FESTIVAL REVIEW: Blackpool Rebellion 4th August 2019 – A Damned Great End

The Sunday Punk Club were late replacements for Crimedesk, fellow Scots and just as deserving. No strangers to the crowd that had rolled out of bed for the opening slot on the Rebellion Introducing Stage, which had already seen some epic performances. The busy room had a familiar look to it for The Sunday Punk Club as a good number of friends had turned out as well as the R.I.S regulars. What better way to start the day than a full scottish breakfast! The band delivered their no nonsense punk rock to the eager crowd and a rousing performance of “My Reality”. Peter Morrison (Vocals) snarled into the mic throughout whilst the rest of the band hammered out the tunes.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1253″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Hands Off Gretel had the honour of the opening slot on The EMPRESS and didn’t shy away from it. Lauren Tate had the pleasure of seeing a packed room as the band launch relentlessly into their set. The trash/grunge rockers hit the ground running and thrashed their way through their songs like they were possessed. They chose to end with the classic stooges track “I wanna be your dog” but considering the recent dogma [sic] surrounding mysoginistic behaviour at gigs, it worked brilliantly. Hats off to them for a raw explosive set.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1254″ display=”basic_slideshow”]First up on the CASBAH were the ever present Hung Like Hanratty. With their toungue in cheek poke at society, they were the must see band for many that day. Al Sation is an archetypal figure for the band and unrelenting when it comes to showmanship. He is the ring master for a punk circus and without doubt, engaged everyone in the room with his playful demeanour. The lyrics might be light hearted filled with comedic value but the songs are tuneful and hard hitting.  

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1255″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Fat Albert another no-nonsense old school punk rock band hit The ARENA on Sunday and looked like they meant business. The three piece took the bull by the horns and smashed through a solid set. “Hold your head up high” is a great song and “Living in Workington” but gigging all over every weekend, these three guys revelled playing Rebellion.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1256″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Another dash over to The CASBAH to see the increasingly chaotic punks Pizzatramp. There’s no tongue in cheek humour like Hung Like Hanratty, these guys go for the more direct approach! The nearly full room got it in the face as these guys just love confrontation. They backed it up with some killer 2 minute high adrenaline skate punk tunes. It was a brutal performance as all aspects of society get a ribbing from Jimmy (Guitar) and he berated anyone and everyone who cares to listen but highly amusing if you take it with a pinch of salt. It’s all part of the Pizzatramp mandate. We finally get to see Pizzatramp at Rebellion with their drummer, no stand in this time! “Millions of Dead Goths” from the latest release “Grand Relapse” and “I got work in the morning” get the crowd going and there’s little respite during the whole set. Glad I wasn’t in the mosh or their song “My back’s fucking fucked” might be how I ended up!

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1257″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Third band from Dundee to play Rebellion this year were The Eddies. You’ll see their T shirts at most punk gigs as there broad appeal reaches most corners of the scene. In fact, I spotted Mr Spunk (Volcano) at the mech desk but who knows his real identity! They kicked off with the old favourite “Punk4Life” as the crowd are still spilling in from the other venues. A typical Sunday, good to see it as busy as ever. “My Game My Rules” from the recent E.P. “Still Takin’ The Mick” was up next, an early peak in the set. There were some new tunes right from the rehearsal rooms and “Control” seemed to hit the nerve of the crowd as a dystopian future looms large over us all judging by the current government! “Nowhere” is a mid-set gem and “Streetlife” always goes down well but it’s the title track off the recent E.P. that steals the show. The premature passing of their guitarist “Mick Kilbride” in 2017 resulted in the band writing a song based on some chords he had and it was this song that galvanised the performance. 

