Review: Rebellion Punk Music Festival

For  someone  who  has  never  been  to  Rebellion  it’s  difficult  to  really  describe.  There’s  a  sense  of  camaraderie  that  you  simply  don’t  get  elsewhere. This isn’t just a gathering of fans, it’s the coming together of a family. The  best  way  to  describe  it  probably  comes  from  this  quote  from  a  Rebellion  veteran:  “The  punk  scene  is  a  ready-made  nucleus  of  degradation  and  disorder,  but  Rebellion  is  like  an  island  of  sanity  and  civility  in  a  world  of  moronic  barbarity  and  consecrated  mediocrity.  For  the  rest  of  the  year  we  are  drowning  in  apathy,  systematically  deluded  and  manipulated  by  the  powers  that  be.  There’s  a  collective  eccentricity  in  punk  rock  and  an  overwhelming  sense  of  belonging”–  Kev  Lloyd

This year Rebellion veteran Gary Trueman was joined by Mark Bestford to sample the unique flavour of the festival.  Here are their hot picks from what was a breath taking event.

Mark’s five of the best.

Pretty  Addicted –  The  shining  star! 

For  any  music  fan  it’s  a  given  that  a  great  show  can  be  had  when  the  audience  makes  a  connection  to  the  music  and  it  feeds  into  the  show  an  energy  that  is  almost  palpable.  What’s  less  obvious  is  when  the  performer  makes  that  same  emotional  connection  resulting  in  them  feeding  on  the  audience’s  energy.  It’s  like  a  feedback  loop  where  both  sides  drive  each  other  to  higher  peaks,  creating  something  that  can  be  truly  breath  taking.  This  was  Pretty  Addicted  playing  to  the  compact  Introducing  Stage,  while  the  U.K.  Subs  played  to  the  full  to  capacity  Empress  Ballroom.  Hey  Precious,  look  who  you  can  be.  You’re  a  star!

Stiff  Little  Fingers – The  Emerald  Isle  legends

Of  all  the  main  headliners  for  the  weekend  it  was  Stiff  Little  Fingers  that  impressed  the  most.  The  crowd  response  between  them  and  what  can  only  be  described  as  an  utterly  mediocre  performance  from  PiL  could  not  have  contrasted  more.  Where  John  Lydon  snarled,  Jake  Burns  turned  on  the  charm.  And  where  the  fans  walked  out  of  PiL  in  disgust  they  crowded  into  the  Empress  Ballroom  in  adulation  of  Stiff  Little  Fingers.  At  no  other  point  were  so  many  fans  in  harmony  with  the  band,  and  as  Alternative  Ulster  started  playing  it  was  as  if  every  punk  at  Rebellion  sang  with  one  voice.

Millie  Manders  &  The  Shut  Up –   Two performances that rocked

To  see  Millie  Manders  off  stage  is  to  see  someone  who  seems  disquiet  with  their  own  talent.  On  stage  there’s  a  confidence  that  belies  the  fears,  and  a  vocal  talent  that  exposes  those  fears  as  unfounded.  It  was  her  second  performance,  on  the  Almost  Acoustic  stage  though  where  she  truly  shone.  Without  a  backing  band  an artist’s  vulnerabilities  are  exposed  to  the  crowd, and Millie proved to be very at home as a solo performer.  With  people  having  to  watch  from  the  main  corridor  a  room  full  of  punks  fell  in  love  with  her  voice,  and  as  the  last  notes  fell  from  her  ukele  the  entire  room  stood  up  to  applaud.

Turbulent  Hearts – The  mic  drop  queen

With  the  punk  attitude  of  Suzi  Quattro  and  Joan  Jett  combined  Suzi  Moon  rocks  a  stage  like  a  true  rock  goddess.  It’s  a  great  show  throughout,  but  it’s  on  the  final  song,  I  Wanna  Be  Your  Dog  by  Iggy  Pop,  a  Rebellion  regular,  that  Suzi  nails  the  show.  It’s  a  sexy  sleazed  up  version  that  sees  Suzi  take  to  the  crowd  to  sing,  before  she  drops  the  mic  and  simply  walks  out  of  the  room  via  the  back  doors,  leaving  the  band  to  finish  the  song  on  their  own  and  the  crowd  asking  themselves  what  has  just  happened.  Pure  and  utter  genius.

