How much fun can you have with a bunch of 50 year olds who are drunk at 2pm and donned in skin tight jeans that clearly haven’t fit their bloated stomachs for at least 20 years? Apparently, a shit load.
Now to be fair it wasn’t just oldies. There were a lot of teens there sporting some of the gnarliest hair cuts I’ve even seen (do people still say gnarly? I don’t care. It wasn’t the 70’s anymore but that didn’t seem to matter much here.) I’d been in touch with Rebellion about getting a press pass for the event but didn’t hear anything back from them. This really was their loss as I worked my balls off all weekend and shot some great footage. Maybe next year, ya mother fuckers.
I arrived around midday on Thursday and was met by a large queue of punkers waiting anxiously to get in, passing the time by drinking booze. The crowd were an eclectic mix of nationalities, Americans, Germans, a few Swedes, the list goes on. A man walked up and down this line of punks trying to hand out leaflets about Jesus. I guess he’d never heard the phrase “target demographic.”
After about an hour of queuing I was in, checking the surroundings and not having a fucking clue where anything was, which was okay, because Thursday didn’t really have a lot I was interested in. The first band I checked out was Angry Agenda, Watford based street punks. Apart from being musically retarded, their singer had that kind of embarrassing drunken uncle look about him, the one who always sings karaoke at parties in front of your mates, but instead of singing Phil Collins he was having a go at punk.
As much as Angry Agenda sucked, they were nothing compared to Newcastle’s The Fiend. With a name that shitty you know it’s gonna be good fun. Their tough guy noisey punk might have impressed the skins but it wasn’t doing shit for me. “This song is about the government and goes like this, FUCK THE GOVERNMENT! FUCK THE GOVERNMENT!” “This song’s about religion, FUCK RELIGION! FUCK RELIGION!” “This song’s about the police,” ….well, you get the picture.
Thankfully it didn’t all suck balls, and I was pleasantly surprised by the band Girlfixer who, I’ll admit, I checked out because I thought the name sounded pretty cool. Female fronted and hard hitting they were the first instance of the entire day where I thought, “Hey! There might actually be some decent bands here!” Their singer had a great stage presence and also a cracking pair of….lungs. Had ya going then, didn’t I?
The real wild card of the day came in the form of Pete Bentham and the Dinner Ladies, a rock and roll act which didn’t really fit in with the rest of the bands I’d seen but kicked mega arse anyway. Catchy, quirky, funny and tight as hell, Bentham and his band were easily the most entertaining I’d seen all day. Though I really don’t get what the fuck the dancing dinner ladies were all about.
After this I headed to the Empress Ballroom, a giant hall which was originally intended for, no surprise, ballroom dancing. They should have kept it for that because even though the majority of the best bands that weekend would be playing in here, the sound team just couldn’t get the acoustics to work for them and this greatly hindered the bands. I watched Old Firm Casuals featuring Lars Fredrikson of Rancid and Bastards fame, they played really well but no one gets a free ride with me so I’d like to point this out to anyone who was pitting during their set. I saw more enthusiastic and violent pits the one time I watched Simple Plan in Manchester. Fifteen year old pop-punkers gave it harder, that’s embarrassing. (NOTE: I do not condone or promote Simple Plan, but if a homeless guy offers you a ticket because you shared your cider with him, you take it.)
The only band I was really looking forward to on the Thursday list was OFF! They did not disappoint, again, the poor sound (though this is meant as no offense to the sound guys, I can’t even imagine how hard it’d be to make that hall work) made it difficult to understand what Keith Morris was saying between songs, but it didn’t matter much, they tore the place apart and left faces melted left, right and centre.
Friday came and the first band I got to check out was the Creepshow, I was actually just making sure I got a good spot for A Wilhelm Scream but this band played hard and impressed me a lot. Their 2 foot tall (probably) female singer had more balls than any of the men in the bands and she jumped right into the centre of a pit while still strapped up and began guitar soloing her little heart out. I’d never been a fan of music whose genre features the word “billy” at the end, but I’d come a little closer to the dark side thanks to this Canadian four piece.
I have a lot of respect for D.I.Y bands but unfortunately the Restarts didn’t get me off. They had solid moral ethics and this came across in their on stage banter but musically I wasn’t blown away. I don’t want to insult a band as hard working as the Restarts because it’s a rare thing in the music scene these days but it just wasn’t for me.
I’d began to notice something about Rebellion Festival, there was a scary amount of white people, and not just white people, white people with skin heads who looked like thugs. Now I know it’s stereotypical for me to think that just because someone has a skin head, wears steel boots and looks like a bruiser that they are inherently racist (the skinheads had originally brought ska and reggae to the U.K but must have lost their cool somewhere along the way) but come on, if you look like a fucking murderer, people are going to start thinking you’re a fucking murderer. It made me a bit tense but as the day went on I saw a few faces of varied skin colour and no one was shooting dirty eyes at them so luckily it didn’t seem like Hitler’s “Pure Aryan Nation” was going to be achieved this weekend.
