Southsea’s Victorious Festival
is now in it’s fourth year and has seen nigh on exponential growth in that time. The site certainly is vast. Although the festival has no less than 10 performance spaces of varying size and scope – much of it showcasing local talent – my attention was focused on the two principle Castle and Common stages. With a few clashes and a not inconsiderable transit time between them, getting the best out of Victorious does take a little planning.
It rained practically all day on Saturday and Castle stage afternoon acts such as Birmingham band Jaws and Glaswegian duo Honeyblood were well appreciated by a crowd who obviously liked their festival music wet.
On an equally soggy Common stage, The Magic Numbers were fun and audience formation bouncing with the aid of The Fratellis helped knead the ground during tunes from their mid-noughties heyday. The Glasgow three-piece are definitely one of those bands who’ve lodged more of their music in your long-term memory than you ever knew you had.
Daylight lost its grip on proceedings during The Fratellis’ set and the lightshow took over for the remaining Saturday attractions. Primal Scream got off to an indifferent start but really pulled through strongly and were certainly one of my highlights of Victorious.
When you can drop a triumvirate as strong as Loaded, Movin’ On Up and Rocks on an audience looking for a good time, you can’t really go wrong. Tinie Tempah helped his crowd hip-hop their way through the last hour on the Castle stage whilst The Flaming Lips closed out Saturday’s show on the Common.
The psychedelic trippiness of Wayne Coyne and his crew isn’t really my thing so I wasn’t too convinced by the Lips as choice of headline act – but what did I know. A succession of props (giant inflatables – aliens, Santa Claus, ”F*CK YEAH PORTSMOUTH” messages), confetti canons and a giant hamster ball all contributed to a hugely enjoyable end to day one of the festival.
The weather on Sunday was a little better. No rain, though sunscreen sales were sluggish. I followed a similar trajectory to the day before. Fickle Friends were a band that had been recommended to me, and their flavour of jingle-jangle indie-pop pleased a bigger Castle stage audience. Brighton based The Wytches followed, also on a recommendation, and delivered a competent set of lo-fidelity shoegaze angst.
I arrived at the Common stage just in time to miss The Sunshine Underground – but not Hayseed Dixie who were tremendous value as ever and we all collectively forgot how many times mandolin player Hippy Joe Hymas flipped us the bird. It was a hell of a lot.
Cast followed and were today’s Fratellis: “oh yeah, I remember that one”, I suspect many of us thought; and then we had the pleasure of Justin Hawkins’ lunacy fronting The Darkness. I’ve spent 12 years thinking he was a clown. Fifteen minutes in front of him in a photo-pit left me concluding the man is a genius. At the very least he’s a photographers delight, pulling poses faster than I could snap them.
As much as a trudge back to the Castle stage didn’t appeal, the thought of missing Johnny Marr appealed less, so trudge I did, seemingly with 80% of everybody else. The stage was rammed for a great mix of old and new – recent single Easy Money sitting comfortably alongside The Smiths classics such as How Soon Is Now? and Bigmouth Strikes Again.
For a final act, my choice was remaining where I was for an hours’ revved-up blast with Basement Jaxx or a return to the Common stage for an appointment with Ray Davies. I chose the latter, primarily because it was several hundred paces closer to Portsmouth & Southsea railway station.
I got the impression Davies didn’t want to be photographed – or indeed seen at all given he played practically in the dark. Still, the crowd loved him just the same and the sound of several thousand singing Waterloo Sunset rang in my ears as I made a slightly premature exit for the train.
So, the end of a hugely enjoyable two days at my first Victorious Festival. Will I be back next year? I most certainly will – and with early bird tickets already on sale for 2016, I’ve no doubt I’ll be joined by an awful lot of others.
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The full set here: Victorious Festival 2015 Photos