|Rebellion Festival 2012 - Blackpool, Winter Gardens - 4th - 5th August 2012|
|Written by Johnny H and Dom Daley|
|Wednesday, 15 August 2012 04:00|
With two days already down and two well past 2AM finishes by the previous night's headliners it was going to take something pretty damn special to get me out of my slumber pit and down to the Winter Gardens ahead of midday on day three of this years Rebellion Festival that's for sure. So what about two of the best relatively unknown bands playing this weekend doing almost back to back sets as an incentive? Well I'll buy that for a dollar, but I'll need to pick up a caffeine injection on the way in, otherwise I could be doing my best sleeping beauty impression by mid afternoon. So coffee in hand as we get closer to our intended destination we just happen to bump into a few mates looking decidedly worse for wear following their previous nights alcholypics regaling us with stories of how they had fallen foul of a few skins in the pit during Rust, I cannot help but raise a dry smile at this point as sometimes being a natural baldie really does have distinct advantages in this crazy rock n roll life we life.
You know the saying "don't fuck with the baldies".
Looking like the long lost love grandchildren of The Clash and sounding like they've just raided an unpublished songbook left behind by Shelley and Diggle during their Thursday night set, Cyanide Pills are exactly what I need to prise my eyes fully open at such an early hour, their adrenaline blasts of tunes like opener 'Waiting For Nightfall' and last single 'Up Against The Wall' getting the front rows bopping like it's 1977 all over again and suddenly everything in the world seems just fucking fine.
I seriously could watch Cyanide Pills play all day, but that isn't this type of band's style, these guys specialise in some quick in and out albeit via 2 minute punk songs, and tunes like 'Making Her Mind Up' and set closer 'Dictator' are just two of the great knee tremblers the five guys with a fascination with all things Johnny Thunders deliver with total ease today. Someone out there in promoter-land give these guys the support slot for The Hives winter tour will ya, that truly would be a marriage made in rock 'n' roll heaven.
Making a mad dash from the Arena to Olympia 1 in record breaking time, it certainly feels like there are a hell of a lot of people on site who want a piece of Dirt Box Disco. Taking up our place directly in front of guitarist Spunk Volcano for his usually smutty antics (yup he really did just say you can finger your Nan to his band's latest album) we are just in time to catch the band launch into 'The Other Side Of The Street', the lead track from that aforementioned album known as 'Legends', and it's quite staggering just how many fellow Dirt Box fans have made the effort to come out and support the lads. The band seem fair blown away by it all too as the place is almost rammed to capacity by the time they unleash 'Burning' before then tearing straight into 'Tragic Roundabout' and the whole sense of "occasion" just seems to put an extra spring into the five guys already confident steps. I actually found myself scribbling down how this all reminded me of how Motley Crue ripped Donington Park apart on their UK debut back in 1984, not so much musically you understand, but definitely attitude wise especially on tracks like 'I Am Rock n Roll' and the insanely catchy 'I Don't Wanna Go Out With You' where everyone (and I do mean everyone) was singing at the tops of their voices. Hats off to Spunk, Weab, Maff, Danny and Dead Beatz as this was one hell of a riot on what was most definitely Dirt Box Disco's day. Band of the day for yours truly, maybe even the weekend. TA!
With sets by F UK, The Agitators, and 999 all falling well short in terms of energy levels in direct comparison to the Dirt Box boys, it was left to Hard Skin back over in the Empress Ballroom to get me shouting along again, the song 'ACAC', the rest I'll leave up to you to work out. Oh and for rant of the day the top award goes to Skin's bassist Fat Bob, priceless stuff!
Heading back over to the Olympia just in time to see dragSTER deliver the likes of 'Teenage Motorcycle Killer Gangs Of Japan' to one of the best looking audiences of the weekend (me and Dom excluded obviously), I was pleasantly surprised with just how fantastic FI and the boys sound live right now, in fact they sound exactly like Motorhead should have sounded with Wendy O Williams singing for them. Check out their latest album 'Here Come The Meat Robots' we would definitely recommend it for anyone who likes their glunk rock 'n' roll music just a little bit harder than the rest.
