Winter Gardens, Blackpool, UK
7th August 2016
The final day dawns, so far I’ve been running around trying to see as much as possible, sadly my feet can’t take much more so my plan for the final day is to see a few bands I’ve been intending to see, along with reminding myself that next year I must get comfier boots. First Wave are opening on the Empress Ballroom stage, despite the fact that you can still taste the toothpaste at this early hour, they play a set of energetic and defiant punk rock that, as their name implies, is inspired by the first wave of British punk bands. Following this, and due to further complaints from my feet, I take the opportunity to take a seat and enjoy an interview with one of the original members of The Damned, Captain Sensible. Throughout the interview the Captain is irreverent and entertaining, he provides a profanity littered insight into The Damned‘s highs and lows over the last forty years and he ends the interview with an impromptu rendition of one of his novelty pop songs, Wot. I could happily have listened to Captain Sensible for a lot longer, he remains one of punk’s true eccentrics and a unique individual, but the interview is over and more live music awaits.
Healthy Junkies are another band I’ve been meaning to catch since I reviewed their last album, Box Of Chaos. They don’t disappoint live, their set of energetic punk rock is well received, Nina Coulson delivers her vocals in her breathless and manic style that juxtaposes the crunching delivery that rest of the band deliver. Sadly I can’t stay for their full set as Louise Distras is playing her second set of the weekend, I’ve seen her live many times, but this will be the first time I have got to see her play with a full band. The transformation of her songs from the acoustic sets I’ve seen her play so often to her full band is stunning. Songs that were performed yesterday as heartfelt ballads are transformed into full blooded punk anthems, it’s a tribute to her songwriting that the material works so well in both styles. I can honestly say that this set was one of the highlights of the weekend.
Goldblade are playing their rabble rousing punk ‘n roll outside on the Tower Stage, their set coincides with an aerial display by Red Arrows aerobatic display team so you have the visual spectacle of formation jet fighters as background to their set. Despite the jet fighters a bare chested John Robb still easily wins in the volume stakes, he prowls the stage like a caged animal and as they close their set with Do You Believe In The Power of Rock ‘N Roll he leaves the stage and encourages those down the from to testify to this. From this point my plans go astray as there are so many fine bands playing simultaneously. Belfast’s The Defects play an outstanding set of full tilt punk rock in The Empress Ballroom and then it’s back outside to catch Citizen Fish playing their energetic politically sussed ska. Their infectious and energetic performance causes an outbreak of skanking towards the back of the audience despite this being the fourth day of the Rebellion Festival.
Dirt Box Disco have almost become an automatic choice to make an appearance at UK punk festivals, their set is comprised of their ever popular hard edged anthemic pop punk that is delivered with the mix of humour and visual spectacle. If they carry on as they are then it won’t be too long before you see Dirt Box Disco headlining festivals as they have filled the Tower Street stage to capacity and their is set is deliriously received. Back inside it’s time for a final lap of the stages, I catch Germany’s Bonsai Kitten playing a set of full tilt rockabilly inspired punk rock, and the scantily clad singer Tiger Lilly Marleen delivers her vocals with a snarl whilst she prowls and shimmys across the stage.
Over on the introducing stage, the much talked about Heavy Drapes play a set of old school inspired punk rock to a packed crowd, based on the reception they receive I can see them playing to a bigger audience next year. One of the biggest disappointments of the weekend is the fact that Street Dogs have cancelled their European tour dates, but fear not as Cocksparrer have stepped into the breach to deliver their ‘hangover set’ after they headlined Saturday Night, of course their anthemic street punk stylings are as well received as you’d expect.
At this point the blazing sunshine that has characterised the weekend gives way to the more usual British summertime and the heavens open and the wind and rain lash across Blackpool but this doesn’t deter either the crowd, or the bands. Incredible closing sets are delivered by Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School of Medicine and Belfast’s finest, Stiff Little Fingers. I start to make my way home through the wind, rain and traffic jams, and if I’m honest I’m already counting the days until next year.
Blackpool is occasionally referred to as the Vegas of the North West, whilst I presume this is said by people who have never actually been to Las Vegas, Rebellion Festival has one thing in common with sin city, it is as busy in the early hours of the morning as it is during the day. I’m personally not a fan of Blackpool as a destination, it’s faded seaside grandeur and tackiness are usually something I would avoid, but for the four days of the Rebellion Festival there is nowhere on earth that I’d rather be.
It’s not just the music that makes this such a special weekend, everyone seems to be friendly, friendships are made and renewed throughout the weekend in what has become an international punk festival. It’s not just the bands that have come from almost all corners of the world, the Rebellion Festival is a truly multinational affair, everywhere you go there are different languages and accents, it has become a magnet for the punk community and on the basis of the turnout the punk movement is clearly still alive and well. Every review of the Rebellion Festival you read will be different, there is so much to see, hear and do that everyone’s experience will be unique.
If you can attend this four day celebration of punk then you should, as there is nothing else like it on earth.
The Punk Site reviews of the Friday and Saturday at Rebellion Festival are here (Friday) and here (Saturday)
Tickets for the 2017 Rebellion Festival, that takes place between the 3rd and 6th of August 2017, can be ordered here
Photography by Dod Morrison
, Dirt Box Disco
, First Wave
, Healthy Junkies
, Heavy Drapes
, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine
, Louise Distras
, Rebellion Festival
, stiff little fingers
, The Defects