Rebellion Punk Festival 2018 Review

The first weekend in August always means the same thing in sunny Blackpool, four days of punk beside the seaside!

It could be a telling sign of the times, and the world we currently live in, that this year’s Rebellion played host to more female fronted bands than ever before. So many female musicians are standing up and fighting to be heard, they all have something to say and they sure made some noise!

We kicked off our weekend with Millie Manders and the Shut Up who effortlessly filled the Empress Ballroom with their loud, catchy ska. The brassy, full sound of the band was the perfect accompaniment to Millie’s powerful voice. Despite being on very early in the afternoon the band managed to draw a crowd that stretched to the back of the Ballroom and each song generated a great response. ‘Teddy’ was a particular highlight of their set, injecting a heavy metal feel into their signature ska style. Millie is clearly a seasoned front woman, she knows exactly what she is doing how to get the best out of her vocal performances, not to mention having a confident yet humble presence on stage. The opening vocals to ‘The Right to Life’ were close to perfect and powerfully moving, almost operatic, before exploding into a skanky rap, we couldn’t help but be impressed.

The Almost Acoustic stage is set within one of the main bars in the venue and therefore always packed full but we made sure we managed to squeeze in and watch Catlow play a fun and confident set of covers and original music. Catlow is known for her unique mash-ups and she didn’t disappoint with an 80s medley and finishing her set with a tribute to Johnny Cash. Definitely an act to watch out for.

Maid of Ace have been a popular fixture at Rebellion for a number of years now. I saw their first Rebellion appearance and just like I said in the review last year, they continue to get better and better and this year was no exception. The sibling four-piece looked confident and comfortable on the new, larger Club Casbah stage. Bassist Amy was mesmerising to watch and obviously loves what she does. With just the right blend of screamy, riotus punk and catchy melodies I can definitely see them playing bigger venues.

The only band we saw on the Arena stage this year was Australian female band The Mis-Made. With memorable choruses, perfect harmonies and great vocals all round this band definitely deserved a bigger crowd than they got. That said, they were a bit different, calm and melodic, reminiscent of 80s rock band Heart. They knew they were different and they owned it, providing a nice change of pace from the crashing and screaming of the majority of bands around them.

The Introducing Stage was absolutely the place to be this year, whilst the lighting and sound didn’t have the quality of the main stages the talent was top notch and The Menstrual Cramps were a perfect example. Each member of the band had a great energy about her and the band’s obvious chemistry made them compelling to watch. Front women Emilia had the vocals of Poly Styrene and the attitude of Kathleen Hanna with an extra sparkle all of her own. Songs like ‘Cull the Tories’, ‘I Like That Top’ and ‘My Bush Ain’t Your Business’ had the crowd’s fists pumping the air throughout the entire set. We are excited to see what’s next for this band.

A band that I had heard some chatter about before the festival was self-proclaimed “feminist punk witches” Dream Nails. This riotus four-piece bounded onto the Introducing Stage and demanded that all men go to the back and women and non-binary people should take up the space in front of the stage, they even sang a jingle about it and didn’t stop until the audience did as they said. Despite some people feeling uncomfortable with it and walking out the band did ultimately draw in a good crowd and, love them or hate them, they do get people talking.

The Baby Seals brought a sense of fun and female relatability to the Introducing Stage. They sang openly and humorously about female issues without being overly aggressive. Their songs were entertaining and informative with one discussing the health benefits of ‘having a wank’ and another addressing the predictably of porn featuring the catchy chorus of “he’s gonna come in her face” and we can’t forget the wonderfully titled ‘My Labia’s Lopsided But I Don’t Mind’. Judging by the amount of dancing and shape-throwing going on the crowd were loving this fun trio and we can’t blame them.

Our award for ‘Band of the Weekend’ would have to be split between these next two bands.  Pretty Addicted brought something absolutely unique to the punk festival, something I haven’t seen in twelve years of being at Rebellion. The two members stood out and caught our attention straight away with their striking look. They had no drummer and no guitarists and it didn’t hinder them in the slightest. Imagine a female Marilyn Manson singing for The Prodigy with a couple of extra bags of energy thrown in and you might be close to understanding Pretty Addicted. Front woman Vicious was charismatic and fierce, her vocals were mind-blowing and her presence filled the room. Bassist Harry was captivating to watch and the two worked in perfect harmony. The room was empty when the first song started and by end of their set it was packed and an energetic mosh pit were thrashing along loving every second.

I first saw Hands off Gretel at last year’s Rebellion and they blew me away, this year was even better. If it’s possible they were tighter even more professional and with the addition of full time bassist Becky the band truly feels complete. They played some fan-favourites as well as new tracks from their upcoming album and the reception was incredible. Front woman Lauren has an extraordinarily impressive voice and an enchanting stage presence, managing to capture the playful sweetness of a little girl whilst being hella sexy. Sam is a solid drummer with an energetic presence all his own and guitarist Sean is always fun to watch, whether he’s smashing out a solo with his guitar over his head, spinning around in circles, or holding his guitar between his teeth whilst playing it – this band is definitely going places and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re signed to a major label in the next couple of years.

The Adicts were one of Sunday night’s top headlining acts and they were as magical as ever. Frontman Monkey is known for his charming mid-show magic tricks and the packed out Casbah crowd were eating up every second.

So far there hasn’t been a female headliner at the festival but if these talented artists are anything to go by, I’m sure we’ll be seeing one of them headline really soon.