For the late afternoon/early evening comedy gold that follows next it would take a much more talented wordsmith than I to fully convey the hilarious series of events that ended up with me and Dom back at our Oi!rish bar witnessing two totally hammered ladies of a rather rotund nature trying to stay upright on their bar stools. Let's just say one was slightly more successful than the other (in staying upright that is), and with both of their drinks decanted over each another they didn't really hang around long enough for either of us to offer them a refill. Like we would anyway?
One laughter induced asthma attack later and we are soon back in the Olympia for Dom's hot tip of the day, Chicago IL four piece Downtown Struts, who play a short but sharp set of tunes in the vein of Rancid meets Gaslight Anthem. Mr Daley has been raving about the band's Pirate's Press released 'Victoria' album for a while now, and the guys certainly seem to sell a fair few copies of said album following their set, I'll have to give it a few more listens before I'm totally convinced they are quite as good as Dom says they are, but I'm certainly willing to listen.
Next up was one of those "shall we or shan't we" moments that you either get totally right or you get totally wrong, and I'll be the first to admit that we got walking out of Ruts DC mid way through their Empress Ballroom set totally fucking wrong. Perhaps it was the heat, perhaps it was the uber sticky floor that was getting on both of ours nerves, whatever it was we clearly lost the plot walking back to Olympia to catch The Vibrators set, as no sooner had we heard 'Automatic Lover' than we were looking around for something else to do and ended up in the all seated Opera House for the first time of the weekend watching The Shakespearos playing a pretty decent cover version of 'The Sound Of The Suburbs'...Hmmm how the fuck did we end up here, in a seated venue watching a covers band when next door Ruts DC are playing 'In a Rut',' Babylon's Burning' and 'Staring At the Rude Boys'? Answers on a postcard please to the usual address, as I honestly don't have a sensible answer to this one.
With our schoolboy error still eating at our collective conscience we immediately try and make amends by thinking we can now watch everyone playing Rebellion 2012 flitting between sets by Varukers in the Arena, Resistance 77 in Olympia 2 and then finally Subhumans in Olympia 1, but the only thing we got by doing this was an appreciation of just how not to really watch a band just by catching only one or two of their songs. How the mainstream mags do it and then give band's ratings I'll never know.
As we make our way down the stairs back into the Empress Ballroom you cannot help but baulk at the heat coming off the mightily impressively sized audience Mr John Lydon and P.I.L have attracted for their midnight headline set. Yet if the rumours circulating are in fact true then any band playing here today will also be out in the audience somewhere swelling the numbers with us right now as it seems a clear backstage area policy is just one of the many clauses that form part of my heroes multi page contract for tonight's show. And there I was just about to praise John for his no ego show onstage at bang on the witching hour; perhaps I need to rethink that?
Well thankfully I'm not around long enough to rethink anything really as after a quick run through 'This Is Not A Love Song' and a quick dip of the toe into 'Deeper Water' from the band's all new studio album, the ponderous version of 'Albatross' that follows is about as welcome as Yes track in our playlist for the night, and I'm out the venue (along with a good few others I might add including my co-pilot for the weekend Blaze Daley) looking for something a little more exciting. "So what about catching a legendary band we've never seen before?" offers up Mr Daley "what about us watching The Only Ones?"
I suppose at this point he could have said "let's go and see the muthafucking Chuckle Brothers" and I would have a agreed to it if the prospect of a sit down was on the cards, so taking up some seats pretty much front and centre back in the low lit Opera House we wait....and wait....and wait for the arrival of Peter Perrett and his cohorts to entertain us with some post punk rock 'n' roll. That is if the roadies can sort out another amp that has seemingly backfired. They really do want to hurry up as people around us are dropping like flies into the land of nod and for a minute or two I have to admit I do join them too. Then finally after what seems like an age, we get some quality powerpop via a fantastic version of 'Lovers of Today' but just a few songs in and following 'Me And My Shadow' I have to admit defeat and creep out and back to the hotel ready for what was going to be another full on day for your Uber Rock team.
