Psyched Fest 2021

Psyched Fest, Albert Road Southsea, 18th September 2021

It’s a big deal for a small festival to have to postpone but Psyched Fest came back with a bang on Saturday, showcasing a wonderfully diverse selection of artists at The Wedgewood Rooms, Edge of the Wedge and Lord John Russell on Southsea’s Albert Road.

It seems like recent Alcopop! signings Keg stole the show for many, the majority of those I spoke to on the day citing it as their favourite set.

Other stand outs at The Wedge/Edge were Nuha Ruby Ra, Baba Ali and, as could be expected, the unstoppable bounce of PVA.

Along the road, Lord John Russell had an eclectic mix on the line up, including strong sets from Fast Trains, Dad Hair and Platypus Complex pictured below.

Psyched Fest has always been a great place to discover emerging artists and catch up with some favourites you’ve see before – having seen virtually no-one for 18 months, this was especially welcome this year. Just some of my highlights in this area came from Ghost Car, The Early Mornings, Barbudo, English Teacher, Web and Modern Woman.

Sadly, this was the last scheduled Psyched Fest, however Nicki and all those involved can be rightly proud of what it achieved and the legacy it leaves behind. Signing out with Billy Nomates on the main stage is no bad way to go.

Psyched Fest 2021 was presented in conjunction with Strong Island Recordings, Honeymooner Records, Mix It All Up, Calamity Cratediggers and Missing Promotions, with visuals by Innerstrings.

Words and photos by Siobhan

20th September 2021

 

 

Victorious Festival 2021

Victorious Festival, Southsea Common, 28th – 29th August 2021

Sunshine, live music and a whole bunch of happy people gathered by the seaside for a long awaited return to festival life at this year’s Victorious. With a stack of great artists to choose from on the line up, the weekend was a huge success; check out our gallery below for a selection of the delights on offer …

Black Honey

The Lathums

Noon Garden

Idol State, Porridge Radio

The Clockworks

Glasvegas

Kawala

The Mysterines, Fugitive Orchestra, Me and the Moon


Nile Rodgers and Chic

Fontaines DC

Manic Street Preachers

Early bird tickets for Victorious 2022 are on sale now here

Words and photos by Siobhan

3rd September 2021

Psyched Fest – Preview

Psyched Fest – 18th September 2021, Southsea

With a little under six weeks to go, preparations are firmly in place for the return of Psyched Fest, championing underground and emerging artists across multi venue stages in Southsea.

The event never fails to draw a strong selection of artists, many of whom are on the edge of jumping to much bigger things. This year’s line-up sees another plethora of names to watch out for including PVA, Nuha Ruby Ra, Keg and Vlure, with Billy Nomates headlining at The Wedgewood Rooms.

There are still tickets available at the ridiculously cheap price of £24. Rest assured there will be acts playing here who you’ll pay more than that to see on their own within the year; don’t miss out on this if you can make it.

The festival will take place across 5 stages in collaboration with local promoters including Strong Island Recordings, Honeymooner, Calamity Cratediggers & Mix It All Up, and £1 from each ticket sold goes to Music Venue Trust.

Tickets available here

9th August 2021

Icebreaker Festival 2022 – Applications Open

As live music is starting to find its way back into our lives, it’s a real pleasure to see some events that have been sadly missed making plans to be back on the map soon.

The Portsmouth/Southsea area is home to a surprising number of festivals of all shapes and sizes, each with their own unique offer. Icebreaker Festival has established itself as a showcase for a hotbed of new talent, and provides an opportunity to catch a huge range of artists in smaller, intimate settings amidst a really friendly, supportive atmosphere. Favourite performances from the past couple of years have included Drusila, The Howlers, LibraLibra, The Isle of CC and Fast Trains; a veritable mix of something for everyone. Full details of how to apply to play are in the press release below, so if you’re unsigned but unforgettable, you know what to do.

Press release:

Applications are now OPEN for the South’s largest unsigned metropolitan music festival. Icebreaker Festival, situated on the vibrant streets of Southsea, will be taking place in the Winter & Summer of 2022 and is welcoming original artists/bands of any genre to apply. It has been a devastating year for live music but all this time spent at home has cultivated an abundance of creativity that festival organisers are eager to showcase.

Please visit www.icebreakerfestival.com and follow the application links. Each applicant is reviewed by the festival organisers and the colourful and eclectic line ups have developed themselves with the incredible amount of talent submitted through the application process every year.

The award-winning festival will host over 100 acts across 8 stages in multiple venues on Albert Road and Elm Grove with wristband entry.

