Day 2: Friday 7th August

Rebellion Festival Day 2

Well, after the marathon slog from venue to venue yesterday I’m back bright and early for what will turn out to be the best day/night of Rebellion 2015. As it’s the nearest venue to the entrance I head straight for the Pavilion to catch the Friday openers. Scene of Irony are a strange looking 4-piece. I say strange, because despite the band wearing predominantly black T-shirts the singer Moe is immaculately attired in matching bright green suit and tie. Their frenetic, pounding beat never lets up in a “third wave Punk” style as they entertain the early risers. A brief stay in the Arena allows me to catch The Domestics, who remind me of Yank “Screamo” purveyors Trash Talk – hence my short stay!

Another jaunt finds me back in the Casbah to catch Macc Lads (Tribute), “The Manc Lads”. They are playing to a huge crowd this early in the day and don’t disappoint. They duly oblige us with the classic “Sweaty Betty” and other Macc Lads favourites as they receive great applause. I stick around for Indecent Assault, a “2nd wave” Punk band with a strong vocal and a heavy snare drum sound. “Free Country” is an early highlight in what turns out to be a great set.

The briefest of lunch breaks allows me time to return to the Casbah for “Vox Populi”, who are the fastest and loudest band of the weekend so far! Their Thrash/Punk/Terror noise takes no prisoners. “What Is The Future” stays in the memory as they make their mark here. It’s all too much for me as I head over to the Arena for the 4130’s. Their fast-paced Punk sound is a little different from many bands playing this weekend (with a slight Yank/Punk influence). They are a young-ish band although Ben One Thirty (guitar/lead vox) does remind me of Jocky Wilson (sorry Ben)!

I head back to the Pavilion to catch On Trial UK, featuring none other than Pavilion compere himself Mr. Johnny Wah Wah. Managing to escape compere duties for their slot they entertain us if nothing else. “Heart Over Your Head” features a strong vocal from Johnny to accompany a pounding drumbeat and all round big sound. “This Song Is About You” encourages lots of banter while both “Birthday” and “Lemmy’s Law” prove popular. On Trial UK are an energetic bunch and leave to great applause, and may I say fully deserved.

On Trial UK
On Trial UK 1

I head back to the Casbah for The Straps who don’t particularly blow me away. The singer reminds me of Therapy’s Andy Cairns but my interest stops there. “Freak Show” is their one standout track but I don’t stay long.

Rebellion: The Straps
The Straps 

I briefly venture back to the Pavilion to catch the interestingly monikered The Crows Electric. Another “old age” Punk band keeping the spirit alive, but again I’m not blown away.

Rebellion: The Crows Electric
The Crows Electric 

That, however cannot be said for the first band I get to see in the Empress today. Step forward please Burton-on-Trent’s finest, Dirt Box Disco. In their fourth consecutive year they have finally been afforded a spot on the biggest stage-and boy did they make the most of it. At 3:30pm on the dot they take to the stage in front of a full house no less. The noise as they walk on stage is deafening. They open with the now traditional live favourite “Dirt Box Day” and the whole Empress Ballroom find their voices. They then proceed to deliver the set list of their lives. Weab (vox) patrols every inch of the stage whilst Spunk is delivering the banter. The crowd respond in the only way they know by singing every word back to them. “Peepshow” is an early highlight, while “Guest List” is delivered with gusto by Spunk. The overall sound is huge, particularly on Maff’s drums. Weab tries to keep hold of his emotions while leading the choruses. “My Life Is Shit” seems so un-ironic! Having played penultimate track “I Don’t Want to Go out with You” Weab addresses his Mother saying “Mum, I always said one day I’d be on a stage this big”. The crowd go wild in anticipation of set closer, the now legendary “Let’s Get Wasted”. The Empress goes wild! For a band looking to build momentum there can be no better example than DBD. Today they realised their dreams on the biggest stage of their career (so far). An early contender for band of the weekend.

Dirt Box Disco
Dirt Box Disco 1

After catching my breath I head to the Pavilion in time to catch the end of Healthy Junkies set. Nina (vox) performs live favourite “I Hate You, Hypocrite” not once but twice. She manages to convey spite and anger in equal measure before leaving the stage to great applause.

Rebellion: Healthy Junkies
Healthy Junkies 

With tonight’s line-up in the Empress being so strong an early supper is taken before returning to the Arena for External Menace’s final hurrah. They’re loud, angry and shouty. I leave them after “Stormtrooper” and make my way to the Empress where I stay for the rest of the evening.

