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Live Review: Rebellion Festival – Thursday, Blackpool Winter Gardens, UK, 2nd August 2018
2018 Rebellion Festival (Thursday)
Blackpool Winter Gardens, UK - 2nd August 2018
Blackpool is hot, sweaty and humid by the time we arrive at our bright pink hotel, a quick check in and we make our way to the Winter Gardens for the annual pilgrimage to Europe’s biggest punk weekend, a weekend that is too big for one writer to cover so I’m joined by Peter Hough, between us we will try and cover as much of the festival as we can. This is the third year The Punk Site is fortunate enough to cover the Rebellion Festival. We immediately encounter Olga and Diste of Svetlanas as we arrive, and of course the first hour is inevitably spent renewing friendships and it’s absolutely impossible to make any headway as you constantly encounter familiar and friendly faces, but the first stop, as ever, is the Introducing Stage, for the first band of the weekend.
After another inevitably and unavoidably social walk from the the Almost Acoustic Stage I head into the Empress Ballroom where Headstone Horrors have returned to deliver a set of turbo charged horror punk that sits somewhere between The Creepshow and The Misfits. This is their second year running I have caught this horror punk outfit at Rebellion Festival and I’m not alone, Headstone Horrors have drawn an impressive early afternoon crowd and they fill the void left by the lack of any original activity from The Misfits or The Spookshow, and if you love any of those bands I’ve mentioned then Headstone Horrors really should be on your playlist.
Of course I’m not going to miss one of the brightest prospect from my hometown, the last time I caught Manchester’s Aerial Salad was in a cramped venue in Salford, today they are playing to an absolutely packed Pavilion Stage after debuting last year on the Introducing Stage, and on the strength of this and their debut album, Roach, they’ve drawn a capacity crowd. Aerial Salad might be annoyingly young but they deliver a perfect set that somehow manages to sit between hardcore intensity and pop punk melodies, and you can’t help but love them for it and I would buy them a pint, but I suspect legally I wouldn’t be allowed to.
I head back to the Introducing Stage to catch Kid Klumsy making their Rebellion Festival debut in the wake of the release of the Spit Your Dummy Out EP. Kid Klumsy are born for the festival circuit, their set is made of relentless singalong choruses, regardless of whether you’ve heard them before, and huge riffs. This shouldn’t be any surprise given their vocalist, Weab, is the frontman of Dirt Box Disco, but Kid Klumsy offer something different to his better known band. They deliver an intense heavy hit to what is already a sweaty and beer soaked festival, then it’s time to head over for the first act that I wasn’t going to miss at any cost at this years Rebellion Festival, Svetlanas.
Be afraid. Very afraid. The mild-mannered and polite waif we met earlier appears to have been possessed or replaced by a furious ball of punk rock energy. From the opening chord, this is a brutal schooling in how to do high energy punk rock with swagger. Svetlanas live are a force of nature you can’t resist; every aspect of this set dares just you to look away. Just when you think you have hit peak Svetlanas, there’s a new level of ferocity waiting to batter you senseless. Mighty recorded, limitless live. Astonishing, thrilling and just a little bit scary in the best possible way.
After AJ caught David Delinquent earlier I arrive for Delinquents, with a shout of “Let’s fuckin’ do it!” they launch straight into short, sharp bursts of straight ahead rabble-rousing punk rock. Three songs in, it’s getting even faster. And shorter. And then, to wilfully destroy any perception that this is a one note set, there’s a diversion into tuneful jingle jangle. A band that will mess with your stereotype and grin as they do it. There’s a level of showmanship and musicianship that hints at depths that some hardcore purists might sneer at, but this was a little bit of melodic magic that put the stereotype to the sword and left us all uplifted.
Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man bid farewell to the Rebellion Festival in the only way they know how, with a set of stupidly fast hardcore punk that passes by in a blur, I’ll be catching them one more time before they are no more, although they’ll leave a void in the scene it’s one that will be filled via their continued involvement in the scene via TNS records and the Manchester Punk Festival. Here’s a band stuck in top gear, much to the delight of the pit who are soaking up these frantic bursts of hardcore with abandon. It’s a barrage of thrilling high octane punk rock that gathers momentum relentlessly. No prisoners are taken, no quarter given and the crowd are loving it. Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man are giving their swan song everything, with only a run of shows that culminate in one final gig in Manchester planned and there is an end-of-term vibe to this performance. Balls out, full on noisy punk rock. They’ll be missed.
