Rebellion 2019 – Day 1
My son volunteered in Ethiopia earlier this Summer. Him and a handful of his school mates travelled over and helped out in a school in Ambo. Three weeks after he departed he arrived back with stories of electricity rationing, broadband being cut off, real hunger, poverty and a joy in kids eyes he hadn’t really seem before. Now When I think things are tough I just think back to that image and say it could be so much worse for many in the west.
That’s what helped get me through my day of delays yesterday. I thought I was boxing clever for rebellion this year. I decided to head a day earlier so I would be refreshed and ready right from the start. I wasn’t anticipating major issues in the train network or rail lines flooding but as I crawled into Blackpool at midnight and breathed a sigh of relief my thoughts were to what I had. A healthy enough body, a comfortable enough train (they don’t need regular cleaning and you get used to the smell of spilt beer after an hour and a half, and a bed to put my head down for the night.
There a good queues to swap your tickets for wristbands. This open air extravaganza features people of all shapes and sizes with hair styles of all shapes and sizes (a Mohican with blackpool towers as spokes was one picture I wanted to take but felt the person May have been on his way to collect his pension so I didn’t disturb him). Our tribe come together. We swap our pieces of paper for wristbands stuck to our skin for the next four days. We walk around town with a knowing glance to each other. Amidst the shoppers, the tourists and the workers. We are the punks.
So I was ready for the mid day explosion and instantly there was a clash – murderburgers or X-ray eyes. I had to go half set each. Murderburgers, from Scotland (well they were originally) play fast tuneful songs. A thinking persons nofx maybe?
X ray eyes take the pop sensibility of spizz energi and ignite it with a faster thrashier beat. Featuring people from the cyanide pills is no surprise with that buzzaw sound through their set.
Baby Seals are on the big stage of the empress ballroom. A strange setting for the band as the stage is set apart from the audience. Baby seals are screaming for equality through catchy pop songs. Those songs do rock out at times and this is no frivolous pop band. Why someone needs to scream for equality in a western democracy is the real shame. But they need to and the baby seals will have you dining along about nipple hair or labia as if it’s done every day. It’s important that gigs are safe spaces for all and at times the “rock show” can forget about this. Baby seals are all about looking after each other which is what punk is about for me
I got some of Millie manders before settling on the pukes. I’ve resolved to try and catch more full band sets this year. It’s great to see 100 bands over 4 days but to get the real feel you need to spend some time with your hosts. I look over the past decade of Blackpool and remember sets from the neurotics, ruts dc, menstrual cramps, dealing with damage, a page of punk, paranoid visions, spoilers, chumbawmba, interrobang and realize most of them are playing this year. So I give the pukes my time, knowing I will see more of Millie’s skanking songs later in the day.
She did use a ukelele which made me comfortable continuing the punk uke sound of the pukes as they cover a myriad of classics that sees a Thursday afternoon opera house singalong. It’s not an army of ukeleles any more. The first few times I saw the pukes was a glorious chaotic mess of ukelele plunked up. Their band numbers on stage varied all the time. We did get a few guest vocalists which helped bring back those memories. It’s a bit more stable now but still a joyous way to spend 30 minutes.
Andy T was part of my political schooling. I didn’t learn politics in school punk rock was my college and people like Andy t along with bands like crass and flux were my lecturers. Andy was on the almost acoustic stage with a quartet of acoustic troubadours. Ranting poetry sung to us.
Pog have a very distinctive English folk feel, cello, violin keyboards and guitars all playing a pleasant noise. A perfect mid afternoon antidote. Like an older version of Blyth power. Bizarrely when introducing the band they didn’t know the surname of the drummer. Kind of disturbing but says a lot I suppose. We don’t need to know each other’s names, just our views. Their song about class war rings true to me. It’s about rich punks who wished they were poor. I remember as a kid listening to all the anarcho punks saying what needed to happen as they were able to step away from their protected lives. My growing up was all about getting out to work to support family. Theirs was about academia and getting mammy and daddy to give them a dig out. Ok I generalize but you get the gist. Revolution is easier to fight for when you have money.
