One of the success stories of the UK festival market over the last few years has been Victorious Festival. Set in Breaking More Waves home city of Portsmouth it started from relatively humble beginnings in 2012 under the name Victorious Vintage in Portsmouth’s historic dockyard with top of the bill names including Dodgy and The Lightning Seeds, before increasing its capacity and transferring to Southsea Common in 2014 where Dizzee Rascal and Seasick Steve headlined.
Since that time Victorious has expanded further. With a clever policy of booking top of the bill acts that were once able to headline much bigger festivals, but have arguably dropped in their status a little since their halcyon days but still remain popular, Victorious has been able to maintain a value ticket price by selling at high volumes compared to other festivals (early birds this year were £20 for the Friday and £25 for both Saturday and Sunday). It is essentially the Primark of music festivals, – but it’s a model that works and Victorious has been able to establish itself as a strong competitor in the fierce festival market at this time.
Despite the success there have been criticisms of the festival as well, namely that it has damaged the local music scene with local venues struggling to sell tickets during the summer as people become used to paying such low prices for big names, that the festival doesn’t pay many of the local artists that play to keep ticket prices low and that this year the event has been sold to Global Entertainment who are now the major stakeholders. Global’s reputation has taken a bit of a pounding this year having taken over Y-Not festival which had a number of organisational problems in relation to security, site layout and dealing with the bad weather it experienced; much of this has been attributed to cost cutting by Global, although this hasn't been proven. However, there is no evidence as yet to suggest that the sale of Victorious will lead to a similar drop off in quality.
One new addition to Victorious this year is the opportunity to camp as the festival now attracts more and more people from outside of the local area. The festival campsite will be off site in Farlington in the north of the city, with a bus service being provided for ticket holders to get to the event on Southsea Common.
This year Victorious Festival is headlined by Madness, Stereophonics and Elbow but elsewhere there’s some oddball eclecticism; there probably aren’t many festivals where British Sea Power, Frightened Rabbit and Band of Skulls are followed on stage by Rita Ora.
Here at Breaking More Waves, what is important are the newer and lesser known acts at the festival. Here are 5 recommendations from lower down the bill, many of whom will be familiar to regular readers of the blog – unfortunately 2 of these do clash, so I’ll be flicking a coin between Lauran Hibberd and Rationale.
Jerry Williams (Castle Stage 14:00 Saturday and Acoustic Stage 17:25 Sunday)
It’s been a huge year for Portsmouth’s very own indie pop queen with well received sets at the likes of Great Escape Festival and V Festival, getting played on daytime Radio 1 as a BBC Introducing artist and her song Mother hitting the 4 million plays mark on Spotify. This weekend she plays two homecoming shows as she continues to establish herself as one of the most successful singer songwriters to come out of the south coast city for a long time. Expect catchy pop tunes with an indie pop sensibility. Boy oh boy, Jerry will no doubt be glorious at Victorious.
Bad Sounds (Castle Stage 12:00 Sunday)
Hip hop beats, samples, grooves, the funk, tech-savvy coolness and songs that manage to throw the words oesophagus and rhinoceros in the same line. What’s not to like about that? They’re on very early in the day so could probably do with every single ounce of support they can get. If you like Beck, Len or EMF this band will be for you.
Fjokra (Seaside Stage 15:45 Sunday)
This recommendation is a bit of a gamble as Fjokra is an act I haven’t seen live yet. However, Breaking More Waves has past history with this band having selected them as one of its nominations for the Glastonbury Emerging Talent longlist back in 2015 where I was impressed by the potty explosion of ideas in their music. Whether it will make any sense live remains to be seen, but I’m recommending Fjokra on the basis that their bonkers pop might just be worth a gamble. As a plus they are playing the seaside stage, the weather forecast looks optimistic and so it might just be a great place to hang out mid-afternoon.
Lauran Hibberd (Showcase Stage 16.50 Sunday)
The Isle of Wight’s Lauran Hibberd is playing one of the smaller stages at Victorious, before she transfers to the largest at Bestival in September. Why should you catch her at Victorious? The answer is simple. Great acoustic folk pop songs and an enchanting voice, plus she’s a performer who seems to really enjoy playing her songs and that delight will transfer to you. Have a break from the bigger stages and witness her talent.
Rationale (Castle Stage 17:00 Sunday)
Rationale, the Zimbabwe-born British singer-songwriter, first appeared on this blog in 2010 when he was performing under his real name Tinashé. Fast forward to know and after a slew of great singles including Fast Lane, Re.Up, Prodigal Son, Fuel To The Fire and Loving Life over the last couple of years, Rationale is ready to release his debut album in October when he’ll be back in Portsmouth playing the mighty Wedgewood Rooms. His live performances are slick and seductive - highly polished soul pop with modern production that deserves your attention.
Victorious takes place this weekend 25th Aug to 27th Aug. Some tickets are still available as this article is published. Click here for tickets.