Rebellion 2018 – Day 1
Airports intrigue me. A large airport like Dublin is a city in itself. Huge amount of daily visitors and it does seem like a city that doesn’t sleep. As I descended from my slumber at 4am in a suburb that was quiet and dark I arrived into a thriving hectic Dublin Airport. Booming at 4.30 am. Packed cafes and shops as people preparing for holidays decide to do things they wouldn’t normally in the middle of the night. Huge breakfasts get eaten, massive headphones are purchased and the thrill of what seems like cheap perfume provides allure. Whilst many are preparing for a sun filled break away from their hectic schedules and some are readying themselves for work meetings they needed to have 3 hours sleep for, a small minority are preparing for their annual punk party. Blackpool and Rebellion festival here we come. Lists prepared and a sense of excitement.
It is hard to get lost on your way to Rebellion. From landing in Manchester airport it becomes a case of “follow that t-shirt”. All the excited wanderers eagerly anticipating 4 days of punk rock. Our carriage was full of people boldly proclaiming their faith in bands like black flag, Vice squad, chaos uk and my celebration for the day Drunken Sailor Records. As the train made its way across the industrial heartland that is northern England’s the clouds greeted us overhead, lifting briefly for the magic of Blackpool tower to be seen in the distance. It brought a smile to all travelling to the seaside.
I was on the red eye flight because I wanted to catch Pardon Us who were opening Rebellion musically. I missed Spoilers and Epic Problem last year due to a wish to have a nights sleep before my 4 day sojourn. I didn’t want to make that mistake this year, knowing my body wouldn’t be impressed. Anyway I made it in time to catch Max Splodge calling out a bit of bingo before Pardon Us brought their tuneful punky pop sound. The tunes got a bit lost in the noise from the p.a. but hey that’s okay.
Burnt Tapes bass player had an iron chic t-shirt which automatically made some part of me like them. Nice sing along anthemic punk hardcore. If only I knew the words I could have sung along too.
I managed to squeeze in a couple of songs from Blackpool home town heroes the poly esters. Sounding more like North American than northern England the poly esters sound is more rock than punk and they were certainly rocking out.
Anti-Social USA are obviously called that to let people know where they some from. I often wonder would it be more of a twist if you gave your band a title from a different continent. Would it make any difference. Probably not. “Blackpool, how you guys doing today” they ask the crowd who in turn reply “yeahhhh”. A bizarre start to an energetic hardcore show. It was fast and frenetic In that socal way, maybe a more aggressive version of 7 seconds. Unlike Kevin seconds though anti social don’t want to interact with the crowd other than that line at the start. I always feel this is something bands miss out on. The lack of engagement makes me want to Disengage. It seems like they are singing about something important and heartfelt but I’ve no idea what and the band didn’t want to explain it to me so I headed off To the dark brooding sounds of System of Hate. The hate lads pound a punk sound that is deep and dark. What a surprise when Ratboy gets up on stage and danced along, complete in tiger outfit. Another bizarre contradiction in a weekend about to explode with them.
Splash were next on the introducing stage. As I walked in to the sped and fuzzed up sounds of “stay another day” (take that anybody?) I did think if those glorious snuff gig when we were treated to some real tunes at breakneck speed. splash rock out a bit more, maybe it’s the beards the three of them have. Full of energy though and even a few words with the audience
I’m still unsure about the soap girls. One man and two Women on stage wearing very little and this was the best attended so far. They sing about what they want and are not slow in speaking their mind. They will do what they want, does the sexuality take from the music? Yeah sure but there’s serious rock sounds going on.
I’ve no such indecision about local Blackpool punk tunesters litterbug, complete with its Oyston out scarf, referring to Blackpool Fc owner Karl Oyston, on the bass Amp. 3 piece playing punk rock with tunes. Nothing fancy but then again nothing fancy needed.
Aerial salad are another three piece exploding with power on stage. Less guitar and more vocals than litterbug it is fast and the big Pavillion crowd were lapping it up. A real feeling of community when they were up there.
You can tell the difference between bands by the price of their T-shirt’s. Those who are trying to make a career and living from their music tend to have a middle person involved in merch and their prices reflect that. Lillingtons are one of those €20 tshirt bands that grace the large Empress Ballroom. There’s no darts today, no ballroom dancing just good old fashioned sing along emo pop punk from the lillingtons. Again though, very little interaction with the crowd as I was glad to be sitting in my seat having a rest. I did notice a T-shirt on the Crowd saying “old punks never die, they just stand down the back”. In my case it’s up in the seats glad to give my feet a rest.
