear connection with the strong female-led bands of punk’s first wave. Last Reserves have taken that heritage and given it a thunderous contemporary twist. Mesmerising and powerful with bags of charisma, this band can hold a room. Nina Hagen, Siouxsie and Poly Styrene are channelled with an engaging theatricality while the supertight band thunder through the frantic set. Surely set for a bigger stage. On to the next venue and there is keen anticipation running through the Empress Ballroom ahead of Giuda‘s set. Even if it is boiling, the excitement is undiminished. The Giuda sound is big and bold – singalong stompers reminiscent of much heavier version of The Glitter Band when they were at their height. The beat is relentless. This is music you don’t have to think too much about. You just get sucked into the battering vortex and you can’t help but be carried along. There’s no preamble and no banter. A difficult trick this – there’s lots you will recognise from the 70s and yet Giuda are also simultaneously unique.

We’re all believers here and it’s a shame that these kind of acoustic sessions aren’t more widely known about, because they put the myth that ‘punks can’t play’ to the sword. Ruts DC stripped back on the big Opera House stage have an air of vulnerability that is dispelled as soon as Leigh Hegarty‘s opening riff for ‘Something That I Said‘ rings out. The ghost of Malcolm Owen haunts Segs‘ voice, which makes this a very poignant and intimate communion. But there’s still power in this most basic of set-ups. Something magical has happened here this evening and a well-deserved standing ovation shows the love. As you enter the Casbah Stage you are hit by the wall of heat before you even descend the stairs, HR from Bad Brains brings the pace down with a set that is is one step removed from his roots in the legendary Bad Brains, the cool dub heavy bass rumbles throughout the cavernous venue, something that is gratefully received in the sweaty pit.

If the temperature in the already boiling Club Casbah has gone up five degrees, it’s because of the pure energy generated by Maid of Ace. This is a heavy duty set, full of energy and passion. Something like a very pissed-off Distillers and it’s going down a storm with a very happy pit. You could run a small town off this level of output. Or maybe an air conditioner. I think we’re all going to need a lie down after this. However, Hagar The Womb are delivering a jolly, grinding mid-tempo number introduced as ‘The Life Of Pi‘ that draws us into the Pavillion Stage, we’re treated to a shambolic, anarchic  performance that kind of makes perfect sense. Twin vocals that are full of character top a tough fuzzed out guitar attack. This band is impossible to classify or compare, but they’re a lot of fun and they sound great. If they were less shambolic, it wouldn’t be as much fun. “The guitar has hurt my vagina,” has to be quote of the day.

Henry Cluney is playing the almost Acoustic Stage. At least that’s what the listing says, it’s impossible to tell whether he’s actually there as the only thing you can hear is a raucous, bellowing singalong from the rapt Stiff Little Fingers faithful packing the room to the absolute limit. Probably the queens of Rebellion, Ramonas are using this, their second set of the festival, to deliver their own material. While the Ramones are an influence, this is a confident set of sharp powerpop punk that stands admirably, and entirely, on its own merit. While the band bossed the bigger hall with their Ramones set, this Pavilion Stage gig is an excellent opportunity to catch them in a more intimate setting. Sublime, catchy songs delivered with supreme confidence and power. Excellent.

The penultimate day at Rebellion does not go gently into the night, The Exploited and Cocksparrer ensure a raucous build up to the appearance of Motörheadache, the real deal are a band that should have played the Rebellion weekend, the sad demise of Lemmy in 2015 means that this can never happen but Motörheadache are the closest thing you’ll get and due to alcohol, heat exhaustion and the sweat running into your eyes means that at times it’s hard to tell the difference. Another wander out into Blackpool’s nightlife reveals that Saturday in Blackpool in the early hours of the morning is something to behold, in contrast to the bonhomie that exists amongst the Rebellion Festival crowd it is a scene of utter chaos, blue lights are zooming up and down the seafront and the soundtrack for this is provided by a seemingly endless array of truly awful eighties karaoke nights. The final day beckons and it’s one that boasts the strongest line up of any single day of any festival I’ve ever attended.

Live photography of The Exploited and HR courtesy of Dod Morrison, his website can be found here. Additional Photography by AJ Phink. You can click on any of the photos to view a slide show of the images. 

The Rebellion Festival‘s website can be found here 

Review co-written by Peter Hough