A Wilhelm Scream finally came on. I was right at the front. I’d seen them play in Manchester on Wednesday and they were definitely in the top three bands I was looking forward to seeing (T.V Smith and the Damned also.) They completely destroyed the place and I was surprised to see a healthy turn out for their set as I’d not noticed many about who looked the AWS sort. The band battled through a few sound problems but made a complete riot out of the Empress and, with debatably the exception of OFF!, were the band that give it the most in the Empress the entire weekend. The most being their all.
Now I imagine people reading this who know me would think I stuck around for the Bouncing Souls. I actually didn’t, because another stage at the festival featured a band I hold very dear to my old school punk heart, The Vibrators. The first time I’d seen them singer Knox wasn’t with them and the band played as a three piece, I actually prefer them like this, and came across as a sort of wrinkled Lawrence Arms, I loved it. They played this way today. They didn’t disappoint this time either playing the tightest I’d ever seen them play being the first band to get some real honest punk motions out of the crowd. Every topless mid life crisis in the audience jumped about like a kid after a bowl of lucky charms and it was truly a beautiful sight to see. Their bassist Pete genuinely thanked their crowd as the set finished, who thanked him for the beers he’d given out at the start, who then thanked them again for thanking him. What a bloody nice bloke.
Next up on the “to do” list was Arturo Lukers “punktry and western band.” Being a big fan of the Lurkers I was intrigued so headed to the Bizarre Bazaar room to check them out. What I hadn’t planned on doing was stepping into the bad acid trip that was Rubella Ballet. It just didn’t make sense. The lights were off and some fat old woman covered in glow in the dark paint was making orgasm noises to a backing band. What the actual fuck is Rubella Ballet?
Arturo came to the stage and kicked out some Johnny Cash style grooves tinged with a punk rock feel and comedy lyrics, songs like “God and Chips” and “Three Legged Ben” instantly became crowd favourites and even the people who had no idea about the punktry and western band, like me, were soon singing to every chorus.
I’d heard good things about Infa Riot, admittedly I’d head good things about them from a pissed up guy who was waiting for them to come on, but none the less, good things had been said. The good things didn’t match the reality, making Infa Riot by far one of the worse bands I’d watched; they weren’t The Fiend bad, but pretty close. Another over the hill four piece consisting of members who’d taken time out of their busy schedules working at TESCO’s or the local butchers to pretend they were still punk to the bone and hard as nails, it was kind of sad really.
Thankfully Infa Riot fucked off and so did we, planning to suck up the set of Drunken Balordi in exchange for a good spot for the Damned. The Balordi bunch never played so instead the time until the Damned was spent sat on the concrete floor on the Olympia in great anticipation for a chance to see the Captain and co. They took to the stage and burnt through a barrage of hits leaving nothing in their wake except a sea of gob smacked punkers covered in sweat. I think I saw one girl crying she was so happy. They played all the greats, mixing old with new and didn’t let up for a second. Definitely worth the years I’d waited to finally see them, and I didn’t hear “The Captain is a wanker” once (though it was probably still said.)
Practically all of Saturday was spent at the acoustic stage listening to great artists like Louise Distras, El Morgan, Honest John Plain and Kelly Kemp. The acoustic stage really was the place to be for the most part of Saturday. I was excited to watch El Morgan again as I’d been a fan of hers for about a year now, the only downfall of El’s otherwise incredible set was a fat Irish woman who was sat behind me being very loud, very drunk and very rude. Congratulations, you’re a national stereotype. I hope you choke on a burger, you bitch.
After the acoustic stage had died down I moved across to the Empress to watch the Boys, having just watched one of them do an acoustic set, and they really nailed it. Though no longer boys, the band donned receding hairlines and bloated guts these days; they still kicked it with the energy and enthusiasm as a 14 year old that’s just discovered masturbation. They played a sweet cover of the Ramones “Beat on the Brat” as well as all their hits. The crowd went nuts, me included.
I’d heard good things about the Filaments and Captain Hotknives so checked them out accordingly. Neither hit the spot. I couldn’t stomach another band that used trumpets as stage decorations more than part of the music and I didn’t find Hotknives funny one bit, and I’m a funny bastard. Instead I checked out the Have Nots who played a pretty solid set appealing to the younger demographic of the event with their ska influenced punk rock.
