|Rebellion Festival 2011 - Blackpool, Winter Gardens - 7th August 2011|
|Written by Johnny H, Dom Daley and Rich Hobson|
|Sunday, 14 August 2011 05:00|
With my every fibre of my body (and worst of all my throat) still aching from Cock Sparrer's riotous return to Blackpool in the early hours of this very morning, one of the last people I would be expecting to be providing me with an early morning wake up call was the band's lead singer Colin McFaull. Half expecting this way before noon call to arms to be a prank call from our very own Dom Daley who was left all on his lonesome in his keeping it real apartment after Ian had to return home earlier that morning, I was instead greeted by a rather chipper sounding Mr McFaull looking for a meet up to catch the opening game of the season involving both our football clubs, namely West Ham and Cardiff City. What pub would be brave enough to show it I wondered? Oh who cares this was an opportunity too good to be missed, as I'm sure you will agree.
With a quick rendezvous call to my West Wales partner in crime (there to support who else but West Ham), and with Mrs H leading our frontline we were soon encamped deep in the heart of East London, well it certainly felt like it even if it was a Walkabouts pub not far off Blackpool's very blustery sea front, for what was probably one of the worst displays of football to be yet seen on BBC TV this season (well if you were a neutral or a West Ham fan anyway). The result.... that didn't matter really, even though it was nice to get a late winner, it was meeting the Sparrer family outside of their music that was the real occasion here, and that's why I'm taking the time to mention it. How many other festival headliners would have done this eh? Genuine and honest to the core the music world needs more band's like Cock Sparrer, but who's big enough to step into their shoes should they as Colin coyly mentioned, decide to call it a day next year in their 40th year together as a band?
With two thirds of the Uber Rock review massive watching the football what was happening in the crazy world of Rich Hobson we wonder? Well let's find out.
God, it's Sunday morning. 4 days into the festival, and the signs of fatigue are showing on pretty much everybody (though I blame an inhuman affinity for caffeine based drinks on my energy levels) so we opt to miss the first few bands for a change to go down by the sea and wake ourselves up, which quickly escalates to a mid-day swim in the rusty waters of Blackpool (I wish I was joking about the colour by the way...) beach. By the time we make it into the Winter Gardens though suitably refreshed, it's time for Eastfield to take to the stage, so (still dripping wet) we rush over to The Olympia to watch the band as they let loose with their interesting twisted brand of Punk Rock. The band themselves are absorbing; as although they have a female vocalist, the vocal duties are split more or less evenly with guitarist Jessi, who also acts as the band's frontman. The set is played to a crowd of people familiar with the band, and this shows when some of their better known songs are played, with the crowd singing along passionately, even if they are all like me and the gang by this point completely knackered after 4 days of continual drinking and eating as many variations of meals that a loaf of bread and a block of cheese can provide.. At this point it was back to The Empress to meet up with Johnny H as Johnny picks up the story of our last day in Blackpool.
Making it back into the Empress Ballroom just in time for Goldblade, John Robb and his band of streetpunk rapscallions are certainly making a good case for their claim to that Cock Sparrer throne I mentioned earlier, should it ever become (pretty) vacant. Packing the punters in for an early afternoon lesson in all things 'Strictly Hardcore', there was certainly no compromise when it came to the band and their sinewy advertisement for all things Blackpool. Pulling together a set of old and (thankfully) some new tunes, the classics still shine like gems whilst newer tracks like 'This Is War' and 'My Mind Is Like An Atom Bomb' are delivered like cluster bombs of Punk Rock entertainment, as is a cover of 'Oh Bondage Up Yours!' The guys ending with their set closer par excellence 'Do You Believe In The Power Of Rock 'N' Roll?' With yet more gigs on the horizon and another album surely about to be delivered, it's about time the rest of the world woke up to just how great Goldblade really are. Uber Rock believes Brother John...Uber Rock believes....
