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Live Review: 2019 Rebellion Festival (Sunday)
2019 Rebellion Festival (Sunday)
Blackpool Winter Gardens, UK - 4th August 2019
The final day of the 2019 Rebellion Festival is upon us, the first three days have passed by in a frantic blur and now somehow Sunday has arrived. The final day of Rebellion is one that could quite possibly finish us off with an incredible line up where there are clashes on the hour every hour throughout the day, clashes that make for some very painful decisions as to who we will see, so for the last time in 2019 we’re heading into the Winter Gardens for the start of another twelve hour marathon of some of the finest punk bands from across the world.
Forget the *debate* ongoing recently about sexist commentary. Hands Off Gretel are a first class rock band utterly deserving of any plaudits they get. Kicking off the Empress Ballroom‘s roster on this, a ridiculously packed final day of Rebellion, Hands Off Gretel are mesmerising and they rock like bastards. And make no mistake, this is a rock show, complete with pyrotechnics. Not as polished live as the recent album, but this is loud, dirty rock n roll, a masterclass in show craft, rapturously received by a big crowd. Maybe an ironic choice, all things considered, but ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog‘ is a genius pick to close the show. Total rock n roll, in every sense. Hands Off Gretel have it all. Whilst My partner in crime for the weekend is watching Hands Off Gretel in the grandeur of the Empress Ballroom, I’ve descended into the Arena for a bit of primal rock n roll from The Snakerattlers to get my Sunday going. They sound like the spawn of a crazed one night stand between Link Wray and The Cramps: raw, reverb heavy guitars are teamed up with primal drums, this is all delivered with a stage presence that just oozes a ‘don’t fuck with us’ attitude.
Much to the relief of many, the weather has broken this early afternoon and the oppressive heat that has marked the first three days has eased slightly. Next up on today’s impressive bill, quite possibly the best line up of any day at any festival I’ve been to, is Manchester’s The Kopek Millionaires, straight up energetic punk ‘n roll, like The Derellas yesterday, this soundtrack is better suited to a sweaty club than the grandeur of The Opera House, but after three days that have seen me trek more than 30 miles, the chance to rest my ravaged feet is more than welcome. Ten minutes before stage time and the fiery hellhole that is Club Casbah is already three-quarters full ahead of Pizzatramp. Watching this band is like watching a regular skate punk band on fast forward. Four minutes in, we’re already into the third song – ‘Millions Of Dead Goths‘. The thunder is undiminished. Pizzatramp are that cheeky but knowing little boy present at every party. Angry, cheeky, a bit scary but funny as fuck. A bit political, very topical and very, very angry. But with a glint in their eye. Love it.
Weekend Recovery are appearing in the Almost Acoustic stage, having only caught them in full amplified flow before, the opportunity to see them play a stripped back set is irresistible. The ever chameleonesque Laurie Janey always manages to look completely different at every show we’ve seen them, but in every other aspect they remain true, despite the lack of decibels their songs still have the same impact. It’s clear that word about Nosebleed has spread because the Introducing Stage is packed in anticipation. And for a further endorsement, UK Subs legend Charlie Harper is in the crowd. Nosebleed‘s pummelling good time punk rock and roll is perfectly suited to this size of venue. It’s a frantic party vibe that you can’t help but sucked in to. Nosebleed make a massive good time racket that’s entertaining and a bit frightening, but you’re not watching the band – you’re part of it. They’re daring you not to like them. It’s impossible not to. Not for the faint-hearted because before you know it, they’re right there amongst you, tops off. Intrigued by The Weird Things‘ guerilla marketing, we check out their set in the Pavilion, to discover that they are a feisty, balls-out rock outfit with a bagful of attitude and plenty of rocking tunes. Old school, feisty and raucous. First class.
The Svetlanas make their now annual return to the Rebellion Festival, somehow they manage to become more intense every year, this is our first experience of seeing them with new guitarist which seems to have added something into their unique brand of confrontational hardcore punk, he and their looming bass player are arresting enough but if you add the intense presence of Diste marshalling the set with machine gun beats and the their nuclear explosion that is their crazed front woman Olga you have one of the finest live bands out there, utterly unique and with energy levels that no one else comes close to matching. The bigger stages mean that Olga can no longer get up in the crowds’ faces as she used to, which is a lucky escape for those down the front.
Cockwomble on the Introducing Stage are gloriously angry, determinedly left-field and quite possibly treasonous, so we’re excited to find out how their quirky, angular protests translate to the live arena. Word must have spread, because the room is filling rapidly ahead of this, the band’s Rebellion debut. Not that they need be nervous – bass player Vicky has already had a full weekend with The Ramonas. Despite a mis-introduction, the band burst into ‘All Of The Money But None Of The Style‘ from the EP of the same name and we’re off to a powerful but still quirky barrage of angry tirades. Harder and darker than their recorded output, Cockwomble are a great band that you need to listen to, not just hear. Great songs and social commentary: a necessary band for our times.
