Rebellion 2016 – Festival Programme – Article by Andy Higgins

It’s amazing to me how quickly the festival seems to come around each year so for someone of my advancing years it was good news to discover that with the assistance of the venerable Jonny Wah Wah, Rebellion and I will be putting together a CD to document new bands to the festival ….. so this much anticipated CD/event will be happening from 2017 onwards. This will not only be a good reference-able document to showcase the new bands coming through the festival but will also as I mentioned to someone on the wrong side of 40 be a valuable aide memoire.

Now I don’t know if all our minds work in the same way but I recall my previous years through an index of music, football and politics. I am sure different humans will have a different methodological recall system be it for their significant events such as holidays, relationships or criminal convictions but for me the regular patterns offered by football tournaments and various elections along with the lees patternable but equally impactable lightning strikes from great music offers a neat blend that works for me.

For instance in terms of patterns I know the US Presidential election always follows the European Football Championships (as does the Olympics) and it’s always nice even numbers (2000, 2004, 2008) which for some reason I always prefer. So as I have been in attendance at aforementioned footballing events supporting England (as a progressive patriot I should add) since Germany 1988, I tend to recollect my US Presidents through the football, for instance Euro 1996 was the start of Clinton’s second term, Euro 2000 was Bush Mark II first term and whilst I was drinking dodgy beer on a boat on the Dnieper River with Curly Kev in Ukraine 2012 I was anticipating Obama’s second term. Will the chaos of France 2016 be followed by the election of Trump or Clinton – to steal and bastardise the title of a Firehose album it seems like a ‘two way tie for last !’. Similarly all music (particularly punk for me) is a great transportation vehicle back to earlier times – do you remember in vivid detail where you were, what you were doing and more importantly when you experienced a great song for the first time or first heard or saw some of your favourite bands live ? ….. For instance I first saw Cock Sparrer way back in 1983 at Gilly’s in Manchester and Husker Du a couple of times a couple of years later and the mighty Slade back in April 1974 in the Winter Gardens Blackpool.

For an old campaigner like myself I first attended the HITS festival way back in 1996 (not long after we bowed out of the Euros at the hands of the Bosch) and for my punk rock sins I haven’t missed any of the various re-incarnations as WASTED or REBELLION ever since. However after many years of watching the multitude of bands these gigs seems to inevitably all roll into one, so much so that I even find it hard to recall who I even saw where and when ! It would have been great to have a compilation CD of the bands from successive years to reflect on and document this series of events which has grown into the biggest punk event in the world. Anyhow it is what it is and hopefully as the festival continues to grow from strength to strength we will now at least have the benefit of next year’s CD to help us all remember.

On this ‘remembering’ topic, I have always imagined punk as a positive and progressive force. That is a major reason why I was so attracted to it in the first place and why I started interviewing bands like The Subhumans and The Newtown Neurotics back in my ‘Eat The Rich’ fanzine back in 1981. So as time progresses it is always a challenge to keep the momentum of this spirit and relevance going and this is obviously something that a massive festival like Rebellion faces too. To keep the scene fresh and interesting it is important that the festival has a good relationship with the past, the present and particularly the future. A forward looking scene can obviously celebrate the past but has always got to nourish the future and be careful not to become a nostalgia-fest. With a rich back history of 40 plus years there is already an enormous reservoir of punk music to draw from, so simple logic dictates there is inevitably always going to be a skew towards older bands. This logic has however to be juxtaposed not only with the burgeoning ‘new / introducing’ bands stage which has now been a feature for a couple of years but also with the arrival of bands such as of Dag Nasty and The Descendents which although ‘established’ certainly refresh and add interest to the event. Rather like free speech and a free press nourishes the roots of any ‘democracy’ and avoids the tyranny of stasis.

Being a native it is also good to see that the organisers have again included a few bands from Blackpool and the surrounding area. Amongst this year’s line-up there are The Polyesters, Litterbug, Anti-Social and the often present Fleetwood maestros One Way System …. even yours truly will be attempting not to make a fool of himself on the acoustic stage on Sunday. Coming from Blackpool it is important that we also keep our own little scene ticking over for the 11.5 months of the year when the Rebellion isn’t in our town. One of my little contributions from my label justtsaynotogovernmentmusic ( to acknowledge this was releasing two compilation CD’s documenting the history of Blackpool punk from 1977 onwards which are still available for free ( I will have a bunch with me at the festival) and the new Rebellion CD might well give us the impetus to get busy again and put together the third in the series – let’s see. The Blackpool compilation was something I wanted to take all over the UK, I did amass some good material from surrounding towns like Lancaster and Preston but the scarce resources of time wouldn’t allow me to pull together Ugly Truth’s About Lancaster etc. although all towns and cities in the UK have their own interesting scenes which should be excavated. Interestingly the Ugly Truth about Ipswich was released by my friend Andy Culture about 5 years ago – which is an excellent double CD.

In a roundabout way Rebellion being staged in Blackpool has also been the motivational injection that to some extent has helped resuscitate (I use that term rather than resurrect as it never really died) the old fanzine Blackpool Rox, now Blackpool Rox II. The zine was originally started by John Robb (Membranes, Goldblade, Louder Than War) on the mean streets of Anchorsholme in the rough ghetto of North Blackpool back in the 70’s, it then morphed into Rox and after a hiatus was resurrected by myself after a meeting with John in circa 2000. We decided to call it Blackpool Rox II as it was another stage in the fanzine’s journey that needed delineating as such. This year’s issue will be number 11 which will be on sale at the event and like last year’s is a fundraising exercise for Blackpool charity Streetlife. This year’s zine has interviews with Cock Sparrer, Simon Wells (Southport / Snuff), Du PIg, Colleen Caffeine / Choking Susan, The Polyesters, Ted Dibiase and the Million Dollar Punk Band and articles on politics, loads of reviews courtesy of Steve Scanner and my introspective musings on Blackpool’s civil war versus the Oyston family, local politics and the fallout from all the chaos over in Marseilles during the Euros a few weeks ago. Whilst we don’t claim to have the romantic lustre of Sniffing Glue or the authentic longevity of MRR or the international appeal and brilliance of Razorcake …… in our own way Blackpool Rox, Rox and now Blackpool Rox II is our little contribution to the fanzine world which can claim ( a little sheepishly) via a few transformations along the way to span 40 years of DIY punk rock ……. and long may it continue.

The need to set up interviews and get the information together to get the presses rolling for our 500 run of Blackpool Rox II about May/June time is now my early warning sign that the festival is just around the corner. I am chuffed that I have been given another slot on the acoustic stage (3pm on Sunday afternoon) and hopefully there might be one or two surprise appearances if people are up for it. I will have copies of the zine and a wodge of fee CD’s with me on the Sunday afternoon (assuming I’ve survived the previous 4 days from the pre-show on Wednesday night) so please come up and say hello. I am putting together my set which has a few raunchy cover versions mixed in …..

In terms of doing requests I am always up for any kind of punk rock challenge and have been doing so on my Saturday Morning Punk Rock Show which is beamed live on YouTube from Rox Towers every week. To date I have done all kinds of songs by The Clash, Florence and the Machine, Biffy Clyro, Cock Sparrer, Don Henley, Snuff etc. (all these can be found by searching under SMPRS 1,2,3 etc. on YouTube). So I am up for requests for my show in the Sunday …. weirdly at the moment it looks like the letter S is trending in my psyche as songs by Snuff, Sick 56, Sparrer and even a bit of Social Distortion seem to be coming to the fore – we shall see !

Anyhow hope you all have a good time at Rebellion 2016 and keep the good energy alive. UTP, UTPx, OO !

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