VH 2017 FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS: Rebellion Punk Festival 2017

As the Summer draws to a close Vulture Hound looks back at some of best moments from an amazing season of festivals.

Rai Jayne Hearse recalls a long weekend with a bunch of punks by the seaside, courtesy of Rebellion Punk Festival

“Oh I do like to pogo beside the seaside!
I do like to mosh beside the sea!
Oh I do like to stomp along the prom, prom, prom,
Where the punk bands play tiddely-om-pom-pom!”

tiddely-om-pom-pom…

Well, maybe not quite “tiddely-om-pom-pom” but the seaside resort of Blackpool has become somewhat of a Mecca for Punks, Skinheads, and Rockabillies alike who make the annual pilgrimage from around the world to attend the Rebellion Punk Festival. There is a genuine community atmosphere created by the same people attending year after year from so many different countries, you are always guaranteed to see a familiar face or meet up with someone you know. Of course, there are plenty of new faces each year too and it always warms my heart a little to see tiny punk children running around and having a wicked time with their ear defenders on, adorable.

Our first band of the weekend was one we hadn’t heard of until a few days before the festival; there seemed to be a buzz of excitement about them so we headed down into the depths of the Winter Gardens and into the beautiful Empress Ballroom to check out New Orleans hardcore punk band Pears. It is clear that fearless front man, Zach, loves what he does, passion and energy burst through him from the second the band started and never once wavered until they were done. The audience were obviously loving it just as much judging by the intense pit that formed with the strum of the first chord and didn’t stop up until the last. Pears were tight and well-rehearsed with fantastic backing vocals; it has been a while since I saw a band so perfectly in tune with each other it was almost psychic. The fun links between each song highlighted the band’s sense of humour; they don’t take themselves too seriously whilst remaining super professional. They could easily have been playing together for three decades instead of three years so I’m sure we can expect amazing things from this young band.

We arrived early for the Kenneths set and unintentionally caught the last half of Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs, and what an unexpected treat! From their makeshift instruments to their hilarious tongue-in-cheek humour, they are easily the best folk-ish band I’ve seen! Referring to themselves as ‘Skiffle Punk’ (a new one for me), they mixed Irish pub songs with northern charm, a great sound and a fun interactive performance. Highly recommended.

Kenneths
Kenneths

Kenneths are always amazing, but seeing them on a big stage was phenomenal, they really came into their own. Only being a trio and all playing instruments doesn’t stop them from using the whole stage. Front man Josh has more energy than an excited puppy and the personality to match. Every song is a catchy foot tapper and their sound is infectious. Despite having a stand in drummer the backing vocals were on point and they were super tight. Josh was having a great time playing guitar whilst crowd surfing and even turning an unsuspecting member of the audience into a human microphone stand. They deserved a much bigger audience but being a relatively new band that’s to be expected. That said, the audience obviously loved what they heard as huge queue at the merch stall after the set. It’s always great to see a young band keeping the true spirit of punk alive whilst bringing their own flavour into the mix and I can’t wait to see so much more of Kenneths.

Later, on the same stage we got a chance to catch all-girl punk band Maid of Ace who were playing the Rebellion Introducing stage the last year our band played and it’s amazing to see how this band have grown and improved since then. They were fierce that first time and they just keep getting better. They are a tight group, it probably helps that they’re all sisters but that doesn’t detract from the obvious talent each of these girls has. Seeing a girl punk band kicking ass, knowing their instruments and taking no prisoners is always a good thing.

Youth Man were an interesting band, not one we had ever heard of before and something a little different from the usual punk bands at Rebellion, but I liked it. This young band seamlessly blended punk rock with underground urban grunge. Frontwoman, Kaila will draw comparisons to Skunk Anannsie’s, Skin, but has the killer voice to match.

Of course, we just had to head back outside to catch seasoned punk rock veterans Vice Squad. They are always great fun to watch; they make performing look so effortless and easy. Even though I’m sure they play Rebellion every single year they always bring something new with them whilst still playing their greatest hits. Their old-school sound teamed with their fun and humble attitudes ensures that this band never gets gets old or boring. Speaking of getting old, I am backing a new conspiracy that front woman, Becky Bondage is a vampire, the woman just does not age, and jeez, does she know how to work a wind machine! True punk rock beauty and fun.

