Kenneths were new to me but they had a great backdrop…their name in blocks, that also made for a great patch.
They are a young 3 piece, with a female drummer/co-vocalist and a singer with the classic low slung guitar. The bass player would have fit right in with early Corrosion of Conformity. So there’s lots to like there.
Their songs veered towards the Ramones-y heartbreak pop lyrics, one outstanding example is their song, I don’t want to go out with you, which might be my favourite Kenneths’ song. With lyrics and sentiments like All Cried Out they proved that introspective, even plaintiff lyrics, can be paired with a grinding sound to make a great impact. Viva the punk contrast.
And so we return. A little greyer, mostly a little bigger but no less enthusiastic. Blackpool 2017 for this first weekend of August is less kiss me quick and donkey rides and more punk rock nostalgia as the home of the 80s political conferences is taken over by the punks. 7 stages kicking off with bingo from max splodge of splodgenessanounds. Max regaled us all on top of the pops with two pints of lager and a packet of crisps please and now he is in the bar calling out numbers for bingo and that very same order over and over again.
Today’s festival began with a race against time. Four full days of live music ahead and my 10.35 plane looks like it won’t get there on time. I will mix Max’s bingo and Geoffrey Oicott. But I wait in hope that I can catch Epic Problem, the spoilers and the tuts.
One issue of having 7 stages is there are bound to be clashes. They usually work out as 4 songs from a band you want to check out is far better than never being in the same room as them but this three being on different stages at the same time was always going to prove problematic. It was a problem I didn’t need to give thought to as trains and planes conspired against me and time was the winner, or lack of it.
Bratakus were the first band I caught. Two piece abrasiveness from Scotland. Some racket for two people, excellent stuff. In evil hour were on in the empress and played to a large crowd. Strong solid rocking punk tunes
Simon Wells and Carol Hodge came over to Ireland last year to play our We Shall Overcome festival and delighted the crowd. They were back today in the acoustic room as simon played tracks from his new album, songs that are usually played with a fuller sound and lots of noise. It’s great to hear them stripped down bare and raw. Heartfelt music that is very special. Simon greeted nearly everyone personally from stage and we welcomed him and Carol from our seats. The set as mixed with some of Carols haunting yet soulful songs which added spice to the mix.
Carol played again later with Slice of Life.
There are a few people who can do no wrong with the vast majority of the rebellion crowd and Steve ignorant is one of these. Steve will be singing some songs with paranoid visions later in the festival, a selection of songs that influenced so many. For tonight he is living in the now and it’s a good place to be. Steve can’t avoid the fact that he was in one of the most influential punk bands. A band that could easily be described as one that maybe not led a generation but guided a community. It was an accident and he is humbled by it all he wasn’t trying to lead anyone he was just being one of us. And still is.
The pukes were a trimmed down version of their usual selves. 4 ukuleles and some washboard rhythms playing punk classics. They had a huge crowd in the acoustic room singing along and wondering when would they learn. There was something missing from the band on stage and when i did that head count I realised that Lorna was missing. Her infectious enthusiasm is a beacon on stage but the colourful tunes still brought a smile to us all
This was my first time to see Bar stool preachers despite them being perennial visitors. Sing along punk ska anthems that had the crowd singing along and me wondering what the words were so I could join in
Reletics were the only and I saw on the introducing stage. Powerful punky rocky sound. They proudly sang about being an anti fascist band which is worth proclaiming time and again.
MDC are one of those bands that just keep going but in reality it is just singer Dave Dictor. Dave, like many others here this weekend, pretty much acts the same as he did in the late 80’s early 90’s. There’s been hospital visits and scares along the way but he is still screaming, even at the acoustic show tonight. The acoustic shows leave singers with no place to hide and dave coped very well stripped down to a bass and an acoustic and those songs about Reagan and the crazy state of the world growing up in the 80s seems as relevant as ever, maybe more so.
Zillah minx from Rubella ballet is like the offspring of Toyah Wilcox with attitude and politics thrown in. Toyah flew a flag for women in a time when women were solely objectified in music. Rubella Ballet brought colour to an anarchist punk scene full of black with some red for good measure. Both played this evening in the seated arena. Rubella ballet competed with the Puke’s for most colourful band. Maybe an anarcho spizz energy complete with illuminious dancers. I never really listened to Toyah before and couldn’t tonight as there were no seats in the house spare for her performance.
I also never really listened to good riddance. Not sure why but alongside Strike Anywhere they are on my list of “must find out more”. That list is increasing al the time but after tonight’s energetic explosion of hardcore I can strike them off.
Roddy radiation had everyone skanking as if the specials never stopped. Ska and reggae in an original Style. While roddy was skanking tv smith was punking. Tim is in the same mould as Steve ignorant. A legend of a musician and still playing those adverts songs as if it was his first time. Only two words to describe this set. Tv smith. That first album is a classic. I defy you to say otherwise. Tv smith is the boss.
