It is usually the case that, as Rebellion weekend rolls around, the Underworld in Camden commiserates those southerners who couldn’t afford the trip to Blackpool with a solid few nights of punk gigs in their dingy underground rock music haven. For some reason that didn’t materialise this year, but Wednesday night’s line up still took the edge off of not spending my weekend working out creative ways to sneak booze in to the Winter Gardens. Boston street punk mainstays the Street Dogs and East Coast hardcore punk originators Reagan Youth were the established half of the bill, while upstart Oi! was provided by Vancouver’s Bishops Green and London’s East End Riot. Unfortunately missing East End Riot, we do get to admire their ‘Hipsters Suck Dick’ stickers which adorn more than one surface by the time we get inside to find Bishops Green launching all guns blazing into a set of raucous but tight-as-fuck street punk. This is punk music that’s aware of its roots, taking influence as it does from bands like The Business and the Cockney Rejects, but injecting that with a healthy dose of 80s style hardcore for extra speed and power. They have no problems getting people moving down the front here with their brand of fun, no frills punk rock, I’m fully backing them as ones to watch!
The numbers thin out and become more subdued after this, which is a shame as Reagan Youth give it their all but can’t seem to whip up the crowd. Guitarist Paul Cripple is clearly in charge, guiding his band through song changes with forceful hand gestures like some kind of punk rock composer. They are clearly enjoying themselves on stage with no fucks given about whether the crowd is apathetic or not, throwing mock rock star poses for the cameras and grinning their way through a set which encompasses both previous releases as well as a couple of songs from their upcoming and apparently final album. Personally, I’m stoked to hear songs like ‘Any Town’, ‘Degenerated’ and ‘I Hate Hate’ in a live setting. We head outside for some fresh air and street beers and by the time we get back inside the crowd has grown substantially in preparation for headliners the Street Dogs. Strains of The Pogues’ ‘A Pistol for Paddy Garcia’ waft through the air as the group take to the stage and immediately grab audience attention with ‘Not Without a Purpose’. Covering a good portion of their back catalogue all the way back to 2003’s Savin Hill, the miles under their belts are apparent in the size of their stage presence. Fists are pumping and voices are raised to shout along with every word being wrenched from Mike McColgan’s vocal chords. I won’t give a song by song account, but ‘Savin Hill’, ‘You Alone’, ‘Sell Your Lies’ and their cover of Steve Earle’s ‘Johnny Come Lately’ were highlights. Currently part of the line-up is Lenny Lashley of Darkbuster on guitar, and a cover during the encore of their song ‘Skinhead’ manages to raise the already frenzied level of crowd participation. Covered in a thin but noticeable layer of dirt, sweat and beer, I grab a can for the tube and head home happy. Nights like this definitely make up for a festival free summer!