Rebellion 2017

So; after a tumultuous Saturday, we are back for the final day. The Sunday at Rebellion always starts a little later and this year is no exception. What better place to start than in the early afternoon sunshine of the Casbah, in the company of Gloucestershire Punks Borrowed Time. Their old skool Punk is a great start to the day with drummer Ellmer introducing all the songs. Great vocals and all round sound, notably on “Take Me Home”. Baz (vox) clearly liked climbing frames as a kid, using every excuse to climb the stage pillars. A perfect start then from Borrowed Time.

I head for the Arena to catch a band I missed last year, Stoke on Trent’s Headsticks. I manage to catch another song dedicated to Trump in the form of “You’re Killing America” but don’t stay too long as they do little for me. The Empress is my next port of call for Horror Punks “Headstone Horrors”. The Nottingham-based quartet boast a singer in Nat whose guttural vocal is matched only by the huge snare drumming from Ben. She is energetic too, pacing the majority of the stage. “Welcome to Purgatory” is one of many highlights within their set with added “Horror” from Jimi (guitar/b. vox) and Paul (bass). They entertain a half full Empress where I stay for the majority of their set, before heading off to catch Scumbrians in Introducing.

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These young Punks play classic 3rd Wave Punk which I find a tad one dimensional; despite the energy they give off, most notably from singer Looke. He is energetic throughout but I only stay for two songs, instead opting for Black Pitts in the Arena. These Garage/Punk ‘n Rollers from Dublin boast a huge bass amidst the wall of sound. “Hey Jonny” is their standout tune for me, but in my quest to catch as many bands as possible on the final day I leave after three songs to watch Ex Cathedra back in the Empress. Their logo to me suggests artwork by Crass – I couldn’t be more wrong!

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It’s Punk with a brass section and in-yer-face vocals and delivery. It’s another brief stay as I head back to Introducing for Demon Smiles, who look like Rockers yet have hints of Riot/Grrrl in their sound. Again it’s a three song stay as I head to the Opera House for Inca Babies, whose Dirty RnR reminds me immediately of The John Spencer Blues Explosion. Another short stay as I then take a quick lunch, returning briefly to the Pavilion for the Oi/Streetpunk of Wolf Bites Boy.

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Another short stay and I’m back in Introducing for the interestingly monikered “Band For Disease Control and Prevention”! This fem-fronted Gateshead quintet remind me a little of The Expelled. Marcia (vox) is enigmatic in her stagecraft, fronting this 3rd Wave Punk act. I stick around for four songs this time before heading to the Arena for Faintest Idea, who are entertaining a huge crowd. A harsh vocal accompanies their Ska/Punk vibe and loud brass. Four songs in and it’s back across to the Pavilion for Oi/Streetpunkers Crown Court. It’s the shortest of stays for me as two songs in I depart for the Empress for young San Franciscans Nothington.

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At this point I should turn and walk away as I hate most Pop/Punk. But they bridge that gap between Pop/Punk and USA Hardcore/Punk really well. My first pint of the day means I decide to stick it out for the majority of their set, which is decent. The bulk of the songs are anthemic with band members sharing vocal duties and despite a sparse turnout, they appear confident. I depart just before the end to catch Billyclub in the Arena. Their brand of Punk is ferocious with huge snare and a driven beat. Twinned with a loud and harsh vocal they are collectively deafening! With my hearing just about intact, it’s back to the Pavilion for The Resignators. This nine-piece Melbourne Ska/Punk act begin with one trumpet player solo-ing through the merch area, before returning to the stage. They then powerfully entertain this mid-afternoon crowd with some brass-heavy tunes, perfect festival entertainment on a grand scale yet on a small stage where space is at a premium. With a performance this good, they have to be a shoe-in for next years line-up. Let’s hope on a bigger stage too?!

I stay in the Arena for three songs by Eastfield, but it’s all too samey for me so I head back to the Empress for The Creepshow. Their Horror/Punkabilly is a furious beast as they create another wall of sound which sadly drowns the vocals. I don’t stay long which gives me time to hear half of the interview with Nicky Weller, (sister of Paul). Barry Cain again conducts the interview entitled “Growing Up With Punk”. I stick around for most of a brutally honest and open chat with Nicky, before returning to the Empress in anticipation of festival favourites “Dirt Box Disco”.

