If you listen very carefully you can hear it – the sound of Elnett Super Hold being sprayed liberally into mohawks, tartan trousers being zipped and dogs being attached to ropes – because, you guessed it, Rebellion Festival is upon us once again.
The festival – now in its 23rd year and widely regarded as the Shangri La for thousands of punks across the land – is due to crank into gear at the start of August.
With an ever-expanding line-up stuffed to the brim with must-see punk bands young and old, navigating the festival can seem like a daunting task – but that’s where we come in. We’ve assembled a crack team of expert guides to talk you through the festival’s most-essential viewing.
"It’s great to be playing Rebellion again," The Damned's Captain Sensible tells Louder. "I really like it – the whole thing just works in a peculiarly British way. On the prom, punks swigging beer side-by-side with holidaymakers attempting to keep control of their squealing brats... A sight for sore eyes. It makes me chuckle, anyway."
So, grab a tinny of cider and make yourselves comfortable as we hand over to the Captain himself, who's joined by Descendents' Milo Aukerman, ex-Pistol and Professionals man Paul Cook, The Stranglers' Baz Warne – and a slew of upcoming new bands – to take you through your ultimate Rebellion guide.
Milo Aukerman (The Descendents): "When I first saw that The Avengers were playing Rebellion, I thought 'Finally! My chance to see the legendary Avengers!' Until I discovered I wasn't going to be there on the Friday... AAAGGH! This was a band that broke up before I had a chance to see them in the late 70s, so I'm thrilled that they are playing again. Raw, political punk from 'Frisco. Eventually, I will get to moon over Penelope Houston and hear her scream 'Kennedy was murdered by the FBI!'"
The Baby Seals
Doris (I, Doris): "This band are just so much fun to watch – I defy anyone not to smile and bounce around to songs like Nipple Hair and My Labia’s Lopsided (But I Don’t Mind). I particularly love that they’ve invented their own genre: ‘empower-pop’. I’ve seen them play dozens of times now and they never fail to impress me – all three ‘Seals are such slick musicians – add that to the clever, witty lyrics; proper catchy songwriting; and the warmth evident on-stage between the band (two of whom are sisters, all best buddies) and you’ve got a must-see show."
Emilia Elfrida (The Menstrual Cramps): "Having just toured with The Baby Seals, we know first-hand how amazing they are as musicians, and as human beings. With a few new songs and an already bangin' self-titled EP, you’re in for a treat. Get ready to shout along to the lyrics in It’s Not About The Money Honey – something that the Rebellion (and most other festival) bookers should open their ears too as well…
Lucy (Dream Nails): "We just got off a mini tour with The Baby Seals and I can say, hand on my heart, that they are one of my favourite ever bands. Aside from being incredibly accomplished musicians who make the world’s most moreish punchy punk morsels, they are genuinely rofl/lmao levels of hilarious. Song subjects cover the essentials from nipple hair to getting ID’d in Aldi. Pithy, talented, zero-fuck-giving babes in every sense. You could want for nothing more – unmissable."
Booze & Glory
Scott Picking (Riskee And The Ridicule): We've always been huge fans of Booze & Glory and on a personal level they've always been so supportive of us as a band. Having a band like them still going as strong as they are and being as inclusive as they are a decade down the line is so inspiring. They seem to go from strength-to-strength with their releases and their live shows are always exciting and full of such high energy. We're joining them for their big 10th anniversary show at the Electric Ballroom in London later this year and we can't wait. This is the band to catch at Rebellion."
The Chameleons Vox
Baz Warne (The Stranglers): "I was flicking through a magazine recently and came across an article on The Chameleons, and their new incarnation The Chameleons Vox – a band that I'd heard of in times gone by but had never actually heard. The mention of their song Up The Down Escalator sent the writer into gasps of gooey awe, and – as I'm wont to do sometimes when someone starts waxing lyrical about something I don't know – it had me reaching for my phone and a visit to YouTube to see what all the fuss was about. What a tune – big, beautifully worked-out guitar pop with a very dark edge to it. And as I dug deeper, I discovered a world of skilful songwriting with thoughtful lyrics and a guitarist for whom the term 'thinking outside the box' must surely have been coined. These songs are mighty. They may sound deceptively easy sometimes – but you try doing it."