Dirt  Box  Disco – The  crowd  surfing  kings

It’s  always  great  to  see  bands  grow  into  something  bigger.  Usually  it’s  a  gradual  change,  but  with  Dirt  Box  Disco  they’ve  gone  from  a  lower  bill  novelty  to  a  monster  in  just  a  couple  of  years.  Still  great  fun,  and  with  a  fanbase  eager  to  please,  they  put  the  security  on  the  barrier  to  the  ultimate  test  with,  at  the  last  count,  200  crowd  surfers  breaching  the  barrier  during  their  relatively  short  40  minute  set.  They  have  everything  going  for  them,  an  energetic  crowd,  audience  participation,  inflatable  swimming  aids,  a  full  room  of  eager  fans.  A  truly  memorable  show.

Gary’s five of the best

Choking Susan – Punk force Barbie means fun!

It’s astonishing to think that acts such as Choking Susan that are legendary within the punk family haven’t garnered more attention from the general music media.  With Colleen Caffiene at the helm this is a band that have an eye popping dynamic and have the music to back it up. There’s an almost child like quality about Caffiene’s raw enthusiasm and presence on stage.  Her outfits always erring towards cute are in stark contrast to the rest of the band.  It works beautifully.  For people who think punk rock is all about anger and being political Choking Susan are an eye opener.  On the massive Empress Ballroom stage they prove to be an addictively fun band with a true punk force Barbie leading the way.

Maid Of Ace – The sisters are doing it for themselves

Since they hit the scene a few years back Maid Of Ace have gained so much momentum it’s a wonder they’ve not jumped the tracks. Their performance at this year’s Rebellion just cements what many already know, that they’re one of the finest young bands around.  Utterly professional and possessing near telepathic tightness and coordination (they are all siblings) they charge through a set full of songs crammed with sing along moments and mosh inducers.  While Alison, Anna and Amy take the limelight up front there has to be a special mention for Abby back behind the drums.  Her playing marks her out as one of the finest in the business, and gives Maid Of Ace real kick. This is a phenomenal performance that marks them out as future headliners.

Discharge – Fire in the hold

It helps that the sound on the Casbah stage is needle sharp but take nothing away from Discharge they could have played in a swimming pool on this form and still sounded like they could arm wrestle Godzilla to the ground. With JJ on point this is an incendiary performance that shows just why this band are so highly regarded.  Credited as having helped launch a heavier brand of punk as well as the thrash metal scene you can hear and feel why in every note. Distorted guitars are made to make sense by the minimalist style while the vocals punch you in the face.  The security do well to maintain order in a pit that froths like a stormy sea.  Discharge are a hand grenade of a band and today someone pulled the pin.

The Droogettes – More than clockwork oranges.

It’s all in the name, or is it?  The Droogettes clearly have some Oi influences in their music, and of course their name is synonymous with a certain Stanley Kubrick film.  There’s much more to this band than simply following a well worn path though.  For a start they appear on stage devoid of the Oi band uniform many expect.  They’re not the first to bin it but it’s a refreshing statement none the less.  Their music crosses over nicely to with a healthy dose of US punk-o-rama giving them a unique and memorable sound.  This is a band that clearly love to entertain.  They’ve taken a sub genre and brought it up to date.  In fact they’ve done such a great job you can imagine them influencing other bands in the future.  The Droogettes, remember the name because you’re going to be hearing a lot more of it.

Svetlanas – And the mad as a hatter award goes to…….

Olga Svetlanas makes you feel like every song is being sung just for you.  That roving eye ball, the manic stare, and the literal in your face style has seen her become a punk icon in just a couple of years or so.  The band play it tight and cool.  Their music reverberates right across the spectrum giving them serious mass appeal.  Rebellion seems to magnify some bands presence.  With The Svetlanas the festival allows them to be more terrifyingly full throttle and more clinically insane than anywhere else.  It’s like they’ve come home, kicked off their shoes and are ready to party. They fill the Casbah stage which can swallow some acts whole, and their music rips through the crowd like fork lightning. The sun may be shining out in Blackpool but the Svetlanas shine even brighter in the Winter Gardens.


