Here is the first of our reports from Southsea Fest, but keep checking back for other people’s views of the day and some brilliant photos of the goings on
Many people mark down Bestival as the end of the summer festival calendar, but for those of us who dwell on the South Coast (and, indeed for many others too), thereâ€™s a one day event that really caps the summer off. Southsea Fest has been running for a few years now and, much like this writers waistline, it grows ever bigger. This was my first experience of it though, but after a day of being roasted alive, crushed, being told there was no more beer and missing more bands than I laid eyes on, I wouldnâ€™t miss it again for the world!
By the time I arrived, collected my wristband and headed back out to the street the party was in full swing, bumping into one of Call Upon The Authorâ€™s favourite artists, Loz Bridge, I discovered he had been added at the last minute to the Gang Bang stage. Looking in we saw that The Deads were about to take to the stage, these Portsmouth garage rockers disappeared a few years ago, but are now back in force and played a blistering set that was as compelling as it was fun. Never more so than when the band poised themselves to launch into a new number only to realise that they couldnâ€™t remember how it went!
Popping out for a few minutes we made our way to The Loft, but despite the joys of Villiers Terrace we left very quickly due to the baking heat in the venue, heading instead to The Wedgewood Rooms to catch another of our favourite, the almighty Kill Kasper. The Kolonel had been laid low with a particularly vicious strain of swine/man flu, but summoned all his strength to hit the stage and blast out some good honest old-fashioned rock! With the closing chords of Scenesters still ringing in our ears we dashed back to Little Johnny Russells to catch Loz Bridge, only to find him tidying his keyboard away, thankfully it wasnâ€™t in vain as Hold Fast were next to the stage, playing possibly their most ferocious set to date, the band threw out their music so hard and fast that they shaved ten minutes off of their set time. Jumping down into the audience, Roberta didnâ€™t miss a beat while the band rocked out and decimated the crammed in audience with old favourites like Lie and newer tracks such as Jaws.
It was across the road to see The Strange Death of Liberal England next and we were thwarted once again, though this time not by poor timing (by this stage, at about 4.30pm, most stages were running late to a varying degree) but by a queue, the venue was full to bursting, but from the street the band sounded great, as did The B Of The Bang who were playing on the stage we had just left.
Off it was then to The Fat Fox, for a quiet sit down, we caught just a snippet of Nat Jenkins, whose songs didnâ€™t do enough to capture the attention. Back on the street we decided to go walkabout and see where we ended up, which was the Magic Bean CafÃ©, hosting a poetry/acoustic stage, this was a lovely little find and the only venue selling cake! Abi Lanigan was performing and rapidly became our favourite find of the day with some great song writing, (more of that later). As we stood outside and shared a beer with Abiâ€™s bass player Ryan, we caught up with Alex from festival headliners Official Secrets Act who appeared to be having so much fun that heâ€™d lost his socks. Meanwhile, back in the cafÃ© Le Plat Du Jour played a strong set of laid back, fuzzy post rock musings.
Back to The Wedgewood Rooms and Dan Smith was sat alone on stage with his keyboard, pouring out some intriguing tunes and leading us to make a mental note to check out more. For the second time in the day we poked our head into the Awesome Noise stage next door too, only to find that once again there was nobody playing. Were they hiding from us? We popped into another stage at The Wine Vaults, bumping into Greg from Melodramas who excitedly shared the bands new ventures with us (again, more on that ata a later date).
Back at The Loft, which had thankfully cooled down somewhat, we just missed Logan (Son of Robert) Plantâ€™s band Sons Of Albion but we were just in time for Gabby Young & Other Animals. Built around Gabbyâ€™s powerful voice this set was a little treat from the Hong Kong Gardeners Club who were running the stage (if you havenâ€™t checked these two ladies and their brilliant nights out, then you really should make the effort). For some reason Young & her animals even brought a puppy with them, which seemed to perk up the slightly flagging staff at the stage.
Across the road, and back to where our day had started, we caught the festivals only internationals, the brilliantly scuzzy LoveLikeFire, who were so great that we decided, on the spot to end our evening on that high, disappearing into the night in pursuit of Chinese food, while the rest of the festival goers delighted in the likes of The Joy Formidable and James Yuill.
many thanks to Emma van Kooperen for the photographs.