It’s the first weekend of August and that can mean only one thing for the more discerning music fan as all roads (or as in our case trainlines) lead us to Blackpool for the annual Rebellion Festival. With one of our mates setting an all new record by taking 13 hours to get to the punk rock capital of the world (well for this weekend anyway) me and Dom Daley feel positively smug getting to our hotel for a 2pm check in and on site as planned for the first of the weekend’s rock ‘n’ roll action and the first of many stage clashes to follow.
It’s probably best I get this elephant out of the room right away really as with 7 stages and over 350 bands playing (just in the Winter Gardens never mind the fringe events) it would take a football team of reviewers to cover everything on offer and with just me and RPM Editor In Chief Dom Daley on duty this weekend you’ll have to forgive us if you are in a band that played and we didn’t get to see you, as even with some of the bands we did want to catch, things like; band interviews overrunning, turning up at the wrong stage and waiting for 20 minutes before you realised it was the wrongs stage (yup that was me) or even something as simple (but essential) as getting something to eat, just got in the way. So, with this in mind, go pour yourself a libation, sit back and relax and sweat along with us as we take you into the heart of the action at Rebellion 2019.
Kicking things off for me this year are The Kingcrows, a band I’ve wanted to check out live ever since I reviewed their ‘Funland’ album for Uber Rock way back in 2015 but I always epically failed to do so. Today I’m in the Arena early doors to make sure I catch all the sleaze punk anthems from their latest ‘Brute Force and Ignorance’ album, like ‘Saturday Night Rock City’ and ‘City Kids’ and what I along with the very healthy looking mid-afternoon crowd get is a lesson in how to play your music and enjoy every minute of it. If you can imagine Soho Roses playing Oi! with KISS guitars and like the sound of that curious hybrid you do need to go check out The Kingcrows, because they really are impeckable (ouch!)
Hot tailing it over to a packed-out Club Casbah just in time to catch the tail end of Mille Manders and The Shut Up’s set, Millie with her leg in a cast still manages to cut a commanding figure out front and the double sax attack of ‘Obsessive Transgression’ is enough to get me breaking into an impromptu early afternoon skank. Playing ‘Bacchus’ (a song about drinking) at Rebellion is always going to be like pushing at an open door and is an instant crowd favourite. Its when The Shut Ups tackle ‘Pretty Green’ though that they really show their true class making the Jam track sound like one of their own and promptly hitting the ball right out the park.
With a few minutes to spare between bands I quickly stick my head into the Pavilion to catch Time For Action and get it promptly knocked off by the band’s swaggering Manc attitude. Playing tunes from their debut album ‘Turn It Up’ the four piece’s set gives their old school punk influences a Samba trainer up the arse and in the process makes them immediately stand out.
Having been together for almost 4 decades Brazilian hardcore punks Inocentes are legends of the scene and that’s why the Empress Ballroom is very respectably full when I arrive ready to get a good spot for The Bar Stool Preachers. Stuart “Psycho” Pearce is stood next to me too most probably still trying to make amends to Brazilians worldwide for his blatant handball back in 1990. There’s no excuse for the Fergie-time Inocentes seem to magic up at the end of their set though and the time constraints it imposes on the band due to follow them.
Not that it really bothers The Bar Stool Preachers who sauntering onto the stage to ‘The Ecstasy Of Gold’ already look like all-conquering heroes as the house lights reveal a crowd of over 3,000 people packed into the Empress at 5pm on a Thursday (see what I meant about Thursday no longer being the warm-up day in my preview) and with opener ‘One Fool Down’ proceed to take the bloody roof off the place.
‘Trickledown’ follows and T.J. McFaull is (for once) almost lost for words at the crowd response then we are quickly into ‘Warchief’ and the avalanche of crowd surfers begins. It’s during ‘Choose My Friends’ that I notice Cock Sparrer’s Colin McFaull stood side stage and I half hope he’ll appear dressed as Hilda Baker to share the female lead vocal, sadly it’s a no this time and Tom delivers this thrasher solo for once. A new track (which I think is called ‘Late Night Transmission’) follows and this could see the band moving in a much more Clash-like direction with their follow up to ‘Grazie Governo’.