Wow, Blackpool how you have changed. I can now leave the venue and if I have time to travel to faringos vegan cafe I can get full on meal safe in the knowledge that no animals were involved or in the periphery. No need to solely rely on holland and Barrett to provide sustenance. Compass Cafe had a vegan menu, down the road from West Coast Chicolate Cafe who are providing dairy free milkshake and pizza express proudly advertising their vegan wares outside the shop. Compass Cafe were even playing TV Smith. Wonder what it’s like when the Darts are on ?? After a quick bite I ran back to the huge complex that is the Winter Gardens.
No matter how many times I’ve looked at the massive line up I can only see Epic Problem down as acoustic. Their punk singalong tunes are perfect when you want to scream at the top of your voice but they worked just as well acoustically. A shame we didn’t get the full set but great to see the stripped down version. Heartfelt punk rock screamed at the top of your voices with an acoustic soundtrack. A couple of cracking covers, including ones by leather face, billy Bragg and maybe the down and outs?? This was top class and a real highlight.
Before they came on I caught the Headsticks set. I had to take a double take as what seemed like John Robb’s younger brother was the singer in the Headsticks. Full of charisma as he tried to get the crowd to singalong to the folk punk on offer. Full of insightful lyrics, a social commentary on the UK today.
More heartfelt punk rock in the guise of Lawrence arms next on the main empress ballroom stage. Another 3 piece making some racket but again very little audience interaction so I skipped it short and caught some of POG. British quirky folk pop, just as heartfelt as anything else today but expressed in a different light.
Steve ignorant brought his slice of life to the opera stage once more. Despite playing with this line up for a number of years Steve is still known as the voice of Crass. This however is so much different. Punk rock vaudeville in some ways, this is more theatre than a rock gig but the serene surroundings of the Opera House is perfect for Steve’s observations. We sit down and look at the ornate theatre of a time gone by and wonder what has happened. What has brought us to this place? The world Crass sang about may not have exploded but politically the West has imploded. Greed does seem to have replaced need. At least Steve is still singing about it. He was feeling a bit sentimental tonight as we all raised a toast to those absent. Steve is a deep thinker and it’s a brave move for him doing Slice of life. He could make a living (one he’s owed maybe??) singing songs he co-wrote over 30 years ago but that wouldn’t be doing them justice. Instead they do come out every now and then for extra special occasions. I prefer his current world, songs that have come from the struggles of today not the struggles of thatchers Briton.
The institution that is TV Smith continues. A legend at Rebellion the former Adverts front man is made for this acoustic stage as we sang along and still feel it’s no time to be 21. It was crammed in the acoustic room so I snook out to get some air and catch a bit of cyanide pills. Cyanide pills have that snotty Ramones feel, a cool version of the Hanson brothers maybe. Then had a quick check out if idles. 5 piece managing to match the noise output of the 2 piece slaves. It’s a similar sound to be. No mad tunes but a pure assault alright.
Today was a day for bands from the “land of the free”. I missed Mad Caddies, TSOL and lag wagon but managed to catch most of the set by the queers. Fast pop punk sound complete with addition of guitarist half way through. Although thankfully order was restored soon enough as one track was enough before we veered into rock territory. Joey came back and took on lead vocals. I had to do a double take as I thought it was buck defect up there singing but the tuneful voice lacked the horse ness of the defect.
A quick dash up to the all seated packed opera house to see Theatre of Hate. I remember they played McGonagles in Dublin and being mad jealous as my brothers trooped in. Age beat me as I was too young to venture into a crazy Dublin City. I listened to them constantly for a couple of months but haven’t put them on my turntable this Century. The pounding beat, with haunting sax and kirks wail hasn’t changed but it wasn’t for me tonight. Wonder would I have enjoyed them in 1982?
The vandals played Dublin in 1988. I was involved in putting on the gig. we met them off the ferry in Dun Laoire and as they expected their ride to town we proceeded to the bus stop. Well that was the way we travelled. Back in 1980s Dublin very few punks had access to a car. Public transport was our mode. I’m sure they didn’t get the bus to the winter gardens this time (or at least one you don’t have to question at a bus stop and pay to get on to) but their punk pop us hardcore sound brings me right back to that grey time. There was about 50npeople atb their gig in the grattan that night and if memory serves me right the second gig of the night was pulled half way through due to crowd trouble. The crowd tonight was 50 times the 50 that night in Dublin as the banter between band and crowd was top notch.
Just time to catch a couple of Buzzcocks classics and home tired but happy after. Still on day. I didn’t have the stamina for Lagwagon. After all this is a marathon weekend.
Finlly, it was poignant and fitting that a tribute was made on the Empress stage in memory of Garry Alexander Borland from the Heavy Drapes who has passed away since the last Rebellion. I’m sure it was him and many others Steve Ignorant had in mind when he toasted absent friends during his set