Festival – Dials 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

 

Festival – Victorious 2019

Victorious Festival, Southsea Common, 23rd – 25th August 2019

Once again, Victorious Festival managed to entice a huge range of artists to play by the seaside at its late summer bank holiday weekend gathering. The line up is so varied that there really is something for everyone and it manages the family friendly tag with ease. As well as offering showcase spots to local emerging artists, Victorious pulls in some big players, both current and long established acts. Seemingly growing every year and now running across three days, this year’s headliners encompassed the eclectic bunch of Two Door Cinema Club, Rudimental and New Order. Across the myriad of stages and activities, no genre was left unturned and with a weekend filled with blazing sunshine, this looks to have been one of the busiest years ever. Here are our highlights from Saturday.

A long road trip from home, West Lothian indie four piece The Snuts have been much lauded as ones to watch and had some early singalongs going on, clearly a widespread fan base on their hands already. South coast blues pop trio Hooli graced the Seaside stage with a chilled set and plenty of local support; probably the only UK festival stage with passenger ferries running along the river on the other side of the wall.

Another rising young artist, Casey Lowry, brought his own brand of catchy trop pop tracks to the table. A suitably sunshine feel to the songs as he and his band breezed through their set, his initial suspicions that everyone would leave after ten minutes to see All Saints were soon allayed.

And so to a long established festival favourite and Victorious returner, the infectiously happy Tim Burgess. Having played here with The Charlatans two years ago, Tim returned for a solo set backed by his other bandmates The Anytime Minutes (also making waves in their own right as Average Sex). A mix of songs old and new put a smile on everybody’s face, I’ve never seen this man do a set that isn’t feel-good and full of energy – a sound booking for a show of any size.

Arriving onto the Common stage, Damon Gough aka Badly Drawn Boy looked slight bemused by the size of the crowd, asking if he was at the right festival. His performance is always understated but doesn’t take long to remind you exactly why he should be here. Over the years he’s written some beautiful songs and it was great to hear tracks from one of my favourite films and soundtracks About a Boy in amongst the set.

Considering the numbers there and the fairly intense heat, the atmosphere across the site was a happy one with areas for comedy and kids’ activities, a village sized merch and shopping square and a wide choice of reasonably priced food vendors. There was even space to dance by the castle in your wedding dress if you felt the urge…

Drawing one of the biggest crowds I have ever seen at any stage at Victorious (Castle stage is the second largest but must have outnumbered the main stage here), man of the moment Lewis Capaldi received a rapturous welcome from an all ages audience. His 7pm slot must surely have been booked some time ago; there’s no doubt he could have headlined and still had people watching him from as far as the eye could see. Capaldi’s self-disparaging songs of love and heartbreak combined with his imperturbable sense of humour look set to see him continue his rise to the top.

Difficult to follow… until you realise that next up is The Hives, Sweden’s incorrigibly wonderful rock ‘n’ rollers who hit the stage with such force that you knew the party had just moved to a different level. From Come On and Walk Idiot Walk to the inevitable closer Tick Tick Boom, it wasn’t hard at all to see why The Hives are still so popular, 20 years of mayhem and still going strong.

Headlining the Castle stage, Bloc Party provided the perfect way to end the evening, playing their landmark debut album Silent Alarm in full and no doubt creating waves of nostalgia for many of those present in the process. The tracks more than hold up over time, Bloc Party were never your bog standard indie band and the intricacy of the songs is clear to see, She’s Hearing Voices and Banquet personal favourites that it was an absolute pleasure to hear live again. Stunning.

The end of a long day but still these guys on security were having the best night, checking that everyone was ok while throwing synchronised dance moves to the sounds of Rudimental closing up the Common stage in the background – thanks to all involved for another memorable festival, see you next year.

No doubt Victorious 2020 will be even bigger and better – early bird tickets are already available here.

Words and photos by Siobhan

26th August 2019

 

Preview – Victorious Festival

Victorious Festival, Portsmouth, 23rd – 25th August 2019

Since its beginnings in 2011 at the Historic Dockyard, Victorious has grown in numbers and stature every year, now transforming Southsea Common into an enclosed festival village each August bank holiday weekend. The scope of the site allows for multiple stages, food and retail vendors and activities for all ages, making this a really family friendly event.

Last year’s event saw the sun setting over the fitting inclusion of Beach Boy Brian Wilson on the main stage just a few hundred yards away from the seafront. Earlier highlights included an impressive set from PINS, plus crowd singalongs with Happy Mondays and a stand out performance from The Cribs.

