Rebellion Dublin 2017 Review
The anticipation of those with tickets and the growing disappointment of those without, reached its peak on 27th Oct 2017 when Rebellion entered Dublin armed with an impressive list of bands. The Voodoo Lounge is not the best venue to have this line up over 2 nights, giving the array of talent on show and the bodies eager to seek them out in smaller halls than expected. But size is not always important as we all know, its quality that counts and that’s what was provided from start to finish over this weekend. Upstairs is a tight affair as you get up close and personal with those around you, there is more room downstairs to swing a cat or any part of your anatomy as long as you don’t collide with the pillar front and center of the main stage.
Dublin opens up with one of their own, Grit are an Oi! Punk band with a hard edge fronted by a Poly Styrene sounding vocal from singer Clodagh. A great mixture of pretty with attitude tracks that get you moving, with lyrical content that provides a social commentary of struggles we all associate with in life. The hall was sparse in areas, but those who witnessed Grit will no doubt be investigating them further. One of the bands that many were eager to see if only to prove their own hype wrong were Heavy Drapes, Initially billed to be on downstairs there was an elephant in a phone box moment when the substantial crowd tried to catch them in the smaller venue upstairs after being moved. Having previously seen them live and managed to get one eye on the stage tonight, myself and the rest of the sardines can confirm that the hype is more than justified. The 4 released songs they have (Yes I did say only 4) went down like some well worn vinyl from 77, with every chorus getting the backing vocals from a crowd who are not hearing this for the first time (or the last). As the singer prowls the stage delivering the now familiar EP, he is backed up with power and harmonies while outstandingly creative guitar chords are thrown out at an alarming rate. The much anticipated album will no doubt be on a wanted list by those who managed to attend, judging by the material on show its going to be the listeners who create the hype on this one. These guys might have been up the bill further and certainly on the larger stage, but they kicked of Rebellion with style and attitude which was maybe the intention. Takers and Users may look like just another Oi! Band, but they step out of the mediocre with an impressive set. There are shades of 1982 going on with influence from days gone by evident, some sing along choruses like “Glory Days” that would get any boots up on the floor. The 82 influence continues with Beki Bondage and Vice Squad with rasping vocal and guitar solos shrouded in locks of pink hair, the sound has become heavier since those early days but there is no let up on the stage presence from someone who’s been there, done it and still looks great in the t-shirt.
Now I don’t know if I missed a fire alarm or I’m banging a lone drum for the next band The Black Pitts, but there was a considerable lack of bodies for it being in their home town. The 3 guys again went through some classy tracks from their new album playing “BDO Brigade”, “Curve Ball” and “Hey Johnny”, for those of us who were fortunate enough to witness this will no doubt feel we had a special invitation that others were denied entry to. Last up on the first night is a slot that could only be filled by an Irish band with the songs to back it up, Blood or Whiskey fits the bill perfectly and you could say they were well up for the challenge ahead. Menacingly dressed in black holding musical weapons that whipped up the atmosphere with more than a sprinkling of crowd participation, mixing traditional Irish sounds with Punk Rock credibility’s. The introduction to a Rebellious Dublin did not disappoint, and had the weary crowd questioning how it will be surpassed the next day.
Saturday was an earlier affair with the 2.30 start not putting people off, turning up to catch some of the starters. The emergence of United Bottles resulted in a few more bodies than previously on the floor, forming after Running Riot came to an abrupt end after singer Colin McQuillan sadly passed away. They have picked themselves up to form a tight unit in the style associated with Running Riot, putting together a set of songs that are their own, but still kick down a few doors with harsh lyrics and tunes. There are rumours of a surprise appearance later tonight going round the venue, with many varied names being bandied about including Bono turning up, what I didn’t expect was an even bigger shock with the next band The Lee Harveys blowing me away with their set. The Irish twang set to a 77 sound got hold of me and threw me round the floor, Dublin had not just stepped up a gear but it put its fucking foot down with no brakes. The guys delivered all their best work with a passion and raging energy, “18 Again”, “Know Your Enemy” and “Sound of the City” brought both fists and knees in the air from a more than animated crowd. It was announced tonight that the guitarist was playing his last show before pastures new beckoned, Ive no idea what could be more appealing than playing for The Lee Harveys on that form it must be bloody good though. The Cundeez took to the stage and brought some of Scotland to the city of Dublin, with their unique sound of bag piped raucous noise accompanied by Scottish dialect that would leave any linguist floundering leaving the crowd feeling Ehm Feelin Teckle (Feeling Great) which is the title of their new track just out. The hike upstairs was now taking longer as the crowds gathered for the later bands, but persiveered and was greeted by Inflatable Dolls who were very enjoyable and not just full of hot air. Formed in the late 70s they have a punk/pub rock sound that is very catchy, with some riffs that get under your skin like “Julie, Mary and Me”, “Your Secret” and “Daddy’s Girl” all get an airing from the album “Reliving Our Youth”.
