Live Review: Rebellion Festival 2023 – Sunday
Words: Dan Barnes
Photos: Tony Ghirardi / Dod Morrison
Sadly, Filhos De Inacio couldn’t make it for their proposed Sunday slot, but luckily good friends of The Razors Edge, MC16 have been able to get to Blackpool at short notice. They’re sounding good on the sound check and attract a sizable early crowd away from church for United States of Generica, Burn it Down and Anti. Newbie Data Donor goes down well but it is the vitriolic Sleeping on Cardboard that is the highlight of the set. Blue Carpet Band have kicked things off in the Casbah with some psychobilly infused Punk N’ Roll, while Borrowed Time take us back to the genre’s hey-day through driving rhythms and pummelling riffs. Down in the ballroom Hi-Fi Spitfires are going hard to irritate those three-day hangovers.
Any band whose intro tape is Joe Fagan’s That’s Living Alright is okay with me and On The Huh do such a thing, enduring them before a note has been played. As it happens the East Anglian Street Punk crew are musically just my cup of tea with their aggy Oi! centred around working class themes such as growing up and growing old. The salacious Peepshow, the nostalgic One Way Street and the foreshadowing Put Your Boots Away make this a triumphant set. Spunk Volcano & The Eruptions must rival Viki Vortex for best band name of the festival and are the sister band to Dirt Box Disco, a flipside if you will, the ying to their yang, the introvert to DBD’s extroversion. There’s still much to enjoy and the quips and witticisms are evident, it’s just there feels like a darker side to SV.
Long songs, Foo Fighters, Metallica, Suella Braverman and the M6 are but a few of the topics attracting the ire of Caldicot’s Pizzatramp. From Skate Punk to Powerviolence there’s no style or subject off the table for this three-piece’s indignation. One of the biggest cheers of the weekend comes when it’s announced lostprophets nonce, Ian Watkins, has been stabbed in prison and is in a critical condition. They don’t like Bono much either, and who can blame them?
The Stitches have the spirit of ’76 and The Cundeez bring their Caledonian Celtic Punk clad in kilts and a bagpipe, representing the subgenre in the absence of The Real McKenzies. The Shit Talkers are exploring an idea to its fullest on the Pavilion stage and M.D.C. use their USHC credentials to rage against the police and corporations.
Two of my targeted bands play back to back on the Casbah stage, beginning with New York’s Murphy’s Law, who have a forty year history to contend with and are the epitome of Punk Rock. No set lists for them, just play what the situation demands and bring it in within the allotted time. Only original member, frontman Jimmy Gestapo spend but one song on the stage, before leaving his band for the photo pit and, ultimately in the pit itself. It’s the Mr Gestapo show as he comments on feeling young and never having seen a ninety-two year old with a mohawk before and makes a new friend – and no doubt a fan for life – in ten-year old James, who spends part of the set on Jimmy’s shoulders. There’s no set list to speak of, though Panty Raid and Care Bear both go down well. It’s obvious that the band are as amused by their frontman’s antics as the rest of us are and, at the end of the day, that’s what live music is all about.
Texan crossover specialists, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, or D.R.I. as they are more commonly known, feel structured in comparison as they kick off their show with Violent Pacification. It’s clear how that new wave of thrash bands took inspiration from the Eighties scene, but rarely managed to equal the intensity or passion of the originals. Forty-one years in and those riffs still sound as solid as ever, the rhythms still as dissonant and spastic as the day they were recorded. There’s even a bit of swing and groove going on and, should ever a demonstration be needed, the proof that thrash has its root seeded firmly in the Punk scene.
The Restarts play it fast and aggressive and Conflict relive the glory days of calling for anarchy and bringing down the system. Kid Kapichi are a different kind of Punk, revelling in a more modern sound without completely separating from the mothership; Bob Vylan is rapidly becoming one of the country’s most important acts, delivering a message that does not overwhelm their entertainment aspect.
Steel Pulse is a big call to close out the final day at a Punk show, but the influence of reggae through many of the original ’76 bands, like The Clash and Stiff Little Fingers, is undeniable. After four days of intensity, what better way to depressurise than with some easy, danceable beats. There’s mohawks and skinnies feeling the vibe and swaying with the lilting rhythms. Gamble, maybe, but one that paid off in no uncertain terms.
For those who have still not had enough, then how about The Dickies and their frantic show or Preston lads Evil Blizzard with their bass-centric post-punk?
So, that just about wraps up Rebellion Festival 2023. As the doors close at the Winter Gardens for another year we can begin to form those lifelong memories of yet another rousingly successful show. Early names for 2024 already whet the appetite, names such as Sparrer, Cockney Rejects and Booze & Glory to cite but three.
As I mentioned in my preview, the main problem with Rebellion is the overwhelming choice of bands on offer. My throbbing feet suggest I covered some miles and saw a lot of bands, but I could easily have done the same number of miles and seen an entirely different selection of the same number of bands without any crossover.
Thanks to the organisers, the bands and all the Rebellion Punk Rock family for making 2023 another great year. See you all in 2024!