The annual Rebellion Festival hit Blackpool recently, having a reputation for being the best punk festival in the land.
By Jane Howkins and Claire Jefferson
Rebellion Festival is a four day extravaganza, showcasing some of the best punk bands in the world, from a variety of punk sub-genres. Unfortunately we could only be there for the Thursday and Sunday, but we enjoyed many of the acts.
The first group we saw were Buster Shuffle at the Casbah stage. They’re like a modern day Madness, and were a perfect start to the day, with frontman Jet Baker hurling across the stage and even playing keyboard with his feet at times. The band later came into the crowd, which is something that a lot of the bands at this festival seem to do, strengthening the real community spirit present across the weekend.
Evil Blizzard were on next and we can see why people like them. Their brand of punk is space themed and sci-fiesque, with the band donning strange masks for their purposefully mechanical set. Unfortunately we left halfway through to go catch punk legends 88 Fingers Louie, who are back after recently releasing their first new album in 19 years. Their set at Rebellion was something of a welcome comeback.
Then it’s back to the Casbah stage to see Barstool Preachers. Whilst they’re relatively new on the scene, they do have some punk rock history behind them and put on a fantastic show with the songs to match. A variation between full on punk songs, folk punk, and ska punk were the order of the day.
We then headed up to the balcony area of the Ballroom to watch the end of Leftover Crack. Sound issues cropped up, however they were still pretty fun, and we made a mental note to check out more of their stuff later. Pennywise were our penultimate band of the day, and one that we had been looking forward to. A rousing sing-along to Bro Hymn was especially touching, with fans joining the band on stage.
Next, it was time for the band that everyone was there to see – Bad Religion! The sound quality thankfully improved by then, and they put on a rousing show, managing to fit many songs into their hour set. It was quite a varied performance, featuring songs from across their back catalogue, with a particular focus on tracks from their classic punk album, No Control. A lot of their hits were also played, and Sorrow featured a bombastic sing-along, with Greg Graffin’s trademark pointing still a staple of their live set. They were a fantastic end to a fantastic day, and are definitely worth seeing if you have the chance.
On Rebellion sunday we were keen to get back into the thick of the action. As we arrived, Pizzatramp fans filled the Introducing Stage and poured out of the doors. Sunday evening was packed with bands we wanted to see, beginning with Dirt Box Disco – lighthearted pop-punk that we’ve seen many a time before. They have a great stage presence and do the simple things well, with My Life Is Shit being an instant sing-along.
Next up in the Arena – a smaller longer stage – were Brassick – a female fronted punk group from the Midlands. Singer Nicola has a strong set of lungs and a lot of energy, and reminds us a lot of The Distillers’ faster songs. It was a shame that the few big fellas playing rough in the pit prevented more crowd interaction, they also failed to catch Nicola’s stage dive but luckily she was only bruised!
Booze and Glory were on the Casbah stage outside in the pouring rain. Despite the strong line-up across the stages, it was good to see so many people braving the conditions. Kudos to the sound guy who ensured they sounded as good as ever. London Skinhead Crew is fast becoming a rebellion anthem – and don’t worry, they aren’t the bad sort of skinhead, they actually had a little rant against the racist and homophobic elements still present within the punk scene.
The Casualties haven’t played rebellion since 2013, after former singer Jorge has faced controversy. His replacement was on top form, climbing around the room, crowd-surfing, getting stuck into the pit, and shouting his way through an assortment of the past 20 years of the band’s back catalogue. We particularly recommend the songs Under Attack and Punk Rock Love to anyone who likes fast, thrashy street punk. They sounded very tight and were another highlight of the weekend for us.
We were unsure where to finish our night, but stuck to the usual “go foreign, expensive, or rare” rule of thumb when pondering a stage. We eventually head back outside with some very enthusiastic Propagandhi fans. We knew that they were hardly ever in the UK, but had never knowingly listened to them before. We thoroughly enjoyed their set but almost wished we had done some research on their back catalogue to be able to join in. It seems as though bands like Rise Against may not have existed had Propagandhi not been around to show them the ropes.
We had intended on going to bed, but ended up walking past the opera house where The Primitives were playing – we had actually bought a cassette tape of theirs from a charity shop as teenagers, and it was thoroughly amusing to see wasted punks in their studded jackets and bright hair all bobbing around to late 80s/early 90s female fronted indie pop. Again, kudos to the sound guy as Crash sounded very polished, just like we remembered from our younger days.
Rebellion is an awesome festival, with so many acts to see across seven stages. This was York Calling’s first trip to the festival, and it most certainly will not be our last!
Rebellion Festival took place at Blackpool Winter Gardens between 5 and 8 August 2017