One of the vagaries of a festival this size is you miss way more than you can see. I tried yesterday to get as much in. Full on for the day but I can’t sustain that so today I’m a bit more choosy. The first 5 get slashed off my list. I start at 2.30 with the Newtown neurotics.
One of the beauties of a festival like this is sitting in rooms and eavesdropping on conversations. One fella was talking to a local about the return of the punk festival after Covid. “I’m not accepting another lockdown no way”. The argument of “My mam died in 2017 but if was around during lockdown it would have killed her” got a strange airing. “All the death numbers were made up”, he said after talking about how sad it was that Dave Greenfield is no longer with us.
The neurotics are the reason I started coming to rebellion. Before they played it I avoided the festival at all costs. I put on my blinkers and said this is a retirement home for the weekend for punks. And then the neurotics got billed. And I relented. Thankfully I did. It gave me a chance to see so many bands that were the soundtrack of my life. And for a while the neurotics were part of that. The band have been using time in lockdown well. They have written a new album and have a new single as well as a documentary on the horizon. There was a good mix of old and new songs today.
The take are from New York. They play street punk NYC style. They are a Sing along 3 piece and I guess the streets of New York are dissimilar to many UK towns but they are all sung from the heart. Their sound is harder than many of the uk contemporaries and it’s a stage rocking out and still time for to raise you voice and exclaim “whoah wah oh”
Richard Jobson on the literary stage was so interesting. Where else will you get to hear about a singer in one of your favourite bands talking about his epilepsy? The literary stage allows such freedoms. Richard’s stories were so interesting from the formation of punk rock and how he got the Skids job because he “couldn’t sing or dance”. Some stories of Ian Curtis, Stuart Adamson and Sid Vicious who are no longer with us added to the poignancy of the occasion
Carol Hodges voice fills the Spanish Hall with some beautiful songs, very solid and so confident. For 30 minutes she really owned the room.
The set from Alex Wonk didn’t turn out to be solo acoustic. The band set up on stage with slightly less instruments and feedback than normal. Looking to play different songs to yesterdays set this stage exposes bands to vulnerability. No feedback to hide behind as the Songs are stripped down bare and you have to hope people like it. People here sure did
I took a stroll down to the seafront and to the R Fest to catch a bit of the Skids. A couple of songs later I need to move on again as it takes a while to get from R Fest to the winter gardens.
Steve drewett spoke about music that means something more that just it’s own existence. Steve has always been political with his music and this hasn’t changed in the 40 plus years he has been working with song rhythm and construction. Listening to Steve has made me remember how important this stage in. These stories need to be told and these people won’t be around to tell them forever.
Danbert nobacon first came to my attention with his unfairly tales 7” which I sent away for complete with a chumbawamba 7”. I got a lovely letter from a member of the band thanking me for my interest. It thought me an important lesson, always be grateful. I posted over 600 books out when we put out Great gig Memories and every one of them had a note of thanks. Not quite all but a lot of it down to Danbert. He was instrumental to the chumbawamba collective eventually moving out of the country but never losing his creativity. now we have him and his guitar still rallying against the wrongs. His first time at rebellion but he belongs here (whether he agrees or not of course). He sings that “nothing will fundamentally change. Unless something fundamentally changes” and he’s never been more right
Lesley woods cheated, backing drum machine and electric guitar in the acoustic stage! I’m quite happy with that. This was the singer in the au pairs after all. Still with a powerful voice.
Wow the Subhumans. They play every rebellion and are still relevant. Dik Lucas looks the same as he did when the band played Dublins youth expression centre in 1984. They were 4 gigs over 2 weeks and shaped things in the dublin punk scene. They were songs from anger but not angry songs. Dik still sings them with the same feeling and the crowd still relate to it all. I mentioned earlier about getting a letter from Danbert, well anyone who sent off to Bluurg for a tape or record in the 80s I’ll probably have received something similar from Dik Lucas. And here he is still singing those songs on stage with feeling.
Arxx are a 2 piece that make a huge racket. So pleasant between songs but when the music starts and the decibel levels rise they mean business. Quite rocky in that Vulpynes way
I promised myself I wouldn’t hop from stage to stage but in an effort to support the two pieces I hopped quickly to see Mannequin Death Squad. Again no bass player, maybe there’s been a split bass players union and their members have encouraged a boycott of punk rock as more and more bands realise they don’t need those 4 strings. Of course I jest as my bass lies at home gathering dust. These are a 2 piece from Australia much like Chimers. Slightly haunting and plenty rocking.
Yur Mum are another 2 piece. This time the bass players union has allowed a 4 string instrument as its bass and drums. The sound is so loud it seems to make little difference what the instruments are it’s all a glorious rocking noise.
As Steve ignorant is bringing his crass songs to dublin next month I get to the acoustic stage early in anticipation of Ruts DC. This means I get to see a Blyth Power doing their acoustic thing. All very pleasant with some nice old English folk tunes
As for Ruts DC – well there are no words. Acoustic set brings out real love and emotion people feel for these songs. Covid has brought some new ones and the dub is coming out. It’s just a magical experience seeing this band live.
After ruts Dc it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing music but The Lovely Eggs bring me back to reality. Another 2 piece but a lot more psychedelic than the rocking others. Pavillion was packed and it’s nice to hear lovely eggs joining so many others this weekend in thanking the staff. Everyone works, plays and attends with a smile on their face. You can’t help but smile when the lovely eggs are on stage.
And then it was conversations with old friends and acquaintances. There has been no festival for three years so there’s a lot of catching up to do. A lot of people to talk to, part of me was itching to check out Desperate Measures and keep catching more bands but it was great just to say hi to people once more. A lovely day for sure