Now, I haven’t blogged about Rebellion for the past couple of years because it was such a mammoth task and my attempt to blog about the 2009 festival was an abject failure (it never made it past draft stage). However, I was inspired to try once again this year by, of all things, a bagpipe band, so here goes.
This year I have set myself a few rules:
- Write one blog only (not four like previous years)
- Do not try to remember the entire set list of every band you saw
- Keep it interesting (I know, difficult for me)
- Use Categories and Tags correctly (Again, difficult)
- Keep within 2000 words
- Remember to mention the Bagpipe Band
- That’s it.
So… on an overcast but warm Thursday afternoon in August in the year 2011, Darcy and I intrepidly set off for Blackpool on a Number 11 bus. When we arrived, we made for the Winter Gardens and were greeted by a queue about 3 miles long. Fortunately, we were also greeted by some friends from Doncaster, who had already decided that queueing for about 10 hours was not for them and they suggested we go and find a pub. This seemed like a good idea so we all went to the Blue Room.
Which was shut.
Not a good start but fortunately there was another pub nearby. It did not have cask ale (which is a requirement for me) but it had Becks Vier, which I will drink when there is nothing else available. So, drinks in hand, we started catching up with each others’ news.
After a while we went to see if the Blue Room had opened but it had not, so we went back in for another drink and then, eventually, we went back to the Winter Gardens to get our weekend wristbands. This year, they are positively psychedelic with the word “Weekend” writ large upon them. We had a couple more drinks in the bar and then Darcy and I went off to see Geoffrey Oicott. Geoffrey Oicott are, unsurprisingly, from Yorkshire and are in the sub-genres of Oi! and Cricket Punk. The songs are all about cricket and include such classics as “I was Monty’s Double”, “(Cricket) Bat out of Hell” and “Dawn of the Dickie Birds”.
As it turned out, Geoffrey Oicott was one of only three bands we saw that day, the rest of our time being taken up with drinking, more drinking, even more drinking and talking to a man with Daleks on his head. We did catch Menace, who did a great set and finished it off with one of my top ten punk songs “Last Year’s Youth” and then the Meteors and that was it. We came home in a taxi (that sounds like a football chant to me) and I went straight to bed.
I woke up bright and early on Friday with a hangover and determined to see more bands and drink less beer. Before we could even go into Blackpool, I had to take Darcy to collect his Dad’s 70th birthday present, a bike. Darcy had to ride it back to his parents’ house ready for Saturday, the big day.
We then took the Number 7 into Blackpool (never get into a routine or the Ninjas might get you). This time, we had arranged to meet a friend and so spent five minutes just inside the entrance until he came over and tapped me on the shoulder. We then went to the bar to start the serious business of drinking beer (and whisky). Determined this time not to miss loads of bands through drinking, we made a special effort to go and see 3CR, a superb band from Manchester. I had strongly recommended them to our friend so we dragged him along, forcibly. Fortunately, he was not disappointed.
Now, I had seen a few people wearing a t-shirt that had these words on the back:
I am not homophobic
I am not a racist
I am not religious
I am not fascist
I am just English
and I had been intrigued. Well, we joined up with the Donny (Doncaster) punks after 3CR, who suggested we go and see The Warriors, who would be playing soon. The words are from one of their songs “I Love my England” and, as they were introducing it, they said that if you are from Poland or Spain or Ireland or anywhere, just substitute the name of your country. I found this sentiment very heartening, being quite suspicious when I hear the word England in song lyrics. By the way, I am a bit of a mongrel, having Irish, Scottish, French and English ancestors, which left me feeling a bit spoilt for choice.
After more drinking, some eating (to keep our strength up) and watching Dirty Folkers’ (or Vice Squad, as they are better known) acoustic set, we went to watch Anti Nowhere League. We were a little bit late and as we were walking down the stairs to the Empress Ballroom, I could hear “I Hate People” and I felt myself starting to bounce up and down to the music. Fortunately, I did not end up bouncing down the stairs in an undignified heap and found myself in a packed ballroom with an amazingly sticky floor. That put paid to my bouncing as my feet would not leave the floor. That’s a shame because they also played “So What”, one of my favourites.
Unfortunately, there was a no show when we went to watch Drunken Balordi at midnight and we went back to the bar bitterly disappointed. I was also beginning to feel decidedly rough and made an executive decision to call it a night and miss The Damned and so that was the end to our Friday night of Rebellion.
Saturday started well for me. I didn’t have a hangover and apart from feeling a bit tired, the roughness of the evening before had disappeared. We went over to wish Darcy’s Dad many happy returns of the day and I handed over my own little birthday present for him – some bicycle clips. We then had some cup cakes Darcy’s sister had made for the occasion and did NOT sing Happy Birthday.
