15,000 PUNK ROCK FANS HEAD TO BLACKPOOL FOR REBELLION 2022 AND R-FEST!
The PunkInFocus team headed off to Blackpool for some seriously needed raw punk energy! We were Rebellion Festival bound, with added R-Fest too this time around.
The train journeys were good, the accommodation was good, and even the seaside Fish ‘n’ Chips with curry sauce was good! All was good with the world! But we weren’t just accepting good, though, were we? We wanted it extraordinary with the best selection of punk bands on offer, and as a result, we had to carefully make plans to ensure that we were at the right place at the right time for maximum enjoyment.
As with every Rebellion Festival, there will be clashes resulting in disappointment, but you can’t clone yourself, can you? Better the Rebellion guys put on too much than not enough!
I’d have to say that this year’s lineup was exceptional, but there are always a few more that you would have loved to have seen if they were up for it. Covid essentially fucked up the festivals calendar over the past few years, and still, some foreign bands can’t get access with added Brexit entry problems. These days it is simply a case of thanking the Rebellion posse for their efforts and putting on the event, or rather events (R-Fest) in the first place.
We arrived a day early and headed off to The Rose & Crown on Wednesday evening and upstairs to The Tache Rock Club to have a taste of half a dozen bands that were going to be appearing at Rebellion over the coming days. Of course, we weren’t the only ones with this idea, as the night had sold out. The choice act of the night was always going to be Suzi Moon! She absolutely killed it but hats off to Drongos For Europe, Geoffry Oi!Cott, The Vulpynes, The Subalternos and Litterbug for a highly entertaining night.
The great thing about Rebellion is not only does it run from Thursday to Sunday, and thus you feel that you are on holiday, but you get to meet folks that you haven’t seen for a while. It also lets you catch up on all the banter and recommendations on the best Rebellion bands to check out. People’s tastes vary, as bore witness by this year’s selection of acts from Sham 69 to Squeeze and beyond.
REBELLION UNOFFICIAL PRE-SHOW @ TACHE CLUB GALLERY
The festival this time around had a fantastic vibe. Was it to do with the new extended Winter Gardens complex or the new R-Fest over the way on the promenade? Could be? But I’d say it’s the punters! We are all here for the same reason……….to enjoy the bands and have fun, and there are many here at their first Rebellion or even their first show since the Covid lockdowns.
PunkInFocus had a hit list beforehand and endeavoured to stick with it. Still, there are always a few spanners in the works with bands cancelling or discovering a new band or 10! Plus, there’s the time from legging it from one venue to another and allowing time to grab food on the go!
For Day One, the Thursday, we managed to shoot no less than 18 bands. Day Two (Friday) was a leisurely 13 outfits. Saturday was full on with 22 acts, and we signed off Rebellion 2022 on Sunday with 18. Thus our grand total was an impressive 71 performances, with another 6 prior to the Festival, and that, my friends, explains the slight delay in uploading this review due to editing the photos, as well as endeavouring to fend off the post-festival lurgy!
I know what you are thinking, “Come to then, who did you see!”.
Rebellion Festival – day one Thursday 4th August 2022
We kicked off Rebellion 2022 in the central Pavilion stage with a new outfit ON THE HUH, who were playing only their seventh ever gig – A decent start! We then exited the building and headed over to the R-Fest situated in the shadow of Blackpool Tower. We caught MILLIE MANDERS AND THE SHUTUP, who we had previously seen in Hove, so we knew what we were getting. The band were overwhelmed to play at such a prestigious event.
We double-backed into Rebellion and caught Pizzatramp at the cavernous Empress Ballroom. All was good in the world in their camp! DEDO PODRE were my next port of call in the Pavilion, and then onto the After Dark RIS (Rebellion Introducing Stage), which sounds tiny but is actually far from the fact, and I’d say the loudest stage during the whole event. Sussex band HAEST showed precisely why they are starting to make a name for themselves.