This year’s headliners cross genres nicely with indie favourites Two Door Cinema Club on Friday, drum and bass from Rudimental on Saturday and the legendary New Order closing on Sunday. Other big names playing across the weekend include The Specials, Doves, James Bay, Lewis Capaldi, Clean Bandit and The Vaccines. But keep some time free for the smaller stages and event tents. Check out a heady fusion of jazz hip hop from Omar Baba at the People’s Lounge on Saturday, Isle of Wight style psych from Plastic Mermaids at the Castle stage on Sunday, a great mix of artists at the World Music stage plus there’s the Comedy Tent, Literacy Live and lots for families with children to do elsewhere in the festival.

Providing excellent value for money, you’ll often pay less for a day ticket to Victorious than it would cost just to see one or two of the bands playing. And there’s no disputing that they have one of the best locations going on the edge of the beach with a castle, museum and skate-park all on site.

Remaining tickets and full details are available here – book now for a bank holiday trip to the seaside with a difference. There’s just a month to go so be quick!

Words and photos by Siobhan

23rd July 2019

Festival – 2000 Trees 2019

2000 Trees Festival, Upcote Farm Cheltenham, 11th – 13th July 2019

Picture if you will a farm in rural countryside, transformed into an award winning festival location where you can walk the length of the site in 10 minutes, catching big names and new music, choosing from the best selection of festival food around and taking in the friendliest atmosphere you’re likely to encounter. No need to worry about carrying or losing money as the cashless system works a treat, just have your wristband scanned to pay. Families, fancy dress, diehard punks and metal-heads, they’re all here and they’re all having a brilliant time. You can only imagine the amount of work and preparation that goes on behind the scenes because the team and volunteers at 2000 Trees have thought of everything and everyone – artists, crowd, vendors, security – the whole crew seem to love being here. It’s a beautiful setting and there’s more diversity in the types of music on offer than many people realise.

2019’s event even brought the sun out of hiding, along with an enormous string of new and established artists. Whether it’s to catch a favourite band or discover a new one, 2000 Trees is a massive recommendation. Just be aware that when you’ve been once it’s very hard to not pick it up as a habit that’s hard to kick. Here are some highlights from Friday from a huge selection of what went on this year…

Deux Furieuses getting the day off to a solid start on the Axiom stage – powerful riffs and no holds barred drums belying the fact that they are only two.

Fresh from playing a string of sold out shows together, Gouge Away (The Cave) and Slow Crush (Neu) filled their respective marquees, with both receiving a great crowd reaction.

Lice have gained a well deserved reputation for their live performances and this was no exception – a stand out set of satirical art punk on the Neu stage which saw some excellent bookings this year.

You have to have your photo taken and take some of your friends by the Trees sign – it’s the law.

Carnage in The Cave. Bringing Belgian noise rock and their very own language, Raketkanon are not to be missed live; for fans of vocalists crowd surfing in doughnut inflatables, this is not the time to forget your earplugs.

Time out to recharge the batteries at the beautiful Forest acoustic stage with a chilled set from locals Watercolours and some indie psych back at the Neu stage from Indigo Lo.

2000 Trees crowds are the friendliest crowds – it’s not compulsory to have an inflatable handy in the food queue.

A long way from home, Australia’s Hands Like Houses pulled in a big crowd on the main stage who provided an equally big UK welcome.

Still on the main stage, the classic mix of 2000 Trees and Pulled Apart by Horsesalways a pleasure to see them individually; together is hard to beat. Stage jumps, circle pits and a guitar accompanied dive into the crowd are what Trees is all about.

Everyone welcome, dress code whatever you please. (By the way, any discarded rubbish disappears after each set, kudos to the litter picking / recycling team).

Really happy late afternoon vibe for Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly – packed marquee too at the Axiom.

Fast becoming firm favourites on the indie punk scene, Heavy Lungs put on a frenetic show, catch them in a smaller venue while you can, this time the Neu stage grabbing the spotlight again.

So, with this year’s 2000 Trees all packed away, it seems fortuitous to think a long, long way ahead and be aware that next year’s is already in the making. 9th – 11th July 2020 – put it in your diary, you won’t regret it.

Early bird tickets are available now.

Words and photos by Siobhan

15th July 2019

 

 

Preview – 110 Above Festival

110 Above Festival, Twycross, 2nd – 4th August 2019

You have to wonder how much longer 110 Above Festival can be touted as ‘indie’s best kept secret’ as word continues to spread about what a great event it is. Now in its 10th year, there is no let up in the array of hugely popular artists playing, but the limited capacity of around 1,000 people and intimate stages on site will ensure that this remains a slightly more up close and personal experience than many other festivals. Set on the outskirts of Twycross on Gopsall Hall Farm, this year’s headliners tick the full set of indie boxes with new music from Swim Deep, the continuing rise of Pale Waves and the wonderfully named Eel Pie Island’s best known export, Mystery Jets.