Looking back after the initial highs of Saturday's early afternoon chaos it kind of all went a bit flat when we opted to leave during Ruts DC set, so let's hope we don't make the same mistake tomorrow where we have one of the most difficult band clashes of the weekend to contend with.
Night! Night! everyone.
Ah..... Rebellion Sunday. The home-straight, we're into the final quarter of this punk rock marathon, and looking at the stage times back in the hotel we can enjoy a relaxing morning mulling over the weekend so far, gearing up for what might turn out to be a momentous afternoon/evening. So as much as I was keen to make it to the Empress Ballroom for half twelve (dinner time to you and me) to catch Booze And Glory I somehow knew it wasn't going to happen. Instead we'd agreed it was a morning of sit ups, squat thrusts and some light bench pressing before heading on over to the Winter Gardens to catch brother John Robb's piratety punks Goldblade for their two fifteen kick off.
OK we actually dossed about the hotel and opted for some cool refreshing cider rather than some weights but the intention was there - not.
Whilst on our brisk walk to the venue we then witnessed a classic Blackpool moment where a car full of shell suited chavs curb crawled a couple of spiky haired punks pulling up alongside their indented victims shouting "Oi Hedgehog!!!!" at the tops of their voices, they then sped off high fiving each other in the car. The irony wasn't lost on us and it was no doubt the chavs lifetime highlight soon to be on a Facebook timeline nowhere near us soon, God bless 'em.
Once again inside the Empress Ballroom it didn't take long for the blood to be pumping round your legs as John Robb and Co belted out a crowd pleasing set sprinkled with the likes of 'Riot! Riot!', 'Strictly Hardcore' and 'Jukebox Generation' also they played a new song that tapped into your brain straight away called 'The Shamen Are Coming' and of course what Goldblade gig wouldn't be complete without singing along to 'Psycho' and their finest three minutes of 'Fighting In The Dance Hall'. You just know that you'll be mumbling the chorus line for the rest of the day or at least whistling the melody - the bastards! "Fighting in the dance hall, fucking in the streets" genius lyrics Mr Robb and another thoroughly enjoyable set that shakes any cobwebs out of the old cranium.
Once again we bounce from stage to stage as we cross some right rough looking souls that are beginning to look more like a set of extras from the Walking Dead than punk rock 'n' rollers.
Arena stage - three forty five to be precise, and it's the turn of Hooligan punk rockers Control to impress us with their often brutal no nonsense punk rock anthems, but before that we manage to catch the set of three piece combo called Start who knocked out a decent half hour set that was part The Jam and part The Boys and featured one Pascal Briggs (who might be trying to break Jamie Oliver's record for being on the most stages over the whole festival), but this time playing bass and singing. To finish off they pulled up TV Smith for a faultless rendition of 'One Chord Wonder', which went down well, and was a pleasant surprise.
Back to Control then who reliably deliver the goods in their all too brief set, and I must admit to being a tad disappointed there was no airing of their classic "angry as fuck" anthem 'Ian Huntley', but we did get the excellent set opener 'Hooligan Rock 'N' Roll', 'Rebellion In My Blood', 'He's a Skinhead' and 'High Time I Hung Up My Boots', followed by a new song which I believe was called 'Just Another Country' - so not all bad. Always nice to give it some Oi! Oi! with Control, but Iain did say from the stage before 'Rebellion In My Blood' that it was dedicated to the best punk festival out there. Of course Iain's never been to Slugfest so in fairness we wanted to just correct him by saying Rebellion is without doubt the best punk festival you have to buy a ticket for.
