The annual punk festival hit 2016 with a big sucker punch to the face. Malek Baali went along to this year’s Rebellion Festival.
Rebellion Festival 2016… wow, where to start? As symbolic as it can be, the well-established punk festival is celebrating its 20 years since its inception in Blackpool. After a couple of name changes (Wasted and Holidays in the Sun etc.) and a few years in Morecambe, this year’s edition is more than ready to mark 40 years of punk rock in complete style!
Hostilities are beginning very early on a Wednesday, for the die-hards avid to watch bands and down a couple of snifters at venue ‘Tache, situated around the corner from the Winter Gardens. This continues on into Thursday where there’s a new outside stage in the form of Tower Street Arena.
Flag kick off the day and are already truly stealing the show. Black Flag members Keith Morris and Chuck Dukowski are rendering outstanding versions of Black Flag classics, including ‘Nervous Breakdown’, ‘Fix Me’, ‘I’ve Had it’ and ‘Jealous Again’, continuing up until Henry Rollins’ ‘My War’ era. The chaos (plus the incredible seasonal heat, mixed with many alcoholic beverages) continues with band Abrasive Wheels, freshly joined by Karl Morris (ex-X-Tract, ex- UK Subs, ex-Exploited and Billy Club) on guitar to deliver a solid set in the Empress Ballroom.
With barely any time to hear The Members playing the sound of the suburbs in The Pavilion, it’s already time to see The Varukers down in the main Arena. Rat and the lads are taking no prisoners, as they rage through all the classics- ‘Another Religion, Another War’, ‘Led to the Slaughter’ and ‘Soldier Boy’.
It feels as if there are so many bands to see tonight, but such little time to juggle all of the stages as well as the random encounters between old friends and new ones. There would no doubt be plenty more bands worth seeing, should time have allowed it. Bands like: Brassick, Lost Cherrees, The Vibrators, Geoffrey Oicott (whom energized the ‘Tache on Wednesday with their cricket/ punk), Paul Carter on the acoustic stage, CJ Ramone, Peter And The Test Tube Babies, Tsol, Svetlanas, Vox Populi, The Bleach Boys and Red Alert.
After a brilliant Thursday- Friday’s on my mind. Reagan Youth at the Empress, start their set strongly with ‘New Aryans’ and ‘(Are You) Happy?’, but I find I am spending most of the time in the Tower Street Arena. The day continues brilliantly with the Subhumans playing an immensely superb set, as well as Vice Squad’s Beki Bondage and Paul Rooney performing an electrifying set. They end their set with a tribute to the late, great “Uncle Lemmy” Kilmister of Motorhead with a cover of Ace of Spades.
Vice Squad have warmed up the stage perfectly, ready for the arrival of mighty Discharge. The Stoke lads power fourth on stage and fantastically deliver mainly songs from their all-time ground-breaking album ‘Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing’, mixed up with their latest single ‘Hatebomb’- an astounding show as always. The Discharge wall of noise is inflicted by the Roberts Bros and Royston ‘Rainy’ Wainright and they are amazingly devastating.
Next up, are the infamous UK Subs and they are bringing us a collection of oldies but goodies including ‘Stranglehold’ and ‘You Give Me Disease’, to an already conquered crowd. I then find myself rushing along and just in time to catch the end of The Weirdos’ set and to happily witness one of the best songs of all time- ‘Solitary Confinement’.
As I continue my journey into Saturday at Rebellion, I witness a pleasing surprise with Gothenburg’s lads City Saints, Hamburg’s Razors, The Strike, Channel 3, Chron Gen, One Way System, and JFA. I then make my way to see brilliant Angelic Upstarts and they are already getting quite the welcoming with ‘Never Had Nothing’ and ‘2 Million Voices’.
It is now time for Brummie legends GBH to raise the bar and I can’t wait. They bring us a whole range of material including ‘Race Against Time’, ‘Sick Boy’, ‘Lycanthropy’, as well as the majority of their 1981 classic EP ‘Leather, Bristles, Studs and Acne’- a dirty, gritty and pleasing performance as always.
I’m going 5 days strong, fueled on booze and bands, and it is Sunday already. Today is the day for the legendary Cock Sparrer. They are playing the 2nd main set of the weekend- the “hangover set” some may rightfully say. They are receiving a somewhat tried crowd through the starting rain, with their catchy glam rock tinted anthems. They continue their set, warming and drying the crowd with more pleasing tracks ‘Working’, ‘Riot Squad’ and ‘England Belongs To Me’ at the very end.
Sunday continues and NYHC legends Agnostic Front pull an incredible set full of force. Roger Miret eructs ‘Victim in Pain’, ‘Power’, ‘Fascist Attitudes’, ‘United Blood’ and ‘Friend of Foe, whilst the one and only Vinnie Stigma grabs his fair share of attention too. After Agnostic Front’s destruction, I go to enjoy a raging set by Ipswich’s Extreme Noise Terror to bring the festival to an end. Most of the brilliant catalogue is covered, including the song “Murder”! (Did I dream it?). I’m sorry to be missing Rotunda and Indecent Assault’s sets, however I have no doubt they both had a proper doss.
All in all, Rebellion is a very friendly festival, with lots to do, from the almost acoustic sets, to the new stage, art exhibitions and discussions with different artists, to the never-ending party of 5 days. The festival saw people from all horizons: Sweden, America, Japan, Italy, Brazil, France, Germany and Norway- they are keeping Punk alive. A mention must also go to the tremendous crew, plus Daz Russell and his wife Jennie for bringing people together in such a unique way.
To quote my good friend Gaffa from Newcastle: “This is the most mental festival I’ve been to in all my life! PS: It’s full of bowls.” She couldn’t be more right. Cheers to Rebellion!
Written by Malek Baali
Photography by Paul Martin