With just 113 days to go till Christmas, the UK summer outdoor festival season will soon be well and truly behind us. The word over-saturated probably best describes some festival promoter’s experiences in 2012 with a number of high profile cancellations, not only due to poor ticket sales but adverse weather conditions as well.
Yet even in these uncertain times there are still plenty of people bold enough to run festivals. Maybe one of the shrewder strategies is to remove the risk of the weather and create an event with venues that are indoors and a site where mud is just not possible; ladies and gentlemen welcome to the world of the urban festival. Mimicking the success of the likes of SXSW, Great Escape and The Camden Crawl it seems that nearly every city now has its own multi-venue wristband-access festival and Breaking More Waves hometown is no exception, with the sixth chapter of Southsea Fest taking place on the 15th September 2012.
Located in pubs, bars, music venues and an Edwardian playhouse in Albert Road in Southsea, the single day event has the atmosphere of a slightly drunken bohemian d-i-y labour of love rather than the larger scale branded music-industry events such as The Great Escape. Like the antique shops, curry houses and fashion stores that line Albert Road, Southsea Fest has an independent home grown flavour. It’s this keeping things local concept that has probably helped it survive as the urban multi-venue festival market continues to expand, with a number of similar events with very impressive line ups appearing for the first time this year.
Southsea Fest has always had a strong association with new music and emerging talent, with the likes of The Joy Formidable, Eliza Doolittle and Django Django having all graced the events stages at a very early points in their careers. It also strongly represents its local music scene, with hometown acts sharing the bill with national ones. The booking policy of the festival also strongly represents the tatses of local punters. This means those who like their bands to be Macbook wielding glitch kids, dubstep influenced pop dudes or hip-hop party gunslingers are likely to be struggling for something on the bill to watch, which is dominated by indie, punk and rock bands – the staple diet of the cities music scene.
Embracing our inner geek, we've created a pie chart. It shows the number of times various musical genres are mentioned within the event programme (which you can see online here) – it gives a pretty clear indication of what you can expect at Southsea Fest.
A guarded note about the use of the word pop in the chart; the programme uses the word often, but in the context of bands who are described as ‘ dirty yet catchy riffs crossing from lo fi noise pop to surf rock.’ Those who like a purer vision of pop (think Popjustice, think the Top 40 singles, think Katy Perry) will probably be very disappointed.
So whilst regular readers of Breaking More Waves are unlikely to be enamoured with the likes of yelping hardcore bands or garage punk rockers, here are 5 recommendations of acts to see at Southsea Fest 2012 that do fit our tastes. Tickets are available here.
Old Colours 14.40 – 15.20 Kings Theatre
The elegant and daunting space of the Kings Theatre creates an environment that is perfect for bands who aspire to the more cinematic end of the sound spectrum. Creating celestial landscapes out of elements of indie, folk, experimental pop and even post-rock, this band’s sense of intimacy and power fit the bill perfectly.
F.U.R.S 16.50 -17.20 The Wine Vaults
Combining a warm pop sensibility with something vaguely nostalgic London’s F.U.R.S have made Modern Lovers; it's a song that sounds like a perfect sun-drenched day out in the park, high on love. Like the band Cults going country or Summer Camp with fuzzy guitar twangs, F.U.R.S are one of the most intriguing propositions at Southsea Fest. Let’s see if they can live up to that bit of minor hype we’ve just given them.
Curxes 18.20 – 18.50 The Wine Vaults
Half of Curxes may hail from the area but Southsea Fest will nearly be the boy / girl duo’s first show there in a year (they are also supporting Karin Park a few days before at the Square Tower in Old Portsmouth on September 12). Whilst they’ve been keeping a low profile in the locality they’ve been conquering the internet and the blogosphere, picking up support on tastemaker stations like Amazing Radio and supporting the likes of Frankie Rose, Ghxst and [Strangers]. Since they last played in Southsea the Curxes all-consuming brand of restrained electronic vehemence has become even more intense. Prepare yourself for the dark-synth onslaught.
Ajimal 18.35 – 19.05 Southsea Social Club
As with every festival there are some inevitable line up clashes and around the 18.00 – 19.00 period our timetable starts shaking with goodness. Besides the above mentioned Curxes, there’s As Elephants Are (Fat Fox 17.40-18.30) Bear Cavalry (Wedgewood Rooms 18.50 – 19.20) and the powerfully haunting Ajimal at Southsea Social Club. The project of one Fran O’Hanlon, Ajimal produces otherworldy evocative songs that deserve a special quiet attention.
Clock Opera 23.00 – 23.45 Wedegwood Rooms
Another band that needs no introduction to regular readers of Breaking More Waves is Clock Opera. Their debut album Ways To Forget received mixed reviews in the press but their surging euphoria probably works best in the live arena, where the fist-pumping drive of their carefully constructed electronic songs takes on new meaning. This will be Clock Opera’s fourth time in the town following a support with Yeasayer, a slot at Southsea Fest 2011, a gig earlier this year at The Registry and now they return to headline The Wedgewood Rooms.