This year was the first time I’d attended Rebellion Punk Festival in quite a number of years. I attended every one of the first 10 festivals. It’s had a number of name changes over the years: Holidays In The Sun, and Wasted. It’s also changed places between Blackpool and Morecambe several times. I was 16 at the first one in 1996. Since then I’ve been to a few, but I haven’t been for about 8 years or so, until this year. I’ve fancied going back for a few years, and the addition of Slaves to the line up is what really convinced me this was the right year.
I approached it with caution because there’s a huge danger that this sort of festival is nothing more than a nostalgia fest with bands playing a set they perfected in 1978 and haven’t changed a note of since. That’s clearly quite unfair of me… but it’s not far wrong for some bands. And this is fine, if you want the nostalgia hit, the few days journey back to your youth. You can definitely get that experience here. With 5 stages , 4 full days of gigs, and most bands getting from 20 – 40 minutes a set, there’s a LOT of music to be heard. If you want your rebellion to be shouty, white, bald men in their 50s, you can probably get through the weekend seeing nothing but this. This is what I very much want to avoid. If that’s your thing – go enjoy, and have a great time!
So, I approached Rebellion with caution. And when I say caution, I mean with extreme levels of preparation that involved highlighters and codes. I prepared well and consequently had a Rebellion festival full of diverse, new, exciting bands. Bands full of women too. It was great!
So what did I do? Firstly I made a spotify playlist with every band I could find that were playing the festival. A few issues:
- some I couldn’t find on spotify at all (lots of quite small bands on the introducing stage),
- some have a common band name and I couldn’t identify the correct band. Bands: name yourselves to avoid this! it’s really frustrating to want to listen to you but being unable to because of your common name.
- some I just got wrong – seemed clear when I suddenly got rap or dance music.
I listened to this for a few weeks and identified some must-see bands that I liked the sound of.
I then looked up every band to just have a look at them, make sure I’d go the correct band and make sure they were on my playlist. I was looking for bands I liked the sound of, and I was also looking for any female musicians (I’d covered female singers in my first listen through the playlist). I was also looking for any BAME musicians. Is this weird? No, it’s really not. I love punk, but punk is so very white and male. I want to support women and BAME artists. I want to make sure I’m there giving them more of a crowd, loving what I hear, and helping them progress higher up the billing so more people hear them. (I’ve looked at my sexist listening habits before – here, have a look.)
When you do an analysis like this it’s quite shocking how most women in bands are billed in the first half of the day i.e. not headliners. And the number of BAME artists is embarrassing. Or it should be embarrassing, but you get the feeling a lot of people don’t think about it or don’t care.
Now based on my knowledge about the bands and having listened to as many as I could, I identified bands I had to see, and ones I wouldn’t mind seeing. Because of my criteria a lot of the bands I wanted to see were on early afternoon, which is also great because you see loads of awesome bands, then can relax a bit and have a bit of a party without having to be Schedule Girl (yes, I mean you can have a few drinks). This may, or may not, be evidenced here:
What was the result? My Rebellion was all about Girls and Glitter and Sequins and (most importantly) new and diverse, brilliant music. I’m going to highlight a few stand out acts.
The Tuts are a fun, political, intelligent, poppy punk band. I adored watching them really early on the first day. Their lead singer was wearing what looked like a sequined ice dancers costume. The drummer had a fluffy pink outfit. Frankly punk rock could do with more sequined clothes and fluffy outfits.
Petrol Girls were another band I was very much looking forward to. I first heard about them when I was reading Nasty Women by 404Ink (link to review). Ren Aldridge, the singer from Petrol Girls writes one of the essays – one of my favourites – about gendered violence in punk. Loved them. They are shouty, feminist, political, activists, and sound great. You will get a bit of a talking to in between songs about important issues, and I love them even more for this. To take their platform and use it as they want. Excellent!
Youth Man remind me a bit of Death From Above 1979. They are probably the least stereotypical punk band I have seen at the festival and they were noisy and brilliant.
Slaves were spectacular. I heard a lot of people grumbling and worrying about Slaves headlining in the Friday night spot. There was much concern about there only being two of them. How will they ‘fill the stage’? With their energetic awesomeness of course! I told everyone they should put their worries aside and go and see them, though I was secretly hoping that everyone would give it a miss and I would have them all to myself… I think the real issue for a lot of people was that Slaves are relatively unknown in the world of punk, and that caused unease. The next day I spoke to so many of these worriers who were blown away by Slaves set. Epic.
I enjoyed the Blink-182 like pop punk of Fat Randall, who had travelled from Dubai. Scumbrians on the introducing stage delivered an energetic blast of hardcore punk to a packed room. Also on the Introducing Stage were Pizza Tramp. I mean, I’m sold on the name already. They were funny AND good, and so blinking fast. The room was full and I was glad I bought a tshirt before their set because the merch stand was heaving afterwards. They did one song five times. Five times, but it was ok because it lasted about thirty seconds.
Final shout out to Screech Bats. I saw some of their set and they win the award for Band I Most Want To Be In. They were all dressed in black, with tattoos, amazing make up, and they were just so punk rock glamorous.
I missed a lot of bands I would quite like to have seen – this is the nature of having fun at a festival! I was gutted to miss The Kenneths. They were on super early one day and I just didn’t realise how early until it was too late.
I had a lovely time at Rebellion. It landed just after I’d had a huge bereavement and so I was very worried I wouldn’t get through the whole weekend. I was prepared to leave if I needed to (and I did miss the Sunday evening) but actually it was a welcome escape from the general state of my head at that time. I would definitely recommend a visit if you like the genre, and if you just want a big nostalgia experience then you can do that too, there’s a Rebellion Festival for everyone!
Full list of bands I saw:
- The Soap Girls
- The Tuts
- Army of Skanks
- Evil Blizzard
- The Jellycats
- Rubella Ballet
- Teenage Bottlerocket
- The Pukes
- Brains All Gone
- Screech Bats
- The Featherz
- Youth Man
- Petrol Girls
- Fat Randall
- Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes
- Real McKenzies
- Radical Dance Faction
- Citizen Fish
- Anger Flares
- Duncan Reid and the Big Heads
- Angelic Upstarts
- Jordan (interview)
- Headstone Horrors
- Pete Bentham and the Dinner Ladies
- The Franklys
- Band For Disease Control and Prevention
- The Creepshow