After a quick glance at our afternoons fixtures we realised it was the first clash of the day so would we stay in the Arena to get our fill of Kunt And The Gang or head back to the Empress for Oi! top boys Argy Bargy who would be playing some tracks off their brand new studio album 'Hopes Dreams Lies & Schemes?' Having seen both before we decided we hadn't had enough of Oi! (just yet) and it was Watford Jon and the boys that won out. Now with Argy Bargy you know what your gonna get, it's brutal but it also has a charm and a cheeky nod to glam with some great guitar hooks that would have come straight from Dave Hill's superyob or Twisted Sister fretboards, this is music that you can pump your fist to or chant along on every chorus, and at the end of the set you'll know that you've been entertained. Look if you haven't had a good time by the end of these guys set then you should book yourself in for a visit to the quacks because its impossible not to enjoy what Argy Bargy do. 'There's Gonna Be A Riot' ("Woah oh oh oh oh!") is a great example of what these guys do best and moving to the Empress Ballroom from last year's set in Olympia is just rewards for the bands unquestionable appeal here at Rebellion. 'My Life', 'The Likes Of Us' and set closer - the Cock Sparrer tune where they took their name 'Argy Bargy' are all superb. Argy Bargy deserve every bit of applause they are generously being given by the audience tonight because make no bones about it this is a band in the top division when it comes to street punk and Oi! a band who now stand head and shoulders over most in this genre. Just wait until you hear the new album.
Having now had my fill of Oi! before we ventured back out into the world outside it was another criss cross back to the Olympia to flick some V's at the wonderful Damaged Goods recording artistes Thee Spivs. Hailing from Norf Laahndhann these three 'erbert's kick up a mean racket with their blend of ajit punk pop with a great blend of The Hives meets Buzzcocks and a bit of The Jam noise, but they also have some great tunes to back it up, even if the bass player is a dead ringer for Micky Pearce from Only Fools And Horses. '15 Minutes' and the soon to be classic single 'Flicking V's' are proof enough that these boys have all the chops and were just what was needed in the early evening. A final venture into the deepest darkest town centre of Blackpool was now long overdue in search of some cold beer and grub, seeing as the Winter Gardens had seemingly run out of Strongbow, so instead we set up camp in the local Oi!rish pub for the last time this weekend for some ice cold refreshments.
Anyway I digress. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and as we make our way to the penultimate bands to headline the various stages there was only one place to be at this time in the weekend's proceedings and that was once again back in the Empress Ballroom before they lock the doors for the UK Subs. There seemed to be a real buzz about the place what with the likes of Ginger Wildheart, Jaya The Cat, Star Fucking Hipsters and The Outcasts all on at the same time, but as the crowd gathered noisily for the festival's real stalwarts to hit the stage when the band did finally take the stage I surprised they could hear themselves over the raucous applause generated from the Ballroom. Charlie Harper caught up in it all then promptly has a classic Spinal Tap moment by walking to the mic to say "thank you" before realising it was in fact Jet's backing vocal mic and obviously set a lot lower level than Charlie's. Then after he chuckled to himself and announced, "wrong mic" we were off and running and it was safe to say the UK Subs owned Rebellion. They did this by turning in a smart set of old and new songs, played by what in my opinion is the best line up of the band's lengthy career, Jet, Jamie and Alvin are one skin tight unit and every time I see them play they just simply leave me speechless. I actually wonder how many times can I see them before they play a set that isn't much cop, in fact about the last dozen times I've caught them they've just got better and better and whilst the set might have a few tunes they simply have to play they always mix it up nicely. Tonight was no exception with the excellent Gibbs tune 'Hell Is Other People' given an airing, whilst culled off the recent album we got 'Creation', and dedicated to Lars from Rancid was 'This Chaos' a tune he actually wrote with Charlie.
