“Let me hear you say Oi!”
Last week I met an acquaintance who actually played onstage at Rebellion a few years ago. I mentioned that it was imminent again. He suddenly looked weary at the thought. “That’s a long weekend”. It is but I’m still here even if it’s 5am and I’ve fallen asleep face down on the bed fully dressed. It doesn’t matter – this B & B is basic but breakfast is on until 10am. Very civilised.
First stop the outdoor Tower St Arena for Contempt, who I saw a lot in the 90s. It’s the first time I’ve been a queue to watch Contempt although that’s because the venue isn’t open yet. They’re one of those bands who have had continual line up changes, featuring only guitarist Martin from the 90s, let alone the early days. He doesn’t give up easily. Today’s drummer has only been with them for 30 minutes! They play a “greatest hits” set with plenty of political comment about the government, and the seagull spotters who it’s rumoured are coming to disrupt the festival. I remember one year a dodgy looking bonehead throwing an empty crisp packet at Attila The Stockbroker, so I stay alert!
If you want to avoid politics you can see Steve Ignorant Steve Ignorant and Slice Of Life in the Opera House, as that’s what he seems to do these days! I’m usually avoid “unplugged” sets but I like what he’s doing. It’s much more personal than his Crass days, and he’s very honest about his insecurities. He then chuckles and introduces a song “about how great I am”.
I’m not disputing this but I’m off to see Freedom Faction on the “new band” stage – about time seeing as they originally formed in 1984. They are good old-school punk with a singer who reminds me of Sid. Actually no, he reminds me of Syd, as in Syd Little! There’s some slapstick when he walks backwards and stumbles over a stage hand who is on the floor fiddling with the kit. One punter pogos throughout the set – I haven’t seen actual pogoing at a gig since 1998 (a Steve Ignorant gig strangely).
Which reminds me that this is the 20th anniversary Rebellion/wasted/Holidays In The Sun. Back in 96 it was celebrating the 20th anniversary of punk, which seemed like ancient history. Many , including punks, scoffed at the idea of a retro punk festival, and here we are marking the festival’s 20th anniversary, with a lot of the bands that played the original. It’s a weird thought.
Next up a quick look at reformed French band Komintern Sect in the Pavillion. My mate asks what they are like, I explain that they “sound French”. I’m not sure what else to say, there is a distinctive sound to a lot of old French punk that I can’t described. I watch a few songs and I’m right, they sound French.
I divert to a Wetherspoons to catch up with a mate over cheaper beer. One of his mates is intrigued to meet someone from Leicester and wants to know what it’s like to have won the premiership. Unfortunately I’m the second-least interested person from Leicester. The least interested person being Mrs wyngatecarpenter.
Feeling “refreshed” it’s time for a couple of female fronted bands, firstly the excellent A-Heads then to the Empress Ballroom for Penetration. They recently got in the proper top 100 with their comeback album. I still think it’s, shall we say, a bold move to start off with 5 in a row from that album. I am distracted by something else though, that despite the fact that she has aged very well Pauline Murray from where I am standing looks uncannily like Noel Fielding. My mate agrees and he should know as he has been beaten at pool by Noel Fielding. This distracts us throughout the set. We move onto Don’t Dictate and the classics, and they sound great. As I leave I bump into my mate from Wetherspoons who comments that it’s good that they were playing the songs people wanted to hear. He had missed the first half of the set.
Rebellion is not just a gig and social event, it is also a record fair. A very expensive record fair, particularly where German Oi labels are involved. I have mentally adjusted to the going rate for a new 7″ being £5, only to find that it is now £6. Meanwhile reformed band The Wall are selling their 2 track new 12″ for £10. I check a copy to see if the sleeve is made of gold or something. I want it but not that much. No wonder that Sick On The Bus are proudly advertising their new CD as “6 tracks for £6”.
Talking of bargains Splodgenessabounds are crowd-funding their forthcoming album and are promising “Authentic bottled fart and a signed vintage individually wrapped cheese slice with every pledge”. They are also on in the Pavillion. Max is looking surprisingly well and possibly sober. Otherwise it’s business as usual with classic lyrics such as “wiffy smells are all around me” which is also an accurate observation of Friday night at Rebellion. There are also farting noises during Micheal Booth’s Talking Bum which would have wyngtae jnr laughing hysterically.Flatulence never stops being funny.
No fart noises from Paranoid Visions. They start off with the relatively melodic Fan The Flames before kicking into Braindance. They increase the intensity with Angelus At 6pm and Wearside Jack, and Outsider Artist is the highlight. I’ve noticed a lot of sentimentality creeping in this year with band after band telling us they love us and even Deko tells us he loves us all! Is he feeling ok? They finish with what I think is a new song but turns out to be a cover of Ever Fallen In Love. “See, we can play pop songs” Deko cackles. Best band of the weekend so far.
Schedule clashes are an annual hazard for Rebellion punters, but this year they are being deliberately engineered due to the huge numbers (10,000 say some). Which means I have to decide between early 80s oi punks The Exploited and early 80s oi punks Infa Riot. I saw the Exploited a few months ago so I go for Infa Riot.A good choice. I commented last time on Lee Wilson’s slighty cheesy banter and cheekily compared him to Bruce Forsyth. This time is no different (“Let me hear you say Oi!”) and he even briefly does the Brucie pose! I thought I’d imagined but my mate saw it as well. He’s like a bootboy Redcoat But never mind, they sound great and the set is wall to wall Oi classics.
For a contrast it’s off to the Pavillion for The Cravats, but first we catch the end of The Men They Couldn’t Hang. This makes sense as more and more folksiness has been sneaking in recently. It’s surpsrising how many songs I know, but they were regulars on Janice Long on Radio One back in the 80s.
The Cravats are on at 12.15am. The Shend ambles and points out we’re missing Cash In The Attic. Maybe so but there’s no TV in my room anyway so I stay. It’s the first time my mate has heard their mix of punk, jazz, rockabilly and eccentricity and he’s instantly a fan, despite the fact they miss out Rub Me Out and Precinct. They end with the punk/psych freakout of I Hate The Universe which leaves our ears ringing.
Can we cope with any more? We go to the Arena for Menace. It’s 1.15am, my legs ache and I feel old enough to be a member of Menace. Time for bed.