Live Review: Rebellion Festival 2023

It’s full steam ahead at The Winter Gardens with the return of the Opera House hosting a full schedule of acts again after last year’s hiatus while R-Fest was in progress down on the sea front. 2023 was to become something of a classic right from the start with the RIS (Rebellion Introducing Stage) producing several key moments and a couple of our best band picks. Gary Trueman and Aggy Gillon caught the action over all four days ……

Gary’s Five of the best.

Thursday: Svetlanas –The unstoppable force

The Svetlanas are one of those bands that have been bubbling away nicely for a few years now mastering their craft and building a loyal fan base. Their performance this year on the mighty Empress stage is a breakthrough moment. They are a full force, no compromise, tornado of sound led by the unique Olga Svetlanas. The music is fierce but cleverly constructed too. This is punk that clearly has wide influences, and appeal. Olga is a force to behold prowling the stage, raging, and also making the whole set fun too. You get the feeling this is a band with plenty more in the tank yet.

Friday: 18Fevers – The new young superstars

One of a crop of young Asian bands playing the event 18Fevers set themselves apart immediately courtesy of a polished rhythm section and great guitar work. Then Christmas Kwon starts singing and the world changes! Jaws drop, pints are spilled and everything goes into a dreamstate. What we are hearing is a voice reminiscent of a young very angry Brody Dalle. The music fits the vox like a glove. And that vox is frankly astonishing. The Rebellion Introducing Stage has unearthed some real gems over the years and in 18Fevers it’s once again delivered something special.

Saturday: Slackrr – The Happiest band award goes too…..

Timing they say is everything, and with a pop punk re-emergence looking imminent Slackrr are well placed to clean up. Of course you have to be able to play a bit and have a few decent songs and that’s where the Southampton trio excel. They have those big smile melodies and soundscape harmonies that ensure the sun will always shine at their shows. It’s the feel good factor we need right now. The skate park inspired look works well too with Scotty’s trademark shades making him look every inch the part. If a positive attitude and hard work were a competition sport Slackrr would be gold medalists.

Saturday: Rumkicks – Introducing K-Punk to the world

Playing for the second year on the trot Rumkicks are sporting a new bass player and a whole new following judging by the nearly full Empress Ballroom.  That’s impressive at 2pm. They play an edgy pop punk with a massive helping of cute thanks to singer and guitarist Yeawon’s easy audience engagement. You can see just what it means to the three piece to be on this big stage, the emotion of it all transfers to the crowd who fall in love with the Koreans. Fast tempo music is dished out with aplomb, the band can certainly play. Better still they prove music really is a universal language.

Sunday: Pizzatramp – Ridiculous fun!

A band that could just turn up and do a stand up routine with no instruments are Pizzatramp. Plugged in though their punk metal fusion means the crowd goes wild – in between nearly wetting themselves laughing. With song titles such as ‘Millions Of Dead Goths’ preceded by an appeal to donate £10 to save a goth, and ‘My Back’s Fucking Fucked’ you just know this isn’t going to be anything but irreverent. In amongst all the carnage they throw in a moving tribute to Sinead O’Conner too. It takes skill to pull that off. Pizzatramp taste damn good, they’re fast becoming unmissable.











Aggy’s Five Of The Best

Thursday: Healthy Junkies – The Eccentric and Ethereal

These psychedelic, punk and grunge rock n rollers bring something vibrant and fresh to the festival with catchy lyrics and beats, which are so infectious. It’s near impossible not to bounce along and fall for their charm as the whole band play their hearts out. They all effortlessly vibe together, entrancing you into their world of bohemia. Front Woman Nina Courson, originally from Paris, has a unique captivating vocal style. She was born to take centre stage. Once you hear them play ‘The Sound Of My Guitar’ it will be stuck in your head for days.