Having been pretty much what you might call an "avid fan" of the Sex Pistols most of my life, this afternoon was actually the first time I'd seen Glen Matlock live outside of when he is delivering chaos for cash as the bass player of said bunch of reprobates. If I'm honest I've never been that interested in his solo stuff, and I tend to find Glen simply too nice and switch off when he does all the acoustic stuff, but knock me down with a feather if Glen Matlock & The Philistines aren't a bloody half decent band. Kicking off with his latest album's title track 'Born Running' I have to smile, as there is more than just a hint of Steve Jones (solo years) about Matlock's voice which could also be said about the next track 'Timebomb' but I'm not complaining this is great stuff full of a swanky cocksureness that I'd never seen in Glen before this afternoon. With Dom telling me about the Philistines basically being The Alarm and how I should check them out as well, and this one way discussion being sound tracked by a pretty average run through of 'God Save The Queen' I suddenly became aware that Kunt & The Gang would be on soon over in The Arena and with that show being a potential lock out capacity wise in such a relatively small venue we bade farewell to Glen just as he delivered a rip-roaring run through '(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone', and you know even though I would never have thought it before this performance I really didn't want to leave. Rich Hobson and his still drying out gang though hung around until the end and we'll come back to them to find out what happened next later.
Quickly taking up our positions near the front of the stage for the arrival of Kunt And The Gang, I started to trust my judgement about leaving Matlock early, as you couldn't squeeze another hungover boot boy into The Arena without breaking every fire regulation there was to be broken. Sadly this evening without Little Kunt, who'd been left behind in a hotel room in Edinburgh, but he should be OK as nothing ever bad happens to children left on their own in hotel rooms ...(his quip not mine so don't shoot the messenger). What followed was 30 odd minutes of electro pop does The Dwarves, only with much less subtlety. Classic after classic followed as people were openly gasping for air laughing out loud at the likes of 'Shaven Haven', 'Wank Fantasy' and of course Kunt's anthemic 'Fucksticks'. Why the mainstream music press is still lamenting the splitting up of Streets when Kunt & The Gang exists is beyond me, as this is a man with one hand on the pulse of the nation and the other on his throbbing member...puerile and unmissable.
With barely enough time for a gentleman's wash it was back into the Empress Ballroom for a band that live on the road and have never disappointed. Regardless of who's playing in the band and where they've played and the many times I've caught them live the UK Subs always deliver. If everything living in the world was wiped out tomorrow I'd still expect the UK Subs to fulfil any live obligations they had booked, they embody everything that Punk Rock stands for. With songs from the mightily impressive 'Work In Progress' album being worked into the set you wonder what has to go to make way and is there enough time in their set to do the back catalogue justice?
A reworked 'Endangered Species' opens things up as Alvin Gibbs struts his stuff and puts in one of the most impressive performances of the weekend by far managing to hold down the bass lines for some of the weekend's best music, whilst slipping around the stage like a bass playing salamander. The line up featuring Gibbs, Harper, Jamie Oliver on drums and Jet slinging round the Gibson Junior has to be my favourite line up of the band, and I still get excited when they hit the stage. This is no nostalgia trip or retro 'best of' though this is a working band beating out a set that pleases fans both old and new and the quality never ever dips! Charlie has been on site working the merch stall all weekend chatting and hanging out but as soon as he hits the stage tonight his performance is that of someone half his age would be proud of, and for any up and coming band watching they could learn hell of a lot from these guys.
Off the new album we get the blistering 'Creation' and the Gibbs penned 'Hell Is Other People'. There is a furious 'Born A Rocker' and the band are absolutely motoring by now, with the already roasting hot Empress getting even hotter as they slay the Rebellion crowd with the Guns N' Roses cover 'Down On The Farm' (I'm only joking of course Guns N' Roses could only dream they had penned such a beast of a song). By the time they reach 'Warhead' the clock is ticking and their hour or so is almost up. This is what these festivals are all about though as when you get a band so good who gives a fuck about what they do next? With the UK Subs though you do have to wonder why they aren't headlining these kinds of events, and having already released such a strong album this year and now turning in a killer live performance it's time for them to get back on stage headliners or not, for the best encore of the whole festival a 1,2,3 that goes unmatched by any band on any night so far, 'C.I.D' followed by 'I Live In A Car' rounded off with 'Limo Life'. A beaming Charlie Harper has Rebellion eating out of the palm of his hand. First class stuff and worth the admission alone, yes folks once again the UK Subs deliver the goods.