Intrigued by what is a decidedly good name, we’re back at the Introducing Stage for Australian band Tequila Mockingbyrd, who we’re told are currently making a bit of a name for themselves over here. we’re glad I ventured in, as they are a tight rocking outfit with lots of presence. Overdriven rock with attitude. Check them out while you can. Well up the hierarchy of punk rock nobility, Vice Squad can still draw a massive crowd and the increasing volume of Vice Squad t-shirts attests to their popularity. This doesn’t feel like a nostalgia trip at all – Beki Bondage still commands attention, even if her vocal is a bit adrift in a drum-heavy mix. Still good and in this context, still relevant and rapturously received by a huge Casbah crowd.
Kid Klumsy‘s brand of riotous punk power pop certainly fires up a crowd, even in the white hot Pavilion where any kind of movement is a massive effort. The new output ‘Singing Our Souls‘ gets a good push, ‘Mr Right Man; getting a splendid crowd reaction with its refrain of “… but I still think that you’re a cunt.” There’s nothing po-faced or half-hearted about Kid Klumsy. A highlight of the day, for sure. After catching Tokyo Taboo‘s singer doing publicity shots on the beach early the other morning and wondering what exactly was going on and why someone was pole dancing at 8am on a beach in Blackpool, curiosity has led us back to the Introducing Stage. Tokyo Taboo deliver an intense punk blast that has a distinct groove and sees their singer delivering the vocals upside down whilst suspended from the pole by one leg, which is a first for me at any punk show.
The Godfathers of Canadian hardcore, DOA suffer a catastrophic PA failure halfway into their first song, which takes the shine off their exuberant opening. No one tells them and out in the room, we just get the stage sound. All’s well by song two mind you and we’re off again. Joey Keithley‘s energy seems undimmed. DOA can show today’s young thing or two about writing songs and about stagecraft. Raucous, tight and joyous – hardcore 101 from masters of the genre. With determination and ignoring our by now aching limbs we head down to catch Choking Susan, Another Rebellion perennial who are always outrageous and keep the spirit of Detroit punk rock alive and well. Their outspoken froantwoman Colleen Caffeine appears to be wrapped in police ‘do not cross tape’, something you’d do well to heed.
Pauline Murray And The Invisible Girls are another of the selection of punk and post punks whose records I liberated from my brother’s record collection, so the chance to see them after all this time is one I grab. There is also the added bonus of being back in the Opera House, where the seats provide some welcome relief. The nature of their self-titled material (it’s an album set) means that it’s very much of its time, but it’s still warmly received by a crowd bordering on exhaustion. Meanwhile the Ramonas are playing an acoustic set, their third appearance of the weekend, that showcases their recent ‘Acoustic Problems‘ album. This is standing room only and the crowd are spilling out of the almost acoustic stage so we head back to catch one of the post punks most underrated acts.
We return to the Opera House for what has become a tradition of something unmissable on the final slot in this venue, and not just the chance to sit down. This year it is Chameleons Vox. Two chiming, echoing guitars, drums and the ultra-charismatic Mark Burgess add up to a swirling maelstrom of music that is astonishingly nostalgic and still very current. From the first note, this Opera House crowd is utterly enthralled. Given what is going on in the rest of the Winter Gardens and that this is the end of four days of relentless and sweaty non-stop music, you might be forgiven for assuming that the audience might be jaded. But they’re not. There is ecstatic dancing at the front. Burgess himself is hugely charismatic and his gorgeous voice overlays an intricate sonic tapestry. I’ll forgive him berating us for sitting down ‘at a punk gig’ because, well, because he’s Manchester legend Mark Burgess. Spine-tingling and masterful stuff from this important and beloved band.
The Dwarves close out this years Rebellion and deliver a lasting memory with their five piece line up doing what they do best, “the best motherfucking rock ‘n roll band in the world” is their claim and tonight you believe them. They deliver a career spanning-set that includes the recent and appropriately named ‘Take Back The Night‘ LP. The set ends in utter chaos and Blag Dahlia and Hewhocannotbenamed end up piling though the drum kit resulting in the band leaving the stage in utter chaos and a wall of feedback to finish one of my favourite sets of the weekend. We’ll be back next year one way or another, for these four days there is nowhere I’d rather be, the only thing I would change is some kind of air conditioning and for the smoking area to be returned as we wore out a pair of Converse and Peter Hough‘s knee joints doing laps of the Winter Gardens due to my nicotine addiction.
Between us we have walked around 80 miles over the four days of the Rebellion Festival, caught around 70 bands, lost count of the number of beers and are trying to forget the ill advised dietary choices we have made, and we haven’t even scratched the surface of what is on offer at Rebellion. If we were going to have our own personal Groundhog Day then today would have been a good day for it, so packed was today’s line up that bands we would normally automatically consider a must see have been put to the sword, if we gave ratings higher than a 5 then today would be the day to receive one, we’re already counting the days to the 6th August 2020 when Rebellion once more rolls into Blackpool.
Live photography courtesy of Dod Morrison, his website can be found here. 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 AJ Phink