Strummercamp is on the up - the people are all friendly & the music is fantastic

Strummercamp 2011 review

published: Wed 1st Jun 2011

Rebel Truce

Friday 27th to Sunday 29th May 2011
Manchester Rugby Club, Grove Lane, Cheadle Hulme, Cheadle, Cheshire, SK8 7NB, England MAP
£65 per person weekend pass
last updated: Wed 25th May 2011

The friendliest festival on the circuit is back again over this, the last of the bank holiday weekends until the end of the summer. Now into its concurrent sixth year this festival has at times had a rough ride trying to stay afloat but where other festivals have had to collapse under licensing, funding and other problems Strummercamp and its many fans has stayed around. And you can tell upon arrival that this year is going to be a good one...

The familiar faces of the Clash fans that have been coming every year are great to see, apart from the greatly missed Dave Howard, past fan and friend of the festival, who now has the indoor stage set in the rugby club dedicated to him. The festival is now, due to the TNS Records stage I believe, attracting more and more youngsters every year. There are even some fancy dress costumes and tomfoolery like some kids gaffa taping their friend to a luggage trolley!

Louise Distras
This year there is also the addition of the Hempen Jig Stage in the outside bar. There were a couple of impromptu acts playing in there unplugged last year after the bands had finished, but this year it is amped up, and runs until late afternoon on the Saturday and Sunday. The acts are really worth checking out, like the early morning puppet show, Louise Distras and a voice strong enough to wake any late sleeper and the return of Leon Fender Walker who was part of Jail Guitar Doors, as well as comic political ramblings from Cracktown, another return but acoustically with The Yalla Yallas. I found myself in this tent a lot of the time, and could not pass without listening in.

The TNS Stage is back again with even more great local and beyond acts. The first I see is the greatly dreadlocked and named Ed Ache with some solo acoustic rants. How many times do you get to hear a Misfits tune covered on a ukulele? Black Star Dub Collective and Dead Subverts are breeds apart musically (Dub and hardcore thrash punk) but share some of the same members. Revenge of the Psychotronic Man are always a great live show to act, for their speed thrash punk but also for the crowd involvement. Human wheelbarrow wall of death? Human pyramid? Human toblerone? All obliged quickly by the fans. Add to this headline sets over the weekend by Sonic Boom Six, and Chief and you have a tent full of talent that grows as fast as Strummercamp itself does.

UK Subs
The Indoor Stage hosts the first show of the weekend with Clash cover band Rebel Truce starting off the weekend followed by the UK Subs. Charlie Harper, for a guy of 67, puts on a brilliant and energetic show. This is followed by a punk disco on this first night, followed by official after party shows on the Saturday and Sunday, featuring more Clash covers from Cheapskates, and Roughneck Riot's Celtic punk, plus 2 Tone and punk from Faintest Idea.

Rasta4Eyes
Now for the main stage. In the first years there were a lot of Clash cover bands on here. I loved it, but some people may have tired slightly at hearing 'Bankrobber' seven times in one afternoon! This year the acts have become even more diverse in a good way. JackieO play some blues rock to start off the weekend, The Darlingtons bring some Editors style indie to the stage, and after some reggae from the talented youngsters Rasta4Eyes this is followed by the GLC style of Surreal Knowledge. All this variety of music before tea time!

The headlining bands are more your recognised punk era heroes, this year it's Captain Sensible of The Damned warming up for Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band who finish the Saturday night in spectacular fashion. The Popes Irish folk and The Selecter's 2 Tone headline the Sunday night, after a host of acts from Black Cat Trio's rockabilly (playing a cat fight clash with the X Ray Cat Trio on at the same time on the TNS Stage), China Shop Bull's Ska, Babylon Dub Punks hip hop and reggae and Radio Dead Ones' melodic punk. Every year I discover bands at this festival and some (in the cases of Sonic Boom Six and The King Blues) go on to become very well known. I also love the fact that it is all predominantly punk still, and the amount of swearing on stage before lunchtime makes me smile.

As always the food selection is great and cheap, much cheaper than usual festival rip off prices. Examples… £1.50 for chips and £3.50 for a filled jacket potato. Booze is also cheap, and nearly all of the proceeds help with putting the festival on again the following year. Parking is free as always, free for campervans too. Camping is next to the Stages on the Club Green. If you are partial to some cricket there are practice games all weekend on the Club green, but if you are like me the very beginning of 10cc's 'Dreadlock Holiday' comes to mind and I rush off to watch some bands.

The only thing this festival is missing is a fire, which is impossible due to it being a rugby club, but that would make it perfect. The nights are quiet (apart from the odd snore), the people are all friendly and the music is fantastic. Add to that the still very cheap ticket price of under £60 and you have the reasons behind why this festival is on the up.

Rebel Truce
review by: Danielle Millea

photos by: Danielle Millea

Friday 27th to Sunday 29th May 2011
Manchester Rugby Club, Grove Lane, Cheadle Hulme, Cheadle, Cheshire, SK8 7NB, England MAP
£65 per person weekend pass
last updated: Wed 25th May 2011


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