With the Rebellion family celebrating the life of Kathy Rocker along with other lost friends this weekend T.J. dedicates ‘Start New’ to his good friend and then it’s all over in the blink of an eye with a rousing ‘Bar Stool Preacher’. With a US Tour with Bouncing Souls and The Bronx to follow almost immediately after this weekend before the band return to the UK for a ten-date headline tour in September I can but wonder if 2020 will be the year The Bar Stool Preachers get to headline the Empress Ballroom. What do you think?
Looking to cool down after the sauna of the Empress I catch the last song of Dead Objectives playing to a packed out audience on the Introducing Stage before quickly hot footing it back to the Empress once more for New Orleans hardcore punks Pears, yet another band I’d wanted to catch live for some time. Sadly technical issues with Zach Quinn’s microphone means the band’s normally explosive music is lost in stuttering translation for the first few songs and its only when they break into ‘Mollusks Mouth’ that things truly start to fire on all cylinders. Still with songs as fantastic as the multi-platinum selling (yeah right Zach) ‘Victim to Be’ in the set the earlier sound issues are pretty much soon forgotten.
Taking some time out to grab some much-needed sustenance and to try and cool down I’m quickly back in the sweltering heat of Empress in time for Birkenhead’s very own glam slammers Queen Zee and thankfully I’m not alone in wanting to see them. There’s an almost tribal thump to the glam meets grunge majesty of ‘Lucy Fur’ and the epic ‘Loner’ is where most people will find their entry point. I really don’t want to try and force Queen Zee into some kind of musical pigeonhole as they deserve so much more but ‘Sissy Fists’ which closes things out this evening actually reminds me of Exit_International so I’m sure you’ll agree that’s high praise indeed from RPM Towers. Politically on point with ‘Victim Age’ the band’s choice of backdrop hammers their inclusive message home too and in ‘Fuck The Pain Away’ they have their perfect cover song. This time last year I witnessed Idles wow an early evening crowd at this very same festival, Queen Zee today give me the exact same buzz. New band of the weekend for me by a long mile.
With Dom promising his old mate Dave Sharp he’d catch him live on the Almost Acoustic stage I tag along hoping to finally cool down with a quiet pint and some Dylan-esque background music, however the place is rammed and hotter than an oven so I leave behind the folk ballads and instead head over to the Club Casbah for some D.I. back in Europe for the first time in over 30 years. Having never been a D.I. fan back in the day but having a few close mates who were and still are I was hoping hearing songs like ‘Chiva’, ‘Pervert Nurse’ and ‘Johnnys Got A Problem’ live might make me an immediate fanboy but even with the crowd going absolutely bananas around me it still all kind of washed over me. That’s not saying the band were poor, far from it, it just didn’t fire me up like The Adolescents (another band I wasn’t a huge fan of back in the day) did just 12 months earlier at this very same festival.
Moving back to the Almost Acoustic stage for the second set of the day from The Bar Stool Preachers I thankfully can’t get into the venue itself as its rammed to the rafters and instead I end up standing (or make that manspreading myself) in front of the only functioning air conditioning unit in the adjoining bar area. Playing a set consisting of tunes largely missing from their earlier Empress set I can but once again marvel at the magic these 6 guys create, and if the call and response during opener ‘All The Broken Hearts’ doesn’t move you to tears then you really are without emotion. Dom finally gets to hear ‘Raced Through Berlin’ live so he’s beaming from ear to ear too as are most of the crowd in fact, who unlike with most of the other shows on the Almost Acoustic stage are all up on their feet and dancing. Rumour has it that the Preachers tried to cheat and sneak a drum kit into their performance tonight, but I reckon they could do this stuff on kazoos and still get people involved, such is their appeal.
