Rebellion 2017 Preview.
The Invasion of Blackpool by a 10,000 strong army intent on rumpus and commotion will once again start next week, the Rebellion Festival will get underway at the Winter Gardens on the 3rd August. The town will be awash with all that is punk, from the regimented Mohicans and studded leather to the suits and shirts, we will all be there for a common cause, the music. Unlike when the first wave of punk hit these shores the UK were less than welcoming to this new noise, as the Sex Pistols found out by how many gigs were cancelled on the Anarchy tour. Now 41 years on Blackpool as a town actively welcomes the hordes of noise lovers to the town, this reception is down completely to the team involved in putting this magnificent event on every year and the attitudes of those attending. The festival was born in 1996 under the mantle of Holidays in the Sun and as today was held at the Winter Gardens, it then had a name change to Wasted and relocated to Morecambe for a short time before establishing itself as the Rebellion Festival in 2007 and heading back to Blackpool.
The experience of a Rebellion Festival starts not long after the previous one ends, with bands being drip fed to you through the course of the year with much conversation on social media around rumour and fact. The actual pilgrimage to the Winter Gardens is in itself like the migration of birds leaving all corners of the globe, with likeminded souls gradually coming together on the journey and nesting outside the distinctive entrance under the arched name. The contradictory nature of the festival is there for all to see as the queue builds around the streets, what may appear to be alcohol fuelled spikey haired loud aggressive Punks causing a disturbance is actually a well behaved excited crowd that give consideration to those around them while meeting old friends or being introduced to new ones. This attitude extends around the whole festival where there seems to be an expectation of behaviour from those who attend, a type of self-policing in order not to damage the reputation that has been built up over the years resulting in a unique experience of a loud raucous family atmosphere. At times there are 3 generations enjoying the same band, this can only be healthy for the future of not only the festival but Punk music in general with young people being exposed to a diversity of sounds.
On entering this Aladdin’s cave of sound and vision, you immediately walk along a corridor filled with all kinds of merchandise, often being served by the very people on the t-shirts and who will be climbing on stage at some point in the event to deliver their band’s music. The Punk ethos is very much alive at Rebellion, with bands who are not playing often jumping about in the crowd as unhinged as the rest of us to a classic tune. The real achievement for all who attend though is the logistics and planning of who to see and who you will unfortunately be missed, the corridors often resembling a Punk Pac Man in between bands with people hurtling themselves from stage to stage in sweat soaked exuberance checking times and how to get there. There is a lot to see on the 6 stages around the building and the one outdoor stage, legends still belting out well sung tunes alongside bands that need ID for the bar and everyone in-between. Punk over the years has grown in many differing directions from those early days, and one of the great things about Rebellion is its deliberate attempt to unearth new diverse punk music whether on the Introducing stage as a new band or from another part of the globe. The work and research that goes into making this event what it is may at times be overlooked, cherry picking the best music available at the time with a few surprises often along the way. You will always get a few disgruntled voices among the 10,000 bodies, from those who may find water a tad too wet or ask for the suns temperature to be turned down slightly at the outdoor stage, but these are few and far between complaints.
This year’s feast is again a mouth-watering affair with old sounds colliding with new, The Slaves have only recently been making waves with their abrasive charm. The duo have been causing a stir with the blues tinged punk grind that accompanies their original use of the English language, resulting in some aggressively grating melodies. Along the same lines will be Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, where the former Gallows front man has come out fighting with a new set of armour. They conceive melody and noise into a perfect relationship, giving birth to some loud, opinionated tunes that are getting a reaction. The old guard are not being kicked aside just yet, with the Skids reformation getting rave reviews up and down the country and Scotland’s finest will be once again marching Into The Valley as the Saints are Coming. Sham 69 will deliver their anathematic chants to the mimicking hoards, Mr Pursey prowling the stage spitting the venomous lyrics like a deranged character from a Dickens novel. These are songs that are the foundations on what Punk became and along with others such as the UK Subs, Ruts DC, TV Smith and the Vibrators, they will be greeted with an exuberance and energy that drinks companies can only dream of bottling. Added to this is an often forgotten band that has just got back together, The Professionals have a new lease of life unfortunately without Steve Jones but original Pistols drummer Paul cook is still hitting those skins. The overseas visitors are well represented with Pennywise, Bad Religion and Propagandhi giving a diverse offering of sounds at the top table, with plenty more bringing up the rear from around the world. As if more than 250 bands over 4 days was not enough, we can also venture to the arts gallery which you may have guessed has a Punk theme, or recover our hearing at the acoustic stage, then listen to live on stage Interviews describing the hectic life of a Punk band.
The Rebellion team have built an astonishing festival over the years, catering for the old greying spikes as well as the young bearded generation. Independently run it has thrived through keeping control of the direction they want to go each year, providing the best musical festival atmosphere for its paying public treating them as equal lovers of music rather than an ATM to extract as much cash as possible. The excitement is building for the loudest 4 days of the year, and although there are 10,000 people of work recovering at the end of it from seized joints, tinnitus and liver failure we wouldn’t have it any other way.