The rest of the line-up is equally worthy of your attention – we had a chat with four acts you’ll be glad you didn’t miss over the weekend – look out for CHILDCARE, Hunger Moon, The Tin Pigeons and Hey Charlie…

CHILDCARE

For anyone just discovering the band, tell us a little about CHILDCARE and your music… 

We’re quite simply the best south London capslock soft-core psych quartet who are also running a revolutionary wellness campaign around.

Your album Wabi-Sabi has just been released to much acclaim – how long has it taken to put together and how does it feel now it’s out in the world?

It’s been a really long process actually because I kept thinking we weren’t ready to record an album. It was only when Emma (bassist) sat us all down and we listened to about 50 songs we’d recorded over the last 3 years that we realised it was probably time to put an album out. Now that the album is out fans are being healed all over the world.

Over the last year and through this summer you’re festival regulars – how does playing festivals differ to playing gigs, do you get a different reaction?

Festivals are fun because the crowds tend to be bigger, it’s glorious walking round on the grass in the sunshine and bumping into and watching other bands, but the gigs themselves are never as intense and focused as single shows.

What can people expect if they catch your set at 110 Above?

They can expect poise, personal glory, Chinese finger cymbals and hips.

And what else is on the horizon for CHILDCARE?

Continuing our Get Well Soon campaign, this will involve live healing at shows including the Radio 1 stage at Reading and Leeds, on a tour in September and at our biggest headline show to date, Scala in London in December. We’ll also be taking our Personal Glory™️ retreats round the country – events where we impart our twisted versions of mindfulness, meditation and yoga on fans.

Facebook    Spotify

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Hunger Moon

Photo © Laura Chen

Can you give us a quick intro to the band and your music?

Absolutely, we’re James and Natalie and we’ve been writing songs together as Hunger Moon since December 2017. We describe our sound as ‘melancholy alt pop’ and draw our songwriting inspiration from the world around us, from emotions to, more recently, current affairs.

Your latest single Honey is getting great reviews, how did the song come together and how does it feel to read people’s reactions to it?

Yeah, we were discussing only today how crazy the response to the track has been. We’re getting people around the world popping up on our socials now, and have had such a great response from radio and blogs already. It’s a really great feeling to know that something you’ve built from nothing is connecting and reaching not only with friends and their friends but with complete strangers too. We’ve been growing as an act with every release, and it really feels like the momentum is too.

What can everyone look forward to if they come and see you at 110 Above Festival?

Our usual set of emotional alt pop bangers. We love festivals as they’re a chance to play in front of completely new people in new places, so that always feeds into the adrenaline of our performances. We love meeting new people, so we’ll be looking forward to having a chat too.

If you were putting on your own festival and had no restrictions who would you choose to play alongside and headline?

We love Amber Run, if it wasn’t for those guys we wouldn’t be making music together, so we would definitely pick them. Aurora, Stereo Honey, The National and Radiohead would all make appearances too.

And what’s next for Hunger Moon?

We are playing a handful of festivals this summer before heading over to Europe for a week to play some dates in late September / early October. New music will hopefully follow!

Facebook    Spotify

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The Tin Pigeons

Say hello and tell us what it’s essential to know about Tin Pigeons…

Hey! Fraser and Thom here from Tin Pigeons! We think its pretty essential to know that we make music you can bounce to! Who doesn’t love a good bounce?

You’ve been described by BBC Introducing as ‘one of the best festival bands we know’ – what did you do to deserve such an accolade?

This comment came after we were named as Radio 1’s track of the week so they were showing us loads of love which was amazing, we just try and have as much fun as possible at our shows, and try and get people to dance along with us!

What have you got planned for your appearance at 110 Above?

We have been recording loads so we’ve got some brand new, hot-out-the-oven tunes to smash out!

Which other artists have you been listening to lately?

We have a load of mates all making music that we LOVE – we’ve been listening to loads of our good pal Lauran Hibberd who is sick!

And what does the future hold for the band?

More music! Working on touring plans for winter, then more studio time and new releases out very soon!

Facebook    Spotify

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Hey Charlie

© Victoria Holmgren 

Introduce us to Hey Charlie and your music…

We are a pop-rock band combining crunchy guitar riffs with sugar pop melodies. We manage, book and style ourselves and are trying to challenge the expectations of what it means to be a band in 2019.

