Live Review: Rebellion Festival – Sunday, Blackpool Winter Gardens, UK, 5th August 2018

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2018 Rebellion Festival (Sunday)

Blackpool Winter Gardens, UK - 5th August 2018

Blackpool is basking in sunshine, three days of punk rock excess is starting to take its toll and there’s a mellower feel to the town before the final day kicks off. Buskers surround the venue playing everything from Johnny Cash to The Stranglers and it’s a moment of calm before the final perfect storm of Sunday’s Rebellion Festival line up kicks into gear. Outside, punks are clustering in whatever shade is offered by the sprawling Victoriana of Blackpool’s Winter Gardens. As we enter we catch Boggy Formby, the perennial opener on the Almost Acoustic Stage, delivering a set of punk songs with his ukulele in the style of George Formby, following this unlikely opener we head in to start the final day in earnest.

I have expectations. ‘Terminal Rage’ suggests a certain level of intensity. I’m not disappointed. The rage is very focused – political and relentlessly anti-fascist. But that’s not to say that their message precludes enjoying their glorious racket and it looks as if an enthusiastic Pavilion Stage crowd concur. The band are probably better suited to night-time gigs and possibly a bit out of context in this daylight setting. Good stuff nonetheless.

Glitter Trash are from LA via Detroit and there’s plenty of evidence of this musical pedigree. There’s a stomping assurance and energy in the Glitter Trash set that derives partly from their musical pedigree, but mostly from vocalist Jenna Talia’s charisma and presence. They deliver trashy rock and roll that’s left me thrilled and feeling a bit dirty, in short – I Love it. I defy anybody not to fall in love with a band who dedicate their set to a fallen comrade (Heavy Drapes’ Gary Borland) and then launch into a mighty anthem called I Want Sex without pausing a beat.

Chaos 8 are from a family of related bands who really walk the walk. It’s not just the music, there’s an entire infrastructure supporting the band. And that’s punk rock in a nutshell. This Rebellion set is the launch of the four-track Out Of Control EP and there’s a building sense of anticipation ahead of the band taking the stage.  When they do, there’s no preamble, just a headlong rush into a very polished but hot and heavy industrial punk set with lashings of attitude from a mesmerising Beki Straughan. If there’s a downside, it’s that the Arena Stage is losing the subtlety and nuance of the higher register sound. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of love in the room. Superb.

It’s back to the Introducing Stage, which has been my go-to stage all weekend to hear new bands, for Spring Park who being a raw blast of DIY punk rock to inject a touch of energy into what is becoming a scorching final afternoon at the Rebellion FestivalThe Derellas pick up the pace with a set of sleaze and punked up rock n roll whilst the Baby Seals are delivering a howl of feminist rage that channels the spirit of the riot grrrl scene and of punk pioneers such as The SlitsSongs about periods are always going to cause, ahem, discomfort and Baby Seals don’t shy away from addressing the subject (‘Period Drama’). They are dmirably and refreshingly frank, very loud and very charming, Baby Seals are flying the riot grrl flag. And why not?

MDC are hitting the main stage in the wake of the release of Mein Trumpf, their first new material In over a decade, the band were spurred back into action by the election of the current US President and now the US hardcore pioneers are hitting the Casbah Stageon the final day of the Rebellion FestivalMDC have lost none of their rage, something that comes to their fore when they deliver the title track from their latest full length. Once more the Rebellion Festival has provided the opportunity to see another North American hardcore act that I never thought I’d never get the chance to see, and the lethargy that has pervaded today has finally begun to lift.

Following the death of Steve Soto I wasn’t expecting that I would ever get to see The Adolescents. They made the decision to complete their European tour dates in celebration of Steve’s life and of the new album, Cropduster, that was his last recorded work, so with Brad Logan stepping in on bass The Adolescents take the stage and kick things into gear with No Way, from here on in they deliver a set that covers the bands almost four decade existence that is performed in from of a banner in the instantly recognisable colours of their debut album that simply reads SOTO.

One of the defining beauties of this festival is that it celebrates punk as a culture, not a narrow musical genre. That means that acts old and new mesh seamlessly together. Vibrators won’t mind being described as a veteran act and it’s apparent from the outset of this set that there’s a level of accomplishment and craft on display that some of the less polished acts at Rebellion could learn from. Despite there being one original member remaining, it’s still classic Vibrators, harking back stylistically to the pub rock scene that was the immediate precursor of punk back in the day. Inevitably there are some established classics, particularly Automatic Lover to the delight of the diehards thronging the Opera House stage.

There’s a theme developing with Michael Monroe. The last time I saw him was at Manchester’s Rebellion Bar, now we’ve stepped up to Rebellion Festival for the legendary Finnish rocker. Due to a ridiculously long, and seemingly unnecessary, sound check he becomes the only act of the weekend that starts late, but this is forgiven as he kicks of with Nothing’s Alright from his Demolition 23 days, and then it’s a glorious set of trashy rock n roll that culminates in a beserk Up Around The Bend, a medley of I Wanna Be LovedI Feel Alright and Looking At You before closing with Dead, Jail Or Rock N Roll that takes him way beyond curfew and more than makes up for the delayed start to his set. For me, this is the perfect closing act for the 2018 Rebellion Festival.

The Rebellion Festival is over for another year, we make our way across Blackpool for the final time in 2018 and enjoy the least disappointing takeaway so far looking out over the sea and the offshore turbines and we make a final toast to what has been a faultless weekend. Before a single band has been announced I know that I’ll be here next year doing it all over again, there are festivals and then there is Rebellion, over the weekend I have met people from countless countries, seen bands I already loved and found new musical loves, but it isn’t just the music, I’ve renewed friendships and made fresh ones, that I have no doubt will be renewed next year, drank strange things and eaten even stranger and now I couldn’t imagine my summer without the Rebellion Festival, see you in 2019. The Rebellion Festival will return between the 1st and 4th August 2019 and early bird tickets can be purchased here

Photography by Dod MorrisonGary Hough, AJ Phink

Co-Written by Peter Hough