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It really is no surprise to see this band welcomed onstage by a full Empress Ballroom. Over five years they have built a momentum other bands could only dream of. It’s not hard to see why though. Prolific in album output; fantastic stage presence, full of energy and exuberant fun. Put them on a big stage in their assorted comedy attire and feed them to a large boisterous crowd. Today’s set is largely a best of, comprising songs from all five releases. Spunk (guitar/vox) and Weab (vox) play off each other, swapping insults and gestures throughout! Maff (drums) keeps the beat in the engine room while “Fingers and Deadbeats” provide the power on guitar and bass respectively. “My Life Is Shit” is such a contradiction these days, yet sounds better than ever. “My Girlfriend’s Best Friend’s Sister” is as humourous as always but there’s no “Let’s Get Wasted” to finish tonight. Instead, they end on “Dirtbox Days” which becomes one huge Empress singalong. They then take the applause before exiting stage right.

With a good 30 minutes to spare I take supper in the cafe before deciding to head one last time for the merch area. An Adam and The Ants T-shirt on the reduced rail has taken my eye so I snap it up quickly. A brief stop in the Arena allows me to catch Brassick whose attitude is seemingly one of (tongue in cheek) aggression! Nicola (vox) is asking the crowd to respond more or they will depart the stage. Theatrical it may be, but their music is lost on me so I depart for the nearby Pavilion to catch the curiously monikered Christmas. Not blown away by this band either, a swift departure means a last trawl through the merch before making my way to the Empress for Anti Pasti. Without a permanent singer since the departure of Jez Addictive, Chron Gen’s “Glyn Barber” has taken temporary charge of vocal duties. Sadly tonight’s crowd is sparse, to say the least, the Band, however, seem undeterred and carry on regardless. I stay for half the set before heading for the Arena to catch Spunk Volcano and The Eruptions. I now know where the masses are! The room is quite literally packed as “Spunk” is holding court in the only way he knows. In yer face humour, mixed with insults and ranting. “DNA Failure” is dedicated to the Jeremy Kyle generation while “XR3” is played with great fondness. Sadly I only catch the last 4 songs but I see enough to realise this is more than just a passing DBD offshoot band.

Another drink with friends and it’s back to the Pavilion for the brilliant Turbulent Hearts. Their Riot/Grrrl/Grunge/RnR/Punk mash-up is Hole-esque, yet they are more than just a tribute to Mrs. Cobain. Suzi Moon (vox/guitar) is the consummate show-woman; she has all the moves, swagger, attitude and above all talent. She covers every inch of this small stage to great effect, before showering herself with a whole bottle of water at the end. She’s up, she’s down, on her knees, on the drum riser-it’s pure show-womanship while they have the songs to back it up. “Not That Kind Of Girl” is just one of many highlights and they appear to have made a new audience for themselves. After the show Suzi makes time for the fans, talking and taking pictures. I then make my way back to the Empress for the main event.

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After being asked many times in the past The Skids finally agreed to play this year, in this their 40th Anniversary year. Having seen them earlier in the year I knew what to expect musically, but to a crowd this size it’s a whole new ballgame. The band genuinely look pleased to be here; Jobson (vox) talking between most of the songs and bantering while recalling memories of their past. With so many great songs to choose from it’s hard to pick out the best. Highlights include “Animation”, “Working For The Yankee Dollar”, “Olympian” and Richard Jobson’s fave “Masquerade”. He praises us the audience for our diversity while praising the festival itself, recalling how they’d spent the day walking around and meeting the fans. Richard also makes a point of remembering Stuart Adamson (RIP), which receives huge applause. I suppose the one song everyone wanted to hear was “Into The Valley” and they don’t disappoint us. From the opening salvo from Bruce Watson and son Jamie (guitars) the place just erupts. The chorus is simply huge. They depart on “the worst song they ever wrote” (Jobson’s words), “TV Stars” and once again the Empress is in full voice. The Skids perfectly wrap up what for me (and no doubt thousands of others) has been a fantastic Rebellion 2017. For the last four years this has been a wonderful reunion for me (and countless others). Long may that continue as long as Darren and Jennie keep the line-up’s fresh and exciting. I said this may be my last Rebellion but I know a really good headliner or two may just tempt me back. My hotel is reserved so I have no excuses-see you all next year (probably)!

Disclaimer: Apologies, if your band is not featured in this review ,it is nothing personal. But with 85+ bands covered I hope I’ve given a good “flavour” of how good this festival is.

Words, Pictures and Videos by Ross A. Ferrone

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