Pennywise were up next at the Empress and to say that they were one of the mostly eagerly anticipated acts for a lot of patrons would be a massive understatement. But here’s where things go wrong, where good reviews go bad, you could say. I’d been a big Pennywise fan when I was younger but even before original singer Jim Lindberg left, I’d kind of lost enthusiasm. I thought I’d watch them anyway as they were a hard hitting band whose opinions, I thought, matched my own. The band themselves played a real good set, the music was tight as hell and everyone went nuts, the atmosphere was almost perfect. The only downfall was the banter, “Alright you fucking mother fucking fuckers, are you fucking ready to get the fucking fuck up?” I’m not eleven anymore and I don’t think swearing as much as possible is cool. “This song is about being different!” Really? You’re probably pushing forty and playing to a crowd of mostly almost thirty year olds who, after this weekend, are going back to their 9 to 5 jobs like the rest of the world and you’re trying to appeal to them on grounds that would grab the heart strings of a high school kid. “This song is about how much high school can suck, but you can get through it!” It did suck and I did get through it, you know what else I did? I got over it. I love Pennywise, but they kind of need to grow up a little, it was all a bit childish and fake, like New Found Glory singing about dating girls in high school even though they probably have daughters of their own there now. Kelly Kemp will hate me if she reads this.
With Pennywise done, sometime to kill, and not wanting to watch a band with a name like “the Grit” I headed to the Olympia to see what the Red Eyes had to offer (yet again, another shit band name.) They took to the stage and looked even more burnt out and pathetic than any other mid-life crisis band of the weekend. They opened their set with a song that, “We love music, music is our life, we’re living our life, because we’re playing the music,” or something like that. Great. Fat fifty years olds playing half arsed punk rock with lyrics that would fit nicely on Sesame Street. I was out of there. I’d take my chances with the Grit.
I wish I was less of a dick, I really shouldn’t judge bands by their names before I watch them. The Grit were awesome. Really good. Another band that was slowly pushing me more towards the “billy” side of punk rock. Grufty, aggressive, full of attitude and gusto, the band’s name actually described the mentality of their music to a tee. With a stand up bass player, who manically climbed a set of speakers with his large instrument (haha) in hand, the Grit were not only fantastic musically, they were also one of the most kick arse bands to watch live involving the crowd in sing-a-alongs and the rest of their on stage antics.
The Grit left, and so did most of the crowd in the Arena. Eddie and the Hot Rods were up next and even though the place had emptied quite a bit in comparison to the previous act, more fool them, the Rods were fucking awesome, energetic, fast, furious and just all around cool as fuck. Eddie looked as if Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger’s love child….of about the same age. I’d heard the Sex Pistols once opened for the Hot Rods and really couldn’t work out why that fucking butter selling hair dresser had got so far while this outfit of pure talent were left at the sidelines. If you don’t like the Rods, you’re a dick, and that’s not opinion, its fact.
The weekend was coming to a close and depression was setting in. I didn’t want to leave Rebellion, it’d been the most fun I’d had in a long time and the people and bands were cool as hell. I’d miss being able to see all my favourites in one building. I’d miss A Wilhelm Scream being one hundred percent cool to me and my constant queries. I’d miss hanging out with all the cool people I hardly got to see while living in my cave and hiding from the daylight back home. I’d miss drunken punks who looked like they’d spent their lives lying in a field of smack needles asking me where I was from to such an inquisitive degree I was pretty sure they were gonna turn up for tea someday soon. Hell, I was even gonna miss the Fiend.
But it wasn’t over just yet, there was one more day left and the line up was looking great. Well it was until I noticed who was playing before Glen Matlock.
This is a review, okay? And as much as I’ve joked and made sly comments about some of the bands I’ve attempted to keep some element of professionalism (it’s still a review by me, so admittedly, that isn’t much) but honestly, fuck John Robb and fuck Goldblade. They might as well change their name to “The John Robb ego band even though my hair cut makes my head look like a vagina….band.” The guy had been swanning around the festival all weekend with this air of arrogance and the same crappy suit he wears to every event he somehow blags his chimp looking fuck head into. “John Robb spends more time in crowds then he does on stage,” maybe he should work harder on his shitty band and stop sliming his way into other people’s shows. Fuck that guy, fuck Goldblade and fuck his shitty haircut and God complex. The only thing you’ve done for U.K music is piss a bunch of bands off by bothering them all the time. I bet even his mother hates him, “Mummy, I just played on stage at Rebellion in front of thousands of people and they really loved it!” “Oh, shut up John, you twat. No one likes you.”
With that rant over, it’s back to the review. I watched Glen Matlock and the Philistines and they were great. Even the Sex Pistols covers sounded alright without that fucking hairdresser on the mic. Glen had a real good attitude and the crowd responded to this with aplomb, singing back the lyrics to the bands punk influence rock and roll sound.