Rebellion: External Menace
External Menace 

Up next are a band no strangers to Rebellion. Peter and The Test Tube Babies are almost “Punk Rock Royalty” these days and once again don’t disappoint. My only criticism would be that it’s the same old set list. However, they get the whole room singing along to “Elvis is Dead”. Peter (vox) is grinning from ear to ear, resplendent in his Hawaiian shirt. They save the best ’til last with the fastest version I’ve ever heard of “Banned from the Pubs”. They then leave with little fuss to great applause, Peter again looking happy.

Next up are Anarcho/Punk stalwarts Sub Humans. Dick (vox) amusingly deals with the pleasantries in his amiable manner, then gets down to business. They open with “Apathy”, followed by “New Age” which gets the more energetic punters moving early. Dick covers every inch of the stage and sings like his life depends on it. “This Year’s War” is a highlight while “Religious Wars” is huge. While I can’t admit to being a massive fan one cannot ignore the band/crowd interaction – Sub Humans are perfect for the main stage. They end with a rousing and electrically charged “Subvert City” and the crowd go berserk.

Rebellion: Ruts DC
Ruts DC 

Ruts DC are up next and once again we are in for a treat. They open with 2 or 3 of their more “dubbier” tracks before delivering a crowd-pleasing set of classics from the first 2 LP’s. It’s not long before this crowd are once again moving. “SUS” gets us in good voice, while “No Time To Kill” goes down well. I’m a little perplexed as to why they take on The Damned’s “New Rose” – for me it just doesn’t work and they should leave well alone. That said, this is the only low point of a great set. The classics soon follow, starting with crowd favourite “Babylon’s Burning”. “In A Rut” and “Society” keep things moving while “Jah War” induces another big sing along. They end on a high with “Staring at the Rude Boys” and everyone leaves happy. I say leaves-with the Subs up next no-one’s going anywhere!

In his 72nd year Charlie Harper doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all as he and the other “UK Subs” take to the main stage once more. With new material to promote from LP number 25 “Yellow Leader”, they waste no time in re-acquainting themselves with another packed Empress Ballroom. A now familiar Subs set list is peppered with a few new songs, most notably the excellent “Suicidal Girls”. However, it’s the now legendary singalong to “Warhead” that stays longest in the memory. Like last year on this very stage Charlie leads us in unison as we all join in the chorus of “Warhead, Warhead, Warhead”! I look around me and the whole room is singing – it’s a sight to behold. Which sets us up nicely for the next members of “Punk Rock Royalty”!

Rebellion: UK Subs
UK Subs 

The Damned take to the stage, again with little fuss. Dave Vanian looks immaculate and uses every inch of the stage. Again we are party to another best-of set with a few surprises and only (for me) one low point – “Eloise” just doesn’t sound as good live. That said, the rest of their set is superb. “New Rose” and “Neat, Neat, Neat” are played early while “Disco Man” is immense. The Captain is his usual self-exchanging banter and swapping insults! As per usual they end on “Smash It Up (Parts 1 & 2)” and we once again dance like loons. With a performance this good, and with what was to come I only wish they’d been given the headline slot.

Rebellion: The Damned
The Damned 

And so to the headliners. Arriving some ten minutes late; Sham 69 take to the stage, one by one. Jimmy (Pursey) comes on last in a curious looking hat, appearing to lay ribbons on the stage. Theatrical or just odd – you the punters must decide. Once ready to start Jimmy seems to miss a few lines, coming in late on the vocal (most notably on “I Don’t Wanna”). He appears happy to let the crowd sing the main vocal while casually ad-libbing at other times. The crowd are noticeably impatient and I’m wondering if it’s just lack of rehearsal, nerves or Jimmy not at 100%. Thankfully Jimmy finds his mojo mid set and advises “you’re gonna like this one, it’s called Borstal Breakout”. The crowd suddenly respond in a sea of wild abandon and voice. They’ve clawed it back somewhat. Newer material is well received including “Bastille Cake” and the excellent “One Life, Two Fingers”. Jimmy again though seems to lose it mid set with the band-insisting on playing “Money” when, and only when he wants to. The band reluctantly agree. “Questions and Answers” is great before a rabble-rousing “If The Kids Are United” closes the set. Not the loudest calls for an encore are rewarded with three more songs and yet, “Hersham Boys” is strangely omitted from the set. As they leave the stage a punter close to me says “what a load of f*cking sh*t”. Although I’m not in total agreement, this performance was some way short of their excellent performance two years previously. Seeing Pursey like this one wonders how many more great performances he has in him. I hope I’m proved wrong but tonight I’m afraid looked and sounded like the death knell of the once mighty Sham 69. Only time will tell.

Sham 69
Sham 69 1
Rebellion 1234

Quick Links To Our Other Days…
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4


Review and Pictures by Ross A. Ferrone

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