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1258″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Before I left The ARENA I caught a couple of songs from BKS. Absolute brutal hardcore, their new album DIY TNT will be released soon.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1259″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Having just walked out of the frying pan of The ARENA, I went straight into the fire as The Svetlanas crashed The EMPRESS. If you could imagine a manic possessed demon on rocket fuel, that doesn’t come close to Olga Svetlana (Vocals) She is a sight to behold. She came onto the stage like a rabid dog that’s just escaped it’s cage and set about thrashing herself around the stage for the entire set. Watching from the pit, trying to capture her in full flow was almost impossible. Gurning and screaming and leaping around, I’d never witnessed anything like it. I was trying to imagine what it would be like having Olga Svetlana in your face at a small venue, maybe I’ll be there one day but on Sunday, the big stage was just enough to contain her. Verging on metal “Never sleep again” showed how dynamic the band really are.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1260″ display=”basic_slideshow”]A band I had earmarked for the Sunday was Dischord. Nicest people you will ever meet and from Blackpool! It’s great to see them play Rebellion and the crowd gave them a great reception. Chris Dischord sounds a bit like Jello Biaffra and he engaged brilliantly with the crowd bouncing from stage onto the barrier. The PAVILLION was the ideal stage for them to perform on as it’s nice and central and draws the crowds in between bands. Judging by the size of the audience, it looked like they were taking more than a passing interest. Zowie Swan (Bass) had what was best described as a Victorian Seaside Postcard outfit. Superb aesthetic made even more poignant with the fact one of their songs is called “Seaside Suicide”. They also had a great new tune “Directors Cut” that had just been aired a few days before so it was great to hear it live. It wouldn’t be a Dischord gig without hearing “War or Peace” as Chris got the audience to sing along and of course, their signature tune “Here Come The Weeds”.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1261″ display=”basic_slideshow”]It was back to The ARENA for The Liarbilitys. They are one of those bands that are on everybodys punk rock festival line up and from Sundays performance you can see why. High energy, non stop slick guitar driven punk rock. Drawing from the original punk sound but bringing it bang up to date with dual guitars, the singalong chorus saw a few fists punching the air in the crowd. Having a great punk rock pedigree hailing from Birmingham, the blistering set from the frantic five piece was witness by a packed out ARENA. Having played the R.I.S. stage last year, they will be destined for a bigger stage next time they come back.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1262″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Full charged I went to The EMPRESS to see Teenage Bottlerocket. If you never saw The Ramones in their heyday, then the next best thing would be to see TBR. They play well crafted 2 minute pop punk songs that blend into one large mass of mayhem. Whether it’s in a sweaty club or a packed out 4,000 venue, TBR give you the same show. Stage right Miguel almost did the splits as he played his bass guitar Johnny Ramone style and he pulled some weird and wonderful faces whilst Ray Carslile (Guitar) launched off the drum riser to an incredible height . What really made the performance a little special was Ray’s 12yr old son Milo. He came on stage and drifted onto the drum kit at the brief soundcheck and started banging out a steady beat. After 2 mins, the band came on and Milo then made his way to the barrier and surfed out into the crowd and returned a few minutes later, carefully into the arms of the security guys. What a rush for the young man and the crowd loved it.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1263″ display=”basic_slideshow”]New look and new songs for Dirtbox Disco. No Weab as he’s commited to Kid Klumsy now but the band charge on. Spunk Volcano handled the vocals with his usual in your face manner. It was weird hearing “Burning” without Weab but what a supercharged full on version sung by Spunk. The old 70’s rock ‘n’ rollers Showaddywaddy got a dedication before “Slap Dash, Haphazard” but it’s the old favourites that had the old rockers in the crowd crushing the barrier. The crowd were in full voice singing “We’re Dirtbox, we’re bastards and we love it”. 