The one we both agree on:  Sem Futuro

Mark Bestford.

Has  it  been  mentioned  that  the  Brazilians  are  insane? Sem  Futuro  (‘No  Future’)  has  a  reputation  of  being  a  little  bit  crazy.  But  the  only  way  to  really  describe  this  show  is  completely  bat-shit  fucking  insane.  Wearing  a  make-shift  nun’s  habit  the  lead  singer  leaps  about  like  the  possessed  from  the  Exorcist.  It  would  not  have  surprised  me  to  see  him  crawling  on  the  roof  while  shouting  out  the  lyrics  to  songs  that  I  had  no  chance  of  ever  understanding.  But  you  didn’t  need  to  know  Portuguese  in  order  to  enjoy  this  crazy  show.  This  is  all  topped  off  at  the  end  by  the  singer  being  carried  through  the  crowd,  it’s  not  quite  crowd  surfing  but  it’s  certainly  fun.

Gary Trueman

Brazilian nuns with cardboard crosses are the order of the day this time round at Rebellion.  While the straight jacket of old may have been more appropriate it’s great to see a band know when the joke is getting old.  The thing with Sem Futuro is that for all the lunacy it’s their music that makes them so special.  They’ve taken the heavier end of the traditional punk sound and turbocharged it and added groove.  The result is a live show that is infectious, not to mention high quality.  We’ve been waiting a while for the new breed to emerge, the ones who will become the leaders in a few years time.  Sem Futuro may have to drop the Sem at some point because they are the Futuro.

The best of the rest:


It’s hangover Thursday for many as they settled into the Rebellion standard operating procedure of hitting Tache rock bar in the early hours. Some are still arriving as the doors open making gearing up an easy paced thing to do.  If  anything  Thursday  is  the  longest  day  of  the  Festival though  starting  11:30  in  the  morning  with  the  now  traditional  bingo with Max.  Highlights  of  the  day  include  Drongos  for  Europe  in  the  cavernous  Club  Casbah,  Hospital  Food,  who  rock  out  on  the  Pavilion  Stage,  and  the  opening  night  headliner  The  Buzzcocks  who  close  the  Empress  Ballroom  at  1  am.  For  the  more  adventurous  punks  willing  to  brave  the  early  hours  of  the  morning  there’s  still  2  more  bands  to  go,  with  Sons  of  Clogger  and  Lagwagon.  Elsewhere The Soap Girls once again played to a vast crowd, their music standing loud and proud while Millie took the time to dismantle a heckler with great style. Later on they proved their worth in the confines of the acoustic stage, as do Desensitised. Vulpynes and Weekend Recovery shone brightly over at introducing, while Call Me Malcom and Bandits brought a bit of ska to the smallest but still perfectly formed stage. Hangover status: Groggy and fuzzy.


Friday  is  invasion  of  the  Brazilians,  with  six  bands  playing  across  multiple  stages.  It’s  quite  an  eye  opener  to  discover  that  Brazilians  love  all  types  of   punk  music.  No,  to  say  they  love  punk  is  to  understate  it,  they  have  a  burning  passion  for  it  fuelled  by  the  politics  of  Brazil,  that  taps  into  the  heart  of  the  British  punk  movements  of  the  70s  and  80s.  Subalternos,  Sindicato  Oi,  Dedo  Podre,  Agrotoxico,  Supla,  they  all  bring  this  passion  to  their  shows,  and  the  Brazilian  fans  bring  it  to  the  dance  floor.  It’s  during  Sindicato  Oi’s  set  that  the  weekend  is  nearly  brought  to  an  early  end  as  a  flailing  dervish  from  the  dance  floor  results  in  a  rather  sore  jaw  for  the  remainder  of  the  day.  Nothing’s  broken  though  so  it’s  business  as  usual  for  the  rest  of  the  weekend.  Sem  Futuro  are  the  highlight  of  the  Brazilian  invasion.  Viki Vortex And The Cumshots turn up the heat on the Casbah stage, so much so they have to open the doors to cool things down even before the afternoon sun gets hold. Alongside  the  boys  from  Brazil  were  the  equally  mental  The  Babes,  Devolution  faves  Healthy  Junkies,  and  the  legendary  Anti  Nowhere  League  who  are  the  first  band  of  many  to  completely  fill  the  Empress  Ballroom.  Vertigo Violet smash it on introducing giving the festival serious food for thought about bringing them back next year. Hangover status: Pass the paracetamols.