Thursday: Riskee and the Ridicule – The Show Stoppers

Another fairly early slot for these guys this year but we predict them as future contenders for a top spot on the bill. These seasoned showmen can certainly pull in a crowd and put on an unforgettable performance. Frontman Scott Picking aka Riskee comes at you all guns blazing with his intense fast pace hard punk and rap stylings occasionally bursting into melodic vocals that can tear right through a crowd. Stand-out songs include ‘Body Bag’, ‘Our Time’ and ‘Molotov Cocktails’ which send fans into a frenzy. These guys are a must to see live and we feel they translate better this way rather than on recordings as it is only then you can capture their true raw power radiating from the stage.

Friday: Fire Exit – Forty-Six years and still going strong

One of the original punk bands hailing from Scotland and is showing no sign of slowing down with this impeccable performance. They’re playing the larger casbah stage this year which is a great call as they are far better suited and deserving of such a space. Fire Exit arguably put on one of the best performances of all of the ‘older gen’ bands of the same ilk this weekend. Gerry Attrick as always charmed the crowd between songs with his banter and cheeky wit, being sure to plug his new book along the way (Gerry Attrick – The Story So Far). Already on the bill for next year, be sure to be there as these guys are not ones to be missed!

Saturday: Bad Skin – They are the girls and they are the ones to watch!

A quartet of badass Women all the way from Montreal in Canada made their debut this year with their own flavour of Punk Rock. Attitude exuded from the stage from each member.  For the first time they performed their single ‘We Are The Girls’ which had never been heard before. An anthem for girl empowerment they also had another treat under their sleeves. They were joined by the Rumkicks who feature on the new track. Having all those powerful Women together on stage felt like a landmark moment. Bad Skin also performed their own rendition of ‘Barbie Girl’ (which they originally released some years ago) which felt like the cherry on top of the cake. A colourful performance both musically and visually. We can’t wait for their return to our shores!

Sunday: Republica – The 90s Brit Rock Icons

Closing the festival we had none other than the iconic Republica gracing the stage. Their show was met with high anticipation and they didn’t disappoint. Rebellion has such a rich variety of bands and they fit right into this eclectic mix. You could feel the excitement in the atmosphere, with many up and dancing throughout the set. Republica of course bring along with them the nostalgia of the scene at the time with hits everyone can remember but teaming their set with more recent songs it feels like a new wave for them and it was a joy to witness. Saffron’s style and singing are so uniquely hers, she’s a true rock star and has honed her craft expertly. You can barely take your eyes away as she sings so gleefully. When hearing the classic hits such as ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ and ‘Ready to Go’ it’s clear why they shot to stardom and became a household name. The entire band put together an unforgettable performance and the light show complimented the energy. Surprisingly they’ve never played Rebellion before but let’s hope this won’t be the last we see of them here.

Healthy Junkies


Fire Exit


Bad Skin




The one we both agree on.

Millie Manders And The Shutup

Gary: For the first time ever I’m including both electric and acoustic sets in my choice here. Simply put Millie Manders And The Shutup are Rebellion headliners in waiting. Millie and Joe work beautifully together on the unplugged stage where we get to hear up close just how strong those vocals are. Out on the Casbah Stage the full band ram the venue to the rafters and produce a set of immense class. We get to see four gifted musicians working together in perfect harmony while Millie Manders herself is fast becoming an icon and inspiration to women (and men) wanting to play or sing.

Aggy: Millie Manders has a voice of an angel, she can really take your breath away when you hear her sing. Performing twice over the weekend her acoustic set complimented her voice perfectly. As she belts out the notes it fills the room and sends shivers up your spine. Don’t be fooled by her angelic tones, she covers a range of topics including songs about serious issues such as those relating to sexual assault victims. Her music and lyrics reach into your soul and bring a tear to the eye of even the toughest punks in attendance. Millie has the ability to capture your attention entirely and really put you in awe of her incredible talents.


