Rebellion Festival 1st – 4th August, Winter Gardens, Blackpool
It’s the 23rd year of this Iconic Punk festival which has seen it grow year on year since 1996. It has previously changed its name and location but is here to stay in the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. The location is perfect for the 5,000 punters who religiously make their punk pilgrimage there every year. The town itself welcomes every one who makes it to this old seaside resort and its much needed injection of income for the struggling businesses that benefit from the influx. It was another glorious weekend weather wise, which was great for the army of punks who sit outside and barely venture from the steps of the venue as they swap stories of their past year having not seen each other since the last Rebellion. There was a down side to the hot weather outside though as some of the temperatures inside the venue were extremely hot. This meant most of the rooms were vacated as soon as the bands finished but due to the nature of the location, it benefited the local bars and cafe’s as the punters could pop out for some fresh air and nourishment.
The whole Rebellion vibe is incredible and it truly is one big happy family as all genres descend upon the festival and share their love of music and art. The festival is of course about music and art but it is the people that make it. The organisers Darren Russell-Smith and Jennie Russell-Smith, along with their team which range from some phenomenal musicians who manage each of the stages, to the light/sound crew, all the backstage management and the photographers who are there to capture the action for posterity. There is so much going on behind the scenes and it’s run like a well oiled machine. The building itself is incredible, which houses seven music venues as well as an area for art and artist interviews. The bars cater for all tastes and there’s some good food options on site as well. The staff make sure everyone is refreshed and hydrated! The security staff do an incredible job making sure that there are no serious injuries for the exuberant fans who love to surf and come over the barrier. In fact, some bands actually encourage it and try to get the record for numbers over the barrier in one song. They actually keep count!!!! Last but not least, there are a great number of vendors selling T-shirts, records/CD’s and memorabilia. Some of the bands sell their merchandise on stalls and this gives the fans the chance to meet their favourite musicians.
With over 300 bands to see and varying styles of music, there’s something for everyone. Most people already know who they want to see before they get there but often stumble across some great bands they’ve never heard before. There was some careful planning needed before Rebellion but there’s always room for one more band on the must see list.
Thursday 1st August
If it wasn’t nerve wracking enough to play Rebellion itself, being the first band to open the weekend, Lead Shot Hazard were the ideal band to kick the festival off. Playing in the Rebellion Introducing Stage and with the visual aesthetic of a singer sporting a mohican backed up by a wicked brass section was brilliant. The punk/ska set went down well with the busy room. The R.I.S benefits from being the first live room you encounter as you enter the building so it does invariably get passers-by drawn in by the music.
The Cundeez were the second band today to feature bagpipes. This time, it was an actual scotsman playing them and on the CASBAH stage it’s an awesome sight. Resplendent in their trademark kilts, The Cundeez introduce their new drummer to Rebellion. Right from the off, there’s a harder edge to them this year and they mean business. It’s not long before Gary Robertson takes his T shirt off as the crowd shout “Taps Aff” and he continues to jump round the stage. The popular punks from Dundee rip through their set and bring a smile to the crowd with “Yir Talking Shite”. The punk/ska music seems to run right through Rebellion and always goes down well.T shirts and contrary to the song, Dave Hennesey (Guitar/Vocals) is far from Sober and it’s only Thursday! “Human Symptom” is the backbone of their performance. There’s a real intensity in the delivery of the bands politically driven anti-establishment songs. I’m sure this won’t be there last appearance at Rebellion. track “Loner” to the darker tune “Sissy Fist” there’s an incredible dynamic in their music. Highlight for me was “Victim Age” but the entire set was brilliant. The EMPRESS was a great platform for them but I would recommend they would be best experienced at as small a venue as possible before they become huge! Imagine the rise of Frank Carter and you’ll understand, best felt up close! They have a multi-date tour coming up so catch them if you can. cathartic performance from those who were their close friends. The Reverend David Gray aka The Punk Monk, took the stage just prior to the band coming on to energise the crowd with some inspirational words and relay the “Fuck Cancer” message. The band took there places on stage and John Robb joined them and launched into “Fighting in the dancehall” the crowd errupted and it wasn’t not long before John was climbing the barrier and immersed in the mayhem. The anthemic chorus was the perfect start to any gig as the entire room join in singing “fighting in the dance hall, fucking in the streets”. Peter and Johny on guitars added to the frantic chaos as the demented licks drove the songs insanity. There was not relenting as “Strictly Hardcore” maintained the ferocity. “Jukebox Generation”, “Psycho” and “Riot Riot” kept the crowd moshing and they craved more from the band that rarely grace us with their presence. What an incredible performance and it will be remembered for many years to come, like those dedications at the start of the gig. “Be More Kathy” The room was absolutely packed and justifiably. It’s not often one of the major punk bands make it to these shores and the crowd took full advantage to see them. Another band with a massive history and a comprehensive back catalogue to pick from. It’s always going to be a greatest hits set at a festival and the irony of songs like “I don’t wanna grow up” wasn’t lost as they’re still out there playing gigs. “Silly Girl” another payfully titled song shows they defy the old punk guard with well crafted punk tunes. Playing songs back to back non stop, they ripped through their set very quickly and there were was a lot of love for the performance.
Thursday is traditionally the quietest of the four days but judging by the overall attendances in each venue, it looks like it was considerably busier than previous years.