Winter Gardens, Blackpool, UK
6th August 2016
For Saturday the sun has continued to shine and another full day of punk rock beckons, whilst waiting for the Winter Gardens to open it’s doors I enjoy a coffee whilst sat next to a lifesize mannequin of Elvis Presley and watch some morris dancers, who resemble nothing less than a pack of dysfunctional crows, this is pretty much the epitomy of Blackpool’s tackiness. Thankfully the Rebellion Festival offers a welcome alternative to the town’s traditional attractions. The only problem is that there is so much on over the weekend that you will continually be stuck with difficult choices throughout the event, immediately I am confronted with a choice between The Pukes and STP Records legends, Spunk Volcano And The Eruptions. I opt for the former purely on the basis that I caught Spunk Volcano at Manchester’s North West Calling festival earlier this year.
The Pukes are holding a ‘pop up’ event where the audience are encouraged to join the band to form a punk ukulele orchestra, word has clearly spread as a healthy crowd turns up. The workshop culminates in a bizarre cover of The Exploited‘s Sex And Violence, presumably chosen as it contains three chords and three words. I can happily declare I am now officially a part time puke and can claim to have played the Rebellion Festival, this marked a slightly surreal but highly enjoyable start to the day. The first band that I’m not a part of that I catch are Choking Susan, they provide a blistering hardcore barrage and possess a visually captivating vocalist. Hands Off Gretel, who are playing the Introducing Stage, have attracted a sizeable crowd and treat their audience to a raucous set that sounds like it’s informed by the riot grrrl movement and the finer female fronted punk bands. Their set leaves me wanting to hear more by them and I’d be surprised if they aren’t playing to a bigger crowd the next time they play the Rebellion Festival.
Interrobang play a set that combines ska and old school punk rock, uniquely with no bass player, that is a contemporary hybrid of punk styles to produces an intriguing sound that brings something unique to the weekend. Then it’s over the outdoor Tower Stage for something far more predictable, Gimp Fist are veterans of the punk festival scene, they play their rousing set of street punk with it’s infectious choruses that is very well received by a beer fuelled crowd who are enjoying the warm sunny afternoon. I return inside as I’ve been meaning to catch the Hi-Fi Spitfires ever since I heard Backfire, my favourite song from their sophomore album Nightraid, and they don’t disappoint. They deliver a set that mainlines the first wave of British punk, they play to a respectable crowd and down the front there is collection of hardcore fans pogoing for all they are worth. Hi-Fi Spitfires frontman, Steve Straughan seems to be an ever present over the course of the weekend, this is his second appearance after playing with Loaded 44 yesterday and he will be making his final appearance of the weekend when he appear with the UK Subs later today.
Barstool Preachers are another band I’ve been meaning to see live since I reviewed their excellent debut album, Blatant Propaganda. Their ska fuelled set is played to a capacity crowd in a packed and sweaty Pavillion Stage. Inflatable footballs make their first appearance of the weekend and are frantically being batted round the stage by the ebullient crowd. Much to my surprise Barstool Preachers are actually better live than they are on record and I’d seriously recommend catching them live if you get the chance.
Jilted John, best known for their eponymous hit single, are playing the Empress Ballroom and I presume most of the crowd are here on the strength of hearing that live. They tease the audience by opening with the instantly recognisable riff before stopping dead, and heading into a set of lovelorn poppy punk, which inevitably ends with their classic single. Vince Ray And The Boneshakers are paying their mutated take on rock ‘n roll, the distorted guitar riffs blend rockabilly with a jagged punk edge and inject a little rock ‘n roll into the weekend.
Louise Distras is playing the Almost Acoustic Stage, the first of her two sets this weekend, the and the venue is rammed front to back, she plays her heartfelt songs with her customary passion. She plays songs that is centred around alienation, unity and defiance that can only come straight from the heart, each number receives a deservedly rousing reception. I return outdoors to the Tower Stage to catch GBH playing a highly charged set of their UK82 hardcore that warms the audience up nicely for tonight’s headline act. The Damned occupy the prestigious Saturday night headline slot. In this 40th anniversary of punk who better than the band who released the first punk single and album, were the first to split up, the first to reform and now they are one of the few from the first wave of punk who are still in existence.
The current line up of The Damned, the most stable in their turbulent forty year history, are better live than they’ve ever been and the stars have aligned for their appearance at Rebellion Festival. Tonight’s show for me was even more impressive than their triumphant fortieth anniversary show at the Royal Albert Hall. They play an energetic set culled largely from their first five albums, and although there are no songs from their eagerly anticipated new album, no one is complaining. Their deliver an energetic crowd pleasing set, the sound is perfect, the weather is perfect and even after all this time they clearly love playing together.
By now I’m limping quite badly so my decision for one of the later sets is made, Jello Biafra is being interviewed by John Robb, well I say interviewed, he rarely gets a word in as Jello Biafra is an animated and entertaining speaker. Of course politics are discussed, the candidacy of Donald Trump was never going to be the elephant in the room, but there also insights into origins of the American Punk scene and the early days of the Dead Kennedys. This is the end of the Saturday for me, although there are still events going on late into the night. My planned early night goes west as my taxi driver turns out to be an old punk and we spend a good thirty minutes outside the hotel discussing our favourite bands and songs, it’s been the kind of weekend.
The Punk Site review of the Friday at Rebellion Festival can be found here
Photography by Dod Morrison
, Gimp Fist
, Hands Off Gretel
, Hi-Fi Spitfires
, Jilted John
, John Robb
, Louise Distras
, The Barstool Preachers
, The Damned
, The pUKEs
, Vince Ray And The Boneshakers