Bar stool preachers have some amount of merch. They are a working band trying to make a living and merch is all at a reasonable price The empress is pretty packed for them. Over 2,000 people on a Thursday afternoon isn’t bad. Plenty of uptempo sincere skanking in that room.
I sneaked out to the acoustic stage to catch a bit of the cundees stripped bare. Not fashion wise, just musically. Kilts abound on stage, perfectly normal for blackpool this weekend. Punk for all is sang about in the spirit of rebellion. Can’t fault that.
Penelope Houston was the lead singer in the avengers 40 years ago. She has been playing music ever since and is now back in blackpool. How difficult was it for women in bands in the 79s to be taken seriously. Penelope was a trail blazer and is still blazing a trail now. Sonically this was based more in country than punk with guitar twanging a bit too much but damn, this is Penelope Houston. A trailblazer.
If the word legend wasn’t thrown about with such abandon and saved for those people who really are then Tv Smith would escape the cull. This is the first of three sets from the former adverts front man this weekend. This one is with bored teenagers from Barcelona and see tv bringing a band to his solo work which is certainly different from the norm. It meant I heard my first guitar solo of the day but with tv Smith we forgive. The energy on stage was incredible. None of the enthusiasm has been lost in over 4 decades.
Slice of life are a joy to behold in the opera house. Singer Steve ignorant seems as upset with the world now as when he was leading a movement he didn’t want to lead as a teenage vocalist with Crass. The sound of crass reflected the youthful anger felt by many of that generation in the 70s. As the greatness of that decade abated a bit the shift of balance to money has upset people like Steve. Whilst there have been some victories along the way we still are mikes apart from a world of equals that he is singing about. Steve is doing a tour later this year singing those Crass songs we all loved but this, to me, is so much better. They were and still are amazing songs but this is today and this is what he’s singing about now and helped by a solid band with him.
D.I. Were supposed to travel to Ireland many years ago and didn’t make it. We got the wonderful fflaps from wales over instead so it was nice to get some semblance of what the set would have been like 30 years later. Raging full on tuneful hardcore. Fast tuneful and aggressive. I’ve heard it said many times and maybe even whispered it myself that bands who were active over 30 years ago don’t really need to be still playing. Rebellion proves that wrong. So much energy and enthusiasm from the casbah tonight. Not a beat skipped. I kind of regret they didn’t play dublin all those years ago.
I had to split between them and flipper. How could I not go and listen to mike watt playing bass?. His minutemen were blazing a trail with flipper in the states and now he has joined them. And also David yow singing, David yow from Jesus lizard! Amazing. It’s not the fast pace of many of their contemporaries of the time. More a trip into some kind of wonderful noise. I spent most of the set looking at mike watt while yow was screaming alongside the two original members. Lucky for me I had watt as there was something unsettling about yows presence and that’s the way he wants it to be. They looked like they were having fun and I sure was. Intense.
I was hoping to catch a bit of poison idea but felt it would be wrong not to go and see goldblade tonight. There was a 10 minute window but it would have been too rushed. Punk rock is one big family at times and rebellion is our family holiday. Of course as the years pass that family can become extended but we have to deal with they reality of grief. This year there are some faces missing as death subsumed them. Cancer is the bastard that took Kathy Parson from Rockers England. This was a punk rock send off to her tonight. Our family getting a chance to say good bye. It was emotional and a riotous singalong ensued. It’s fast paced punk rock rolling with sing along chorus and anthems. John Robb was in great form interacting with the crowd and reminding us of the power of rock and roll.
Descendents played a couple of years ago and now they were back. They are more tuneful than goldblade but similar in that singalong energy. Huge crowd in the hall for them and the heat was hot (is it ever any other way but maybe you know what I mean.
I finished with fear. My body tired after a long day. 12 hours after it all started and in the same venue murderburgers initiated it all but it felt rude not to go see them. Fear started off in LA in 77, credited by many as the band that started the US hardcore sound. The only original member is singer and guitarist Lee Ving. He didn’t move much but the sound filled out the huge Casbah Room.