7 years ago, local promoters, musicians & DJs came together to form the annual winter event, created to celebrate the unsigned music scene at a time of year which previously had been very quiet in the thriving coastal town. Over the years the festival has not only allowed artists to perform in front of eager crowds and gain media attention, it has also provided a platform for discovery. You might attend the festival as a punter or an artist, but you will leave the festival as a fan of a band or artist you may have previously never heard of.

You can check out our reviews from Icebreaker 2019 and Icebreaker 2020 here.

Words (excluding press release from Icebreaker Festival) and photos by Siobhan

30th July 2021

Open Letter to Festival Bookers

It’s hardly news that most of the big festival line-ups consist largely of the same white men who’ve been on the same line-ups for the past 10 years or more. However, the last week has seen this amplified in a way that even those preferring to ignore the fact would have been hard pressed to miss. It’s not even apologetic in its approach, described in The Guardian by Maxie Gedge, UK project manager of Keychange, (the PRS Foundation’s initiative encouraging music festivals to pledge to commit to line-ups featuring 50% women and gender minorities by 2022) as “a statement of exclusion”. And yet, those tired old responses keep churning out, as a quick glance through Twitter attests.

‘I just don’t see gender on stage’
‘Gender doesn’t come into it for me. I like what I like’
‘It’s about making money, if they drew they’d be on the lineup’
‘They probably just booked who was available /who they liked, wouldn’t read anymore into it’
‘Name me a female singer who could headline a major festival’

OK, let’s take that last one first. There seems to be an idea that if you can’t provide a headliner then what’s the point? But no-one goes straight to headliner status, everyone has to build up to that and often, that’s where the huge gaps are. A case in point, Dials Festival puts on an event in Portsmouth with a great diversity split and all the stages are busy all day long. So there I am at Dials in 2018, it’s early in the day and I pop in to see a band called LibraLibra, no idea who they are or what they sound like but I’m at the venue next door so figure I might as well give it a go. What happens next is that their music and performance blow me away and I unwittingly stumble on a new favourite band. I include them in my review, I make a note to try and see them again and I recommend them to friends. Clearly, I’m not the only one as the following year they’re back at Dials, much higher up the line-up. A few months later they play at Icebreaker Festival, another local event with an inclusive billing, and this time they’re on the main stage at The Wedgewood Rooms. Last October, when there was a tiny window where socially distanced gigs could happen, I saw them headline Brighton Dome. You see how this works, it’s not rocket science. You wouldn’t put off having driving lessons because you couldn’t take your test on the first one, you shouldn’t avoid having a gender mix on your line-up because you may not have a headliner yet.

LibraLibra from the top at Dials 18, Dials 19, Icebreaker 20

Back at Icebreaker, someone I know mentions that they’re off down the road to see The Isle of CC. Again, I don’t know their music but I trust this person’s judgement so tag along. And again, am so glad I did as the soulful, immersive tunes and vocals leave me with a warm glow and remind me to move outside my obvious genre choices more often. Aside from making recommendations here, my point is that because those bookers bothered to vary the dynamic, they created better festivals for everyone with no debate about the talent on offer.

The Isle of CC, Icebreaker 20

But where are these women who could draw a crowd for the top spot? Well, tour ticket sales suggest that people will pay good money to see Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, Skunk Anansie, Nadine Shah and Paloma Faith to name a few. What’s that, some of those are hardly contemporary? May I present this year’s players… Duran Duran, Stereophonics, Snow Patrol, Liam Gallagher and yes, even Catfish and the bloody Bottlemen. Need to fill some spaces elsewhere on the bill? How about you let The Kooks and Scouting For Girls have a day off and call up Dry Cleaning, The Nova Twins, The Orielles, Grace Petrie and Celeste? (Am sticking with UK artists here as the decision as to whether international travel can happen any time soon is still, ironically, up in the air. If you add in overseas acts there’s loads more big names to mention).

As much as I don’t want to take away from the gender issue, it’s really important to also acknowledge the imbalance in other areas too. Where’s the POC representation, the LGBTQ+ acts, the disabled artists? If we’re fighting for equality let’s not lose sight of the wider picture. I love this clip of Bowie being interviewed on MTV back in the 80s and using the moment to raise the question of racial diversity on the station in the most beautifully eloquent way, a fine example of how we can all use our situation to influence change, even if it’s about something that doesn’t hold us back personally. You may well have seen it doing the rounds a while ago, it’s worth another watch.

