Some photos that someone’s posted. I am somewhere in these photos, but will deny all knowledge if identified
One more day to go. I manage to get to breakfast with minutes to spare. I now have The Cravats debacle in more perspective. Today is a much quieter day for me. The main event for most is the headlining slot by 90s punk royalty Rancid. I saw them back in the day – they were nothing special. There, I’ve always wanted to say that. I feel like I’ve graduated to being a proper old punk git now.
Today being a slow day I’m pondering the future of the festival now. I think I’m allowed to having attended every one. The festival has got a lot bigger since the days when it was in a 1,000 capacity venue in Morecambe. It now has a more diverse line up, and a much bigger profile. This in itself doesn’t bother me but despite so many bands playing there’s a surprising lack of new bands from what you might call the “real punk” scene (debate “real punk”, but you know what I mean by i). These bands are out there – Defcon Zero, Bottlejob, Trashcat, Cryo-genics. The “real punk” bands seem to be restricted to ones that have either been playing the festival for several years or are newly reformed from the dim and distant past. Instead the focus seems to on promoting more general “alternative” bands. The promoters understandably say, with 250-ish bands playing, there’s plenty of choice. It seems to be a lot of the same choices though year i year out, particularly lower down the bill.
Anyway, enough of that. It’s time to head to an Irish pub with a couple of mates who want to “watch Celtic”. This turns out to be something to do with football, but the prospect of nicer and cheaper beer than the venue, and having a conversation without shouting, appeals at this stage of the weekend.
Back to the veue to meander about catching bits of various streetpunk / oi bands, mainly Foreign Legion from Merthyr Tydfyll, with their brand of poppy oi. They have some new songs about being stuck in on a Saturday night, and more seriously the effect of supermarkets on the local community, showing that middle aged punks can still find something to be angry about. I can’t find a clip though so here’s their mates Control
Also not exactly young is Zillah Minx, punk documentary maker and frontwoman for Rubella Ballet. This doesn’t stop her adopting her unique day-glo overload look. Rubella Ballet seem a bit underehearsed but no other gripes with a fine set, featuring the odd punk punk number, but mainly their better goth-tinged material such as Trial 13, Arctic Flowers and False Promises. No clips of those though.
With not so much I’m bothered about seeing I end up spending quite a bit on music and t-shirts. Actually that’s misleading, I’ve been doing that all weekend. Bands seem to be putting out 7” singles again presumably because us old gits are buying vinyl again. Standard price for a 7” seems to be £5 – ouch. That doesn’t stop me though. The Septic Psychos on the other hand are selling their CD album (factory pressed not CDR) for £2. Apparently people will still trying to blag them for less. You’ve got to love the punk scene! I keep having to go back to the B & B as alcohol, vinyl records and the “pit” don’t mix well. The UK Subs, experts in merchandising opportunities, are even selling baby t-shirts. “Wyngate jnr” nearly gets one but they don’t have the right design/size. I do manage to find a compilation of obscure Welsh punk from the 80s (Bullsheep Detector!) weeks too late for the Welsh Songs topic.
The only other essential band of the day for me is The Outcasts, one of my highlights from last year. They play their usual varied set in the unlikely setting of the Opera House, ranging from snarling 70s classic Frustrartion, to pop punk love songs like Self Conscious Over You, to the Killing Joke-ish Winter.A bit psychobilly and pseudo-country gets a look in as well, but no band is perfect. That and plenty of banter with the audience. Highlight of the day but not the right venue. Dodgy clip of one of their 80s classics Programme Love follows
The only question left is which headliner to go for out of the 4 on offer. I’ve already dismissed Rancid. Stiff Little Fingers are definitely out. Don’t get me started on Jake Burns – I once said what I thought of him on youtube and was inundated with angry emails from fans. So not them. Altered Images are playing the Opera House. When I was 11 I thought Happy Birthday was the most irritating thing I’d ever heard. I can’t imagine I’d think any differently now.
That leaves Agnostic Front playing in the Arena. They are nothing like Altered Images. As they come on stage you can feel the testosterone level in the room rising. We get a bracing blast of New York hardcore at it’s best. Lots of men take their shirts off and start a circle pit at the front which is slightly scary seeing as this is the smallest venue.
Agnostic Front with special guest hanger-on. If you want to join in it’s “Guliani Guliani Guliani fuck you!”
Agnostic Front finish off with hardcore version of Blitzkrieg Bop which seems like a good way to finish the weekend. It’s been another great weekend of music, drinking, bad food and catching up with old friends and acquaintances, one of whom casually tells me that she is now working as a dominatrix. It’s that kind of festival. But it’s 99% friendly these days. The days of punks vomiting on passers by are long gone. Time to go home to get vomited on by “wyngate junior” instead.