Day 1: Thursday 6th August

Rebellion Festival 2015 Day 1

It’s Thursday, it’s Blackpool and that can only mean one thing? Rebellion! I have decided this year to see as many bands as is humanly possible. Thursday traditionally sees the “Pavilion Stage” being re-branded as the “New Band Stage”, which is where I begin my round-up.

“No Cross” open the festival in a loud, fast and direct manner. Their frenetic guitars, bludgeoning bass and thumping drums strike an early chord. Add to that the sometimes angry vocal delivery and you get a feel for what No Cross are about. A young, confident 4 piece with a powerful set – a great start.

Rebellion: No Cross
No Cross 

Next up are local girls “Poly-esters”. These ladies steer more to the Riot Grrrl tradition but keep the anger. They are fast and loud and dare I say it a little ‘swear happy’! The bass-heavy “Rats” is a stand-out song, but for me there’s work to be done by this Blackpool 4-piece.

Poly-esters 1

A quick jaunt across the Winter Gardens takes its first stop in the Arena for T and the Mugs. This 4-piece Streetcore/Punk act deliver yet more of the hard ‘n’ fast. Hard pounding of the skins, coupled with some intricate chords and complimented by strong vocals, which are great. “Panic Room” is one of many great songs in their set.

Rebellion: T And The Mugs
T And The Mugs 

On leaving the Arena I’m accosted by Ned Dylan who spots my “Abdoujaparov” (Fruitbat Carter USM) t-shirt. He explains Fruity has let her down but would I come & see her perform anyway? Now I don’t usually bother with the “Almost Acoustic” room, but today that all changes. Ned’s passionate, heartfelt vocals are well received in a near-full room. He is a diminutive figure with a strong vocal, filling a large stage.

Rebellion: Ned Dylan
Ned Dylan 

I head back to the Pavilion to catch the first highlight of my day, Dundee’s finest “Salem Street”. Once again it’s loud but this 4-piece have a distinct edge. Singer Reg has a look of (Paul) Simeonon and a presence of Strummer. In fact, the whole band have clearly been studying the Clash with their stagecraft. Their cocktail of Punk/R&R/Ska is a breath of fresh air, while their song-endings are sharp and tight. “Frosty Jack” is dedicated to the alcoholics and is one of many highlights in their set. Reg has a throaty vocal that compliments the band’s all round sound. Definitely “ones to watch”.

Rebellion: Salem Street
Salem Street 

I stick around for Brummie Punx Leech Bleeders, who on attire alone have to be worth a watch! Their loud, fast, thrashy Punk is complimented by much comedy and between song banter. They’re decent but never gonna attain world domination. They do however amuse us!

Rebellion: Leech Bleeders
Leech Bleeders 

It’s then back to the Arena. Having missed “Knockoff” I watch “The Reverends”. This 5-piece Street/Punk band deliver more brash songs; coupled with angry yet anthemic vocals, which seem to please a near full room. I’m not blown away so take a quick lunch, getting back in time for the hugely impressive Mick ‘O’ Toole. They are in fact a Wiltshire 5-piece who specialise in “Cider/Punk”, and rather fine they are too! In fact “Cider Tonight” is an early highlight. They arrived onstage immaculately attired, yet once they energetically begin they soon became a sweaty, dishevelled group. Take nothing away from these guys though, they know how to put a show on. It’s not long before the punters are jigging and jumping in this crowded little room. Remember the name Mick ‘O’ Toole.

Rebellion: Mick O' Toole
Mick O’Toole 

I make my first visit to the “Empress Ballroom” to catch Ferocious Dog, featuring none other than Les Carter (USM). For me, they bridge the gap between the Levellers and the Pogues. It’s a huge sound for the first band of the day on this stage. The room is barely a quarter full, but those who came seem to be enjoying themselves. They’re a little lost on this reviewer so I head back to the Pavilion for “Mutiny”. This Wolverhampton 4-piece play a brand of very heavy Punk. It’s bass-heavy with an equally huge snare. The singer experiences an early ‘mic malfunction’ – dealing with it rather humorously! “All Fall Down” is delivered with an angry vocal while “Mutiny” and “Alcohol” show their short, sharp “Oi/Punk” leanings. Overall they deliver a confident if heavy set.

Rebellion: Mutiny

I stick around for Drag’ who frankly are “a drag”! A noisy bass-heavy Punk band who I’m afraid do nothing for me, so I return to the Empress for Lancashire’s “oddest”; Evil Blizzard. For those who haven’t had the pleasure Evil Blizzard are like no other band on the bill. This time last year a friend recommended them to me, so I went along open minded to see them. One could be forgiven for being curious-four bassist’s and a drummer, and a host of costumes and masks. Last year I lasted 2 songs, this year however I watch the whole set. They have honed their craft to produce an altogether bigger, more expansive sound. The vocals remind this reviewer of a definite lean towards Pil. However, the theatre of an Evil Blizzard show is still very prominent. Towards the end, one band member decides to join the audience, guitar ‘n all. If you don’t mind the drone of four bassists and like a bit of theatre then this band are for you. They end with an additional band member called Budgie for a huge finale-Hawkwind don’t even come close! No half measures here folks!