Leftover Crack are in Dublin on Saturday. This may not be a warm up for that show but if it was, then the gypsy rose will he on fire. Hard hitting political us hardcore punk band. They were on top form tonight.
sem futuro showed you don’t have to be North American to have that punky hardcore sound. These Brazilians sure did create a racket, can’t say if the words were politically motivated as my Spanish is pretty nonexistent
Penny wise and bad religion brought the tunes back in. It’s amazing to see Bad Religiin still filling out halls and better again to see over 2,500 people singing along. Flying end to the first day, despite my disappointing start of clashes and ultimately missed sets.
It’s not even four o,clock and I already have a new favourite band.
Girls and boys looking for contemporary punk role models need look no further
They are two-piece, so lazy comparisons with House of f
Freaks and even Carter the USM are inevitable, yet that shouldn’t take away from how original and powerful Bratakus are.
I love their song Open Your Eyes with its manic panic energy.
They did a wonderful cover of the Cress song Breakdown which again had an industrial-scale full-throttle force.
They are fast, frantic, fantastic and fun and show that the spirit of true girl power is alive and thriving in 2017. Their new CD is just out and boasting songs like I Know Nothing it is well worth checking out. They finished their set with Products a song proudly introduced as an animal rights song.
In Evil Hour
were a revelation when I saw them first at Rebellion two years ago. They have got even stronger in the interim. Packing a visceral push without sacrificing melody and boasting a commanding female vocalist they are well worth seeing if you like your rock. It is easy to understand why Niall splashed out on their album when we saw them last. They are still comfortable on the main stage and I look forward to seeing them move up the bill.
They move seamlessly from melodic singalong to growling shrieks with a pulsing rhythm of the classic four piece rock bands.
So sad to say that I missed them today, but we managed to buy three of their albums. The covers are just what you hope an indie band’s album covers would look like. Artful, beautiful, distinctive and evocative. And we got to meet the band-member who designs them too. Really looking forward to checking them out.
Do moral victories mean anything? I’m here on the train watching the beautiful countryside intersect with electrical pylons throughout middle England and I just can’t get the ill taste out of my mouth. It is certainly not the ill taste of food as the fare today has been exemplary. Planet organic after the game was preceded by some vegan cake from bumblebee and vegan treats from vx in kings cross. The food today has helped temper the feeling after watch west ham beat my beloved Blackpool today. Yep I’m biased, I have my tangerine memorabilia on as I type this but damn did west ham play awful football. I have attended many many games throughout my 2scoreandfour years and west ham were a reminder of some seasons going to the Carlisle grounds to see my other seaside team, bray wanderers.
Goalkeeper kickouts typified it today. When England international rob green put the ball down at the edge of his six yard box every one of his team mates congregated in a 20 yard circle each side of the half way line and towards one side. It was like the space used before a game to play 3 v 3 games, except there was 20 players in that area. It reminded me of the many disorganised protests I have been to down through the years. Instead of spreading out and making it seem like we were more in number we huddled together for strength in solidarity. Now while that may be ok if you are protesting about Israeli behaviour on Palestinian people or trying to make people more aware about he horrific barbaricity of vivisection but for a football team of professionals it seems just as wrong to me as eating meat (guess that still leaves me in the minority). Anyway there was a “football” match today. West ham were pre match favourites but the thousands of tangerine clad people were like attendees at a barak Obama rally believe we said, hope was in our hearts as the little guy went to bat against his rich counterpart. It didn’t start out quite as planned for the cockney team as Blackpool created some good chances.
Matt Phillips was on the pfa team of the championship this year but it wasn’t for his finishing. He got into 2 great opportunities but after fluffing the first one his second effort went just wide. We believed, we hoped but then the hammers scored. Mark noble played a great long ballot Carlton cole after some wrestling our the wing. Cole showed his class against Ian evatt and scored before Matt hills could reposition himself correctly. West ham fans, your team has some great players. Demand that they are allowed play!!!!! And so at halftime we were 1 down. What was to happen next? I had an eye on the clock as I has to get back to euston for 7 o clock. When Blackpool came and really took the game to west ham in the second half I had all sorts Rolf permutations going round my head and most of them involved missing the ferry!!! When we got the equalised there was a sense that something could be achieved today we pushed and tried to get that winner. We kept at it and with ten minutes to go it seemed that If the game wasn’t foing to be extended by extra time then it would be because the pool got the winner. And so we sang, we held our arms aloft and we believed. And then we were shut up. We were put back into our ideological cubbyhole. Hammers won a scrap played some quick passes and suddenly the ball was in the net. Don’t ask me how but the team with the money had muscled their way into the lead. We tried to hit back, tried to our sing those fans but their bubbles were too loud. Our bubble has burst and all that was left was for me I run out of the stadium and catch my train. So I pondered on today’s fare whilst eating my treat in planet organic, football mirrors life sometimes the good guys win but NOT always. Good luck to west ham in the premiership next season, they finished third in the league so natural justice belongs to them
Today it was back to Blackpool for the annual check-up on the medical condition of the venerable old institution that is punk. Punk nostalgia could not have found a more perfect temporary home than ‘the Paris of the North West’. There amongst the Ghost Trains, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, the sticks of rock, the tacky souvenir shops and every bit as colourful are the punks. The establishment’s dearest wish at the first sprouting of punk was that it would go away. It did go away. It went to Blackpool.
