By Carron Stacey
WHERE?: Southsea Common (press ticket)
WHEN?: 23 – 25/8/19
Southsea seafront’s festival is in its seventh year and, if the weather is right, it’s unbeatable. Watching bands on the three stages, sweltering in the heat, ships sailing by… But if it rains, like last year, it’s still perfect, but different, and you get to boast for the next year, “I stayed through the rain, I made it”.
- Read on for my Humdrum review of the sometimes quieter, less mainstream, side of this Victorious weekend
This year, the weather has been traditional of a bank holiday. Any slight breeze was welcome! And at night, when the Isle of Wight’s lights can be seen, especially from the Seaside Stage, you wonder how you could ever attend a rural festival again.
Of course, Victorious is on my doorstep; I am proud of the arts/music/crafts/clothes scene in Southsea, apparent in stalls all over Victorious, from Leather Heather’s bunting, the Fisherman’s Kitchen’s loaded fries, to Pie and Vinyl’s awesome, well, pies and vinyls and Staggeringly Good’s amazing beer, sales of which have gone through the roof this weekend.
This year, Friday has now been extended with music from 2pm. We arrived, wending our way through a surprisingly empty VIP area, Pompey Porn Star in hand (and that’s a drink before you ask) just in time to hear Fleetingwood Mac’s bassist on the Common Stage perform the most important bars of his tribute band career. And he did them well.
(Pic Glynn Curtis)
Dodgy were next up on the Common Stage, crashing out on stage with Staying Out for the Summer. Their almost psychedelic, sixties feel, complete with harmonies, was perfect against the blue sky backdrop. They were Good Enough for us this year! A few Passionfruit Martinis later, The Zutons were the perfect early evening gig. The Zutons woke us up, rocking out Valerie; they had the crowd in their hands, and then the even better You Will You Won’t, with their amazing saxophonist.
(Pic Tom Langford)
One of the things you just have to live with is timing clashes. We needed to see the Beats and Swing headliner, Dub Pistols, necessitating a quick exit from The Specials. Opening with a few from their new album (I particularly like Vote for Me), it’s clear The Specials’ political edge is authentic with their lyrics matching their stage backdrops. We sang along to Lunatics and A Message To You Rudy, before hotfooting over to Beats and Swing. I did hear a rumour that they didn’t play Ghost Town; memories of Depeche Mode not playing Just Can’t Get Enough a few years ago still haunt me. It would be rude of me to say that I’m almost glad we skipped off.
(Pic: Tom Langford)
We were looking for upbeat energy and we certainly found it! Dub Pistols played in the rain under an umbrella last year on that epicly wet Sunday. They were in a tent this year but, as usual with their gigs, no horrendous, scary mosh pit to contend with. There’s always a lot of love in the audience and their songs, whilst stoking you up to bounce like you’ve never bounced before, talk of survival, being alive and holding on for the ride. A crowd surfing competition later, we exit euphoric and, not that we realised it then, physically unable to party as hard for the rest of the weekend! I think I’ll just have time to recover before they play again in Southsea. In March next year. And that’s Day One over.
(Pic: Carron Stacey)
Republica’s Drop Dead Gorgeous Saffron skipped around on the Common Stage, complete with bright jumpsuit and purple striped hair, reminding us why pre-Girl Power Ready To Go empowered us, as well as treating us to the more laid back vibe of their new material. I was lucky enough to interview Saffron later, watch this space.
This perfect Saturday afternoon continued with the funk from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals. Huey is the frontman, but that doesn’t do justice to Brian and Frank; Scooby Snacks is the one the crowd want to hear, but that doesn’t do justice to their other songs. As luck would have it, I won their competition this weekend and so have been treated to a signed copy of their new album, Another Mimosa (featuring cover versions of songs important to them). It wasn’t a mimosa I was drinking, but the aforementioned Passionfruit Martinis. I could listen to them play all day, Love Unlimited being a favourite of mine. He had walked past me en route to the stage – one of my festival moments I think.