What’s your desert island disc (ok, you can choose 2 each)?

Jimmy Eat World – The Middle
Neck Deep – in Bloom
The Band Camino – Daphne Blue
Bloxx- Headspace

Any top festival tips?

Talk to strangers and go see a random band you don’t know.

What’s in store for your set at 110 Above Festival and who else is playing that you’d like to see?

We have a new guitarist! So you can meet her…
We can’t wait to see Bloxx and Indoor Pets!

And what’s happening for the band in the coming months?

We’re touring the UK in July which we’re super excited about! We’re writing a lot of music at the minute and planning on getting in the studio over the summer.

Facebook    Spotify

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Lots more information and remaining tickets for 110 Above Festival available here – be quick to get in on that best kept secret…

Photos reproduced with artists’ permission

17th June 2019

Preview – Y Not Festival

Y Not Festival, Pikehall, 25th – 28th July 2019

It’s incredible to think that Y Not started life as a house party and is now heading into it’s 14th year as one of the largest UK festivals. Set in the rolling hills of the Peak District, this year sees as impressive a line-up as ever of big names from the indie, rock and alternative world – expect huge performances from headliners Elbow, Two Door Cinema Club and Foals across the 3 days.

Elsewhere, the Giant Squid stage hosts a brilliant line-up including two Dublin bands that  everyone’s clamouring to see in the shape of Fontaines DC and The Murder Capital – if you haven’t been able to pick up tickets for their live shows recently this is a great chance to catch them. On the same stage, soak up some acid-washed fuzz from Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, look out for some uncompromising lyrics and jagged refrains from the excellent Hotel Lux and don’t miss the powerhouse cacophony that is Demob Happy – always a set to remember.

Check through the full line-up poster to see the complete array of artists playing over the weekend, along with top names from comedy and The Nighthawk Cinema offering some downtime from the music on site.

Remaining tickets and all the other information you need can be found here.

Words and live photos by Siobhan

6th June 2019

 

 

Preview – 2000 Trees Festival

2000 Trees Festival, Cheltenham, 11th – 13th July 2019

In the thick of the flurry of summer festivals all boasting the same acts, headliners and promoters, 2000 Trees stands apart as a fiercely independent option for fans of all things rock, indie and alternative. Setting up its annual home at Upcote Farm in the Cotswolds, the festival is the perfect size to walk easily from stage to stage, catching your favourite acts and chancing upon something new on the way. From crowd-surfing in inflatable dinghies to chilled acoustic sets in the woods, you’ll see it all here in the midst of one of the friendliest atmospheres you could wish for.

This year’s headliners include Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls, You Me at Six and Deaf Havana and there’s much more to see elsewhere on the bill – amongst many others, we recommend that you enjoy some gratuitously dark art-punk from Lice and a head on crash into raw garage rock from their Bristol neighbours, The St Pierre Snake Invasion. The ever popular Martha always bring the happiest fans to the table with their angst-filled pop riffs and expect a very warm welcome back for mighty rockers Pulled Apart by Horses, who have been known to climb a tent pole or two mid set in previous years. 

If you need a break from the music, this year also sees an new area devoted to spoken word, talks, poetry, podcast recordings, debates, workshops and comedy.

Tickets for 2000 Trees 2019 are selling fast – to get yours and for more information about the festival check the website here –  don’t miss out!

Words and photos by Siobhan

31st May 2019

 

Festival – Alternative Escape 2019

Alternative Escape, Brighton, 9th – 11th May 2019

Every year, The Great Escape brings a heap of music to venues and makeshift spaces across Brighton (not to mention a swarm of confused looking industry types with oversized lanyards, trying to find the nearest pub and referencing 6 Music loudly in every second sentence in case you didn’t understand how serious they are). If you prefer to catch a glimpse of what the city’s regular DIY scene is like, or simply can’t afford the ticket price, The Alternative Escape traditionally runs parallel, offering mostly free access to some of the best local and visiting bands, plus there are a few free main festival events in public spaces. This year, the Alt Escape shows were limited amidst rumours of hefty fees being charged for use of the title but thankfully the showcases continued under other names. It’s impossible to even come close to seeing everyone on your wish list but here’s our photo gallery with 12 of the best to look out for.