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1264″ display=”basic_slideshow”]New York hard core punk band The Casualties invaded The EMPRESS and were far from “Strung Out” like their new album title. The impressive mowhawks on David Rodriguez (Vocals) and Jake Kolatis (Guitar) make them stand out from the band but they are one unit and it was an explosive performance from them. Rebellion slotted in nicely to their European tour. There was a constant stream of mowhawked punks flying over the barrier and David joined them during the third song showing solidarity with them as he shared the mic as the crowd sung along.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1265″ display=”basic_slideshow”]There was a change in line up this year at Rebellion with Department S. Alan Galaxy and Pete R. Jones had moved on earlier in the year and Simon Bowley and Mike Lea have taken their place but everyone was shouting “Is Vic there”.The crowd weren’t disappointed as it got the customary airing and the set gave us the marvellous “I believe” and “When all is said and all is done”. Phil Thompson wrestled with his Yamaha SG pulling his regular rock star poses and Eddie Roxy maintained the uber cool look throughout. The OPERA House is the regular home for Dept S and rightly so, quirky and cool and a great place to chill out, just like the band.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1266″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Back to The Pavillion for Kid Klumsy. David Weab Grant (Vocals ex-Dirtbox Disco) now minus the make up and oversized boiler suit, he has dropped the comedy look but maintained his demeanour. Having moved on from DBD and giving Kid Klumsy his full attention, the band have gone from strength to strength in 2019. They have ramped up their profile and gig schedule and Rebellion was the obvious festival for them to show how far they’ve come in such a short time. Like all the bands on STP Records, they just get better everytime you see them. The new release “Singing Our Souls” got good coverage and the crowd favourite “Mr Right Man” had them all singing that well know chorus! Their hard core fans love a bit of “Dislexic Munkiz” but my personal favourite was “True Believers”, great tune and a cracking performance, apart from Fatwigs head blown up on the main backdrop screen!

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1267″ display=”basic_slideshow”]The Professionals graced The EMPRESS stage on Sunday and launched right into their anthemic “Join The Professionals”. Paul Cook was looking energised as they played the second song “Good Man Down” from their latest album “What In The World”. Next up “Payola” and Chris McCormack kitted out in black with matching Gibson Les Paul Custom launched some great guitar shapes as Toshi (Bass) moved around the stage from side to side. Tom Spencer was planted centre of stage and drove the songs on. The band looked like they meant business and got a great reception from the packed crowd. The old ‘pistols numbers from rock ‘n’ roll swindle “Silly Thing and “Lonely Boy” went down well but the band finished off with new and old songs “Let Go” and “1,2,3”. Great to see them at Rebellion on the big stage.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1268″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Back to the Pavillion for a quick visit to see the second set from Subalternos. They had already played The Arena stage on Friday but due to a cancellation, they stepped up and filled the slot. Judging by the crowd, it was a welcomed second set. The boys from Brazil played 9 shows in the U.K. and grew in popularity at each one. Great to see the band sing in their native tongue, I may not have understood the lyrics but music is universal.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1269″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Rebellion favourites Choking Susan were back to play The Arena. A band best seen up close as Colleen Caffeine loves to put on a great show and demands the attention from the crowd. Having seen the band at the Rebellion pre-show, I knew what to expect and they did not disappoint. It’s not all about Colleen though the rest of the band rocked hard and they crush every gig they play. Hailing from Detroit, famous for rock and theatrics, Choking Susan drew a big crowd. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Boys” was the highlight of the set for me but they have so many great songs.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1270″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Back to The EMPRESS to see The Skids. Having returned to full time gigging a couple years ago and releasing their new albums to great acclaim, The Skids remain one of “THE” live bands to see in 2019. With Bruce and Jamie Watson on guitars, it’s an incredible line up. Richard Jobson, the self professed worst dancer ever, relished being at Rebellion again. After a cracking version “Of One Skin” Richard kicks off the banter with the crowd by ranting about how Leo Sayer managed to keep The Skids off the top of the album charts. You could see Bruce rolling his eyes at this and maybe it was all a “Charade”. The second song of the night gets them back on track. The band have been touring constantly in the past year and must be feeling like “Kings of the New World”. But it’s the older hits that get the biggest reception and “Saints Are Coming” and “Masquerade” prove this. Richard had a story about playing TOTP and how Jimmy Saville hated “Circus Games”, he relished that fact! The mood was lightened by a cover of “Pretty Vacant” and a cameo of Paul Cook but the real highlight of the night, the trio of “Into The Valley”, “Out of Town” and the magnificent “Charles”, where it all started. Stunning performance and the packed out venue proved their popularity. Duncan Aitken (Skids sound engineer) got the best out of the PA, immaculate sound.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1271″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Back to The ARENA for the final time to see Surgery Without Research. The room was packed and rightly so. The anarcho punks have a growing following and the T shirts sales alone can prove that! Kicking off their anti-establishment, anti-government mandate “Jackbooting in the USA” then into a cracking version of “Thugs in Blue”. The band kept the intensity up throughout their entire set with “Power Unpower”, “We pay the price” and the forthright “Religeous Bullshit” and my personal “Pig Government” which seemed a lot faster than normal but still as epic. “Like Winter” always amuses when I hear it and again, faster than it’s been played at previously Rebellions. The crowd get “We Are the Punks” dedicated to them and as Dave Booker plays the bassline to “Police Are Liars”, Andy H (Vocals/Guitar) and Mark Spooner (Guitar) jump on to the barrier for the last song. They get a rowdy reception from the crowd and finish off ferociously chanting the title of the song. 

