Few bands can lay claim to having defined a new genre of music as East London’s Cockney Rejects did with the band’s 1980 release of song “Oi, Oi, Oi,” which sparked the term “Oi” to describe this budding brethren of punk. These influential street punk practitioners recently made a rare appearance at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer venue with support by NYC’s hardcore legends Sick Of It All, influential Boston punk band, Ducky Boys, and New Brunswick’s indefinable Hub City Stompers.
Founded in 1978 by brothers Jeff and Micky Geggus, the pair shared a youth passion for competitive boxing, love for the West Ham United Football Club, and punk music. The brothers would go on to create some of the most influential street punk songs of the genre’s formative years. With live performances that often mirrored the violence portrayed in the band’s lyrics, the members of Cockney Rejects would often find themselves fist-to-cuff with rival football team fans, neo-nazis, and the British Movement members to name but a few.
Despite being recognized for a handful of hit singles, the majority of band’s less publicized catalog expresses contempt for politicians, media, and other now common punk motifs. Despite the band’s contempt for neo-nazis and other fascist movements, Cockney Rejects and other oi bands did attract a violent following that has been misunderstood and often wrongly insinuated as an accomplice to right wing extremist bands and movements.
The Guardian News documented in a lengthy 2010 article and interview concerning the history of Oi and the Cockney Rejects:
“We played a gig in Camden, we saw these Nazi skinheads beating the shit out of these two punks,” remembers Turner [Jeff Geggus]. “They’d managed to wreck Sham 69‘s career, but us with our following” – the ICF was then headed by Cass Pennant, whose parents were Jamaican – “we weren’t going to have it. We just went down and absolutely slaughtered them. We declared to them that if they ever set foot where we were again, we’d decimate them.” And so it proved. “Neo-nazis confronted the Rejects again at Barking station,” remembers Bushell [singer of The Gonads and journalist]. “They basically told them, ‘We’re going to come to your gigs, we’re going to do this and do that.’ The Rejects crew battered them all over the station. They didn’t come to the gigs after that…”
“I had Lars Freidricksen of Rancid come in and sit in the pub round the corner from my house, welling up, telling me if it wasn’t for Oi! he might have killed himself as a teenager,” says Garry Bushell. “I thought, ‘Fuck me, it’s really had an effect on these people.’ I’m not proud of the way Oi! was misunderstood, but I’m proud of the music, proud of what it started, proud of what it gave punk.”
In Britain, he concedes, the genre’s name is still blackened in most people’s eyes. “There were people in 1976 saying punk had to be a Nazi thing because of the swastikas. The difference is, those bands had rock journalists on their side. The Oi! bands only had me.” He laughs, a little ruefully. “I did me best.”
It’s been over 3 decades and the band is still inciting some of the most energetic reactions from the punk and hardcore community as was evidenced by the band’s headlining performance in Philadelphia last week.
NYC’s Sick Of It All put in one for the books, with a fury of a performance highlighting songs that span the band’s long and influential history within the hardcore community. The performance was much like that of Sick Of It All‘s most recent release on Century Media Records, Nonstop, which is a collection of 21 classic tracks, re-recorded and brand new celebrating the band’s 25th anniversary. 8 of these 21 re-recorded tracks were pulled from Sick Of It All‘s debut LP, 1989’s Blood, Sweat and No Tears. Like Nonstop, the band’s performance was a re-awaking with meaner and more poignant deliveries of songs that go back over 20 years. Sick Of It All are not merely hanging in, they are continuing to hone one of the most devastating live attacks in all of hardcore. Sick Of It All is reportedly working on a new full-length with no set release date, but we’ll keep you posted as we keep up with band leading up to our exclusive coverage of the band at This Is Hardcore Fest 2012.
Boston punks, Ducky Boys, who are also 25 years deep in the game, are supporting current release, Chasing the Ghost on State Line Records. The band’s sound, which has evolved from choppy punk riffs to more catchy rock structures, was a hit amongst concert goers. The band has seen recent appearances with Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Dropkick Murphys, and Rancid, among others, including a set with ex-Ducky Boys member and current Dropkick Murphys guitarist James Lynch as they continue to tour and support this current LP.
New Brunswick’s eclectic ska practitioners, Hub City Stompers, rounded out the billing with a patented mix of punk, jazz, reggae, hardcore, and Oi!, and were able to get the crowd involved early in the evening for what proved to be a bulletproof set of performances.
We have a very special and rare Exclusive Double Feature Gallery, featuring the show in photos by two of our very talented photographers, Anne Spina of Anne Spina Photography and Dante Torrieri of Useless Rebel Imaging.
Hub City Stompers Round 1 by Anne Spina
Hub City Stompers Round 2 by Dante Torrieri
Ducky Boys Round 1 By Anne Spina
Ducky Boys Round 2 By Dante Torrieri
Sick Of It All Round 1 by Anne Spina
Sick Of It All Round 2 by Dante Torrieri
Cockney Rejects Round 1 by Anne Spina
Cockney Rejects Round 2 by Dante Torrieri