Dunstan Bruce (Interrobang!?): "Fuck yeah! Fangry or fungry; I dunno which but just when you thought punk was a male-dominated, misogynistic maelstrom of conservatism here are the impassioned, euphoric antidote. Dream Nails are urgent and furious, righteous and relevant but also life-affirming and they’re here! Now! Riot witches for 2019. Changing the world one song at a time with an infectious smile and a velvet glove. More please."
Doris: "Such an important band right now – Dream Nails are possibly my second favourite band in the world, just under Bikini Kill, whose influence on the band is evident throughout their work. Feminist activists first, musicians second – but they’re bloody amazing musicians with it! Their set is celebratory, powerful, and heaps of fun. Expect a call of ‘girls to the front’ and fellas, you can enjoy the band from a respectful distance – let the women take up space for once. Last time I saw them they had the audience doing lunges – I wonder if the knees of the Rebellion audience will hold up to this?"
Milo Aukerman: "We used to open up for these guys in 1980-82, and I'd always watch Spit Stix behind the drums – he had a metal 55-gallon drum sawed in half and played it like a tom-tom. Flash forward to last year at Musink Festival, and Bill Stevenson hears that Fear is gonna play and starts running around like a chicken with its head cut off, screaming 'Spit Stix! Spit Stix!' So, I hear Spit no longer plays a 55-gallon metal drum, but according to Bill he's still awesome."
Hands Off Gretel
Paul Cook (The Professionals): "They supported us at the garage when we played our album launch last year and they look and sound great. Definitely worth checking out."
Baz Warne: "What can I say? I played solo with John a very long time ago at a pub in Sunderland – even before I joined the Stranglers – and I've never seen such off-the-cuff, wacky, ramshackle entertainment before or since. How he can complete a tour without serious injury, especially these days at his age, is beyond me. I laughed my arse off as he chucked himself off stepladders, head-butted the microphone through an entire poem, and beat the living shit out of his poor taped together guitar, which looked like someone had been hammering cricket stumps in with it. A true one off – miss at your peril."
Captain Sensible (The Damned): "Who can I recommend from this year’s bill? Well. as one of the oldest, most decrepit farts at the festival, it’s full of bands I’ve not even heard of. So, I can only blather on about those I’m familiar with – like my old mate, Croydon’s finest, Johnny Moped. He’s back out on the road again with a fresh album under his belt and sparkling new gnashers, so the good news is you’ll be able to decipher all the lyrics. The downside being some of them are a bit... Well, let’s just hope the sensitive PC brigade won’t be in attendance!"
Kiss Me Killer
Emilia Elfrida: "After their nine-month hiatus, Kiss Me Killer are back, with new songs and a slightly new line-up, as Cat is now on lead vocals. We recently saw them play their first gig back together in their hometown of Bristol, and their new songs are already so fucking good, everyone was singing along and jumping around, the band’s atmosphere is contagious! The band are immensely talented musicians, including our shared drummer AJ, and you definitely do not want to miss their return to Rebellion this year."
Emilia Elfrida: "On the Introducing Stage this year you can’t miss Martyrials; having jumped straight off a rocket ship from Mars, crash landing in an 80s Glam Rock pub, crawling their way back in to a digital world, only to re-emerge with an intricate, hard-hitting punk album that’s sure to leave you begging for more. Your ears and eyes are not ready for this!"
The Menstrual Cramps
Lucy: "If you want to feel like you’ve been through an exuberant punk carwash without a raincoat, do not forgo The Menstrual Cramps. Their sound and messages may be heavy, but it is not without humour and insouciance that propels them into your heart and gut. Their stage presence is off the chain, and having just toured with them too, I’ve seen them ignite crowds night after night. They’ve been hailed as “the British Pussy Riot” - a compliment not misplaced. Go!"