In a world where you can be the interviewer, blaming the lack of diversity on others and convincing yourself it’s not your problem, or you can be David Bowie, seeing the reality of what goes on outside your privileged bubble and challenging the status quo… be more Bowie.

And who knows, if the big festival bookers took a positive lead on this and made some changes, maybe the doubters would see gender on stage – in all its glory being amazing and brilliant. Maybe they would still like what they like and it would include some brilliant new black artists they’d never had the good fortune to hear before. Maybe, as the artists became better known, they would draw more ticket sales and maybe festivals could book who’s available and on their wish list and it might reflect more than just white men whose 10 year old indie haircuts and parkas are starting to look just a little bit dated now. So yes, of course you should book musicians based on their talent, just please take your blinkers off first and see the vast range of talent that’s out there to choose from. We can all do better. We can all make it better.

Words and photos by Siobhan

29th March 2021

Festival Memories

Someone with heavily tattooed legs wearing DM boots, shot from the shins down

Missing live music, missing being able to plan for summer festivals and ticking off the indoor winter festivals that we should already have been to? Here are some reminders in pictures, in black and white for now, but see you down the front in full colour when it’s safe again…

The Sound of the Crowd

Puns In Buns and Meals on Wheels

The holy trinity of spacemen, tents and fairground rides

Don’t forget the little ones…

…or the compost toilets and dancing security

Hands in the air (not so easy if you’re a T-Rex)

Who knows what the rest of the year brings but, when the time comes, imagine how amazing it’ll be to tread the fields again – take care till then.

Words and photos from 2000 Trees, Victorious Festival, No. 6 Festival and Always the Sun © Siobhan

29th January 2021

Tour of Wales / Taith Cymru

An electric guitar leaning against a stool plus details for the Tour of Wales (Taith Cymru) streaming events for Independent Venue Week

Tour of Wales / Taith Cymru (Independent Venue Week 2021)

This time last January, preparations were in full swing for a flurry of gigs across the UK to celebrate Independent Venue Week. This year a more innovative approach is required and as ever, Horizons (the music project from BBC Wales and the Arts Council of Wales) has stepped up to support and promote breakthrough artists from the current Welsh music scene. Each day this week, the team will be broadcasting sessions from a different grassroots venue, bringing a cross section of musicians and genres.

Weekday performances come from hip hop artist Mace the Great, country singer Jodie Marie, rock band Those Damn Crows, R&B singer Faith, urban brother & sister Leila McKenzie and K(e)nz, singer-songwriter Rona Mac, lo-fi / spoken word artist Ennio The Little Brother, blues rock pairing Alffa, electro pop artist Malan, new duo Body Water and a solo performance from Gwilym frontman Ifan Pritchard. Additionally, the weekend brings more Welsh rock from Holding Absence on Saturday 30th and Junior on Sunday 31st.

Tour of Wales / Taith Cymru is supported by Creative Wales and BBC Introducing and the venues taking part are Le Pub Casnewydd / Newport, Sin City Abertawe / Swansea, Queen’s Hall Arberth / Narberth, Galeri Caernarfon and Neuadd Ogwen Bethesda.

Sessions will be broadcast at midday each day this week, starting today, so set your alarm for some lunchtime tunes and check out the wealth of talent on display. It’s so important, now more than ever, that we keep supporting musicians, venues and everyone involved in the industry, and this will serve as a sweet reminder why. You can tune in here.

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Words by Siobhan

25th January 2021

 

Preview – Creation Day Festival

Creation Day, West Park, Wolverhampton, 29-30 May 2021

If you had to choose someone to curate a new music festival, it’s unlikely anyone would argue that Alan McGee would be a good call. Founder of the legendary Creation Records and a great supporter of new music, his long-standing involvement with and insight into the industry is something to behold. And with an impressive roll call of artists already announced, the inaugural Creation Day is booked for the last weekend in May 2021, headlined by Happy Mondays and Editors.


On the Saturday, Ian McCulloch will be dusting off his shades to bring Echo and the Bunnymen to the stage amidst their recently announced tour, while Shaun Ryder will be making his first appearance of the day with the illustrious Black Grape. Sunday sees long time McGee mentees Glasvegas making what will surely be one of the highlights of the weekend with an always powerful performance and presumably more shades.

Still a huge champion of rising talent, McGee also includes a swathe of newer acts on the bill, the likes of CAT SFX, The Clockworks and Heavy Lungs all set to showcase their music. 

Limited first release tickets go on presale tomorrow, 21st October at 10am, followed by general sale on 23rd October at 10am.