The Nude Party at East Street Tap

Los Bitchos at Jubilee Square

White Room at Beyond Retro

Nice Biscuit at Casablanca Jazz Club

The Cosmics at Casablanca Jazz Club (plus header photo)

BDRMM at The Hope & Ruin

Ugly at Beyond Retro

Average Sex at Beyond Retro

The Slaughter House Band at East Street Tap / Hare & Hounds

Italia 90 at The Admiral

Mint at The Richmond

False Heads at The Richmond

Photos by Siobhan

13th May 2019

Festival – Portsmouth Psych 2019

Portsmouth Psych Fest, The Wedgewood Rooms, 4th May 2019

Making a welcome return this weekend, Portsmouth Psych Fest stormed into its third year with an event packed with another amazing array of artists. Throughout Saturday, eighteen acts played across the main stage in The Wedgewood Rooms and its more compact counterpart in the Edge of the Wedge, hosted by local collective Calamity Cratediggers. Kicking things off at the Edge, Fat Earthers, The Howlers and Number 9 gave us a glimpse into how diverse the day was going to be, from psych-punk to desert rock to 60s’ infused psychedelia all in the first few hours.

Over on the main stage, Drusila impressed once again with their unapologetically 80s’ tinged electronic dance tracks – big things ahead for this local duo surely.

With the room transformed by vibrant liquid colour projections from visual artist Inner Strings and psych mascots in the form of graffitied mannequins by street artist My Dog Sighs, the scene was set for poetry-fused guitar tunes from Freya Beer, melodic indie-pop from Mystic Peach and the unlikely but irrepressibly fun blend of Cumbian psych provided by Los Bitchos.

Back at the Edge, Japanese Television were a joy to hear and see, the self-proclaimed space surfers proving that lyrics aren’t always a necessity. Sleep Eaters continued the momentum, a great live band bringing Americana flavoured garage to the table, followed by post-punk four piece Egyptian Blue.

Space age psych up next from Brisbane’s Nice Biscuit, just about managing to squeeze everyone onto the stage, easily managing to impress.

Picking up the pace, Brighton’s GURU produced the most animated set of the day with plenty of crowd interaction and discordant tunes galore.

Over on the main stage, Black Country, New Road gave a more sombre performance pulsated by dark set vocals, before the costumed krautrock-influenced beats of Snapped Ankles lightened the mood and continued the mystery behind the woolly headed noise-lords.

Concluding proceedings at the Edge of the Wedge, Scalping provided some heavy techno-punk before handing over to the grittily wonderful world of Glasgow’s Sweaty Palms, an intriguing melee of cowboy hats, garage guitars and saxophone worthy of any stage headliner.

The last two acts on the Wedgewood Rooms stage completed the eclectic mix. Brooding shoegaze over industrialised visuals from The KVB followed by an energy filled set from indie rockers Yak brought the festival to a suitably intense close.

Joining the legion of psych fests up and down the country, Portsmouth has firmly staked its place amongst the more established events. The line ups every year so far have been solid from start to finish. When tickets go on sale for next year there’s really no need to wait for announcements on who’s playing; just buy one and thank yourself later.

Keep up to speed with Portsmouth Psych Fest here

Words and photos by Siobhan 

7th May 2019

Preview – Portsmouth Psych Fest

Portsmouth Psych Fest, 4th May 2019

Only a month away, Portsmouth Psych Fest returns to The Wedgewood Rooms for its third outing on 4th May. From the outset the festival has been steadfast in booking some very special line-ups, with previous years featuring Bo Ningen, The Wytches, Hotel Lux and Black Midi amongst a long list of other established and breakthrough acts.

Spread across two stages, 2019’s headliners are Yak, who will be joined by a host of local and international artists making up an event not to be missed. The best recommendation would be to see everyone on the bill. Here is our pick of just a few artists to look out for on the day…

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Sleep Eaters

It’s time to discover that you need country garage in your life. The South London five piece won over new fans with their live performances supporting Drahla last year and head back out on the road with them in May.

Sleep Eaters    Listen here

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The Howlers

Dark garage rock of the finest calibre, The Howlers are unsurprisingly sparking the interest of the music media. Now signed to These Bloody Thieves, look out for new music soon.

The Howlers    Listen here

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Los Bitchos

Fresh from supporting Bill Ryder-Jones, Los Bitchos will be showcasing their hybrid of Peruvian instrumental Cumbia influenced garage psych. Bring your dancing shoes.

Los Bitchos    Listen here

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Drusila

Keep those dancing shoes on for Drusila. Full of energy and explosive synths, the Portsmouth locals are fast making a name for themselves, bringing electronica bang up to date.

Drusila    Listen here

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Snapped Ankles

If you prefer your music delivered by woodland tree creatures then Snapped Ankles are here for you. With their new album Stunning Luxury described by The Line Of Best Fit as ‘music to soundtrack the apocalypse’, make sure you catch them and hope, for their sake, that it’s not too hot.