There’s  a  running  theme  right  from  the  start  on  Saturday  as  Murderburgers  fill  the  Introducing  stage  to  capacity.  Soon  afterwards  their  drummer  Alex  fills  in  for  Pizzatramp  and  given  just  one  night  to  learn  the  songs  does a hell of a job.  The band blow everyone away with their post hard core make it up as you go along vibe.  For  old  school  punks  today  is  the  day  with  999,  CockneyRejects,  RutsDC,  and  Peter&TheTestTubeBabies  all  playing.  The  most  popular  band  of  the  day  though  has  to  be  U.K.  Subs,  who  put  on  a  great  show.  They’re  so  popular  in  fact  that  they  have  to  turn  people  away  and  close  the  doors  to  the  Empress  Ballroom.  It’s  not  all  old  school  though  with  Antisect  putting  on  a  blistering  performance  in  the  Pavilion.  The new kids on the block are well represented by the fabulous IDestrioy and Migrana Social whose bass player has to win the award for most astonishing hair do at the event. Diablofurs bring some rock n roll mixed with new wave and a whole other bag of tricks to introducing.  They are another act that must be on the organisers radar for a swift return. Veterans Vice Squad show they still have plenty to offer with Beki Bondage now the subject of an investigation as to whether she owns a time machine.  How can anyone stay looking that fresh for this long?  Amazing.  Hangover status: Hair of the dog


It’s the last day and everyone is scurrying around picking up last minute purchases from the many vendors at Rebellion. J’aime Rachelle plays her heart out on the acoustic stage.  A specialist in the unplugged her set is a class apart.  The  Baby  Seals  put  on  a  really  fun  show  with  their  songs  about  women,  not  for  the  squeamish  men  in  the  audience.  Informal  Society  from  LA  put  on  a  highly  energetic  show  and  even  have  Suzi  Carmichael  guest  on  the  last  couple  of  tracks.  Glittertrash pretty much do what they say on the tin.  It’s full on US punk who with a front woman in Jenna Talia are always going to be show stoppers.  Hands Off Gretel have newly bedded in bass ace Becky Baldwin on show and take no prisoners on the Casbah stage.  While the older songs are always going to be crowd pleasers the new material stacks up well in a live environment. The new album should be a killer if this show is anything to go by.  Slaughter  &  The  Dogs  get  a  highly  energetic  crowd  going  to  a  great  set.  The  most  colourful  band  of  the  weekend  though  has  to  be  The  Adicts  who  bring  their  circus  to  the  Club  Casbah  stage  to  close  the  night.  Michael Monroe rocks the socks off everyone at the sumptuous Opera House while something is stirring in the Empress ballroom.  Yep, John Lydon is up to his old tricks again.  The former Sex Pistol can’t help but wind up the audience with a little political speech.  It sees many leave in dismay but those that stay watch a PIL show that is solid rather than barnstorming.  Those that can party on well into Monday.  Hangover status: Dead!

Rebellion is a huge festival.  It runs for four full days on seven stages and hosts around 350 acts.  It’s run by a small team with no corporate sponsorship and because it is independent it can book who it wants, can blood as many new acts as it wants and can truly support the scene.  Darren Russell-Smith and Jennie Russell-Smith started Rebellion festival and have built it into something quite magnificent.  They’ve given punks a spiritual home where everyone feels like they belong.  Cheers guys.  See you in 2019.

Rebellion festival 2019 tickets – click here