One thing I have noticed about headline bands at a festival with so many stages and so many other very good bands playing is it is essential to start your set well and grab the attention of the people watching, and the best bands certainly did this at Rebellion this year, from the Buzzcocks on Thursday to the Subs on Sunday these were the bands who got it bang on the mark from the off and in turn quite possibly turned in the best sets of the weekend. The Subs kicked in tonight with a smarting 'Emotional Blackmail' then headed straight into a blistering version of 'Rockers' and without pause for a breath we were then 'Down On The Farm'. Could anyone else playing at the same time top that trio of tunes? I seriously doubt it. As a result Harper and Co had a wedged Empress Ballroom eating out of the palms of their sweaty hands. The energy coursing round the venue was breathtaking and by the time they got to 'Riot' then 'Stranglehold' the whole place was absolutely bouncing, and the band looked like they were having the time of their lives. For the encore delivered an immaculate 'Limo Life', 'C.I.D.' and 'Live in A Car' before it was left for them to finally bow out with a huge performance of 'New York State Police' and then they were gone. All around us were beaming faces as the house lights went up and the baton was passed to Rancid with a message of "beat that!" UK Subs on this form were simply stunning.
At this point the dilemma of the weekend was upon us, and it wasn't one we could take lightly either. Do we watch the first half hour of Rancid then pop next door to watch the total carnage in the Arena that would be Agnostic Front pulverising the place or do we nip over to Olympia to catch Stiff Little fingers (the latter one wasn't going to happen really) but those other two were our choices, and boy was this a tough call.
So pretty much on the stroke of eleven Rancid take the stage and the audience goes absolutely fucking ballistic, the air immediately filled with the contents of what seemed like 500 pints and a sea of bodies being passed towards the front as the band launched into 'Radio' quickly followed by 'Roots Radical', 'The Way I Feel', 'Journey To The End Of The East Bay' and 'Maxwell Murder' all off the breakthrough album 'And Out Come The Wolves' album, just these few songs into the Rancid set and I was already sensing that only seeing half an hour of this wasn't going to happen, if this level of punk rock brilliance was going to be maintained then sorry Roger Miret and Agnostic Front we'll see you some time soon. Fuck me Rancid are in the groove tonight and Tim Armstrong who is sporting a very fetching 70's footballer beard is like the pied piper as he spirals and leaps around the stage sparring vocals with Lars who as usual right now is decked out in his smart casual skinhead wear. Our fellow hotel guests were prowling the stage with a real sense of purpose and it was business as usual for the Rancid crew quashing any doubts people might have had that they weren't worthy of being headliners.
Rancid have pretty much stayed true to their roots over the last 20 years and have also managed to pen many a great song along the way, and tonight they didn't let their standards slip for a nano second, pretty much covering every inch of their career as a band during their twenty plus song main set. Of all the bands we'd seen play Rebellion over the weekend these boys were the first to get the whole dance floor at it jumping like cats on hot tin roofs, it was a magnificent sight to behold and the band knew it too. They absolutely killed it from the ska skank of 'I Wanna Riot' to the blitzkrieg of 'Rejected' and 'Adina'. By the time we'd reached the end of the main set even the walls were soaking wet and 'Fall Back Down' closed it out and I don't think they could have picked a better set and playing quite so many songs showed some of the other weekend's headliners really how it's done. On this evidence they easily deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the top of the table punk acts no doubt about it. Coming back out to play 'Time Bomb' followed by 'Tenderloin' and 'Lock Step & Gone' was simply devastating as the crowd urged the band on like it was the set opener not the encores. Then all that was left was to hit Rebellion with a final golden haymaker of 'Ruby Soho' and it was done.
Rancid had triumphed and Rebellion 2012 was closed out in the best possible way with one of the best live bands around reaffirming why they were such a sought after headliner, and if you had any doubts as to whether to go and see them on their up and coming UK tour - (sorry make that English and Scottish tour) then don't delay because if it is half as good as this then you'll be blown away. They came - They saw - They conquered. This was a chuffin' awesome performance.
And so it was the end of another quality weekend where old and new friends gathered. Uber Rock had some belly laughs courtesy of the locals and saw way too many very good bands, some right at the top of their game. Rebellion is still the best value of all the major festivals anywhere in the U.K and 2012 was a blast - I just wish I could do it every weekend