Snapped Ankles    Listen here

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Portsmouth Psych Fest takes place on 4th May; remaining tickets are available now from just £17 – don’t miss out

Words and photos by Siobhan

4th April 2019

Preview – Doc ‘n’ Roll Film Festival

Doc ‘n’ Roll Film Festival, Brighton, 1st – 7th April 2019

Setting the mood for the upcoming Brighton Festival and Fringe activities, Doc ‘n’ Roll Film Festival returns to the coast, taking over Brighton’s art spaces and select theatres between 1st – 7th April. For fans of film and music, there’s a brilliantly diverse range of documentaries, live Q&As with artists and directors, exclusive after-show parties and much more.

The festival is supported by the BFI Audience Fund, using money from the National Lottery to encourage and grow audience appetite and enjoyment for a wide range of independent British and international films. Following successful runs in London and Liverpool, the action moves to Brighton before heading north again to take part in the Edinburgh Festival from 25th-28th April.

Doc ‘n’ Roll will present 6 fascinating feature films that chart the incredible stories of ground-breaking labels Blue Note (It Must Schwing! The Blue Note Story) and Trojan (Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records), shine new light on the previously unexplored depths of the Detroit techno scene that would redefine electronic music (Never Stop – A Music That Resists), explore some of the best soundtracks you never knew existed (The Library Music Film), launch you full pelt into the world of punk’s fearless heroines as they break the glass ceiling and blow the genre apart (Stories from the She Punks) and take you behind the scenes with Badly Drawn Boy as he creates his Mercury Prize-winning debut (About A Badly Drawn Boy: The Story of the Hour of Bewilderbeast).

Among a number of live Q&A highlights, expect candid insights from punk pioneer and co-director  Helen Reddington (The Chefs) as she discusses She Punks, and The Mitcham Submarine’s first-hand account of working with Damon Gough, aka Badly Drawn Boy, on his cinematic portrait of a unique artist and a seminal album.

This year Doc ‘n’ Roll Brighton will also introduce an eclectic collection of stunning film shorts especially selected for the 2019 edition.

Check out the full programme below:

1st April – Launch Event, Hotel Pelirocco, 6:30pm (free event, advance booking required)

A hand-picked selection of shorts reflecting the diversity and depth of this year’s programme will be shown

3rd April – Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records + Q&A, Duke of York’s Picturehouse, 6:30pm

4th April – The Library Music Film + Q&A, Duke’s at Komedia Picturehouse, 6:30pm and after-party with DJs at Merkaba (My Hotel) from 8pm, entry to the after-party is free for anyone attending the screening

4th April – It Must be Schwing! The Blue Note Story, Duke of York’s Picturehouse, 9:00pm

5th April – Stories from the She Punks + Q&A with Helen Reddington (The Chefs), Duke’s at Komedia Picturehouse, 6:30pm

7th April – Never Stop: A Music that Resists, Duke’s at Komedia Picturehouse, 12:15pm

7th April – About a Badly Drawn Boy: The Story of the Hour of Bewilderbeast + Director Q&A, Hotel Pelirocco, 7:00pm

The festival is a perfect opportunity for music and screen aficionados to gain in-depth insights into the background stories behind some defining cultural moments, while supporting independent venues at the same time.

More information and remaining tickets available here.

29th March 2019

Preview – The Great Escape

The Great Escape, Brighton, 9th – 11th May 2019

Widely acknowledged as the biggest UK festival platform for breakthrough musicians, The Great Escape returns in May for its annual party in Brighton. Scheduling over 400 artists playing across town in more than 30 venues is no mean feat and TGE includes a multitude of great music across different genres, bringing bands and singers from far and wide to perform. With the first 200+ acts now announced, we picked 5 of the best who we think you should look out for. Get to know Cocaine Piss, Nice Biscuit, Pip Blom, Sick Joy and Weird Milk below, then go and add them all to your must see list…

Cocaine Piss (Belgium)

For anyone who doesn’t know the band, give us a quick intro…

We are Cocaine Piss, we’re cute, we might be weird and we play loud. 

Over the last few years you’ve played hundreds of gigs and festivals across Europe – any notable memories from the UK?

A lot! One of the best festivals we played was Raw Power Festival in London last year. We had a lot of fun playing, and we discovered a lot of great acts there. I think we also found out about Buckfast on that tour, which was a great adventure. Also found a set of false teeth in front of a venue in Liverpool, it made our day.

You’re part of the Toutpartout Showcase at this year’s Great Escape – how did that come about?

We’ve been collaborating with Toutpartout for about 2 years now, and we are very fucking happy to be invited to play at the showcase. The lineup is beautiful, it’s going to be a perfect day.