Quick, over to the People’s Lounge (I resisted adding in that apostrophe all weekend – peace guys) to continue this RnB sun-soaked afternoon with Barbudo, a young trio with funky, relaxed beats. Having seen them this year at Staggeringly Good’s House of Rapture on their Sunshine EP launch, I knew this was just the ticket to groove along to, sprawled out on the beanbags, eyes closed, minds on a beach somewhere; possibly the Bahamas but probably just Southsea itself.
It always happens by accident, doesn’t it? I didn’t mean to nip into the Beats and Swing tent, where A Skillz was DJing. I certainly didn’t mean to stay so long, to jump around to his meshed and mashed up rock tracks, break beats and 80s hits. My 13 year old son was there with his mates, we were there and there were people older than us. A Skillz knows how to play to his audience and once in that tent, you just can’t get out.
Only an appointment on the Castle Stage, however, with Swedish rockers, The Hives, did pull us out of the tent. A white tuxed-up fivesome, it’s all about the show. With a stage presence not seen at Victorious since Franz Ferdinand two years ago, the cameraman couldn’t even keep up with Howlin Pelle as he strode from side to side, yanking his microphone lead, dipping into the audience, whilst combing his hair between songs. He gently teased us that soon we may not be able to see them perform in our country again. We sure hope we do.
Back on top of the hill at the Castle Stage, we were too tired to mosh to Bloc Party and their first couple of slow songs didn’t require it, thankfully. Chilling in the sweet sound spot between the speakers at the bottom of the hill, we are able to enjoy their drum and bass (not drum n bass) heavy, quite unique, guitar sound. Banquet is their best song, in my opinion, and it was a happy Humdrum Mum doing her seated groove to this, closing Day Two on a high.
After spending an hour or two walking around the stalls, chatting to our local vendors, we happened upon Beats and Swing again. Disappointingly, I was five minutes too late to catch the Tonic Ska Choir (note for next time), but I did get to appreciate Tuba Libres, paraphrasing them, unleashing a wave of brassy goodness on the south coast. And oh my gosh, weren’t they brassy goodness! Who doesn’t love a horn? And with the costumes these guys perform in, they were such a spectacle and one of our amazing festival finds this year.
(Pic: Carron Stacey)
Ash on the Castle Stage. What can I say? Having seen them quite a few times, they always deliver all of their hits. They enjoyed being on our stage, you can see that. Standing in that sweet sound spot at the back of the field, we danced around, singing all of these hits from our university years.
Well, we were supposed to be traipsing down to the Seaside Stage (my first outing this year) to see DJ Yoda, but we were waylaid by DJ Ross Dyer on the AMP stage, mixing banging tunes, The Pink Panther theme tune being the one that caught us. Who could resist that? We had fun in this area, posing for photos, draped in flags of EU/Union mash-up at the Lib Dems tent.
(Pic: Carron Stacey)
Back to the VIP viewing area to see New Order. Festivals are all about choice – we made a choice to catch some of New Order but mix it in with Basement Jaxx at the Seaside Stage, having not made it there at all for DJ Yoda! New Order’s songs are a part of the soundtrack to our lives (being of a certain age) and all we wanted was to dance to their classics together. It was the songs we wanted. The light show was good, the sound good in the VIP area, but as we were walking to the Seaside Stage, the sound was even better at the back of the Common Stage. Basement Jaxx was packed with a younger, dancier audience, as you’d expect and when we (physically) tired of that, we returned to hear Blue Monday and then to achieve our aim of dancing to Temptation, on the road, against the flow of everyone leaving! We had our festival moment. Love Will Tear Us Apart as their final encore ensured probably everyone there had their festival moment too. Bernard said he’d loved every minute of performing for us. I believe him.
(Pic: Tom Langford)
Ms Humdrum interviewed Saffron from Republica and Tuba Libres, local promoter Luke Fuller from Beats and Swing, Tonic Music for Mental Health and a few of her favourite local establishments. Watch this space.
- Read more from Carron at her blog A Humdrum Mum. Main picture by James White courtesy Victorious Festival. Tickets
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