Having admitted to you already to not really having liked D.I. back in the day, one band I did love and still do is Portland Oregon heavyweights Poison Idea. Their ‘Feel The Darkness’ LP is one of my all-time favourite hardcore albums so with the prospect of catching one of the last four shows they will ever do on UK soil as part of their ‘The King Is Dead’ tour I found myself letting out an excited little squeal as the band takes to the Casbah stage…but I must admit what follows isn’t exactly what I was expecting. In fact, it takes until ‘Plastic Bomb’ a good 5 or 6 songs in before anything really starts to kick me in the head the way the band did back in the late 80s/early 90s. Working without a set list seems to be the root cause of this and whilst spontaneity can and does work in small clubs here playing to over a 1,000 people it leads to some quite long between song silences which just doesn’t work for me and seems to sap the energy and momentum from the performance. I want Jerry A in my face and bleeding not pondering over which song to play next and as such even when they do eventually play ‘The Badge’ they’ve kinda lost me already. I love Poison Idea and whilst I enjoyed some of tonight’s set it could and should have been the one I was shouting about loudest but I’m not and that right there is what hurts the most folks.
With Poison Idea playing one of their last UK shows at Rebellion 2019 Fear, over forty years into their punk rock career, are tonight playing their first-ever show on UK soil and Club Casbah is suitably packed out for such an event. Lee Ving might look more like an aged teddy boy these days but he still spits out the 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 mantra like a teenager and tracks like ‘We Destroy The Family’, ‘I Love Livin’ In The City’ and ‘Fresh Flesh’ all sparkle with the magic of that seminal ‘The Record’ LP. Yes the band can at times have a loose almost falling apart approach to their art, and Lee’s tendency to sing rather than shout the songs makes them something of an acquired taste, but with the hour fast approaching 1am and my eyes starting to feel more than a little heavy they still manage to keep me enthralled something I fear (ouch) the Empress headliners The Descendents would never been able to do. Still each to their own I suppose and what a great way to finish day 1 of Rebellion 2019. See you in just a few hours folks…that is unless you are doing one of the fringe events well into the wee small hours…in which case see you tomorrow night, maybe?
Author: Johnny Hayward
Pt 2 sees a brief summary from Darrel Sutton who managed to catch a whole bunch of band John and Dom missed so without further waffle here goes…
It’s been quite a while since I last made the pilgrimage to Rebellion and, despite having to fit in the small matter of performing two sets with my own beat combo, I was gonna make damn sure I’d try and catch as much of the stellar line-up on offer as the heat and stupid amounts of alcohol and schmoozing would allow.
As well as spending far too much time talking utter shite with my RPM amigos I also sloped off and caught quite a few bands with loads of other acquaintances (such is the nature of Rebellion, allowing catch-ups with old friends from all over the place).
A hectic start which takes in the obligatory Millie Manders and Bar Stool Preachers sets gets a serious adrenaline blast from In Evil Hour whose Rise Against tinged set translates perfectly from the club stages they’ve ruled over recent years to a packed Club Casbah. Vocalist Al positively rules the place and it sets the tone nicely for a quick dash into the Arena to catch Wiltshire’s finest sons The Blunders. The trio has always been a bit different with their quirky acerbic tunes of disdain and disgust and this slot combined with their slot at Boomtown is no less than they deserve and staples like ‘TV Bastard’ and ‘People Get Smaller’ positively rip. The festival’s pace doesn’t really slow as the temperature shows no intention of dropping and so with the alcohol kicking in a bit of a break, via a pretty tidy few songs from Diablo furs in the Pavilion, sees me return to action in the company of Flipper. The Arena is, luckily from a heat perspective, not too full to see David Yow and Mike Watt complete a legendary line-up for the band, but unless you are a total nostalgic die-hard their open salvos made The Melvins sound like the Ramones, so I slip off for a much more uplifting closing trio of the Bar Stool Preachers acoustic set, Poison Idea and Fear and a dehydrated stroll back to the hotel.
Bungle, Poison Idea & Fear pictures courtesy of Dod Morrison Photography