Weekend tickets are priced at £110, day tickets at £55, booking fees apply. Factoring in current Covid-19 restrictions, limited numbers of tickets will be on sale at a time and this will be reviewed in adherence with national guidelines.

Check the website for further details and to purchase tickets.

(Update 08.03.21: Due to the ongoing Covid restrictions, Creation Day Festival has been postponed until 28th-29th May 2022)

Words by Siobhan

20th October 2020

Pride Inside

Amidst what has become a very bizarre existence, pandemic life has put a stop to all major public gatherings this summer with events cancelled across the world. But it’s Pride month and where there’s Pride, there’s a way.

Whilst the streets of towns and cities across the UK will miss the Pride street celebrations, a new campaign, Pride Inside, has been created to ensure that the LGBTQ+ community can still be visible and have its voice heard.

With a massive marketing reach, 1,000 digital billboards have been donated by Clear Channel to be filled with photographic images created by and featuring members of the LGBTQ+ community celebrating Pride from their homes – a huge achievement considering that everything has had to be produced within lockdown guidelines.

From today and for the next two weeks, the images will appear across the country with the potential to reach in the region of 10 million people. The marches and parties might have to wait until next year but Pride Inside is making sure that its message will be out there, loud and clear, social gatherings or no social gatherings.

More details from the press release here:

PRIDE WILL TAKE TO THE STREETS THIS SUMMER AFTER ALL – WITH A NATIONWIDE CELEBRATION OF QUEER LIFE

New grassroots campaign Pride Inside will see queer people take over digital outdoor screens in all four nations of the UK with stunning images of what Pride means to them to ensure their continued visibility this Pride month.

The initiative – the brainchild of writer, performer and drag star Ginger Johnson – is supported by Out of Home media and infrastructure company Clear Channel, which has donated 1,000 digital billboards the length of the country from Glasgow to Southampton, including iconic Storm sites on Lambeth Palace Road and Hammersmith Tower in London.

The campaign aims to represent the full spectrum of the diverse LGBTQ+ community, with more than 120 queer contributors and photographers teaming up to create images from their homes or local public spaces, all socially distanced of course. They include the lead singer of a Belfast queer punk band – together with her pet rat, a Newcastle drag king, an NHS nurse in south London, original members of the Gay Liberation Front and an award-winning engineer who came to the UK as a refugee and went on to be named one of the BBC’s top 100 influential women in the world.

Pride Inside hopes the campaign will inspire other queer people across the UK to carry on the Pride celebrations at home and create their own images, posting them online under the #PrideInsideUK hashtag.

This unique opportunity will also raise awareness of the work of grassroots LGBTQ+ charities, with Pride Inside partnering with LGBT+ Consortium to collect donations to be distributed to organisations across the UK who provide vital services for the queer community. A specially designed website will feature resources to allow people to learn more about Pride, those taking part in Pride Inside and how they can engage with each other.

The not-for-profit campaign was pulled together in less than a month after the Covid-19 pandemic prompted the cancellation of Pride events across the country. The photography was co-ordinated by award-winning music and events photographer Corinne Cumming, who said: “We’ve managed to source photographers and subjects from across the LGBTQ+ spectrum, throughout the UK and from many different ethnicities which is so exciting and unique. For LGBTQ+ photographers and their subjects to be able to choose how they want to be represented via their art on a national platform, that’s really special.”

Paul Roberts OBE, Chief Executive of LGBT+ Consortium, said: “Covid-19 is having a real impact on our LGBT+ communities. Pride would ordinarily be a time for the visibility and increased awareness of issues facing our communities. This campaign offers a digital alternative and Consortium is delighted to see the diversity and intersectionality of our communities captured through these photographs. I hope this campaign let’s LGBT+ people know you are not alone and there is support out there.”

Clear Channel’s Chief Marketing Officer Martin Corke said: “As part of Clear Channel’s ongoing commitment to support and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, we are proud to be partnering with Pride Inside this year to showcase people from all parts of the community celebrating at home. While Pride events may not be happening on the streets, we hope to create a sense of shared experience and bring that community spirit Out of Home with our very public medium.”

Ginger Johnson, resident MC at Sink the Pink, the UK’s biggest LGBTQ+ collective, and co-presenter of breakfast TV show Wakey!, said: “Usually we take to the streets for Pride. We take to stages, demos and dancefloors. We climb onboard floats or walk shoulder to shoulder with our families and friends but this summer that just isn’t possible. So it’s crucial that LGBTQ+ people from all walks of life are visible and proud in our public spaces even if we can’t be there together in person!”

