Rebellion 2019 threw up a few surprises, as well as old favourites, Getintothis’ Peter Goodbody argues it still has a relevance.
We led last year’s review with a shot of The Infirmities playing on the Rebellion Introducing Stage.
The Californian punks were going down a storm and it was noticed by the festival organisers. Lead singer, Jason messaged us a while back to say the band had a feature in the festival programme and had been invited back this year to play the massive Empress Ballroom Stage.
He was pretty chuffed about it and brought the whole family to Blackpool for Rebellion, as well as setting up a few other European gigs this summer.
We arrived on Thursday afternoon, just in time to catch the end of their set in the Ballroom, but too late to get in the pit for any photos. The band was well received for such an early slot.
Later on we’re hanging around outside when we are handed a flier for one of the bands on tomorrow. Turns out it’s Cat from the newly reconstituted and reinvigorated Kiss Me Killer.
They were also a hit on the Introducing Stage last year. This time round, they’ve bagged a slot on the much bigger Pavilion Stage. We swap tips as to who to catch over the weekend. She recommends The Menstrual Cramps.
This is one of the things about Rebellion, the discovery. There’s precious little bio for any of the bands on the Rebellion app. You’re mostly picking bands by name alone, unless you know them or you’ve had a tip off.
So, well done Rats Nest on the Introducing Stage. A wicked set. So, too Masked Intruder in the Empress Ballroom. With that name, we suppose you had to be wearing full face masks. The deadpan cop standing stage right was a cool touch.
While we’re on the subject of names, it seems like Viki Vortex and the Cumshots are a must see. Yeah, yeah. Quiet at the back. Good fun though.
Sour Bitch are on at the Introducing Stage. This Czech four piece have actually been around for a while. It was a proper Hole / Distillers / L7 quality set. They should have been on a bigger stage. If they come back next year, they will be. Highlight of the day so far.
Red London’s classy 80s infused punk is a hit over in The Pavilion. All sorts of references from The Clash, The Ruts, The Jam. This is the stuff we devoured back in the day. It was pretty perfect.
We’ll close out the day with Descendents on the main stage. Judging by a rough t-shirt count during the day, this will be popular and it was. Good fun post punk pop, but we decide to retire for the evening. This will be a long weekend.
We were reminded of a comment on last year’s review that said:
“Rebellion is a dirty pissy irrelevance, exisiting for ONLY nostalgia’s sake. Grow the fuck up”.
Ignoring the invective and trying to address the point being made. There is, of course a nostalgia trip to be had.
Tonight will finish off with UK Subs and The Stranglers in the Ballroom. But these are bands who will fill a 3,000 capacity room, so they’re hardly an irrelevance. What’s wrong with nostalgia anyway?
But we’ve also made the point, many times, that Rebellion doesn’t just look back. It promotes new music and new bands. That’s why the smaller stages can be some of the most interesting places to spend time.
Case in point is bands such as Kiss Me Killer who have an early slot in the Pavilion, but have drawn a sizeable crowd. Unless you’re anti the whole ethos of punk, in which case fine, but it’s clear it speaks to large numbers of people.
On this, admittedly unscientific, evidence it can’t reasonably be said to be a pissy irrelevance. On the contrary, it means a great deal to the many people who have travelled to Blackpool for the weekend.
Lots of them from abroad too. Later in the weekend we’ll speak to visitors from France, Norway, Italy and Australia. All here specifically for Rebellion.
So Kiss Me Killer kick off with Rotten. “This song was written about Nigel Farage, but it probably applies to Boris Johnson too”. Big cheers already. Their ire is directed at issues as diverse as gentrification and men wearing lycra. Hardly anyone gets out unscathed.
We slink away for some lunch at the nearest cafe before any more abuse is directed our way. They’re a fine band in our eyes and ears.
One of our picks from two years ago was Coventry based dragSTER, so it was good to see them back on the Club Casbah Stage. Singer, Fi has the audience’s attention right from the off, jumping off the stage and snarling her vocals from the pit barrier.
This is a band with pedigree, managed by Jah Wobble and albums produced by Rat Scabies, they are the real deal. Angry, visceral and in your face. This is Rebellion in full force.
We later catch The Infirmities’ Jason outside the Winter Gardens and introduce ourselves – we’ve exchanged messages before, but never actually spoken. He’s a happy bunny, drinking in the atmosphere and checking out bands. He’s a fan too and that’s good to see.
We’re over in the Empress Ballroom for a nostalgia trip as Penetration’s quality shouts loud above the noise. Pauline Murray is on absolutely top form. And the Ballroom agrees.
It’s not absolutely full, but we’re getting close. “Don’t let them win, don’t let them drag you in, shout above the noise” seem like lyrics just as apt today as they were 40 years ago.
So much for pissy irrelevance. Punk was a kick in the teeth to the establishment back then. Arguaby, it doesn’t have quite the same impact today, but it has the same message and, it seems, a message that does need to hollered loud at times.