We caught the Number 7 bus to Blackpool (the Ninjas would have expected us to get the Number 11 this time) for another day of drinking, socialising and watching bands. We started off in the Arena watching Strawberry Blondes (actually, we started in the bar to have a drink as you have probably already guessed would be the case) and then moved on to the Empress Ballroom to see 999. The floor was as sticky, if not stickier than, the day before. It did not stop me trying to bounce up and down, although, again, my feet were unable to leave the floor, so trying was the operative word. 999 played all their classics: Emergency, Homicide, Feelin’ Alright with the Crew, Nasty Nasty. They did not play my favourite, Titanic (My Over) Reaction or, if they did, we missed it because we turned up part way through the set.
A meal and a few drinks later, we went to watch the Poly Styrene tribute. For those who don’t know, Poly Styrene was the lead singer of Xray Spex, passionately anti-consumerist, with a voice that could blast aeroplanes out of the sky but in a good way. The tribute was hosted by John Robb of the Membranes and Goldblade and started with TV Smith singing “Identity”. Friends came on stage to share their memories of Poly Styrene, there were more musical tributes and John Robb invited people from the audience onto the stage to make their own contributions. It was very moving.
After that we saw The Boys (very good), Captain Hotknives (very good), Church of Confidence (so amazingly good that I bought a t-shirt) and The Grit (very good) before calling it a day for another night and getting very wet going to catch the taxi home.
I was hangover-free on Sunday as well. Again, we were unable to go straight to Rebellion but this time because we had our weekly shopping to do. I remembered how cold I had got the previous evening and decided to resurrect my old denim jacket to keep me warm. On returning from Morrisons I realised there was an improvement I could make to the jacket and cut the sleeves off.
We then caught the Number 7 into Blackpool (the Ninjas had got it wrong again and were waiting on the Number 11). After (yet another) drink, we went off to the Olympia to watch Eastfield, who describe themselves as Railway Punk. This is the first time I had seen this band – I have intended to see them in previous years but drinking has always got in the way. Anyway, I got around to watching them this year and I was not disappointed.
After that, we repaired to the bar (do you notice a pattern here?).
Goldblade were playing at 4.25pm but unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding, we missed the first song, my favourite, “Fighting in the Dancehall…” Still, they played a good set, with a version of “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!” assisted by a posse of young ladies and finished with a cracking version of “Do you Believe in the Power of Rock and Roll” with a verse each of “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “Anarchy in the UK” thrown in for good measure. Oh and yes I do believe.
After Goldblade, Glen Matlock and the Philistines played. The most memorable songs they did were “God Save the Queen” and “Stepping Stone”, which, of course, are the two I know. Something else I noted was Glen’s remarkable resemblance to Harry Redknapp. Note to self – send in a lookalike to Private Eye before anybody else notices.
After that, we had a wander around the stalls. One of the pleasures of Rebellion is looking at what is for sale, trying it on and occasionally buying it. I have mentioned very briefly that I bought a bondage dress and a t-shirt. Well, I also bought some patches to sew on my newly resurrected denim jacket and a badge for my Morris dancing hat and while we were wandering around, we heard the strains of an acoustic version of “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes” and so wandered into the Bizarre Bazaar to catch TV Smith and Leigh Heggarty doing their set. After a couple more songs, we wandered out again.
And so to the end of the evening and the end of Rebellion for another year. We went to watch UK Subs in the Empress Ballroom and then went out for some fresh air. This is when we saw the Bagpipe band. They were there in Victoria Street just down from the venue. I love punk but I’m not particulary picky about music and I was blown away. It was the end of a busy weekend and this was so different to what we had been listening to. We watched for a while and I recorded a short video and then we returned to the Winter Gardens.
We went back to the bar and got chatting to the man with the Daleks on his head (although on Sunday he wore a hat). It had transpired that he is from the same part of the country as us – small world. He was going to watch Jello Biafra (of Dead Kennedys) & the Guantanamo School of Medicine in the Olympia; we were going to see the Adicts. We’ve seen the Adicts before, so we decided to give them a miss and see Jello. Well, he was great. This is not just music but a strong political message. He pulled no punches and harangued the crowd. We noticed a few walking out after one tirade but it’s great to see people challenged and forced out of their comfort zone.
I was tired so we did not stay until the end. Anyway, Darcy was at work today, so I had to think of him. It was yet another great weekend and it’s always brilliant making new friends and consolidating existing friendships. I’m just checking the word count and I’m well over 2000 words but what the hell? Time to finish, methinks, but for your delectation and delight, here is a short film of a Bagpipe band in Blackpool this August.