What can people expect if they come to your set?

They can expect dancing, laughing, feeling like we’re all sharing a beautiful and intense moment together. Also a lot of swearing, and sadly, very little elegance.

And what else are Cocaine Piss up to this year?

We are releasing our new album Passionate and Tragic on April 5th. From then, we’ll be intensively touring for a few months. Come and see us – we have more shows in the UK in early May!

Facebook  Bandcamp

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Nice Biscuit (Australia)

For anyone who hasn’t heard or seen you can you introduce the band…

Hello. We’re Nice Biscuit. We’re a six piece from Brisbane and we play garage psych with a little bit of pop thrown in the mix.

What’s your local music scene like?

The Brisbane music scene is really good and quite tight knit. Because we’re one of the smaller cities everyone’s really supportive of each other’s bands. There’s some really good bands doing some interesting stuff here at the moment and a lot of good quality mid-sized venues to support all the bands. Any given weekend you’d be able to head out and see a good show.

Your album Digital Mountain came out last year. Tell us a bit about it and what’s the reaction to it been like?

Digital Mountain was a bit of a while in the making. It was a long process of writing and recording and then often scrapping those songs in favour of new ones, so it was nice to finally get a bunch of songs that made something cohesive and be able to put that out. It’s just a collection of the best songs we’d written from the 12 months before its release. The reaction to it was good. People seemed to like it and come to the shows and respond positively which is always encouraging.

You’re over in the UK for The Great Escape in May, how did that come about – have you been to Brighton before?

We had some bookers in the UK reach out to us about coming over and playing at The Great Escape and we’d never played overseas before so we thought we’d jump on it. Some of us have been to the UK before, I’m not too sure about Brighton. We’ve never in any musical capacity so it’s pretty exciting to get to travel far away from Australia and get to play music as well.

Plans and hopes for the rest of the year?

I think we’d just like to write and play as much as possible. We’ve started working on new music so ideally we’d like to get another album finished as soon as possible and then move on to some new stuff again. We get quite restless playing the same songs for too long and like to change it up as much as we can. We all like playing live so we’d like to try and play to as many new people in as many new cities as we can. I suppose just play as much music as possible.

Facebook  Soundcloud

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Pip Blom (The Netherlands)

For anyone just discovering you can you give us a quick insight into who you are and where you’re from?

We are Pip Blom, that is my name and the name of the band. My brother, Tender Blom, also plays in the band. He plays guitar and sings, just like me. Then there is Gini Camron who plays the drums and Darek Mercks who plays bass. We all live in Amsterdam.

You seem to be constantly touring – is this hard to maintain and are there any stand out tour memories?

Touring is fun but hard at the same time. When we are at home, doing the jobs that make us a living, we can’t wait to be on the road again. But if we are away too long we miss our loved ones and the peace and quiet of our private bedrooms. Playing in front of enthusiastic audiences makes up for a lot of things though. And we have an app in which we mark all the special places on the road – great shops or petrol stations!

What’s the best thing about playing at festivals?

Playing at festivals can be hard, ‘cause half of the audience doesn’t necessarily come to see you, but trying to conquer those crowds is fun when it all works out. Also, at festivals, you get to meet other bands. Sometimes the bands you know and love, like Sports Team, Personal Trainer or Canshaker Pi.

What should we expect from your set?

An uptempo set full of energy and fun. And maybe some new songs from our upcoming debut Boat which will be released on May 31st.

And what’s on the horizon for the rest of the year?

SXSW, lots of playing in the UK and the rest of Europe, some Dutch festivals and some more club shows in the fall. And maybe going back to the USA…

Facebook  Bandcamp

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Sick Joy (UK)

Can you give us a quick band intro…

Hello, welcome. Sit down, grab a sherry. Indulge. Everything is fleeting. We do songs. If you like lazy musical stereotypes, chances are you’ll liken us to Nirvana.

You played your first Brighton gig back in 2016 with other local favourites Demob Happy and Tigercub – how was that as a debut show and what’s changed for you since then?

As far as I can remember it was good. Since then Brexit was born and Trump became president. But I swear it’s got nothing to do with us. We’re actually on tour with Demob Happy right now so there’s a little serendipity.

Who else on the local scene would you recommend?

Projector, Murmur, Tigercub, Demob Happy. Many.

How does it feel to be on the Great Escape line-up for 2019?

The last two I’ve worked behind a bar for it and that’s fucking awful, so it’s gonna be fun to be drinking the beers instead of pouring them and cleaning up the sick.

And what’s in the pipeline for Sick Joy?