As soon as Matlock had finished, it was a quick dash to the Bizarre Bazaar to watch what I’d truly been waiting for. T.V Smith. I’d never
seen him play acoustic before and even though it was a little disheartening to not see him blast about a stage kicking the crap out of whatever piece of air he could find, the change from distorted guitars to acoustic melodies wasn’t only a nice change, it worked great bringing a whole new love and dynamic to the T.V Smith experience for me. He played an array of songs from the Adverts to the Explorers and brought a weird combination of extreme intensity whilst playing and polite post song gratitude that left the audience of manic Smith fans high as hell off their T.V fix.
I moved back into the Empress to check out the U.K Subs. For years now people had recommended the Subs to me and I’d never checked them out, I don’t know why, I guess other shit just came up, but I was here now and had a free space in my itinerary so the Subs seemed as good a choice as any. They took the stage and instantly I thought one thing, WHY HADN’T ANYONE TOLD ME THEIR SINGER WAS JIMMY SAVILLE?! Jokes aside, the band were great, far surpassing my expectations of a moderate punk band with decent riffs. The audience was clearly in adoration and beer cups, a mix of empty and half full, flew across to room as did an abundance of crowd surfing mohicans while Charlie Harper downed beer after beer mid song.
Thankfully, the Sub didn’t run over as across in the Arena were another band I had been greatly anticipating, the Lurkers. I’ve tried to describe the Lurkers sound to friends who have yet to hear their music and the closest I’ve got to putting in an image they’d understand is, “kinda like Glenn Danzig Misfits, if they were from the U.K, but didn’t dress like trick or treaters and write songs about shitty B-movies” (I’d like to point out now before anyone calls me up on this, I actually love the Misfits, they’re one of my favourite bands and I think a lot of B-movies are pretty cool.) Though the majority of Rebellion patrons had clearly gone to see either Slaughter and the Dogs, the Lurkers still drew a healthy turnout of fans clearly addicted to the Lurkers sound. Arturo was, of course, as hilarious as ever having some of the best on stage banter in punk rock and reminiscing about how the open for Metallica in the states. “It’s good to be playing the little venues again!”
The day was drawing to a close and there was only one more act I wanted to see. Truth be told there was two, but Captain Sensible was on at the same time and I’d already had one viewing of the Captain so instead I vouched for Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. Before the band took the stage Red Alert had been playing on the stage across and were getting pissed by the amount of people NOT paying attention to them. “If you’re waiting for that fake Yankee tosser, you can fuck off!” The bitter truth was, everyone was and were not up for fucking off anywhere.
The band took to the stage followed by a Biafra dressed in bloody medical gear and looking like a wanker. He spent the entire set getting more naked, to the point where I almost thought we’d be seeing little Jello make an appearance, and dancing around like an insane moron. It was great. The band and Biafra played like crazy, chucking a dead Kennedy’s song in after every few of their own. Though the majority of people seemed more interested in the DK songs than the School of Medicines originals they still went crazy the entire way through. Bar some sound issues at the start of the set and Jello’s pre song rants (which raised some good points I guess, but were just a little excessive) the Guantanamo School of Medicine were a strong finisher for one of the greatest musical weekends of my life. “We’ve ran out of time! We’re being kick off stage!” Keep the rants for the spoken word dates next time, Jello.
So Rebellion had ended, it was done. It’d be back to the normality(ish) of my day to day life tomorrow. There’d been highs; there’d been lows, blah blah, and some other parting cliché’s. I’d watched a whole lot of bands, and if you weren’t mentioned in the review then you probably weren’t great, didn’t suck incredibly, I couldn’t think of anything funny to write about you or, most likely, I just didn’t watch you or forgot. Now there was nothing left to do but go home, put a pot of tea on, and wait for the Fiend to come round and kick my fucking head in.
– Charlie Cooper
- Scary amounts of thug looking white people
- · The Fiend
- Infa Riot
- Being pretty sure Pipes and Pints sang WHITE POWER on one of their songs (though I think I’m wrong about that)
- Being sober (mostly)
- Being pretty sure that the Olympia is usually a car park
- John Robb not getting hit by one of the bands buses on the way out of the festival (I haven’t heard anything about it anyway)
- A Wilhelm Scream
- The Vibrators
- The Damned
- Getting to hang out with Sam Barry and Melissa Murphy
- Going outside and walking along the pier
- The Fiend (they were pretty damn funny)
- That hot girl from Munich with an Against Me! shirt
- El Morgan and Kelly Kemp (both watching them and hanging out)
- Jobey’s awesome but totally fucked up art (which you can see some of here)
- The girl who, when asked by John Robb during Goldblade’s set did she believe in the power of rock and roll, said “Do I fuck.”
- T.V Smith and Leigh Heggarty
- Getting a picture with T.V
- T.V Smith wanting me to have some kids so another generation could listen to his music
- Something, something. Look, I just really like T.V Smith, okay?
- Jello Biafra’s bouncing podgy man boobs (is it strange this made it into high points and not low?)