Ginger added: “Pride is also a chance for our community to reach out to the people who haven’t found pride in their lives yet, who don’t feel safe, who are hidden. It’s our chance to say to them, ‘You are not alone, we are here and we are proud of you.’ Pride has always been an opportunity for us all to learn about each other – to honour our shared experiences, our differences and our collective resilience. It’s taken the combined efforts of a whole team of amazing queer people from all over the UK to get this project off the ground and we can’t wait to share it with everyone.”

Check out Ginger’s video here and share to promote the campaign with the hashtag #PrideInsideUK

You can follow Pride Inside on Twitter / Instagram / Facebook for updates and more photos; head to their website for more information and opportunities to get involved

Intro by Siobhan – all press details and photos above are used with permission from Pride Inside, big thanks to Leigh Holmwood for helping us with this

15th June 2020

 

 

Preview – Rockaway Beach Festival

Rockaway Beach Festival, Bognor Regis, 8th-10th January 2021

It is with a certain amount of trepidation that I’m daring to put together a festival preview, given the situation we find ourselves in. However, this is not scheduled to happen until early next year and the line-up details so far fill me with some kind of hope that there really is something to look forward to. Returning to its now regular if somewhat unlikely home at Butlin’s in Bognor Regis, Rockaway Beach continues to pull in a fearsome list of acts to hang out by the fruit machines and, although we’re early in the announcement rollout, 2021 looks exceptional so far.

Breaking Glass favourites Walt Disco, Lazarus Kane and Italia 90 are all set to perform, along with other artists we’ve caught playing great shows in the last year including Porridge Radio, Life and the illustrious Fat White Family. Add to this the much lauded and guaranteed to have everyone dancing PVA, fresh punk trio Big Joanie and alt-rock royalty The Vaselines and you have yourselves a party of serious proportions.

Lazarus Kane 

Walt Disco

Porridge Radio, Italia 90

LIFE

Fat White Family

Keep your fingers tightly crossed that this is far enough away to happen. There are obviously lots more acts to be confirmed but, even based on this initial outlay, Bognor in the new year is looking very attractive.

Get more details as they come through and ticket information here

Words and photos by Siobhan

13th May 2020

 

 

 

Preview – The Great Escape

The Great Escape, Brighton, 14th – 16th May 2020

A stalwart of the UK festival season, The Great Escape is a huge showcase for new music and spreads across the whole of Brighton with venues of all shapes and sizes playing host to hundreds of artists from all over the world. In just two months’ time it’s all due to take place again.

In the light of current international festival cancellations, it’s a waiting game for all involved to see how things will develop but the latest information from TGE says ‘At this time, all shows and events are going ahead as planned. Please be assured that the safety and health of all staff and visitors is our main priority and we are implementing recommendations and instructions appropriately. We are closely monitoring official guidance from the World Health Organisation, Public Health England, UK Government, local public health authorities and are working with event promoters and organisers as information evolves.’

Hopefully things will improve in time for the festival to go ahead, even if not in its usual form. In the meantime, we’re taking a look at some of the artists on the line-up and hoping that all is good to go ahead. Here are six of the best UK acts who each come highly recommended…

Arxx

Local two piece Arxx play full throttle garage rock with a sense of purpose and determination. Favourites on the Brighton scene, their live sets are always worth catching.

Kid Kapichi

From not far along the coast in Hastings, Kid Kapichi are attracting lots of attention, having recently toured with Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes amongst others. Check out their full on indie tunes reminiscent of early Slaves.

Lazarus Kane

A live highlight for us last year, Lazarus Kane is a lot of fun to watch and brings bucketloads of fine indie disco – featured in our ones to watch in 2020 list, don’t miss seeing the band if you get a chance.

Lucia & the Best Boys

Part of the brilliant current Glaswegian scene, Lucia & the Best Boys are gradually becoming better known across the country and offer up accomplished indie grunge with an 80s’ synth backdrop, lots to take in here.

Lynks Afrikka

Having had the privilege of seeing Lynks Afrikka live recently, this is a big recommendation for tongue-in-cheek art pop with plenty of fun and dressing up thrown in, you won’t be disappointed.

Walt Disco

Another band in our ones to watch for 2020 list, Walt Disco are another excellent product of Glasgow’s new music scene. Combining indie disco with all the flair but none of the saccharine of the New Romantics, this band are clearly on the up and deserve your attention.