At the same time the Lawrence Arms, are hammering out a set of epifat punk rock that is going down storm with their faithful and the Soap Girls are playing a provocative set, one that loses nothing to its stripped down delivery, on an Almost Acoustic Stage that is packed beyond capacity. And over on the Introducing Stage one of the UK’s most exciting prospects are taking the stage, Weekend Recovery. This is a band who already sound effortlessly too big and accomplished for a stage designed for up and comers. Weekend Recovery are tight and polished and, best of all, they put the full nine yards into their performance and know how to work an audience. Great songs, great stage presence and a massive sound that would scale up to much bigger rooms. To quote Wayne Campbell, they wail. Party time. Excellent.
Hospital Food are marking a change in their line up as their outgoing drummer Dom Smith hands over the sticks to Badja O’Connell, this year also sees the band hit their tenth anniversary, and they deliver a set of bare knuckle Yorkshire punk rock that is everything you’ve come to expect from Hospital Food. Dom makes a final return behind the kit for an emotional farewell that sees Badja deliver backing vocals for a gig that marks the end of one era and the start of another as Hospital Food stride into their second decade.
We briefly catch TV Smith playing to an overcrowded Almost Acoustic Stage but our destination is TSOL on the Casbah Stage, a band I’ve wanted to see live ever since I first heard them a lifetime ago, seeing them play here is one of the many attractions of the Rebellion Festival, as it draws in acts from across the globe that no other European festival can offer. TSOL offer a masterclass in punk showmanship from the veteran West Coast rockers to an appreciative Club Casbah audience. Even if flamboyant frontmen and slightly off-colour asides about underage drinking and voyeurism aren’t your punk rock cup of tea, there is plenty of polished, in your face American punk to enjoy. Showbiz? Maybe, Punk? Hell yeah.
Hewhocannotbenamed was one of the first acts I saw at my first attendance at a Rebellion Festival and today he is bringing something dark and comical to the Almost Acoustic Stage, he was missing from the last Dwarves UK tour so I wasn’t going to miss this appearance. He’s playing in a Union Jack wrestling mask, army boots and, thankfully, underwear. As ever he deals with similar subject matter as Dwarves and he treats the all ages festival to the dark humour of his solo albums including I Eat Babies, Gettin’ Pissed and few Dwarves classics, and any fan of that band couldn’t help but love tonight’s unique acoustic set, one that included a quartet of love songs, which are of course delivered in his own twisted style, including a spectacularly sinister Duct Tape Love, but they are nevertheless love songs… I think.
If the Mad Caddies are playing to a crowd dotted with Buzzcocks T shirts, it’s because the Manchester legends’ audience have been filtering in early to stake their place in the venue, which looks set to max out. Regular attenders will be used to what is now the standard Buzzcocks festival set which steers a course between early days (Boredom and a selection from Another Music in a Different Kitchen) through a middle section featuring some of their more meandering, experimental material – a nod perhaps to diehard fans more familiar with the lesser known tracks. Keen observers will have noticed a balance shift in the set list too, with a more democratic emphasis on Steve Diggle compositions. It is the second half of the set, however, that ignites the Rebellion crowd. A glorious rollercoaster of the hits from ‘back in the day’. Always perhaps unfairly described as a singles band, Buzzcocks have plenty of ammo in the locker but if a 42-year career has taught them anything, it’s how to please an audience. The jukebox pumps out winner after winner, all delivered with consummate professionalism and a twinkle in the eye. There is no sense that this is the hundredth, ten thousandth or millionth time that these signature tunes have been delivered. Buzzcocks are entertaining friends. Original and always best.
Whilst Buzzcocks are playing the Empress Ballroom I’m taking the opportunity to reacquaint myself with one of my all time favourites, it’s been a long time since I last saw The Vandals, too long, so tonight’s headlining set on the Casbah Stage is something I’ve been looked forward to since they were first announced, and they don’t disappoint on any level. Normally I would take notes of what was played but as I was down the front accumulating an interesting set of bruises, I’ll summarise by saying that it was a perfect set that ended with a frantic I Have A Date, and that no other band has made me happier in 2018, then it’s out into Blackpool to investigate the towns bars and regrettable take aways before we get lost trying to find the hotel, in other words today has been a perfect start to the 2018 Rebellion Festival.
The Rebellion Festival will return between the 1st and 4th August 2019 and early bird tickets can be purchased here
Photography by Dod Morrison and Gary Hough
Co-written by Peter Hough