With a much needed blast of fresh air high on the agenda for those of us over in the Empress it was Rich Hobson who was once again still rocking and here he picks up his Sunday night viewing.
The sounds of 'Pretty Vacant' are still ringing in our ears as after Glen Matlock we headed down to The Olympia once again, this time to see a solo show by Leftover Crack/Star Fucking Hipsters vocalist Stza Crack. Though he is primarily associated with loud, heavy and ballsy Crusty Ska-Punk acts, the interest of an acoustic set is still alluring, and this is reflected in the large gathering before the stage. The set itself is much more relaxed, friendly and Stza's charismatic personality is really well suited to the acoustic setting, with him able to converse easily with fans and focus more on the lyrics and musicality of the songs he has written throughout his career. Opening with Leftover Crack tune 'Shoot The Kids At School', Stza showed that even some of the louder and more risqué songs from his back catalogue could be adapted into the acoustic format, and those of us at the front sang along frantically to every song in the set, which included tunes from Choking Victim ('Fucked Reality'), Leftover Crack ('Born To Die') and unsurprisingly material from his latest band, Star Fucking Hipsters. At the end of the show he moved into the crowd to greet them, and through what I would say is the winning combination of loud-mouthery, frantic waving and the strong fumes of the North Sea still dripping from my clothes I managed to get him to agree to an interview - just as long as I watch follow up act, and friends of his Citizen Fish.
Even without Stza's recommendation I would have seen the band, both for my Ska leanings and for a love for several songs in the band's back catalogue. The show itself is much more overtly Ska than others have been this weekend (with Random Hand leaning more towards a metal edge and The Have Nots leaning towards Party Punk), and their set is a real crowd warmer - which is good when you've been wearing wet clothes all day. After nearly half an hour of non-stop dancing it was time to interview Stza, meaning I sadly missed Sick On The Bus, but luckily this was remedied by Stza's engaging personality and the fact that by the time I made it back into the Olympia The Beat were due onstage.
The Beat play to almost a full room, and it's unsurprising when you consider they could be held up with their fellow Ska/2 Tone acts as legends within the genre, right up there with Madness, The Specials and Bad Manners. The set includes classic songs like 'Mirror In The Bathroom' and the cover 'Tears Of A Clown', both of which soon have the crowd dancing and singing along.
After a build up of Ska-Punk I finally make it to The Arena to see the mighty Jaya The Cat, a Ska Punk and Reggae act who originally hail from Boston, USA but moved to Amsterdam (and where better to base a partying ska and reggae band?). Opening with the sing-along track 'Hello Hangover' the band launch into a set comprised mostly of their more Reggae tinted hits, instead of a faster, Punk oriented set of songs, though this doesn't bother the crowd - nor me - at all, and we all just enjoy the spectacle on show as the band certainly live up to their reputation as a party act. Vocalist Jeff admitting he is tripping, and the band inviting dancers onstage to join them for some of their more dance friendly tracks. With a strong setlist, which includes many of their biggest sing along hits like 'Forward', 'Thank You Reggae' and 'Closing Time' the band really create a resonance with the crowd, and no doubt those who stuck around in The Arena had been given a great build up vibe for the headlining act, The JB Conspiracy. For me however, once the final notes of "Closing Time" had been played and the band spoke to, I was rushing frantically back over to The Olympia, to see the mighty Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School For Medicine (and no Dom Daley like dilemma of conscience for me as you will soon find out).
Jello may be one of the last living Punk icons who can boast that he still has relevance in the music scene (still releasing albums with a variety of bands, not just his current project - the most recent collaboration being with The Melvins in 2005), is a political activist and also runs his own label, Alternative Tentacles (which houses acts like Leftover Crack and The Butthole Surfers). So when I get in to the now packed Olympia I'm pleased to hear that Jello's latest project has lost none of his trademark musical uniqueness. The band boasts an all-star cast, including the mighty Billy Gould of Faith No More fame, and the stellar cast of musicians really stands out live, even though the spotlight remains firmly on Jello throughout, thanks to his distinct vocal, strong rapport with fans and extended diatribes he indulges in, in the build up for songs. All of this contributes to make the show a personal highlight of the weekend, as it just continually builds up an aura of angst, energy and annoyance at institutional bodies, which is then released in songs like 'Strength Thru Shopping', "The Virus That Won't Die' and 'Pets Eat Their Master'. Included in the set also were the welcome additions of Jello's flagship band, The Dead Kennedys songs 'California Uber Alles' (original version, for the most part though he did improvise new lyrics), 'Police Truck' (dedicated to the Tottenham rioters) and closing number 'Holiday In Cambodia'. Another highlight of the set had been the inclusion of a song from the back catalogue of Lard, a side project featuring "Uncle" Al Jourgensen of Ministry, namely 'Forkboy', which though it had a frantic mosh pit had most people staring at me bemused as I hollered every word to the song towards the stage.