Doris: "Once you’ve gotten over the fact that this band are not actually a female The Cramps tribute band, you’re going to love this band heaps anyway. Excellent songwriting, heavy on the politics and the fun; plenty of big guitar riffs to keep you bouncing; and bags of stage persona to keep you hooked – what’s not to love? They have old school punk-rock attitude in spades, in the hands of fresh young minds who give us all hope that the future of punk is secure and bright."
Millie Manders and The Shutup
Scott Picking: "Another group who we consider great friends and who are consistent in their progress and output. Their energy onstage is incredible and infectious and the tunes are beyond catchy. It's impossible to stand still when MMATSU are on stage and just as impossible for any newcomer to not end up a fan by the end of the set. Their music is buoyant and the topics are important: from animal rights to mental health and putting the world to rights – and their latest EP shows them really finding themselves at new heights. Good friends, and as people who were at Rebellion last year will tell you, not to be missed."
Milo Aukerman: "We've played a lot with these dudes from New Orleans, and every time it's a harrowing event: 'Are they going to blow us off the stage again?' Hyper energetic hardcore with a pop twist. The singer growls, barks, yells, and owns the stage. Intricate but aggressive guitar shredding. I first saw them at Rebellion Fest a few years ago, and they destroyed... I guess you all like 'em over here, cuz they're coming back."
Pete Bentham And The Dinner Ladies
Dunstan Bruce: "They are truly the people’s band of DIY melting pot anthemic smart jagged Wilko-esque honking primitive kitchencore. Expect to be taken on an art-punk adventure. I bloody love them and their outré onslaught. Indefatigable, intelligent, irresistible. I’m in!"
Lauren Tate – Hands Off Gretel: "I think everyone’s got to go see Vicious with her band Pretty Addicted on the Friday. I think before seeing Vicious live I would’ve been totally shocked to hear trance and heavy dance beats at Rebellion Festival. But believe me it works. Vicious is like the punkest bitch I’ve ever met, it’s this crazy blend of Marilyn Manson and Prodigy rave but with more spit and smeared makeup. It’s rare you’re gonna find a front person as charismatic and passionate as Vish, so I very much suggest you go see them this year at the Pavillion Stage at 6.25pm."
Lauren Tate: "I’m so excited to see PussyLiquor are on the bill! We had them join us at our album launch party back in March and they just owned the stage, they always do. What I love about them most is their realness and their ability to not give a flying shit. I think in music there’s always this safeness, like a line not to be crossed and these girls have danced past the line. With songs like Lady Wank and C.U.N.T they are currently the punkest band I’ve seen hands down, it’s gonna take some beating this weekend even from the big boys. Nothing empowers me more than seeing women ripping up the rule book like this, they’re a band you’ve got to see at 5.45pm on the Introducing Stage."
Lucy: "They are everything that we love in a band. Although their exterior is as fun and glam as anything, their politics and message are on point – engaged, angry, emotional, joyful. Dream Nails invited them to London to perform at a fundraiser for charities that support trans people last year, and they drove down from Liverpool, played a blinder and then disappeared back up the motorway. They practice what they preach, and we love them for it. Did I mention that their songs are catchy and banging as hell, and their live shows an experience unlike anything you’d ever known? Do. Not. Miss."
Lauren Tate: "I can’t wait to see Queen Zee. They’re a band I’ve been listening to a load on Spotify lately and it’s good to see them so high on the bill amongst the classic punks. It’s an exciting time for new music with bands like this coming along to mix stuff up a little. The front star of it all, Zee, is just wardrobe goals, too. I love the element of fun fashion this band has with their music. I’m yet to see them live, they’ve been selling out shows and getting raving reviews everywhere, so I imagine they’ll bring the fire this year at Empress Ballroom at 8.30pm."