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1272″ display=”basic_slideshow”]The final band on The EMPRESS stage and what a great show from The Damned it promised to be as the crowd relished the playing of “Machine Gun Etiquette” on it’s 40th birthday. Captain Sensible and Paul Gray breezed onto stage and the signature sound of Paul’s Rickenbacker bass ripped into “Love Song”. Dave Vanian, turned out immaculate as ever, sung the iconic lyrics whilst The Captain was throwing himself around the stage in his signature red striped jersey armed with his trusty Gibson SG. Sticking to the script, the band played through the album with “I just can’t be happy” and “Smash It Up” getting the biggest cheers. Great bit of banter from The Captain when he said “How great were The Skids” and Pinch (Drums) said “Och aye the noo” just before Dave responded by saying “Meanwhile, back in the graveyard” as they fired into “Plan 9 Chanel 7”. It was a brave decision to play the album in its entirety and the band certainly looked like they loved it. The crowd were rewarded with “Wait for the blackout” and of course, they had to play “New Rose” and “Neat neat neat” with The Captain doing his best Jimi Hendrix impersonation as he played the SG behind his head during the solo. The final song, “Jet boy / Jet Girl” ended the set on a high and Captain Sensible blew the crowd kisses before dropping his drawers so he could “moon” at them before giving the “V” sign as he straddled off the stage trousers round his ankles.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1273″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Final band for me at Rebellion 2019 were The Dwarves. The CASBAH was packed out to see the controversial garage punk rockers from California. Playing with them for Rebellion, HeWhoCannotBeNamed (Guitar) sporting only a leather jockstrap and “Rey Mysterio” wrestling mask, it was a sight to be hold! Careful camera positioning required especially when he was leaping around. Along with Blag Dahalia (Vocals) they have been the main members of the band. The band played Rebellion as part of a 9 date UK tour with two dates in Europe. With an extensive back catalogue to choose from, old favourites “Demonica” and “Back Seat of My Car” were complimented with a killer version of “Devil’s Level” and the terrific “Forget Me Not” which had Blag dancing across the stage Chuck Berry style. The tuneful guitar licks are complimented by Blags voice and the signature screaming of Nick Oliveri (Bass) stand out through out the set. Pure rock ‘n’ roll carnage in The CASBAH, perfect way to end the weekend for me.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1274″ display=”basic_slideshow”]I saw over 90 bands in four days, I missed so many great bands but fortunate to catch the bands I did. There’s nothing like this on the planet. It’s more than just ten or twelve bands playing of seven stages every day, it’s one big happy gig. Do yourself a favour and find out for yourself. Whether you catch two or three bands every day and spend the rest of the time socialising or discovering the artists and musicians giving talks or simply chilling out drinking in the bars in and out of the venue, trust me, you have to at least say you have do it once. 

Tickets are on sale right now at the discounted rate. There’s so much to see and do during the weekend, you won’t be disappointed. 

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Thanks to Darren Russell Smith and Jennie Russell Smith for a cracking festival.

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Raymond Thomson - Deputy Editor

I am a photographer/musician/engineer living in Scotland. My passion is music and motocross and I share my work on facebook/punk4RT and facebook/madmaxmedia. I do like a bit of throw back to the heydays of the 60’s/70’s/80’s when it comes to taking shots of bands. I grew up on the music papers (NME/Sounds/Melody Maker) and drew influence from Pennie Smith/Jill Furmanovsky/Anton Corbijn/Bob Gruen/Adrian Boot/Charles Peterson.
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