The band were a fantastic and frantic way to end the weekend (for the festival at least - after parties ensued as we left the festival, including a botched beach party and a Ramones tribute across town), with the crowd and the band equally putting in enough energy and dedication to really give Rebellion 2011 a great send off. And with the announcement of SNFU and DOA, roll on Rebellion 2012...But wait a minute I'm getting ahead of myself here, Dom Daley has still got his story to tell, as we join our man from out West for his final band and thoughts on Rebellion 2011.
One minute we are many, the next I find myself on my lonesome (Johnny H disappearing back to his swanky hotel claiming to be feeling ill...lightweight) as the Sunday night headline slot in the Empress Ballroom goes to The Adicts. As I wander round the Winter Gardens one last time before deciding if I should check out some of Jello Biafra or get in and see Captain Sensible and friends I flip a coin and realise it's the Adicts I should be watching. And in about 90 minutes time I guess I made the right decision after watching Monkey and co turn in a worthy headline slot with more tricks than Dynamo and David Blaine put together, and more ticker tape than Argentina '78, oh and come to think about it, more costume changes than Elton John and Rod Steward combined.
Although tonight had a curfew of midnight which is a little early compared to the other nights at Rebellion, looking back at my notes they look like a spider has crawled through some ink and walked over my notepad. I can barely make out that they kicked off with 'Joker In The Pack' closely followed by 'Let's Go' and that the performance was closer in sound to that of the 'Sound Of Music' album rather than that of 'Smart Alex'. With streamers and glitter covering the stage and half the audience Monkey was on top form and the rammed full Ballroom was giving Rebellion 2011 a fitting send off. This was Scruff's debut on Bass not that you could tell mind he looked just as comfortable holding down the four string as he does with the rhythm guitar. 'Steamroller' did its job and this Rock 'n' Roll circus was everything it was supposed to be; fun, entertaining and rockin'. The Adicts do exactly what it says on the tin boys and girls by putting a smile on people's faces and whilst London might well have been burning Blackpool was glowing red-hot also. Not with burning buildings but the smiles of the most unlikely assortment of happy music lovers all getting on and enjoying themselves. Monkey plucks a bunch of 'Naughty Girls' up on stage for a dance off which seems like a good idea and so it was, as even more spangly costume changes followed. Monkey and the boys were soon trooping off with just enough time for a brief encore of '4 3 21', 'Viva La Revolution 'and the inevitable sing-a-long 'You'll Never Walk Alone' with yet more confetti cannons and giant inflatable balls in the audience. As the house lights came up The Adicts took a well deserved bow as the Punks, Skins, adults and kids all trooped out of the Winter Gardens reflecting on yet another fantastic four days and nights of music, old and new.
On reflection if all festivals were this good it would be a pleasure to go to more of them, with the cost of a ticket being less than £100, 200 + bands playing over six stages, more merch stalls than you could shake a stick at all knocking out shirts for £10 and CD's DVD's and all other forms of merch at proper prices it really was a refreshing change. Knowing that the Punk Rock community really does give a flying fuck about the people who matter guarantees that next year (which sees the addition of The Opera House and a new bands stage) it will once again be sponsor free and full to bursting with music fans of all ages.
Rebellion - Uber Rock salutes you, and all the fantastic bands we managed to catch over the long lost weekend and the ones we didn't quite make it to see - maybe next year eh? Respect.
Photo Kudos; Pictures of The Beat, Jello Biafra, Stza Crack and The Adicts taken by Dod Morrison.