Millie Manders And The Shutup



You can never go wrong with a Syteria set. Julia Calvos on lead vocals has an impressive range and along with the legendary Jackie Chambers on guitar, they know how to command a crowd. Pollypikpocketz enhance their growing reputation with a polished set in the already heating up Pavillion. Eryx London is in fine fettle too on their return to Blackpool. Punk and rockabilly-inspired Viki Vortex & The Cumshots have a colourful name and an even more colourful image, you can’t help but be drawn to this trio. Singing songs on subjects ranging from sex and politics, they put on a merry show full of fun and attitude. The acoustic set of Australian singer Jess of the Raising Ravens compliments her vocals and musical style beautifully. The addition of the harmonica helps make the set something special to experience. Derry’s Cherym are one of the stand outs on the RIS on this opening day. U.K. Subs never disappoint and are a firm favourite at Rebellion. The legend that is Charlie Harper will ever run out of steam and they deliver an epic set. The crowd chanting ‘Warhead’ alongside Charlie singing is one of the best examples of crowd participation you will ever seen at the festival. Penetration stepped in at the last minute to replace The Descendants and with only four days’ notice do themselves and their fans proud. Cock Sparrer join the long list of original punk bands on the bill and perform classics such as ‘Were Coming Back’ and ‘I Got Your Number’ to an as ever enthusiastic crowd








Anarcho-punk veterans Subhumans make a return to Rebellion this time in The Empress Ballroom to a predictably large crowd of eager fans. They perform their classic ‘Work.Rest.Play.Die’ and unsurprisingly everyone goes nuts. Girls Like Us grace the RIS with a set of high quality that sends a strong feminist message. It’s a theme that runs throughout the stage this year. In Evil Hour rock the socks off of Empress. The curiously named Nxb0dies combine gothic mood with punk venom. There’s a whole theme going on here that wants you to find out more. It’s a feisty well put together set that bodes extremely well for the future. Duo Minatore bring all the slick guitar licks and a beast of a drummer to the party. A Void prove their worth with a sublime set mixing in grunge with punk and rock. Dummy Toys from China don’t muck about at all. They get stuck in, play it loud and leave you wanting more. The energy and excitement coming from the stage of Bar Stool Preachers matched that of the crowd. Frontman TJ McFaull takes his time to speak to the crowd, telling fans they stand for equality and community. ‘All The Broken Hearts’ sees fans getting their hands up, singing along and taking the roof off. This is a potential headliner showing. Rockers Jo Jo And The Teeth offer up something different that has a sparkle to it. Dirt Box Disco don their trademark ski mask and hats as they play fan favourites ‘I don’t want to go out with you’ and ‘My Life Is Shit’ to a full audience. There’s something about their vibe and the Casbah stage that just goes together so perfectly. We catch Henry Rollins Spoken Word. It’s exactly what you would expect, Rollins, chatting away and telling tales for an eye-watering two and a half hours. However, he manages to keep fans entertained and in their seats hanging on his every word. Ska and reggae-influenced bands always go down a treat and Citizen Fish, who share members with Subhumans are no exception. The Anti Nowhere League do what they do best, giving their fans exactly what they want. The Exploited as expected play a blinding set in front of a full excited (and very sweaty) audience. Songs such as ‘Sex and Violence’ typically start a lot of moshing and crowd surfing. It’s a fitting end to the evening.



