It was a really good weekend, and massive props have to go to the organisers who managed to make the weekend go smoothly and made sure it was accessible to as many people as possible by implementing a strong Safe Space policy and installing wheelchair ramps in the venue (The Hydrant). YAY THEM.
There was also great vegan catering from members of The People's Kitchen and The Catering Arm Of The Revolution (if you're in Brighton and need something like that you can get in touch with George on 07707 559649 - highly recommended), and awesome distros from the likes of Schnews (including a great selection of DVDs from their offshoot, Schmovies) and Smash EDO. The weekend was unmarred - and perhaps even improved - by the chance to embarrass a load of racists on the Sunday.
There were too many great bands to give them all a mention, but there were a few who really stood out for me -
Richie Blitz - Anti-government folk punk. Basically like Frank Turner except Richie's really good.
Cop On Fire - Belgian anarchist dub-punk featuring members from The Usual Suspects.
Matt Black And The Emulsions - brilliantly energetic four-piece from Brighton who mix punk and hip-hop with politics and Buckfast for a great result.
Headjam - a long-running South London based dub-group with some metal bits and one of the best female vocalists I've heard in a while.
Primeval Soup - Brighton band who sound like AOS3, Citizen Fish and Propagandhi had a vegan orgy in a squat and they were the baby that resulted.
Spanner - militant anarcho-ska punk from Bristol with a great message and sound.
The Sporadics - bouncy ska-punkers with a bit of dub from the South coast.
Inner Terrestrials - another dub-punk group (but trust me, they all sound different and they're all really good!). Probably the biggest genuinely DIY band on the UK scene.
They all played stonking sets, you can follow the links for their music.
Right, that's all the good stuff. Now it's time for a rant.
I was seriously pissed off with a few people this weekend. A minority of people, thankfully - but way more than I'd want to deal with. I'm talking about the 'up the punx' types who don't give a shit about any of the politics or helping the scene in any way whatsoever, just proving how 'totes punk' they are. The thing is, it's not just not giving a shit - it's one thing to not be interested in politics, it's another entirely to actively try to ruin the work of people who are. It's one thing to not be able to/want to put gigs on or get involved in the legwork of the scene, it's another to act like such a fucking arsehole that the promoters who do put gigs on might not be able to in future.
I'll illustrate what I'm talking about with a couple of examples - on Saturday a woman turned up wearing a jacket with a fox head on the hood and a tail on the back. Like, from an actual literal dead fox. To a huntsab benefit. There were people there who have dedicated their lives to stopping bloodsports, and she just blithely turned up like it wouldn't be a problem - even going so far as to act offended when people told her that it was sick, and claim that she was being 'attacked'. I mean, what the fucking fuck did she expect? Everyone to coo and tell her how lovely it was?
There was also the guy who wasn't even attending who started complaining on Facebook about the safe space policy. The reason he wasn't attending? His band were kicked off the line-up last year for having a song that promotes rape (link to article about it, not the band/song). He then also pulled the 'it's much worse to say that we have a song that promotes rape than for us to actually promote rape, what about our safe space?'. OH POOR BABY.
There was also the massive problem of people not respecting the venue. I'm not saying everyone should tiptoe round being quiet and well behaved - get drunk, put some stickers up, scrawl a bit of graffiti in the loos, that's not a problem. But for fuck's sake, don't break things just because you can and DO FUCKING NOT stuff a loo full of beer cans then piss and puke on them. I know you think you're totally edgy (body fluids! Ha!), but someone has to fucking clean that up. I tell you now, when you're being paid minimum wage, the last thing you should have to do is clean up after some snotty wanker who thinks they're better than you. The Hydrant is pretty much the only venue in Brighton for punk shows now, and if they get sick of us, what are we going to do?
Here's the thing - be angry, be destructive, be snotty. But do it to people who deserve it, not the ones who are working their fucking arses off to keep you entertained and make the world a better place while you sit on your backside drinking Special Brew and joking about poo.
As I said at the beginning of this piece, it was a great weekend and everyone involved deserves massive credit for it. I'm really looking forward to next year - I'm just hoping some people get a clue in the mean time.