Evil Blizzard
Evil Blizzard 1

Back in the Arena I catch half the set of Japan’s “Anger Flares”. This 4-piece deliver anthemic choruses in the vein of early Rejects. The singalongs are encouraged by a singer high on energy and adrenaline – I’m just gutted I missed the start. Back at the Pavilion Riot Grrrl (and boy) trio Honey take to the stage. More Riot Grrrl music follows although the vocals are somewhat strained. It’s bass-heavy and there are hints of “Hole”, yet they deliver a tight set.

Rebellion: Honey

My first trip to the “Casbah” stage means I get to see Emergency Bitter. They play what I would loosely describe as “Pub/Street/Punk”. With an anthemic number entitled “Cider, Football, Punk Rock and You” they quickly get us onside (if you’ll pardon the pun)! “Let’s All Dance Like You” has a frenetic beat as they continue to entertain us.

My good mood continues as I head back to the Pavilion to catch London quintet Popes of Chillitown. They are a band high on energy and confident in delivery. Quickly they get the “skankers” moving with their high-octane set of Dub/Punk/Ska. And while my 48-year-old legs don’t allow me to join in, they certainly get most of their crowd moving throughout. Another musical highlight on the “New Band Stage” (Pavilion). Another leg stretch and I’m back in the Casbah to see young Scots Punks Skizofrenik. On the back of a double header in 2014 (they played on two different stages in one day), they return louder, harder and better. It’s so loud in fact that I need my ear defenders! That said they once again don’t disappoint.

Rebellion: Skizofrenik

It’s then back to the Arena for “System of Hate”, a strange Electro/Punk hybrid; middle-aged and dressed entirely in black. The vocals are strong and bullish throughout, but once again totally lost on this reviewer. So, hoping for salvation I head for the Empress for “Sick Of It All”. I stay for just 30 seconds which is quite enough! 30 seconds of pure deafening noise! So, I then head next door to the Casbah for Borrowed Time, who unsurprisingly begin with “Borrowed Time”! Fast, frenetic, 2nd generation Punk-a bass-heavy wall of sound coupled with anthemic vocals, this band deliver. ‘Primary Instincts’ is another highlight while ‘Pushed To the Brink’ is delivered (vocally) with anger.

Rebellion: Borrowed Time
Borrowed Time 

I head back to the Arena to catch the interestingly monikered “Viki Vortex and The Cumshots”! The band are loud, fast and “in yer face” – most notably through Viki’s shrieking! They do little for me so once again I’m on my toes back to the Casbah for “Geoffrey Oicott”. Now I am neither a huge fan of “Oi” or cricket, but one has to admire the way they have combined the two. Attired in cricket whites and a mate taking centre stage doing “mock” cricket shots, one cannot fail to be even slightly amused! They are “Oi” to the core with a direct vocal, while their overall sound is simply huge. It’s then back to the Pavilion for some all-girl, hard-edged Punk. Hearts Under Fire really don’t do it for me. The vocals are harsh throughout, even strained in places. While the drumming is powerful I just felt I wanted something better. I briefly catch Desperate Measures in the Arena as they end with a “1984/I Wanna Be Your Dog” mash-up. I leave gutted I hadn’t got there earlier.

Having missed them twice last year I wasn’t going to miss Drongos For Europe. The Casbah is rammed as they take to the stage. They begin in explosive manner with “Mayday”. The vocals are strong, audible and clear. After just three songs the crowd go wild-their entire set seems to be sing-along anthems. The overall sound is tight and they are immaculately attired. I have to admit I’m a (relative) newcomer to the Drongos, but on tonight’s evidence I will be checking them out in future-they simply owned the Casbah tonight! An early festival highlight! I stick around for Sunderland’s finest Red Alert. From the start they deliver. Power drumming, clangy guitars and strong terrace anthem vocals. “Somewhere In England” is their set highlight but they simply have no “duff” songs. I leave early to catch “Spunk Volcano and The Eruptions” in the Pavilion. As per usual Spunk is exchanging insults with the crowd while “Crossfire” is an early highlight. Some newer material is debuted tonight, most notably “XR3” and “DNA Failure”! It’s hard to ignore this man but let’s not forget it’s his other band everyone will want to see in The Empress the following day. However, his own material stands up in its own right and he receives good applause tonight, while entertaining us throughout.

A brief visit to the Arena means I catch a couple of songs by The Talks. Their bass-heavy, loud Ska doesn’t blow me away so I head back to the Pavilion for some “Mid Age Rampage”. I’m reliably informed pre-gig that they undertake some less obvious Glam Rock covers. Think Alvin Stardust, Showaddywaddy, The Sweet (to name three)! They are pure entertainment and a welcome break from a day of mainly Punk. The band are suitably attired and out to have fun, encouraging the audience to sing along and dance too. I briefly head to The Empress for the Misfits but once again retreat to the Pavilion after a three-song “wall of sound” from the aforementioned.

Last band of the night are The Ramonas. This female quartet proceed to deafen us with their Ramones back catalogue, and judging by their pace seem to be in a hurry! The crowd respond with energetic moshing throughout, while the main vocalist seems to be losing her voice. They receive great applause and that folks, was day 1 at Rebellion!

Rebellion 1234

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Review and Pictures by Ross A. Ferrone

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