Captain sensible: "To be brutally honest, I have to admit I shudder a bit at the memory of those debauched Damned / The Ruts shows of the late 70s. We were drunk as skunks. Everything you’d tell your kids not to do, that’s what we were up to. The Ruts were our number one mates in pun- rock, there seemed no end to the jolly japes we’d foist on each other while out gigging together.
Rat and myself would saunter across the stage eating ice creams in the middle of Babylon’s Burning – or persuade the sound man to play Led Zeppelin through their monitors – nonsense like that. The bastards got us back though, by visiting a farm and purchasing five sacks of fermenting horse manure, all hot and squelchy. I’ll never forget the handful of the ghastly stuff that suddenly appeared from behind me before meeting my face custard pie fashion.
Fellow survivors from those chaotic times Segs and Ruffy are lovely chaps – and with Leigh on guitar do total justice to a collection of tunes I’d have bloody loved to have written. Good luck to them!"
Baz Warne: "The Ruts were always a cut above. Always. The Crack has to rate as one of the greatest debut albums of its generation and beyond. They just had – and have – something very unique, and in a time when crash-bang-wallop seemed to do for a great number of also-ran bands, The Ruts were craftsmen, very talented musicians, and knew how to skank when it took them. Despite their obvious punk leanings and attitude, you knew they meant it too. Somehow it didn't seem contrived when they did it.
We play with them quite a lot these days, and they never fail to deliver. New boy guitarist Leigh Heggarty plays like a fucking demon, and Segs and Ruffy are the rhythm section everyone wants. They still sound as fresh and as vital as ever – and they make a very big noise for just three of them."
Slice Of Life
Dunstan Bruce: "Steve’s energy, passion and gut-spilling honesty combined with his self-deprecating humour is spellbinding. He speaks to me. He punches me in the gut, he rips my heart apart, he makes me nod knowingly; it’s like he’s read my inner-most, middle-aged man-thoughts and put them to beguiling music. I hate him for knowing me so well. Cheaper than a sixty quid session at the therapists; it’s a priceless experience."
Paul Cook: "I look forward to seeing The Stranglers again as we go back a long way, I remember seeing the band for the first time in a small club in Hammersmith around 1975 and have only seen them a couple of times over the years. It’s great that they’re still going, they’ve written some great songs over the years so it’ll be nice to hear them again."
Captain Sensible: "TV Smith is another old chum we toured with. I’d watch the Adverts most nights – they were such fun, the archetypical garage band if you like, not always 100% in sync with each other; in fact you never really knew if they’d all finish the song at the same time. But back at the hotel those insanely catchy tunes would run round and round your head while you were attempting to get to sleep – proof, I guess, of what a songwriter Teev is.
And it just wouldn’t be Rebellion without Charlie and the UK Subs - I’m going to try and catch them for sure - and Pauline and Penetration, too. It’s amazing how good all these bands sound nowadays. Have we finally learned to play our instruments – or maybe under strict doctors orders to consume less bevvy? Whatever it is, punk still sounds bloody good to my ears, despite what Phil Collins may think!"
Paul Cook: "The Heartbreakers played with the Sex Pistols a lot back in the day and Walter was always great fun. Be interesting to hear what he’s up to these days and hopefully catch up with him."
Scott Picking: "The fact that it's hard to pigeonhole Wonk Unit is what makes them so special. They're all furious punk, acerbic observations and pop sensibilities from song to song, which makes for a different listen every time. There's nothing predictable but everything awesome about them. Their most recent studio album, Terror, is a perfect demonstration of how they can meld a load of genres into one record without it ever sounding confused. Every show is a celebration, so don't miss out on it."
Rebellion Festival takes place from 1-4 August. Day and weekend tickets are available now . Head to their official site for more information. Rebellion Festival is an all ages, family friendly event and children under 12 are admitted free of charge (accompanied by an adult).