And every year, now as regular as a Christmas panto, or a back-to-school sale it enjoys a four-day celebration of community in the magnificent Wintergarden. The leather and studs are now as quaint as the outfits of the pearly kings and queens. Plus there was enough tattoo ink on display to paint a small country and the wrinkles were even more pronounced than ever before. Yet here they all were again. A clump of punks sitting by the entrance had not paced themselves very well. They were sitting beside a huge, and literally nauseating, pool of puke before the event has even begun. Pace yourselves punks! It is not a cider sprint it is a liquid marathon.
One of the reasons I felt excited about emigrating from Dublin in the late 80s was because I wanted to see every band I possibly could. London is an incredible city. It is even more incredible if you are young and music is your biggest passion. That was my case. I saw so many incredible bands when they passed through. At the same time two London bands quickly became ‘must sees’. I did everything I could to see them every time they played. They were Snuff and the Senseless Things. Both were infused with effervescent pop energy, rock power and a great sense of fun.
And tonight I get reacquainted with Snuff. They are every bit as irrepressible as ever. They’re as tight and muscular as Husker Du with the madcap wit of the Goons and the cheeky chappie personality of London barrow boys. I can’t help but smile and sing along with delight. It feels good to be here. It feels good to be alive. And even the floor of the ballroom, already as sticky as a gum tree forest in high summer, can’t prevent me from springing up and down, but gently.The Filaments have boundless energy with the most elastic trombonist of the night. He cavorted and sprang around the stage with his instrument in hand. They have good highly charged songs and they also helped the punks to get a bit of a work out. They are anti-fascist and fun. During their set they successfully urged the crowd at the front to form a circle and move around. The following scene resembled an earthquake in the toilet brush and paint factory. The fans seemed to enjoy their punk-ercize; later their magnificent plumage was rightly saluted by Snuff. A riot of colour under the Blackpool illuminations.
The Buzzcocks were one of the most bright and brilliant things about early punk/new wave. Their vibrant singles were sparky, spiky and melodic three minute bursts of energy. I didn’t get to see them when they visited Ireland and played at barely audible levels thanks to the intervention of the authorities at Trinity College. It must have been frustrating for the audience to witness such a great band at such a low volume.
I got to see them in London twenty years ago. To be honest I had reservation about going to see them because they were ‘not of the moment’. They were exceptional. The gig reminded me of how many quality pop songs they had. And here I was again, over twenty years on from that gig.
Diggle and Shelly still give the impression of men enjoying what they do. And I don’t mean in some fake showbiz way. They indulged in some guitar work-outs that I suspect wouldn’t have escaped the punk censors in 1977. And as much as I appreciate that punk needs to be more open and to break the formulas I didn’t enjoy the guitar histrionics as much as the band probably did.
A fantastic thing about the Rebellion Festival is getting to sample bands I wouldn’t otherwise encounter. The Heavy Metal Kids sounded like a band I have read about in passing yet have never heard. And there they were looking every bit like Heavy Metal but not in any way like Kids. Their singer looked like ‘rock singer’ selected by central casting. The handy official Rebellion programme has info on lots of the bands appearing this year. Turns out the Heavy Metal Kids were formed in 1972! I can only imagine how much pleasure the original members get from performing songs and being on stage after all those years. I don’t necessarily want to see these bands. And previously I would have been glad if they never performed. Now I kind of admire them and wish them well even if it is from a distance. I am genuinely glad that people who made art collectively now meet up with old friends, and even new ones, and play their music. God Bless The Heavy Metal Kids.
Tomorrow I get to see some of the Irish contestants on Blackpool Rebellion Festival 2012. I suspect they will give a decent account of themselves.
Maximum Rock N Roll # 350 is dedicated to a wonderful Photo Issue. It celebrates the photographers of the punk scenes. One of the most interesting to me is the feature on Don Pyle and his evocative shots of the early Toronto punk days. Capturing bands like the Diodes and the Viletones, Pyle who went on to be in Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, brings to light moments of inspiration for the great Canadian city. Pictures of Iggy Pop, Cheetah Chrome and the Ramones demonstrate how visiting bands were often the touch paper for young emerging acts. The article remined me of great people like Catherine McRae and her friend Joanne Keading, Elliot Lefkoe, Dave Bookman and Kim Cooke who took inspiration from that underground scene and then made their own artistic and entrepreneurial contribution to the music world.