With Rebellion festival postponed for a second year due to the pandemic and lockdown easing enough for many of the punk community to travel to Blackpool there was a window of opportunity to put on some kind of event. And so a one off mini-festival running for one day with night time bar and films spanning the rest of the weekend was born. Holidays In The Sun started the ball rolling back in 1996 at The Winter Gardens so HITS 25 was an appropriately celebratory title.
Two stages hosted 24 acts representing the wide diversity Rebellion has become famous for. On the Friday night there was a quiz and some acoustic performances from Dischord and Sal Pepper. While the Empress Ballroom saw a fully plugged in show the popular Pavilion was home to the ‘almost acoustic’ performers. Tsunami Sox had the honour of kicking things off followed by Rob from the Yalla Yallas. Gareth James and Tim Holehouse kept the ball rolling nicely, the venue proving to be a good place to chill out while still enjoying some music. Catlow had already played earlier with Death Trails and put in a stella second performance armed with her trusty acoustic guitar.
Is that Rebellion co-founder Jennie Russell-Smith on stage with The Dead Crows (Ft MDM + The Crows)? Yes indeed it is. It’s a top set of songs from the five piece who are followed by Chris Butler’s quality solo show. Cherry and Peesh duet their way through an entertaining half hour highlighted by some fine vocals. Carol Hodge is pure class while Steve Drewett transfers well to the acoustic setting. The Alarm’s Dave Sharp carries on the good work while perennial Winter Gardens favourite Attila The Stockbroker shows his usual flair. Headline act TV Smith rounds off the almost acoustic stage with a set worthy of his placing.
The Dead Crows
Out in the already rapidly filling Empress Ballroom Death Trails stake their claim for a future place at Rebellion with their modern take on the punk sound. Millie Manders And The Shut Up have been a bit of a revelation in recent years. Today simply elevates them even further. A potential headline slot at Blackpool must be on the Horizon. Fire Exit play straight bat punk with the welcome addition of some harmonica. The Scottish stalwarts go down a storm. Gimpfist whizz through their set with aplomb. Another act catching plenty of attention are Maid Of Ace. The sisters are on fire today and their ferocious sound is seeing them gain fans at a huge rate of knots while proving punk is in safe hands for the future. Court jesters Dirt Box Disco don’t disappoint even now Weab has left for pastures new.
Millie Manders And The Shut Up
Maid Of Ace
The energetic Bar Stool Preachers could be one of the links needed between the old and the new. They have a fresh dynamic sound but also traditionalist appeal. The consistent GBH squad do their impressive thing, performing to a splendidly enthusiastic crowd. Charlie Harper has attained near deity status on the punk scene. He’s still a sprightly performer leading the UK Subs with deft vocals and words of wisdom. Long may he grace stages with his statesman like manner and boundless charm. The Cockney Rejects are another veteran act that defy the march of time. They marry nostalgia with here and now potency perfectly. Headliners Cock Sparrer will be hitting their half century next year. That places them right at the very beginnings of punk. They have steadfastly done things their way throughout that whole time too, remaining an iconic DIY band. Tonight they round off HITS 25 in glorious fashion with the sold out crowd singing along to every word.
Dirt Box Disco
Bar Stool Preachers
The Rebellion crew have done an incredible job putting this all together in just a few short weeks. The event is streamed next door to the Arena and also on line so people unable to attend can still watch. The Winter Gardens too deserve a shout out for their part in making this happen. Next year all being well Rebellion will be back bigger and better than ever before. The HITS 25 weekend will become a memory, but also an I was there moment too. This weekend proved beyond any doubt that punk is well and truly alive and kicking.