Menstrual Cramps were indeed a good steer. And the Pavilion crowd was buying into their songs about masturbating and fucking. Rape and consent. No means No. It’s disappointing it needs to be said.
Another Introducing Stage alumnus from last year, this was excellent work from an excellent band. Political and campaigning for all the things we should really be taking for granted.
We’ve seen The Ruts a few times. We never know which version we’ll get. Whether it’s the reggae one or the punk one.
Both are ace, but we get the punk one tonight, running through the classic set. There are few sights better than The Ruts belting out Jah Wars to a packed Empress Ballroom. It’s a Desert Island Disc in the unlikely event we’re ever asked. Just brilliant.
Babylon’s Burning has the crowd singing back at the band, including the 18 year old kid next to us dancing along and singing every word. See, it’s not just 50 somethings here.
UK Subs conflict us a bit. We never really worked them out, but the 3,000 capacity Ballroom is full. And they leave it as a cauldron for The Stranglers, who follow.
Starting off with Toiler on the Sea they rattled through a varied catalogue of best hits and not. Grip was an early winner. Nice and Sleazy always wins. Except when it’s followed by Peaches. Seriously.
There are very few bands better than The Stranglers when they are on fire like this. An 8 minute version of Walk on By was amazing. Lost in the moment, we’re struggling to think of what could be better, especially when they follow on with 5 minutes.
There’s precious little on Saturday’s bill we recognise by name alone, so we may as well just dive in and see what we can find.
LA band Spider are first up in the Ballroom and assault the cobwebs out of our hair. With new EP, Energy Gone Wrong to promote they get a decent crowd at this early slot and play as though they mean it.
Sensa Yuma (geddit?) in the Casbah suggest it’s early for them too. “I’m not even drunk, just a two day hangover“. It’s a fine enough set.
We have to feel a bit sorry for Milan’s Knife 49. Having played a blinder on the Introducing Stage last year, they too get a promotion – to the bigger Arena Stage this time out. There aren’t many people here though, which is a shame. Their angry hardcore would go down well if more punters were aware of them.
We head off for lunch with a mate we haven’t seen for a while, which, to be honest, probably lasted a bit longer than it should have done. But, hey.
We’re back for Last Reserves on the Introducing Stage and we’re sold pretty much from the off. This is our thing and Alice Nancy bounces around while the band try to keep pace at the back. They’re excited to be here, but it’s on merit and fully deserved.
French Oi outfit Lions Law are ripping a hole in the Ballroom, but invigorating and hectic as it, we’re not totally getting into it.
Lead singer, Wattie, is well known in the Paris skinhead scene and we can see why. He has all the energy and all the voice. It’s an acquired taste, though.
We made a good decision to head back to the Introducing Stage. Swiss nutters Fluffy Machine are being anything other than their name suggests, charging on and off the stage and generally creating mayhem.
They remind us once again why the Introducing Stage is such a good place to be. “We have shit for sale afterwards, so come and give us a sweaty hug”. We do just that.
We’re getting comfortable in here, so we figure we may as well stay for next band, Bad Ass. Turns out they’re from California and mates of The Infirmities.
Jason turns up and enthuses about them. Well, that’s good enough for us. It was worth it too. They may not have drawn the biggest crowd in the Introducing Stage, but we’d say they got one of the best receptions.
Girls in Synthesis were probably our find of the day. They set their mics up so the two guitars were appearing to shout at each other, rather than bellowing at the audience. It’s effective and goes down well in the Pavilion.
Maid of Ace in the Casbah were a class find last year and we were really pleased to see the four sisters back for a return visit. We think they’d have a word or two to say about pissy irrelevance. They’d shout it down with their hard hitting no compromise set.
We’ve hardly seen a bad band all day and yet nearly of them were new to us. Rebellion’s booking policy proves to be solid.
It’s Sunday and Hands Off Gretel seem to have made the lunchtime slot in the Empress Ballroom their own domain. Their popularity has clearly grown; the hard work from Lauren and the band is paying off. “You’re gonna get baked”, Lauren tells the 1,000 or so heads in the room, “but thanks for coming“.
She always seems so surprised anybody turns out to see the band. She need not be, they are an easy pick for our highlights.
“We’re from Leeds. We’ve got some rock and roll songs for you.“ Nosebleed’s psycho punk has the Introducing Stage packed as they arrive all suited and booted and holler and scream at the assembled faithful. They’re another band who could have had a bigger stage. It’s top quality.
Half way through they abandon the stage, as well as their suits, and set up their mics in the middle of the room. “After all Rebellion is one big family isn’t it?” A kind of gig in the round. Let’s get more involved.
Wierd Things in the Pavilion are another great find. At the Blondie style pop end of the spectrum, it’s kind of nice not to be shouted at all the time. Great stuff.
On the other hand, when a band like Svetlanas (recommended to us by The Soapgirls) bounds onto the Ballroom Stage, then we’re happy to be back in the fray. So much energy from Olga and a voice that’s been described as sounding like a cornered mongoose, they take no prisoners.