Very few people command the same respect from a Punk audience as the next man, part of the original Punk explosion with The Adverts, writing classics that every generation knows, learns and loves before delivering them with only a guitar and voice, this is TV Smith. He still has great passion oozing out of every syllable he has written, with his body contorting with each of the six strings he controls and commands like a one man orchestra singing “Generation Y” or “Lion and the Lamb”. Unexpectedly he is then joined by an Irish institution know as Paranoid Visions, a band of legendary status around these part and further afield. Supporting TV Smith in recreating the energy of “Gary Gilmours Eyes” and “One Chord Wonders” this worked in every way, where the band were on the verge of being drowned out on each chorus originally sang 40 years ago. Having not been able to catch Paranoid Visions previously I would still argue with anyone who said this was not their night, they created a superb atmosphere on home soil like it was their last supper. A modern day beauty and the beast with Deko Dachau and Aoife Destruction combining to deliver the lyrics of unrest and conflict, accompanied by tunes to go to war with. The stage was on fire and got even hotter when a Radiator from Space took up a mic, Pete Holidai blasted out “Television Screen” which caught out those younger than 40 but brought memories back to the rest of us. Paranoid Visions take the stage looking like they would never meet up in any other walk of life, somehow these different characters make a sound very few can replicate but very many have tried, succeeding in creating an event on their own tonight .
We are now heading to the end of the night so there is no room for weak links on stage, the atmosphere would plummet like a wet mohican if there was a let up now. The Belfast Calvary arrive to drag us into the night in the shape of The Defects and The Outcasts doing what they do best, from “Defective Breakdown” to “Self Conscious Over You” and all the rest helped keep the sweating, battered, bruised, sufferers of Acute Laryngitis vertical and hanging in there. The hall now resembles the film set of a war torn hospital with fatigue and injury, will some now consider leaving before the headliners I ask, not a chance. As the last band on are Cock Sparrer the floor is packed tight, bodies welded together and no one leaves the space they claim, expectation that something specials about to happen here tonight in a small compact venue. They keep us waiting long enough for conversations to start up, people claiming that they never thought they would live to see this band play Dublin but here they are. Now I have seen some excellent bands over the years, but when you hear the siren guitar from Riot Squad the only way to describe the reaction is “Fucking Mental” and that’s exactly what happened around me. A quick check to see if the floor had given way to the rocks way below as everyone scrambled and clambered over each other to the classic guitar, people took leave of their senses and life was brought back to ailing bodies like a finger in a socket. Shock Troops was replicated in style with the sound quality of the album, with a sprinkling of other well know sing-along’s in between, as well giving the new album Forever being given an airing in the Dublin night. Only being released this year the album has already got crowds singing nonstop to songs like “Contender”, “One By One” and “Every Step of the Way” becoming big favorites already. The ageing band could do no wrong, having the audience lapping up every track with energy you would expect from 21 year olds, looking as though they were also having the time of their life. Finishing off the weekend with “Were Coming Back” may well have been an indication for another get together in the future, if so I think a football stadium may be necessary with a hospital wing on standby.
Once again Rebellion have excelled showing how it’s done and this time in Dublin, delivering a festival that tied in local talent with tried and trusted bands to please young and old, with some nostalgic quality that was topped off with one thee headline acts. There may be a case for a larger venue in future if there was one complaint, but the energy, atmosphere and adrenaline created inside the Voodoo Lounge small hall will be remembered for years to come.