All festival details, updates and ticket links are on a The Great Escape website and you can listen to the artists featured here on the playlist below…

* UPDATE 23rd March 2020: Sadly, as expected, this year’s Great Escape has been cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions – tickets can be carried forward to TGE 2021 or refunded from point of purchase *


Words and photos by Siobhan exc Lucia photo by Alan

13th March 2020

Preview – All Points East Festival

All Points East, Victoria Park, London, 22nd-24th & 29th-31st May 2020

Following on from its success in previous years, All Points East returns to London over two weekends in May, a host of big names already announced and more to come.

Headliners already confirmed are Bombay Bicycle Club (22nd), Tame Impala (23rd), Massive Attack (24th), Kraftwerk (29th) and The Kooks (30th). The last night, Sunday 31st, is still to be announced but, if the others are anything to go by, the news is set to be worth waiting for.

There are also plenty of other artists to look out for on the various line-ups – the inimitable Iggy Pop, guitar legend Johnny Marr, the exceptionally talented Nadine Shah and everyone’s favourite disco cowboys Warmduscher to name just a few.

To coincide with the festival, In The NBHD will be putting on a calendar of free activities including cinema, music, arts and creative workshops coupled with a selection of street food sellers and bars. This year focuses on sustainability and there will be opportunities to learn how to upcycle using repurposed and natural materials.

Check out the All Points East website for full details of who’s been announced so far, updates as they come through and ticket links.

In light of other recent music events being affected by COVID-19, please keep a check on news from all festivals/events to make sure you have the latest information

*UPDATE 27th March 2020: Sadly, as expected, this year’s All Points East has been cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions – tickets will be automatically refunded from point of purchase, you are advised that you do not need to contact your seller unless you haven’t heard from them by 9th April *

Words by Siobhan

9th March 2020

Icebreaker Festival 2020

Icebreaker Festival, Southsea, 25th January 2020

Drawing a long, cold January towards its conclusion, Icebreaker Festival was back with a bang at the weekend, offering up another huge variety of live music from the freshest faces on the local and national scenes. Filling up The Wedgewood Rooms and a fine selection of pubs along Southsea’s Albert Road and Elm Grove, this year’s event certainly seemed to be the busiest so far with crowded rooms from early till late – brilliant to see so much support for new artists and independent venues as always.

Icebreaker is a great place to discover bands and singers who you haven’t seen before; this year starting with some sunny sax-filled pop tunes from Yasmin Natasha at the Edge of the Wedge while next door, Bella Estelle opened up the Wedgewood Rooms’ stage with a confident set full of big pop-rock songs, setting the tone for some huge performances over the day.

Along the road at the Wine Vaults, it was a pleasure to catch the chilled, soulful sounds of The Isle of CC – definitely one to watch.

Doing Littlehampton proud (and it’s usually only the cafe on the beach that can say that), Gloo took the volume up a level or five with their crashing punk antidote to traditional seaside living, making a big impact on the main stage audience.

A scoop for Icebreaker as Fast Trains played their debut at the festival – lots of local support on display for the already award winning project from Tom Wells, ex of Kassassin Street, bringing along some familiar faces to play with him on the day. An accomplished first performance boding well for the future.

Every time LibraLibra play they seem to up their game and another stand out set left the crowd in awe once again. Fabulous to see them on a bigger stage, their heartfelt punk-glam hybrid is just captivating. A very smart booking for any festival – can’t really recommend them highly enough.

Another two bands who are both firm favourites on the local festival scene, Drusila gave their usual energy filled performance and The Howlers never disappoint live – check them both out if you have the chance.

Locals The Stone Birds’ reputation is steadily building and they  definitely squeezed one of the biggest crowds of the day into the Wine Vaults. Their blend of 60s’ tinged blues and rock sets them apart from a lot of other new bands and, with new music and live dates pending, it will be interesting to see how things develop for them. Certainly on this occasion the big crowd was well deserved.

Closing the Edge of the Wedge stage, Currls brought some solid indie grunge tracks and a fitting party atmosphere to end the night on a high note.

Hot on the heels of this weekend’s success, Icebreaker have announced that there will be a new summer event – stick a star on 18th July in your diary and keep an eye on the website for updates…

More from Icebreaker here

Words and photos by Siobhan

28th January 2020

Urban Festivals 2020

While the whole of the UK seems to be fighting with Storm Brendan (a rather friendly moniker for endless downpours and winds that blow you off your feet), thinking about outdoor festivals may not be top of your agenda. However, the rise in popularity of the multi-venue city festival offers the opportunity to plan some outings that don’t involve taking a tent along. We’ve picked out 5 across the UK that are well worth putting in your diary…

Stag & Dagger – Edinburgh 2nd May, Glasgow 3rd May

Picking up steam and recognition every year, Glasgow’s Stag & Dagger takes place across venues in a compact area of the city centre in early May. With much more to come, acts confirmed so far include the eclectic mix of Shame, Ezra Furman, Hockey Dad and Vanishing Twin. This year sees the festival extend to Edinburgh the same weekend for its own event, line up to be announced imminently.

