Wednesday 3 September 2014

Southsea Fest 2014 - Preview

An overview and some tips both musical and non-musical for Portsmouth's award winning new music festival.

With the UK summer festival season effectively wrapping up at this weekend’s Bestival, music fans who don't want the party to stop will probably have to turn to multi-venue wristband access events rather than pitching up their tent in a field somewhere. Arguably these city based rampages offer better value and certainly more convenience if you want to cram in as many bands as you possibly can with the minimum of fuss.

None are more convenient than Southsea Fest, the second of two music festivals held in Breaking More Waves home city of Portsmouth in less than a month. Situated on just one road, there’s no danger of having to traipse miles between gigs or getting impossibly lost after a few shandies with this one; it’s all on one street. With venues ranging from small pubs and bars, to mid-sized club spaces to a beautiful Italian Renaissance style Edwardian theatre, all are within a few paces of each other. Southsea Fest is the ultimate festival for new music lovers who want to spend time devouring performances and very little else.

This is the festivals eighth year and the line-up is arguably its strongest yet. You’ll certainly see a large number of bands on the bill that have been featured on Breaking More Waves; Flyte, Fear Of Men, Laurel, Curxes, Prides, Eliza & The Bear, Honeyblood, Eloise Keating, Kassassin Street, Meadowlark, Spring King, The B of the Bang and Wyldest are all names that have graced this blog and play this year’s Southsea Fest as well as a host of other acts including the likes of Pulled Apart By Horses, DZ Deathrays, Ed Harcourt, Blessa, Racing Glaciers, The Cadbury Sisters and Dinosaur Pile Up.

Our tip for Southsea Fest? Get there early. There’s a lot of talent on the lower sections of the bill as well as the evening programme. For example last year we caught a certain George Ezra playing to about 30 people in the Atrium, a small upstairs bar at lunchtime. 1 year on and he’s had a top 5 album and single and is playing a sold out tour, tickets for which cost as much as a ticket for Southsea Fest last year where you could have seen him and about 10-12 other bands.

Our one disappointment with this year’s event is that Breaking More Waves will not be present. Due to a terrible piece of diary co-ordination, we’re on holiday abroad when Southsea Fest 2014 takes place. However, if you’re looking at the line up and feeling unsure who to see, here are 5 acts that we recommend, all of whom will be familiar to readers of the blog. From early timetable information it’s unlikely that any of these acts will clash, although obviously at this stage things are subject to change. 

1. Fickle Friends

Last December this Brighton band made their first Hype Machine listed appearance by way of this very blog with a song called I Want/ You Want. By March two new songs, Swim and Play, found the group the subject of some serious internet buzz. Get to Southsea Fest very early because we understand that these guys might be sneaking in near the bottom of the bill – and it would be a crime to miss them.

2. Curxes

Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms might be showcasing some of the bigger artists such as Pulled Apart By Horses later in the day, but we recommend an early stop off to catch 2 locally connected acts. First, industrial noise making, budgie loving, emotional electronic drama dudes Curxes will be bringing their shrieking anti-pop to the venue. If you like Nine Inch Nails, Sleigh Bells, Depeche Mode and Siouxsie Sioux then Curxes might be the right band to come and f*ck with your ears.

3. Laurel

Not short on drama herself Laurel Arnell-Cullen is another locally connected act gracing The Wedgewood Rooms stage that has been widely celebrated on the internet, particularly for her songs To The Hills, Fire Breather and Shells; orchestrated pop epics that wrestle with potent chunks of romance and darkness at the same time. She’s probably getting bored of being tagged as Britain’s answer to Lana Del Rey, but certainly there’s a sweeping cinematic grasp to her music that warrants some of the comparisons.

4. Honeyblood

2 Scottish girls making a racket with just guitars and drums and lots of angry lyrics, Honeyblood's debut record is one of our favourite indie rock albums of the year. There’s something weirdly uplifting about singing along to the “I will hate you forever,” chorus of Super Rat. Do it.

5. Eliza & The Bear

Our choice of headliner would be Eliza & The Bear. A band who consistently deliver a gloriously rousing, melodic and chest thumping set that will leave you feeling wonderfully alive – afterwards you’ll want to snog strangers in the street.

Other tips

6. Make sure you see at least one band in the tiny upstairs room at Bar 56 presented by Strong Island. Probably the most intense you’ll have outside of sex – you have been warned.

7. Some people come to Southsea Fest for just one stage. That stage is The Edge of The Wedge, The Wedgewood Room’s smaller sister venue and is traditionally curated by BSM and Alcopop. Expect one in one outs here at certain times and wear as little clothing as possible because you’re going to get very sweaty as the evening goes on.

8. End your night in true Southsea Style at the infamous Ken’s Kebabs. You’ll probably be greeted with a cheery call of ‘yes mate’ and whatever you ask for you’ll be questioned ‘do you want chilli sauce with that?’ We recommend the Messy Burger.

9. If you want something more civilised such as a cup of tea, a slice of cake and a nice sit down in classy vintage surroundings, try The Garage Lounge at the end of Albert Road.

10. After the bands, the dancing, the madness and the mayhem if you still want more fun then remember the beach is only 15 minutes walk away. Skinny dipping time?

Skinny dipping is free, but if you want to come to Southsea Fest (and you really should) tickets are just £18 for 12 hours of music spread across 13 venues on one street on Sept 20th. Buy them from this link.

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