Having bought tickets for Rebellion 2020 back in 2019 and having held onto them through the pandemic it was great to finally get to use the tickets at this year's festival, a very welcome return to Rebellion, the organizers Darren and Jenny and there team deserve the thanks of everyone who attended, this always amazingly well run festival, alongside the brilliant staff at The Winter Gardens and in the R-Fest arena that was on the Promenade by the Blackpool Tower this year for the first time.
The journey up was not brilliant as our train was cancelled and so we arrived about an hour and a half later than we would have liked, by the time we had checked into our usual Bed and Breakfast in the same room we always stay in, had got our wristbands sorted, after joining the rather long queue, we had already missed 3 bands I wanted to see, Janus Stark, Vomit and Suzi Moon, but managed to get in just in time to see Svetlanas who are still living in exile from Putin's Russia in Italy. Apologies for any guess work on song titles band members etc.
We had just got our first pints of Sharps Cider, in the as always magnificent Empress Ballroom, despite how hard it is to get great sound in the room, when Svetlanas came on to kick the festival off in suitably angry style, although Olga should have been more angry at the soundman who took three songs to get her vocal sound right, but despite that they got a good amount of the audience to Jump with them, we were of course told all about the Motherfuckers that annoy Olga as the guitars grinded away and the drums provided the soundtrack for Olga to tell us to Let's Get Drunk together and have a good time and forget all the crap in the world.
As the vocal sound improved it seemed that they aren't quite as angry as they used to be, which considering what's going on in the Ukraine was surprising, as we heard about the Story Of Her Life and what an Asshole she had to deal with, still everyone put their Fingers Up in time for them to finish by blasting us with Go Fuck Yourself and we felt the cobwebs fall away and started to get into festival mode again.
We wandered over to the Casbah Stage to catch most of Knock Off's set arriving as they blasted out This Ain't No Love Song that had a good bit of bile in it, the rather scary Take His Eyes seemed rather threatening in an old school skinhead punk kind of way. They showed their love for 70's TV cop shows on Your Nicked all about the Sweeney, and had some good issues-based street punk in Working Class Boy and 1918 before appealing to all the lads in the audience with Football Beer & Punk Rock that got a good chant along going. They dedicated We Are Proud to Mickey Fitz and closed by blasting us with Jack The Ripper.
We stayed put for the usual fun and games that happen when Dirtbox Disco play, the current line-up with Spunk Volcano on vocals, as they tore into Burning to get things going and as ever Spunk was taunting the security guards as he asked for everyone to crowd surf to Tragic Roundabout. As ever they wanted to spend time at a Peepshow that seems like it's an unstoppable urge for them.
As we had all just been Standing In A Queue to get in, that song went down a storm with a huge singalong that continued on the ever sleazy My Girlfriends Best Friends Sister that is just loads of fun as was the rampage through We Are Dirtbox as they upped the ante on I Don't Want To Go Out With You and raised there glasses and told us all we needed to Get Fucking Wasted, I think we were trying our best on that front as they finished by getting us all signing along to My Life Is Shit which it was when Rebellion got cancelled, but now it's back not so much.
We then took out first walk down to the front for the R-fest stage for the day's most hardcore punk band Misty In Roots who have survived riots, racism and all sorts of tribulations to carry on spreading the message of roots and culture, they were the perfect band to send out the vibes, as they sung about Rain Come Down and they made us know that Love Run Come and those basslines coming from a great Vox bass hit the spot perfectly so you could See Jah Come to the Blackpool tower and marvel at just how great the sound was.
Oh Africa still has a poignant message and the brass section worked brilliantly on West Livity knowing just when to drop out or back into the mix. Ghetto Of The City was mighty, as was a good long version of On The Road Again with lots of Dub parts that built the song up and let the vibrations wash through us as they closed with See Them-A Come that ended one of the sets of the weekend.
We then wandered back into The Winter Gardens and Empress Ballroom in time for Circle Jerks who are on a current world re-union tour and fell foul of being between the two best bands of the first day, so came off far from special, not helped by Keith Morris' long rambling intro at the start of the 32 song set that Kicked off at a furious pace with Deny Everything, they have that super speedy hardcore down pat, so the songs flew at us, but nothing really stood out till When The Shit Hit The Fan that really seemed to have some extra bile in it with a more splenetic guitar solo.
They did a very good version of my favorite Circle Jerks tune Coup D'Etat that was followed by them bulldozing their way through Garland Jeffries magnificent Wild In The Streets this version sounded like the punk Karaoke version sadly. They played big blocks of songs and the best block was the one that featured Junk Mail in it, a song that has only got more relevant and potent with time. It sadly became clear that while Keith has the World Up His Ass he also had an increasingly samey sounding hardcore band, great to see them, but if it takes them a decade plus to tour again that's fine by me.
We then went back to the Casbah for The Boys who I really should have seen several times before now, as I have seen almost all the members playing live in other groups and knew about two thirds of the songs, in there spot-on stormer of a set that started with them gargling with TCP as those guitars meshed and Casino Steele's keyboards added all the flash they needed, as they yelled Se Ya Later at us.
Matt Dangerfield was in great form on Terminal Love that sounded magnificently doomed and the bands ever changing backdrop of photos and information helped make 1976 work even better. Weekend was the perfect song to hear everyone chant along to at the start of a long weekend like this one.
They have several One away songs including the brilliant You Can't Hurt A Memory, Matt dedicated Do The Contract Hustle to anyone trying to make their way in the music bizz and it sounded cracking, a perfect slice of power pop punk. The biggest cheer and singalong of day 1 went to Brickfield Nights a song I have lots of covers of, this was just ballsy and brilliant, Living In The City flew by and they closed with the classic Sick On You and here's hoping no one suffered that fate over the weekend, this was a total knock out and stand out set.
After that amazing set by The Boys we wandered upstairs to The Almost Acoustic stage that this year was in the Spanish Hall to see Anti Flag's acoustic duo of Pat Thetic and Justin Sane, we arrived in time to hear a great version of Power To The Peaceful, in between songs they marveled at how odd a room they were playing in, as apparently Punk clubs in Pittsburgh don't have castles on the ceilings.
20/20 Vision sounded really good and Sign Me up had some great acoustic guitar on it, they dedicated Brandenburg gate to Billy Bragg and got almost everyone in the room signing the chorus along with them, before telling us just how Anti Flag got there name from Mr Rogers and how this room reminded them of Mr Rogers as they closed with This Is The End, they seemed overjoyed to be playing for us and went down very well indeed, sorry I missed the full band set.
We then ended day one by going to The Pavilion Stage to see Radical Dance Faction who I haven't seen in over 20 years and these days the current 5 piece line up play drug soaked anarcho dub dance with Chris Bowsher rapping about making sure we Don't Go To War and how Sadness Comes From A Quiet Place that was a rather effective tune, they had everyone skanking along like Something Is Happening, it was a decent chilled out way to end day one. We went off in search of some much needed donuts as we staggered back to our B & B for some rest.