I’d normally have been at Rebellion in Blackpool this weekend, but for a multitude of reasons I won’t bore you with here, I decided to take a year out. What this did mean though was I was not only able to pop over the bridge to catch an awesome TSOL/MDC gig at The Exchange the other night but also drop into The Cab in Newport for yet another one of their recession busting hardcore bills. Five bands for £16, what’s not to love about that eh?

Well, the early doors did throw me slightly, but I still make it in time to see about half of masked madmen Cruel Prank playing their own peculiar brand of fast and loose skate punk. Knowing very little about them beforehand, the Newport band’s songs seem largely centred about drinking and getting fucked up on skateboards, the former something the singer and bass player totally hammer home by chugging celebratory beers from a pair of bumpers at the climax of their set. Thank fuck there weren’t any quarter pipes in here, otherwise it would have been total carnage.

Carnage being something that Bridgend’s Positive Reaction pretty much dedicates themselves to, well at least sonically anyway. The four-piece’s brutal hardcore attack is pretty much summed up in guitarist Ioan’s Cryptic Slaughter t-shirt and if you hung a guitar around singer Mike’s neck, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d actually just walked in on ‘Feel The Darkness’ era Poison Idea albeit with Jerry A doubling for Pig Champion (thank you Darrel Sutton for that one).

Next up Bristol’s Split Dogs, and my second time of seeing the outfit everyone seems to be talking about in just three days, and after playing their album almost non-stop after picking it up at the aforementioned TSOL gig you might have thought I’d have been be a little bit sick of hearing ‘Big Fred’ etc, but no, Harry and crew once again totally destroy The Cab with thirty minutes of incendiary punk rock, and it’s worth noting that I’m not the only one singing along too. With tonight also being bassist Jono’s last show with the band it all gets a little emotional when ‘Tear Down The House’ does exactly what it says on the tin, and everyone seemingly needs to take a minute outside to not only cool down but remove whatever it is they have in stuck their eyes.

Keeping things very much West Country flavoured Overpower are a thrash/hardcore crossover five piece who not only also do exactly what their name says but also have a singer who wears chainmail on stage, and a guitarist within their ranks who so wants to be Kerry King circa their ‘Hell Awaits’ that if you close your eyes you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re back in 1985. I’ve caught quite a few really quality new school thrash bands recently and alongside Grove Street and Devastator, it fills my heart with total joy to see the next generation like Overpower fully embracing the total insanity of what we older fuckers got to experience first time around. 

Speaking of which, there was a time back in the mid ‘80s when my mulleted teenage self would make my weekly pilgrimage to Roxcene Records (just up the road from The Cab) never quite knowing what I’d pick up next. That emporium introduced me to bands like Crumbsuckers, Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front and indeed tonight’s headliners, Murphy’s Law, as I searched for the fastest, most aggressive music I could find to impress my mates. I never actually saw the New York Hardcore legends back in the day though, and it’s two decades plus since they last played in the town’s also legendary TJ’s music venue, which meant that when they announced this very intimate Rebellion warm up show you had to be quick on the old virtual ticket front to ensure you were one of the lucky few through the door. 

Vocalist Jimmy Gestapo is the only one remaining from those days and despite him being 58 years young later this month, he’s still the beer slugging crowd baiting maniac I’d always thought he would be live, venues like The Cab are where he feels most at home, and tonight playing their fifteenth show straight, he and his band mates are truly on fire.

Bodies and beers are flying all over the place straight from the off as the likes of ‘Crucial Bar-B-Q’, ‘Beer’ and ‘Care Bear’ take us back to the band’s classic debut album and they help turn The Cab into that scene at the end of Society where everyone seems to meld into one another. Its only when they unleash their cover of ‘Skinhead Girl’ about halfway in that the pace drops anywhere below frenzied, and it’s another cover in the shape of ‘Somebody’s Gonna Get their Head Kicked in Tonight’ that ultimately brings the night to a close, but not before we also get to witness Jimmy and gang corrupting the third perhaps even fourth generation of fan with the likes of ‘Panty Raid’,  ‘What Will The Neighbors Think?’ and ‘Woke Up Tied Up’.

Tonight was everything a great punk rock show should be all about, great bands and great community spirit, and it was hotter than the Empress ballroom in here tonight, so for four hours at least I was happy in my own mini Rebellion not envious at all of those up North enjoying the real deal. There’s always next year…

Author: Johnny Hayward