A Void


Bar Stool Preachers



Bite Me fill the Casbah with their glorious sound with London King demonstrating some serious pipes. Gimpfist have cemented themselves into the English street punk scene. On vocal and lead guitar Johnny Robson doesn’t miss a beat. Their song ‘Working Class’ goes down a storm and feels as relevant as ever. Raising Ravens produce a no nonsense set that adds to their growing reputation as a real force on the scene. Midwich Cuckoos are showing off a new singer and show some real class too. Ken Bonsall is on fine form leading his Ferocious Dog army on the Empress stage. The Worsop crew sound as tight as ever.Boston’s The FU’s bring a mix of hardcore punk with a tinge of metal. They mix it up with some songs taking in a slower tempo. 80s Goth rockers Ghost Dance play a mix of old and new tracks fresh off the heels of releasing their first new single in 30 years ‘Falling Down’. 80s legends Bad Manners are so fun to watch with their delightfully bouncy ska, brass instruments and frontman Buster Bloodvessell cracking jokes. One of their final songs ‘You Fat Bastard’ went down a treat. Dragster tear the roof off with their blistering set. Pint-sized punk frontwoman Fiona Friel gets up close and personal with a spot of crowd surfing. This is a band that epitomise punk rock but have enough in their locker to attract new younger fans too. Ruts DC play a mix of classics and newer material as well as giving some heartfelt words for the late Sinead O’Conner. They dedicate ‘Give Me Something to Kill The Pain’ after softly saying “This one’s for you darling”.Slovenia’s first female-fronted psychobilly band Clockwork Psycho are unique and wild with songs such as ‘The Sh*t F*ck Song’ featuring double bass, what’s not to love? New Model Army haven’t played Rebellion for a number of years. On this superb showing they ought to see a swift return. Continental Lovers make their debut with a prestigious late-night spot and despite being newbies and maybe not what you would class as the ‘typical rebellion’ band gather an impressive audience. They bring along their rock n roll/glam punk game in full force and put on a set which impress new and old fans alike.What’s this? A rave at a punk festival! Tokky Horror may just have opened Pandora’s Box with this end of night party. Brilliant stuff and so much fun.



New Model Army


Continental Lovers


If you were still feeling lethargic early Sunday afternoon after a weekend of music and partying then it’s guaranteed John E Vistic Rock N Roll Soundsystem are enough to inject some life back into you after their set on the RIS stage. Knowing that the music scene is in safe hands for the future is very important. There are plenty of youthful acts on this weekend but not many are as young as The Human Error. They show no nerves whatsoever bashing out high octane songs that hint at a Dead Kennedy’s influence mixed with pop punk. This is where the RIS scores highly, giving opportunities to artists with decades ahead of them. On this occasion we see enough to know this fine trio will be back. The Brazilian/Dutch duo Yur Mum win over the crowd with their music and humour. Fabio Couto on drums joked ‘All they ever wanted to do was play the local boozer’ then proceeds to say which means they have failed miserably. The couple make a fantastic noise and fill the stage with their presence. Spunk Volcano & The Eruptions have for a jokey name some heartfelt songs such as ‘I can’t stop thinking about you’. They’re a band never to be missed. You could feel the love at the fabulously eccentric T-Bitch acoustic set. The proudly queer and feminist bunch stood out with their funky and colourful wardrobes. There’s nowhere to hide when you’re a solo artist armed only with an acoustic guitar and words. It’s the kind of exposure that often sees musicians with formidable reputations wilt. So the acoustic stage has a way of finding you out. It’s a challenge only the best rise to. Step forward Sally Pepper who owns this stage. Her set is a no frills all substance joy that places lyrics and meaning at the front. Millie Manders provides a sparkling duet to round off the set. The only real question now is how long will it be before Sally Pepper is asked to play on one of the electric stages? On this performance she’s earned that right and then some. Bob Vylan is killing punk may be a bold statement. It’s also likely to be untrue too. But what they are doing is changing it. They’re moving it in a new direction, kicking down doors and inevitably pissing a few people off too. The best bit is that they’re incredible to watch and know how to read the room.

Yur Mum


Sally Pepper


Bob Vylan


Progressing a festival year on year is an enormous task so you have to give credit to the team at Rebellion for the near impossible balancing act of trying to keep so many fans happy. It’s inevitable that as many of the heritage acts disappear we’ll see a lot of change, and that’s a good thing. We’re starting to see (relatively) younger acts stake a claim as headliners of the future. The music is increasingly diverse which with six stages to fill there is plenty of scope for. And once again Rebellion is leading the way in its support of female artists and the LGBTQ+ community. Much more than just a festival this feels more like a family gathering. Long may it continue.

Rebellion 2024 will take place on August 1st to 4th:

Click here for Rebellion Festival website and ticket information

Rebellion Punk Music Festival – Facebook

Review by Gary trueman and Aggy Gillon

Photos by Gary Trueman