Monday 6 May 2019

A Personal Note On Dials Festival 2019 - An Event I Help Run

Away from my day job (which has absolutely nothing to do with music) one of the other projects I’m involved in is running a small music festival in Portsmouth. It’s called Dials. It’s a multi-venue event run by a team of volunteers in support of Solent Mind, a local mental health charity. 

Dials ran in 2015 and 2016 as a smaller replacement for the now defunct Southsea Fest, before taking a break in 2017. My original role was not much more than having a small hand in booking some of the artists that played in those first two years, helping out with a bit of public relations and trying to understand how a putting on a music festival worked; it's a jigsaw and you have to put all the pieces in the right place at the right time.

In 2018 we decided to continue, with a slightly different (albeit very small) team as well as a modified concept and I acted as festival director as well as co-booker. For 2019,  I’ve taken a step back after some recent health issues and another team member Abbie Eales has taken on the role, but I’m still quite heavily involved; I co-book the event and generally do whatever I can to help with the limited spare time I have.

2018 was the first year that the festival took the decision to support a charity and it is something that is very important to me. I’ve always been more of an actions speak louder than words sort of person (ironic given that I write a blog) and so you won’t find me doing lots of posts on Twitter about how important mental health is – I’d rather get on with organising an event like Dials and supporting an organisation like Solent Mind and (hopefully) giving people a great day out watching some of the best new music out there. Tweets are useful, but taking real action is even more so.

2018 represented a new start for our festival with its charity support and revised team structure. The feedback we got from punters was hugely positive and spurred us on to do it again in 2019.

This year we’ve grown the team working on the festival as we had lots of interest from people about getting involved and volunteering after the 2018 event, although the festival itself is the same size. I like to think that when something is positive and successful people want to be part of it. It certainly helps having a bigger number of people to spread the workload, especially when the team is full of such talented and brilliant people. 

I mentioned the praise we received in 2018; we especially liked that ticket holders thought that Dials had a friendly community atmosphere, was well run, had some nice elements of attention to detail (even though we had very little budget), how close all the venues were to each other, and how much great new music they discovered. 

And it’s new music discovery that is at the heart of Dials Festival. Which is why I’m incredibly excited today to reveal the first 13 acts that will be appearing at Dials 2019. 

Headlining will be The Blinders - a band I named as Ones to Watch in 2018 (here). Since that time they’ve released their debut album Columbia and cooked up a storm wherever they’ve played live. This year they’ve already played the Scala in London and will be supporting Noel Gallagher at some of his summer shows before they head to Dials. 

Alongside The Blinders I’m ecstatic to bring Another Sky back to Portsmouth for the second time. If you’ve read Breaking More Waves this year or followed me on Twitter you’ll probably know that this band is one of my favourite new acts of the last 12 months. They were the first band I approached about playing for 2019 and was absolutely delighted when they said yes. If you haven’t heard them yet, it’s time to do some catching up and listen to tracks like Chillers, The Cracks, Forget Yourself, Apple Tree and Avalanche and feel the band’s power. Having seen them play a number of times I know they can deliver the goods on stage as well – they are all fantastic musicians.

Besides these 2 bands today we’ve announced 11 more acts. From fresh new cosmic dreamy synth pop from Bristol (Pocket Sun) to snarling South London new wave punk recently signed to Felix White of The Maccabees new Yala! Records label (Talk Show) to analogue ambient audio-visual electronic art from Brighton (Johanna Bramli) to a band that are playing Glastonbury, Boomtown and Download this summer, have collaborated with Bobby from Primal Scream on a recent single and are making people’s jaws drop with their full-on live performances (Black Futures). 

We’re really proud of the line up we’ve curated and hope that as many people as possible will come along for the day. We’ve already sold out of early bird tickets and hope that even if you know none of the acts playing, you’ll come for a grand day out anyway.

A quick plea: It really helps us survive as a festival if you buy tickets early so if you have any thought about coming to Dials 2019 – grab a ticket now (just click here). 

Dials takes place on October 5th on one road (Albert Road) in Southsea, Portsmouth and runs from lunchtime to around 11pm at night.

The artists announced for Dials 2019 so far are: The Blinders, Another Sky, Arxx, Black Futures, Fake Empire, Haze, Hussy, Johanna Bramli, LibraLibra, Pocket Sun, Saltwater Sun, Talk Show and Wych Elm, but this is just the start, we have lots more to come. 

Find out more about the artists, check out the Spotify playlist and most importantly buy your tickets at the Dials Festival website by clicking 

If you’d like a free ticket to Dials, then why not come and help out and volunteer? We’ll be looking for people to help with things such as merchandise sales on the day, artist accreditation and acting as runners. It’s a really rewarding experience (something I never really considered until I started helping out) and we’ll make sure you get some time off to go and see some of the artists play. If you’re interested in volunteering just send an email to

To finish off, here’s some music from a few of the artists playing Dials 2019. We look forward to welcoming you in October. For more information on Solent Mind and what they do click here.

The Blinders - Brave New World

Another Sky - Apple Tree

Saltwater Sun - The Wire

Johanna Bramli - Spirals

No comments: