RGM Magazine spent the long weekend at the Rebellion Punk Festival in Blackpool. The grand splendour of the Victorian Winter Gardens cannot be any further juxtaposed from the largest independent punk scene gathering in the UK.
With Six stages set within The Winter Gardens ornate walls, there is so much that makes it the perfect location for this event.
The Rebellion Festival takes place over four days in August every year, seeing thousands come through the doors. You get the general feel that it’s a place where old and new friends get together as one big family and there isn’t an age bracket.
Opening the weekend, the Essex based DIY punk duo The Meffs aka Lily on vocals/guitar and Lewis on drums stormed the stage in The Empress Ballroom. Rumoured to have been the biggest crowd in the history of The Rebellion, The Meffs pulled them in to full capacity.
Totally owning the stage Lily used the whole expanse to pace and get the crowd going before opening the set with Broken Britain, Broken Brains.
Three songs in and I struggled leaving the pit area but stayed firmly on the side-lines to listen. The crowd’s full participation and a sea of red and yellow Meffs t-shirts show that The Meffs are going from strength to strength.
Up The Meffs!
Back to The impressive Empress Ballroom and English four-piece Punk Rock Band U.K Subs led by vocalist Charlie Harper, who incidentally are on their final ever U.K tour, still pull the crowds in at The Rebellion and see in a new generation of younger fans. The crowd belting out Warhead was a sight to see.
Walking around the aptly named horseshoe, an area that loops around one of the central stages The Pavilion, I got a sensory overload from the band merch on offer from some of the hundreds of bands that are attending the festival.
The cream glazed tiled walls that are part of the historic building were adorned with posters advertising times and locations for various bands and the tables strewn with flyers.
It’s weird recognising band members mingling in with the hoards of people and not being mobbed, but just becoming part of the crowd as they chat at the stalls with other band members.
Arriving at The Pavilion I was just in time for Kaleko Urdangak a four-piece true Skinhead band from Spain who formed in 2011.
The Winter Gardens was now packed out and a queue was forming outside The Empress Ballroom for Neville Staples of The Specials, good to listen to the sounds I grew up with and watch the crowd bouncing on the wooden dance floor being transported back.
Bite Me not literally, but an all-girl band from London, formed four years ago and are on their 2nd year at Rebellion with new bassist Estee.
Bite Me played one set at Almost Acoustic in the Spanish Bar, a light, bright stage and more relaxed for a slower paced acoustic session and tonight’s set in Club Casbah, a stage where Bite Me can be their bitchin, trashy, kickass, punk rock n roll playing selves.
Saturday evening and enter the one and only Buster Bloodvessel onto the main stage in The Empress Ballroom. Pulling out the 2-tone Ska classics ‘My Girl Lollipop ‘and ‘Lip Up Fatty’ to the delight of the crowd.
Hailing from Hastings the four-piece band Kid Kapichi (named after a nonsense sound, they heard on a loop) led by vocals Jack Wilson are described as a band of the future and are very much forerunners in their genre.
This is my second time seeing the band and I wasn’t disappointed.
Kicking off their set by throwing freebies into the crowd “anyone for a pack of beef jerky” an unusual set opener but an entertaining and interactive warmup.
The Empress Ballroom comes into play as Kid Kipachi get the crowd pumped up with I.N.V.U and the floorboards are rocking, literally.
RGM finishes the festival with Bob Vylan an English based grime rap and punk duo from London, made up of Bobby Vylan (vocals) and Bobbie Vylan (drums)
After last year’s move to The Empress Ballroom due to the smaller Arena not being able to cope with the capacity, it proved to be a good call, there was an air of anticipation before Bob Vylan entered the stage a slight pause and build up and for a full venue you could almost hear a pin drop. The crowd erupted, then back to the calm and quiet as Bobby did his usual warm up exercises before the set, with the rhythm of a slow contemporary dancer, although this was soon to be extinguished when within the first two minutes, he was over the pit barrier and into the crowd.
What a fantastic end to Rebellion Festival 2023, roll on next year.
A venue that saw over 300 alternative, punk and up- and- coming bands get together under one roof, Punk Bingo in the Theatre Bar, a bit of variety, the Spoken word and plenty of laughter.
Words by Gisela Szlatoszlavek
Photos by Gisela Szlatoszlavek and Craig Philip Szlatoszlavek