Stag & Dagger Glasgow  /  Stag & Dagger Edinburgh

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The Great Escape – Brighton 13th – 16th May

The prototype of urban festivals, Brighton’s The Great Escape has been a fixture in the city since 2006. It’s by far the biggest of this kind of event and plays host to hundreds of artists from around the world. Given the extent of the venues involved it’s helpful to have some local knowledge or test things out with a dry run as you can cover some serious distances over the few days. The line up is still in progress; some of those already confirmed are Lazarus Kane, Girls in Synthesis, Molly Parton and Sinead O’Brien.

The Great Escape

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D2D – Manchester 22 May, Bristol 23rd May, Nottingham 24th May

Dot to Dot takes its line up to 3 cities in 3 days, making it a bit more accessible to more people with less travel. The lucky locations are Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham and this year a collection of venues across each of them will play host to the likes of Easy Life, Gracey, Spacey Jane and Drug Store Romeos plus many more to be announced.

Dot to Dot Festival

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Dials Festival – Portsmouth, 3rd October

Heading towards the end of the year for the next two which may seem a long way off but past events suggest they’re definitely worth a bookmark. First up, Dials Festival has built up over the last few years into an established showcase for a whole range of genres and talent. Raising funds for charity partner Solent Mind, this is music with awareness and that combination is surely something worth celebrating. Keep an eye out for announcements throughout the year.

Dials Festival

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Swn Festival – Cardiff, 16th – 18th October

Wales’ first and biggest multi venue metropolitan event, Swn Festival returns to maintain its reputation for bringing new music to the fore, with many past performers having gone on to much bigger things. Details of this year’s line up will emerge in the run up to the festival and you can sign up to their newsletter now to receive updates.

Swn Festival

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Words by Siobhan

16th January 2020

Preview – Icebreaker Festival

Icebreaker Festival, Southsea, 25th January 2020 

Back in its regular January slot, Icebreaker Festival once again brings a plethora of new musical talent to Southsea’s Albert Road and Elm Grove, putting on over 80 artists in 1 day at 7 venues in the area. With a wide range of genres included in the line up, there’s an opportunity to discover some new favourites live and that’s just what we’re hoping to do, as well as catching up with some acts that are already making waves.

Returning after strong performances at last year’s event, look out for some lively desert rock from The Howlers (Wedgewood Rooms) and soul-infused garage from Currls (Edge of the Wedge).

Highlights at other local festivals this year, it’s also great to see mighty art punks LibraLibra and electro duo Drusila on the bill – both on the Wedgewood Rooms stage; neither of whom should be missed.

A few more recommendations for the day come in the shape of…

– Blues-soaked rock from local favourites The Stone Birds (The Wine Vaults)
– 90s influenced grunge-rock from Dutch Mustard (Edge of the Wedge)
– Some lovely laid back soulful sounds from The Isle of CC (The Wine Vaults)
– And what looks set to be a blow the roof off performance from indie punks Glossii (The Deco)

We’ve added tracks from all the artists mentioned to the playlist below so you can listen at your leisure…

*Edit – sadly, it seems that Glossii have decided to call it a day and won’t now be appearing but give their music a listen anyway and keep an eye on new projects from band members*


Check out the full line up complete with stage times for each venue on the Icebreaker website.

Words and photos by Siobhan

7th January 2020

Dials Festival 2019

Dials Festival, Southsea, 5th October 2019

Returning to its now regular early October slot, Dials Festival brought another hugely impressive line up to Southsea’s Albert Road at the weekend, hosted across five venues all within a few minutes walk of each other. In a sometimes overcrowded market, it’s difficult to find a USP for a festival these days… well, how about this? Dials is run by volunteers, works hard to apply inclusivity towards artists and attendees and raises money and awareness for local mental health charity Solent Mind… now that’s a difference worth taking notice of.

And if that’s not enough, the musical talent on display is a joy to discover. Channeling their inner New Order, Two Tribes gave a great performance at The Wine Vaults, as did Sarpa Salpa with their synth infused dance tunes opening the venue’s stage. I love that people come out early for Dials and support the acts playing from opening slots to headliners.