Magnificent. It’s easily one of the best sets we’ve seen this weekend. It’s a privilege to get up close to a band this intense. This will stay with us for a while.
The same goes for the guy standing next to us at the bar. It’s the fourth time he’s been to Rebellion. From Norway. He’s completely blown away by that performance. It’s easy to spread superlatives around when writing reviews, but that really was a gig that pushed the bar so high it hurts.
As we’re on our way to Vice Squad we call in to see Tequila Mocking Bird on Introducing who are ace. A real bonus and one of the reasons we’re here. To find new stuff.
Of course Vice Squad aren’t new, but we have a real soft spot for them. There’s no letting up with them. They almost sound like what Rebellion should be all weekend.
— RudeBoy (@SvanteOlofsson) August 2, 2019
We’d been tipped off about Tokyo Taboo on the Introducing Stage. Mash up punk and pole dancing and you pretty much have a winner. But that would appear to mark us out as shallow. Fair enough.
But it was brilliant. There’s a serious message, though. Singer Dolly had alcohol issues and recent single Whiskey addresses the point. It’s a strong performance. Full of power and strength.
The home run is Skids and The Damned in the Ballroom. This is going to get hot and sweaty.
There are few better places to be, however, than standing in front of Richard Jobson as he opens up with classic Of One Skin. He bemoans the fact recent album, Burning Cities, was denied a number one spot by Leo, fucking, Sayer.
In true Trump rally fashion the Ballroom joins in a a chant of “Leo’s a Wanker”. We have to sympathise, even though it’s not really Leo’s fault. He didn’t do it on purpose.
Circus Games is preceded by a story about Jimmy Savile and the band performing it on Top Of The Pops. Savile hated the song. Jobson regards that as a badge of honour. Fair point.
The Ballroom is rammed for this. It wasn’t quite so full the last time we saw them here. Such is the love for Skids. They have great tunes. They have humour and humility.
We’re not quite sure why they felt the need to do a cover of Sex Pistols’ Pretty Vacant. It was unnecessary. But otherwise it was a cracking set.
Into The Valley had the Ballroom floor shaking. We could feel it moving. That song is also probably on our Desert Island Discs list.
The Damned follow on and announce they’re doing Machine Gun Ettiquette in full. To be honest this was a miss and about the only one of the weekend. There was something lacking, the sound seemed muddy and the material isn’t their best. We were hoping for better, but it wasn’t happening.
We left them to it and reflected on the weekend.
Punk’s knocking on, but #rebellionfestival shows enduring value in nostalgia as years trip by. Went low key first 1996 in midst of Brit Pop, but if you’d stumbled into rammed Winter Gardens on Sunday you’d be forgiven thinking the Skids/Damned were on brink of world domination pic.twitter.com/GvBND7VZN3
— Gwyn Griffiths (@GwynGriffiths77) August 5, 2019
Rebellion draws in something like 10,000 people to the Winter Gardens. They are here for the love of the music, but they are also here for the social and that’s not to be dismissed lightly. We reckon there are plenty of people who hardly see any bands over the weekend, they just catch up with old mates and enjoy the atmosphere.
We go because we know two things. There are bands like The Ruts, Skids, Vice Squad who were part of our youth and who will do little wrong from where we stand. But we also enjoy the discovery, the new bands and the new breed.
For sure, we’re biased, else why would we go? But we can’t agree it’s a pissy irrelevance. It’s different for different people, but it matters for any number of reasons.
There’s always something to discover at any good festival and Rebellion is no different. It delivers on that front in spades.
Getintothis’ 9 best bands of the weekend
The Prague based, all female four piece were worthy of a bigger stage than Introducing. They were a real treat with their L7 style attitude. Well worth searching out.
A classy pop punk set that took its cues from all over the place, including a reggae number. A real 80s soundtrack. Just glorious.
Pauline Murray’s distinctive vocal style has always marked Penetration as a bit different from the rest. She was on top form tonight with a mix of old and new songs.
We couldn’t really not include this lot. OK, there are only two of the original line up but they are no less of a band. 5 Minutes, Peaches and the extended Walk On By were just superb.
We first saw them a couple of years ago on the Empress Ballroom Stage and, although they made a mark, the smaller (in the sense you can only squeeze 2,000 people in there) Casbah Stage where they played on Friday may have been a better fit. It was a top class performance.
Hands Off Gretel
You could probably have predicted we’d put them in the list, but their stock is growing. And they’re just boss at what they do.
The Weird Things
Classy pop punk in the form of a slightly rockier Blondie. It’s good not to have a full on assault at times and this hit the sweet spot just nicely.
Russia’s secret weapon. An absolute fucking blast. Were we not such a Skids fanboy, this set may have been the top spot for the weekend. It was a definite “Were you there?” moment. Utterly superb. It took us a while to recover.
Hardly a surprise, really. The Ruts could also have had this slot, but we wanted to put in some new stuff into this selection as well. Skids’ career was short – only two years or so, but the body of work they created in that time is a real legacy and long may they carry on playing those classic songs.
Images by Getintothis’ Peter Goodbody