Day Two – Thursday
As all the eateries between the Beat Club and the Rhyl had been closed as I slalomed home around 4am, I was more than ready for breakfast come 9 o’clock and polished off my full English with masses of toast and copious amounts of tea. After that, a quick shower, shave, dressed and out to take my place in the queue outside the Winter Gardens ready for doors opening at 11.00. However, by 11:20 the doors still hadn’t opened and when my mates came along on route to Scruffys, I decided to forego early starters Booze & Glory and settle for just booze.
We stayed in the pub for a few beers, checking intermittently on the queue status before finally taking the plunge and joining the end somewhere around 2pm. 15 minutes or so later and we were in, getting a quick frisk from security, exchanging ticket stubs for fabric wristbands, and picking up the excellent 52 page programme and timetable. Once everyone had palmed these off to Shaun, bagman for the day, we had a wander round the “horseshoe” perusing the merch stalls before heading to the bar for more beers. The Winter Gardens has had something of an overhaul since I was last here. The central amusement arcade has been converted into a spacious cafeteria / seating area while the previous café is now an altogether posher restaurant. This works better for me although I missed the seats that used to be outside the Galleon Bar which were a good site for people watching.
After a couple of pints, we decided it was time to check out some bands. It was a music festival we were attending after all. So a few of us duly headed downstairs to The Arena stage to check out the Noise Agents. This is the new band of Demob front man Andy Kanonic. Now, Andy’s ligging is a source of some amusement within our group but I have to say I was mightily impressed with his band. They have songs that tick all the boxes for me – tuneful, powerful, catchy, big choruses – and they’re delivered with style. Andy is a decent front man and takes control of the stage, drawing your attention to him. The sound at the Arena was better than average as well which added to the enjoyment. Good stuff indeed and the set flashed past. I made a mental note to investigate them further on my return home.
Once we were done, we grabbed a table in the Arena bar and grabbed some more drinks, sticking our heads out briefly to catch a glimpse of Angry Agenda and later The Fiend, neither of whom raised enough interest to prolong our stay away from the bar. In fact, most of this first day was spent flitting around the bars in the Winter Gardens, renewing acquaintances from previous years festivals. By the time 8.30 came around, I knew I’d better move and catch some bands or the next place I’d be heading was my bed.
Without further ado, I dragged Shaun and Mitch down to the Empress Ballroom to see World/Inferno Friendship Society roll out their unique brand of cabaret tinged jazz-punk on the big stage. These guys and gals are always entertaining, full of energy, and give 100% every time. However, I felt they lost some of their intensity in the big room. They had a decent sized crowd who were as usual fairly lively. The set was a decent mix of recent tunes and classics like the singalong Only Anarchists Are Pretty, but somehow I think that the energy dissipated more easily than when they’re playing in the confines of a smaller venue. None the less, it was another enjoyable set. So far, so good.
I’d listened to a few of Lars Fredricksen’s Old Firm Casuals tracks before I’d come down and had been decidedly underwhelmed by them so elected to give them a miss at the Empress. (Everyone else said they were good – better live than on record as it turns out). I elected instead to head for The Arena to lend my support to fellow Scots, The Zips. Now, I only knew of The Zips from the inclusion of their early single tracks on assorted Killed By Death type compilation albums. Fairly poppy tunes that I’d hardly consider punk if I’m honest, new wave at a push. Well, was I pleasantly surprised when they thrashed out a short, sharp set of gritty songs that would most definitely fit comfortably into my wee punky pigeonhole. How many of the band are originals and how many of the songs date from their heyday I’m not sure, but they’re another name added to my ever-increasing list of bands to be checked out in more depth whenever I can. Their set closed too quickly for me with their old “hit”, Don’t Get Pushed Around, when they were joined onstage by Fire Exit’s Gerry Attrick (second only in the ligging stakes to Andy K!). Of course this one got everyone singing along and was a perfect finisher.
I’d stayed at the Arena for just a wee bit too long because, on my arrival back at the Empress, I found Off! already on stage playing to a full house. However, I noticed people climbing the usually closed off stairs to the balcony of the ballroom so decided to chance my arm. Happily, it transpired that, due to increased attendance this year, the balcony had been opened enabling another few hundred in to see the better attended Ballroom shows this year. It offered the luxury of a comfy seat which had a panoramic view of both stage and crowd, as well as a reasonable sound quality to the proceedings downstairs. I decided to stay there in comfort for the remainder of the Off! set. I’m pretty sure they played everything from the First Four EPs CD and it sounded great. A bit too much hair and heavy metal headshaking perhaps but fast, hard and punk as fuck soundwise. Just wish I’d been able to get in the pit for it. Intense isn’t the word. Keith Morris = legend.
After this, not fancying any of The Meteors, Heavy Metal Kids or Bay City Rollers, I made my way out of the Winter Gardens and headed down the road to the Beat Club again to the first Aftershow Party. I knew that the Cyanide Pills were to be playing there tonight and just hoped I hadn’t missed them. Fortunately, I hadn’t so I got myself a beer and leaned on a pillar near the stage while UFX did their thing. Probably more a reflection on my own alcohol intake over the day than on the band themselves, but I found myself nodding off periodically throughout their set. So I was pleased when a sharp dig in the ribs jolted me out of my stupor and signalled the arrival of my crew who were variously singing the praises of the Heavy Metal Kids and the ABBA Sensation. And they say punk’s not dead?
Anyway, I was wide awake again and before long, the Cyanide Pills took to the stage and began setting up their gear. I grabbed my pint and headed stageward to ensure a good vantage point for a much anticipated set. I’d rate their self titled album as the best British punk release of the last year and I was pretty excited to get the chance to finally see them live. They didn’t disappoint. Hitting the stage in a blur of peroxide tops, white leather and skinny jeans, they out-Briefed the Cute Lepers and proved that us Brits have as good an ear for a catchy pop-punk singalong as anyone stateside. Racing through all the best tracks from their debut disc including their three singles to date, Break It Up, Suicide Bomber and Conquer The World, each executed with wild abandon yet tight as hell. They never stopped moving throughout as they cut the classic rock ‘n’ roll shapes across the club’s small stage. Brilliant stuff indeed and setting the bar pretty high for the best set of the weekend! I can’t remember who else was on the bill for the rest of the night but we all decided to knock it on the head after virtually clearing out the merch stall. We strolled along the road back to the hotel, everybody still buzzing with excitement from the Cyanide Pills set, pausing only for a shitty chip supper along the way. More fun to come in the morning.
Words and pics by New York Johnny.
Rebellion Festival 2011 – Day 1
Rebellion Festival 2011 – Day 3
Rebellion Festival 2011 – Day 4
Rebellion Festival 2011 – Day 5
More of New York Johnny’s photos from the weekend can be viewed here