It seems that the UK’s appetite for music festivals is insatiable. As summer closes tents are packed away, mud (or sunblock) is scraped off unwashed bodies and weary cider hangovers are kissed goodbye. Instead music festivals head indoors, where at least the countries unpredictable weather can’t hamper the venues, although the streets can still be awash with downpours and cider hangovers can continue to be a real possibility. Bowlie 2 curated by Belle and Sebastian, Nightmare Before Christmas curated by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the NME Weekender at Camber Sands, In The City at Manchester, Wish You Were Here in Cambridge, indoor multi-venue festivals are taking over.
Southsea Fest is one of the smaller, but growing independent festivals of this nature. Starting as just a 2 venue charity event in 2007 it has now grown to a 16 venue affair based in Southsea, Portsmouth. Southsea Fest has expanded from beyond its local scene origins to feature a significant number of national bands, a number of whom have been featured in the past on Breaking More Waves. The event does however give significant support to local artists, with a high number of such acts on the bill, this is invaluable in a city not known for a high quality musical output or national success.
Last year Southsea Fest had a certain scuzzy, dirty, sunshine addled d-i-y pub crawl charm to it with what appeared to be mainly lager fuelled local punters stumbling randomly between pubs and bars that were often running behind schedule; but nobody seemed to care. The weather was good and whatever music played provided a soundtrack to getting drunk. Southsea Fest may not have the high quality ‘as built’ venues (the Wedgewood Rooms and Kings Theatre being the exceptions) that some other towns have, the spot on high level organisation, or the expensive marketing budget behind it, but it still represents a fun-filled day of emerging music.
You can grab a ticket for Southsea Fest which takes place on the 18th September 2010 and find the full line up on the website here. We will carry a full review very soon after and will also be tweeting from the event . Keep up with those tweets by following us on twitter here.
If you’re going, we highly recommend the following five bands. All come with the Breaking More Waves rubber stamp approval on them. All are so blindingly good you’ll need sunglasses. Click on the bands name to access their Myspace or website.
This will be the second visit to Portsmouth for Manchester’s Run Toto Run. (The first was reviewed here). From warped fancy dress cover versions of Bowie and Passion Pit (which has clocked up over 225,000 views on You Tube), to twinkling fairy light stages, Run Toto Run have a neat line in imagination. The band are two sexy boys and one sexy girl making a whole bunch of devilishly sexy synth songs. Think a sexier Hot Chip or an even sexier The Knife. Basically sexy. They used to have a far more twee folk sound but they’ve gradually evolved and now they’re making darker, glitchier, electronic pop. They’ve been reviewed as “Pleasingly gaspy and saucy,” by The Guardian and have supported the likes of Ellie Goulding, Miike Snow and Everything Everything. With edible pop songs such as Did You Hear That and Catch My Breath (below) Run Toto Run are an absolute must see at Southsea Fest.
Islet are like nothing else. Part performance art. Part indie mental experimentalists. This Cardiff band turn heads wherever they play. Expect instrument swapping, a primal racket of noise that goes in any direction, chanting, yelping, improvisation and a chaotic thrash-whack energy that destroys the boundaries between artist and audience. Their music is highly challenging, occasionally absorbing, often infuriating and abstractly odd. However their performances are nothing short of startling. Trust us, even if you can't stand their sound they'll thrill the pants off you and make you question every live performance you've ever seen. Go watch.
Their music has already been described by this blog as the stuff that will “make you fall in love.” Sean Adams of Drowned In Sound has also got in on the act calling Let’s Buy Happiness “one of the most thrilling new bands I’ve seen in years.” Hailing from Newcastle the group have already released their debut EP No Hot Ashes, played the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury after making it through to the final of the festival’s emerging bands competition and are due to release their debut single proper Six Wolves on October 18th. Firmly filed in our Ones To Watch for 2011 drawer, Let’s Buy Happiness drench their songs in atmospheric otherworldly guitars and vocals reminiscent of Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays or Liz Fraser of The Cocteau Twins. Undeniably beautiful.
Returning to Southsea Fest following an exhilarating performance last year, this eight piece London outfit possess enough drama, emotion, atmosphere and excitement in their songs to be comparable to an epic movie. Strings, brass, guitars and vocals combine to create a huge sound reminiscent of early Arcade Fire, Mono and Broken Records. Gypsy-folk, post-rock and epic indie collide head on. Be prepared to batten down the hatches for Revere who will be bringing their immense songs from their album Hey! Selim which we reviewed with much praise here.
You may have heard of Bright Light Bright Light before - the singers real name is Rod Thomas. He’s been around the musical block for a while. Rod is a Welsh do it your self music making whiz-kid who has now changed his operations to the Bright Light Bright Light banner and bagged a deal with the newly formed Popjustice Hi-Fi record label, which has been created by freelance journalist Peter Robinson - the man who runs the Popjustice website and writes for the NME. His new single Love Part II released on the 13th September is a stellar piece of 80’s referencing electro pop with enough modern production values to make it a tune for 2010. The future shines brightly with Bright Light Bright Light who Huw Stephens of Radio 1 called “A one-man swoon machine.”