Strange Bones
Vice Squad

The Rebellion Introducing stage this year was a pretty small stage in a pretty small room and this is where we saw Blackpool band Strange Bones. My first words were literally “holy fucking shit!”; good solid punk music and earworm backing vocals were a perfect foundation for the insanely confident and unpredictable performance of frontman Bobby Bentham. He spent more time in amongst the crowd, rolling around on the floor, or climbing on top of audience members than he did on the stage. He was truly fearless and aggressively poetic and brought to mind the same passion and attitude as Frank Carter who would be tearing up the Empress Ballroom later that day. The Bentham brothers have come a long way since my band played a gig with them as Outl4w and they show no signs of stopping. Strange Bones were truly amazing.

Back in the Ballroom and I am still yet to see another front man who can command an audience like Frank Carter. We first saw him in this very room many years ago with Gallows, and I remember being mesmerised and amazed in the way he directed the crowd to form a human pyramid and a giant circle pit. Since then, along side the Rattlesnakes, Frank has just got better and better and being front and centre. After packing out the Empress he demanded that the crowd make the biggest circle pit they could, one that would go all the way around the sound desk in the centre and cover the majority of the ballroom and, as always, the audience obeyed him, no questions asked. Every time Frank is performing he is genuinely hypnotic. His fabulous scream and powerfully passionate singing voice combined with his enthralling stage presence make him one of the only men who could spit in the air and catch it whilst wearing skin tight leopard print pants and still retain his unique sexiness.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

Hands Off Gretel are one of those bands I’ve been wanting to see for so long but kept missing and I’m so glad I got to see them on the epic Empress Stage. Singer, Lauren Tate, is captivating; she has the most beautifully haunting voice, the kind that gives you chills; so different from the sea of typical punk bands playing around us. Who said punk can’t be pretty? ‘Cause Lauren is fucking beautiful. Hands Off Gretel are reminiscent of 90s riot grrrl punk, Hole meets Jack Off Jill. My favourite band of the weekend, in fact I was so into this band I bought one of everything on their merch stall. #nerd

Hands Off Gretel

Headstone Horrors are always a must see. They have a great look, great energy and great sound and although the male vocals needed to be louder they were still a perfect compliment to front woman Nat’s ballsy vocals. A really decent crowd formed in the Empress, especially considering Headstone Horrors were the first band on Sunday morning. I love seeing a band keeping horrorpunk going; there will always be a soft spot in my heart for horrorpunk…

We headed back to the Introducing Stage to check out another band we’d been hearing about over the past couple of days. Pizza Tramp did seem to have good music and stage presence (we left after a couple of songs) and the room was packed to capacity with a massive crowd of people stood outside the doors unable to get in. Whilst they were obviously super popular, their attitude and frequent referencing to drugs and alcohol in between kind of turned me off. Punk can be about so much more than that.
I do have to give an honourable mention to kick-ass drummer Luke Birch. He stepped in at the last second having just learned Pizza Tramp’s songs the morning of their performance and brought his usual effortless talent to the stage.

Nothington were another unintentional treat to the ears. I caught them whilst waiting for someone else but they sucked me in to their hella catchy American punk songs that wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack to American Pie or any other American teen comedy movie. Think Lars Friedrickson partying with Dropkick Murpheys and Rancid. Really nice harmonies and backing vocals that lift you up, their music makes you feel really upbeat and happy; it was a totally different atmosphere from the band we had just come from (see above).

Creepshow

Our final band of the weekend was the hugely anticipated Creepshow. Hitting the Empress Stage with their high energy, melodic songs and sexy rockabilly vocals The Creepshow were perfectly tight and professional and super fun to watch. They powered through the set with minimal talking and gaps between songs which just highlighted their professionalism and gave the audience a great time. The double bass and the synth gave it something different from every band we saw over the weekend. Vocals switched between male and female which provided variety and heat. The sound really was amazing and they absolutely filled the Ballroom. They really stuck with that true horror-based rockabilly-punkness and it was beautiful. A perfect end to the weekend.

All photos: Rai Jayne Hearse/Kitty Hearse.