I bumped into the RISKEE & THE RIDICULE lads, who I’ve seen several times before, and banter was exchanged, and I assured them I would attend their performance in the Empress Ballroom. I did. It was as you would expect; it was absolutely off the scale! It was time to head to the Pavilion again to see what SUZI MOON could offer us today. They delivered…big time! New York punk swagger with tasty tunes. We need to coax this American back to the UK again! I would recommend Brighton’s Great Escape Festival in May 2023 and then back again here at Rebellion 2023, where the Early Bird tickets are already on sale – Grab yours HERE.
It was back to the Ballroom for some shouty Russian punk from THE SVETLANAS, then onto my first shoot at Club Casbah to delve into the world of the always entertaining DIRTBOX DISCO. This whizzing about continued all day long, from lunchtime at 12:20 pm until 1:00 am in the morning. There were 3 more days of this to go too!
Next up, IN EVIL HOUR followed, and then ANTI-FLAG played a blinder in the Ballroom. I had another brush with SPIZZENERGI, having last seen them at The Official Jordan Mooney Charity Memorial gig on Brighton seafront. An act that is always value for money. We then beamed across to catch CIRCLE JERKS in action. So many songs in such a short space of time, no wonder the tracks were delivered in batches. It was a more sedate affair with THE BOYS next, and even more so, with an acoustic set from ANTI-FLAG in the Disney-esque Almost Acoustic room, which was a hidden gem.
Brighton’s BAR STOOL PREACHERS were next who I’d not seen since their support with Cocksparrer back in 2018 and are now signed to the same label for a two-album deal, which should secure their further rise in the world of pop-punk ska. The penultimate act of the day was DEECRACKS, and we wearily signed off with an up-tempo set from LAST HOUNDS.
REBELLION DAY ONE GALLERY
Rebellion Festival – day two Friday 5th August 2022
I had decided to slowly let my ears adjust to a Pounding again on Friday lunchtime with an acoustic set from BITE ME, who I would encounter just an hour and 45 mins later performing a rousing full-on set on the ‘Introducing’ Stage. In between, I witnessed TIGER SEX and IDESTROY, who I both rate, as well as stalwarts NEWTOWN NEUROTICS, with a sparkling pop punk set.
INFA RIOT and the lighthearted SPUNK VOLCANO & THE ERUPTIONS were on the menu next, then BOOZE & GLORY and then former Sex Pistol Paul Cook’s THE PROFESSIONALS had a go. Wot only one PIstol at Rebellion, surely not! Yep!
The SLAUGHTER BITE BACK ensemble gave an excellent performance in the Empress Ballroom, as did the following bands, including SHAM 69, who were legendary and the massive venue was absolutely rammed! Were there any of the 15,000 souls elsewhere? THE RAMONAS and DESPERATE MEASURES saw my day and night off on a high. 1am….time for bed, said Dougal.
REBELLION DAY TWO GALLERY
Rebellion Festival – day three Saturday 6th August 2022
Rebellion Day Three (Saturday) was busy, with 22 acts to get around. Thank God I had the savvy to purchase new photographer-friendly- comfy shoes as my feet had taken a beating over the last 48 hours. REDLIGHTZ started my day at 1:15 pm. It was onto LOS FASTIDIOS (who will be playing The Prince Albert in Brighton in November) for their energy-filled set next.
GOGOPONIES were flying the flag for 21st Century punk next on the ‘Introducing’ Stage, then I grabbed a few shots of CRASHED OUT in the Pavilion, only to return to see intriguing duo THE WEBB next. They are more Sheep On Drugs meets Numan than hardcore punk, but it’s great to see the Rebellion world expanding into neighbouring genres. So it might be great to have a few more like these here, The Pink Diamond Revue, anybody…hint hint!
Stalwarts 999 were playing to a massive audience in the Ballroom, which I’m sure pleased them no end. HIMNOS, PISS KITTY, RUMKICKS, and LADY RAGE were all flying the flag on the new acts to watch out for stakes! I wonder who will emerge as a leader out of this quartet, he said knowingly!