New record, more touring. Survival, both literally and financially. The plight of all bands trying to live.

Facebook  Soundcloud

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Weird Milk (UK)

Introduce us to Weird Milk…

Weird Milk is a band created by Zach, Charlie and Alex a few years ago… man, it feels like an age away. We all come from the countryside outside the wannabe city of Milton Keynes and left the farmyards to write music together in London.

You’ve played with some great bands over the past year (Pip Blom, Thyla, Sports Team to name a few) – any live shows that have stood out?

The most recent shows have stood out a lot because we’ve acquired the irreplaceable talent of Blue (Joe) on the keys, and the sound has got much more oomph/pizzazz.

You were part of the Alternative Escape line-up in 2018 – how was that and did you see much of the rest of the festival?

That was a great show! I can’t remember the name of the pub but it was nice and cosy. We stayed there all day and all night! Really excited to come back.

Why should people come and catch your set this year?

For the chance to leave any anxieties and sorrows at the doors and have fun. There are some nice loving words as well as more serious (attempts of) thought provoking messages. But it’s got good balance to it. We think. Be the judge and come!

And what else should we be looking out for from Weird Milk in 2019?

We will be releasing at least two singles! So if you get curious, do listen, we feel that they’re worth your time. Whoever YOU are. Hey YOU.

Facebook  Soundcloud

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The Great Escape runs from 9th – 11th May in multiple venues across Brighton. You can see the full list of acts confirmed so far here.

Photos reproduced with artists’ permission
(Cocaine Piss © Thierry Tönnes, Nice Biscuit © Jeff Andersen Jnr, Weird Milk © Timothy Casten)

4th March 2019

Festival – Icebreaker 2019

Icebreaker Festival, Portsmouth, 25th-26th Jan 2019

Billed as ‘The South’s largest unsigned metropolitan music festival’ Icebreaker has become a staple in the winter festival calendar. Chasing away the January blues, this weekend saw over 150 artists play over 2 days in venues along Albert Road and Elm Grove in Southsea, leading to the much loved and established Wedgewood Rooms. As well as providing a host of stages large and small, there was a real community feel and the event clearly brought visitors and business into the local area.

The beauty of Icebreaker is not just in the number of acts to choose from but the diverse range of genres and music. With a lot of festivals it’s easy to go and see the bands you already know and love and maybe catch a few new ones too. At Icebreaker it’s equally easy to change that ratio; see a few favourites then take in as many new names as you can. And be left in no doubt that unsigned doesn’t mean there’s less quality around.

It’s impossible to see everyone but here’s how my Saturday played out. Despite being early in the day, The Vitrines opened Edge of the Wedge with bags of indie energy; down the road at Emporium Bar, Something Leather showcased their hauntingly gothic melodies and Currls kept everybody smiling with some soul-tinged new wave at Lord John Russell.

My first visit of the day to the Wedgewood Rooms was for BBC Introducing favourites Drusila, a two piece with a love of synth and some infectious tunes. It was a pleasure to see them perform and to slow things down later with an engaging acoustic set from Me and the Moon at The Wine Vaults.

Over at The Fat Fox there was a whole heap of reasons to stick around; a reminder from Heebie Jeebies that there aren’t enough saxophones about, suitably psychedelic lighting and much 60s style partying for Number 9 and plenty to please those looking for heavier riffs and fierce drumming from Violet Mud and You’re Smiling Now But We’ll All Turn Into Demons.

One of my favourite sets of the day came from The Howlers, currently gaining acclaim across the country with their raw psych rock performances. Pending live dates will be well worth checking out.

Back at the Wedgewood Rooms / Edge Of the Wedge – kudos to FLOWVERS (header photo) for having their own mosh pit at a packed main stage as well as being the pit for punk duo Bird Shoes’ next door in the Edge. Brother Deep completed a trio of local bands all getting a great reception and winning over new fans in the process.

Again, a tough call with headliners at every venue (I spoke to people throughout the day who were all finishing up in different places) but I opted to head back to a now very hot and sweaty Fat Fox for Skinny Milk’s closing set. Quality fuzz punk garage from one of many acts on the day whose sound belied the fact that there were only two of them on stage, a magic pedal board turning the bass into something much more dynamic and distorted. I chose well; the perfect way to end a solid day of being drawn in to see what I could hear from a distance – maybe the best part of any festival.

All in all, Icebreaker offers something different, an easily walkable multi venue festival with lots of choice and an excellent way to spend the weekend discovering new music. It looks likely to keep growing so keep an eye on announcements on their website later in the year to stake your place for 2020.

Words and photos by Siobhan

28th January 2019