Across the road at Lord John Russell, Heebie Jeebies kicked off a relaxed atmosphere with guitars and sax aplenty while The Loft saw some some sharp drumming and grunge appeal from Dad Hair and Eno-esque experimental synth loops from Friday Night Weird Dreams.

A firm favourite on the local live circuit, Madonnatron packed the room at The Edge and did not disappoint with their unashamedly brash post punk psychedelia and razor sharp multi-vocals.

As always with Dials, I found some great new bands who I hadn’t seen before, in fact the vast majority were new to me live. Quite how I’ve managed to miss Arxx so far is a bit of a mystery but with a set including fierce grunge tracks, a dabble with country and a Eurythmics cover to boot, they’re firmly on my must see again list. Representing the increasingly impressive Bristol music scene, the discordant drawl of spikey post punk from Haze and some ethereal slacker rock from Wych Elm also both come highly recommended.

Last year, LibraLibra opened one of the smaller stages and more than made their mark at Dials. This year they made an unquestionably triumphant return with a performance so powerful it may be worth checking if the Edge of the Wedge is still standing. Vocally it’s as though Gossip have been shaken up by X-Ray Spex; this is not a band to be missed. I assume by next year they’ll be well on the way to world domination.

Hot on their heels on the main stage next door, another absolute stand out set from Glasgow’s Walt Disco. Their uniquely dark brand of art rock disco is streets ahead of many of their contemporaries, largely because their material stands up on its own and doesn’t rely solely on the performance. That said, the performance is pretty spectacular. Billy Mackenzie would be proud.

One thing that Dials does consistently well is to bring a mix of genres to the table with cross appeal for those attending, allowing different moods and styles of music to reach new ears. From boiler-suited dancealongs with BASH! to Acid Tongue’s folk influenced garage and the dulcet vocals of Megan Lara Mae (including a cover of Minnie Riperton’s Loving You that managed to avoid screeching that note) there really was something for everyone.

Bigger festivals could learn a thing or two about applying gender mix to their scheduling from Dials; the line up this year once again proved that it’s really not that hard to find quality artists across the board with Saltwater Sun and Another Sky both drawing big crowds to The Wedgewood Rooms.

And after a line up so strong, who do you pull in to headline? Kicking a final blast of  vigour into the proceedings, The Blinders took no prisoners with their closing set, a visceral assault on the senses, a last chance for the crowd to decide that they still had enough energy to take on a mosh pit, a fitting close to a brilliant day with a guest appearance on stage from the Dials Fox.

Across the last few years, Dials hasn’t started just another festival; it’s started and built up something to be etched into your diary way in advance safe in the knowledge that each event keeps getting better than the last – till next year…

For more about Dials Festival please check their website

You can find out about the work Solent Mind do here

Words and photos by Siobhan

7th October 2019

Preview – Dials Festival

Dials Festival, Portsmouth, 5th October 2019

The summer festivals may be safely tucked away but there’s no shortage of indoor events to look forward to, with the added bonus of not having to worry about getting sunstroke or washed away in the rain. Starting the winter season off in style, Dials Festival is back with another fine line-up, all hand picked from a huge pool of new and emerging talent to make up a really well thought out mix of artists and genres. Held at The Wedgewood Rooms and surrounding venues on Southsea’s Albert Road, this year’s headline slot is filled by The Blinders, bringing a phenomenal live reputation and plenty of searing post modern anthems, their set will undoubtedly be a highlight of the day.

Returning from hugely popular sets in 2018, it’s great to see LibraLibra and Fake Empire back on the bill. Both bands took early slots last year but pulled in the crowds and made big impressions – both well worth checking out.

The rest of the line-up looks equally appealing, some acts I know, some I don’t… yet. Having attended all the Dials events so far I can honestly say I’ve found new favourite bands every time and am looking forward to history repeating itself once again. Three of the best come highly recommended in the shape of menacing melodies from the mighty Madonnatron, pure disco-infused indie from Walt Disco and an intense hit of raw punk from Luxury Apartments.

Aside from the artists, Dials is once again supporting and raising funds for Solent Mind, a much needed and utilised local charity. There is no doubting that music can give a massive release from mental health issues and the pairing of Dials and Mind is one that makes perfect sense. If you haven’t got a ticket yet there are limited numbers still available at the incredibly cheap price of just £20. There’s just a month to go so make plans, get along, support a great cause, come and say hello then find some favourite new bands of your own.

More info from Dials Festival here

Words and photos by Siobhan

5th September 2019