GRADE 2 destroyed the Pavillion stage and are seriously going skywards, but it was essential to cover THE UPSTARTS TRIBUTE TO MENSI for this special moving performance. Upstairs outside of the Literary Stage and Art Exhibition area, there was the memorial wall, where punk fans could post their tribute to fallen brothers and sisters.
A second encounter with Mick Rossi was the order of the day as we took in the delights of MICK ROSSi’S GUN STREET. Things were about to get hard with ERECTION and remain so for ear-shattering sets from DISCHARGE and THE EXPLOITED and a mass sing-a-long for COCK SPARRER. I mean, does punk really get any better than this? Maybe Gary Numan fans at R-FEST would disagree, but Mr Webb is no longer punk is he? But many were simply blown away by his heavy, loud set. He certainly won over plenty of new fans.
The quartet of acts rounding off my Saturday night/Sunday morning were BRIDGE CITY SINNERS, THE CHISEL, duo JOHN and the future of punk, BOB VYLAN, who the organisers sensibly moved from the ‘Introducing’ stage to the ‘Empress Ballroom’. Their set finished at just past 2:00 am, and I start all over again for the final push in ten and a half hours!
REBELLION DAY THREE GALLERY
Rebellion Festival – day four Sunday 7th August 2022
So it’s the final day of Rebellion and R-Fest. It’s a dead cert that hundreds of punk music fans will undoubtedly be suffering the post Rebellion withdrawal symptoms after these four brilliant days, but it is already just under a year to next year’s festival, and you can purchase your tickets now HERE.
Right then, breakfast has been consumed, and we are off with THEE ACID TONGUE and DEATH TRIALS, and then are blown out of the water by Brazilian punks FILHOS DE INACIO (‘Children of Inacio’).
DEE SKUSTING & THE RODENTS tear up the introducing stage with the assistance of a connected Maid Of Ace, bolstering the ranks at the end. It was THE AVENGERS on next at the Empress Ballroom. They are famed for being the support act for the Sex Pistols’ original final “ha ha ha ha, ever got the feeling you’ve been cheated” gig. We weren’t cheated this evening as they later did a stint in the Acoustic Stage with borrowed acoustic guitars.
Brighton-based Gene October and his CHELSEA lads were flying the 1976 punx flag next. Always a great show with them, as it is with fellow Sussex resident and legend Charlie Harper and his UK SUBS, they played to an absolutely rammed Empress Ballroom, which made us proud. In between those two stalwarts, we had taken in DOYLE (who are rated), Italian punks, MADBEAT, Indo-punks, PUNIK, and EVIL CONDUCT with a superb Oi set.
Hastings-based sisters MAID OF ACE were showing the lads how to do it on the Pavilion stage, whereas at the same time, CONFLICT were offloading their views in the Club Casbah.
CRO MAGS were two words that kept coming up with the Rebellion faithful during the 4 days, and thankfully they were on my hit list with a set of NYHC at its finest. Guess who’s back…yep, it’s MICK ROSSI again, for his third bout in front of my cameras. It was a ‘Hanx!’ to STIFF LITTLE FINGERS for their set, and we finally bowed out in the Pavilion at around half eleven with the one and only John Robb and his MEMBRANES. As you would expect, John had been a busy lad during Rebellion, with his many entertaining interviews over on the Literary stage.
Am I shattered? Fuck yeah! Do I need sleep? Fuck yeah! Would I do it all again next year? FUCK YEAH!
REBELLION DAY FOUR GALLERY
The Rebellion Festival and R-Fest have brought the Blackpool seaside alive with incredible music, colour and a lot of well-needed enjoyment to the 1000s in attendance this year. Definitely the festival of the year and the punk fest to end all punk fests! A massive thank you to all the staff, security and folks who helped make our stay safe and fun.
All photos ©Cris Watkins Photography