Sunday 23 September 2018

Preview: Dials Festival 2018 (Part 1 - Early Afternoon)

In just under a two weeks, on Saturday 6th October Portsmouth’s Dials Festival returns for its third chapter following its first two editions in 2015 and 2016. It’s an event I’m pretty well versed in, after in 2015 having been invited to join the organising team because of my relative expertise in new music and help book some bands for the bill, for 2018 I seem to have ended up with the job title Festival Director and am one of the core organisers and financial backers of the event. I'm not quite sure how that's happened but it has.

The Dials ethos is a little bit different from many multi-venue single wristband access events out there, although I must give a huge shout out to Reading’s brilliant Are You Listening Festival whose model we have partly taken on. It was that festival that inspired me to suggest to the team that the event should be not for profit and run in aid of a charity partner (Solent Mind) whilst raising awareness of what their organisation does and maybe even raise some funds along the way. 

We also thought it was important that, after hearing a number of reports from local artists that certain other bigger corporate festivals in the area weren’t paying the smaller artists instead offering a guest tickets as 'payment', we would offer virtually every band some form of cash return for playing. Sometimes this might only be enough to cover transport to the venue but at least it was some help to artists. You might think that paying artists was imperative, after all they make the festival, but it seems that some events have different ideas. 

This of course means that tickets are a little more expensive than some might expect, but £16 for a full day of live music which includes a host of up and coming bands including the likes of Estrons, Art School Girlfriend, Lauran Hibberd and Fröst who are all getting play on Radio 1 or BBC 6 Music, is to my mind still decent value. The reality is we couldn't make it any cheaper.

Some artists have been wonderful though and agreed to waive their fee as the event is for charity and hardly any of the acts (including our headliners) have asked for guest list. I hope that our ethos of what we are trying to achieve will make both artists and audience feel invested in the festival and this will create a positive community spirit. It was something our previous events were praised for, as well the fact that all the venues are on just one street just a few minutes walk from each other, plus the large amount of women on the bill compared with other festivals, something which as Director I’ve pushed for again in 2018.

If you haven’t got your ticket yet I recommend buying in advance, as they will be more expensive on the day. You can get them from the Dials website by clicking here.

Now onto the music. Over the next 3 blog posts I will be providing tips and recommendations of acts to see at Dials Festival 2018. I’m dividing them into 3 sections – early afternoon, late afternoon and evening, based on the timetable (which you can see by clicking here).

Previous experience has shown that not many people come to the festival early – but this year in particular I highly recommend you get down for the start. We have some really great acts at the bottom of the bill – who knows some of them might even be future headliners? Also, for some early arrivals there will be a few bonus goodies that make your £16 ticket even better value, which we’ll be revealing through our social media a few days before the event, so keep an eye out @dialsfestival.

So here are three acts it’s worth getting out of bed for. You'd be a fool to miss them.

Libra Libra 13.45-14.15 The Loft

Brighton’s LibraLibra might only have 2 songs on line but they’ve already picked up attention because of their eccentrically maverick videos, powerful lyrics and uneasy claustrophobic music that mixes everything from Fever Ray like electronics to power-chord glam-guitars. The jewel in their crown however is the wonderful Beth Cannon whose mountainous vocal range can switch from baby sweet to operatic to rock goddess in a matter of seconds. Some of you might recognise Beth’s name (or voice) – she most recently has worked with Lost Horizons - the band formed by Simon Raymonde of The Cocteau Twins and Bella Union Records and Richie Thomas.

Having already headlined a stage at Brighton’s Alt-Escape festival and with an appearance at the tastemaker led Off The Record Music Festival / Conference in Manchester in November on the cards this is a chance to catch a bubbling under band at their very early stages. They might be on early but they are guaranteed to wake you up with the beautiful noise they make.

Lauran Hibberd 14.45-15.20 The Loft

It was only a year or so ago that the Isle of Wight’s Lauran Hibberd was playing to about 6 people in a pub just over the road from where she’s performing at Dials. Since that time, things have changed. Her song Call Shotgun has been BBC Introducing’s track of the week on Radio 1 and netted over 300,000 streams on Spotify. She’s supported Eliza & The Bear on tour and played the main stage at Bestival. Lauran’s ability to pen hooky fuzzy indie pop songs at an alarming rate is incredible and on stage her funny stories, wit and likeable personality engage as much as the tunes.

Lauran is one of a number of acts playing Dials that (arguably) could already be significantly higher up the bill. Get down and see what the fuss is about.

Jerry Williams 15.30-16.00 The Vaults

After Lauran Hibberd finishes you have 5 minutes for a quick break and then a 1-minute walk across the road to Vaults to see Portsmouth’s reigning indie queen Jerry Williams. Having already sold out the 400 capacity Wedgewood Rooms with her band, Dials will find Jerry performing a more low-key solo set in the intimate space of The Vaults. With a whole bunch of catchy personal pop songs such as Mother (5 million streams on Spotify and counting), Grab Life and Left and Right, this solo set will be another reminder of Jerry’s melodic talent. It may well be busy for this one!

Grab your ticket for Dials 2018 by clicking here.

Late afternoon and evening recommendations coming soon…

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