I was really excited about Victorious this year as I thought the lineup was good and I feel the festival keeps on growing and improving all the time. We know that the local economy gains a lot from the thousands of visitors to the city but did you know that the organisers work hard to bring a local touch to the site?
This year more than ever, there seemed to be a real love for the local site builders, ‘TheYardboiz’. If you visited the festival, I am sure you saw a lot of signs that promoted them. They are a local bunch of blokes who take great pride in their work and make sure that the site looks top-notch and ready for visitors. I asked them about building the site and they said, “We make dreams so that people can live them.”
Neighbourhood Eats is an area that supports the local independent food businesses. It was really lovely to see local support for this part of the festival. Helen from Little Portsmouth Foodies said, “I’ve always been more into my food than my music, yet Victorious continues to be the highlight of my summer. Each year I return to The People’s Lounge Kitchen for a hearty vegan Indian thali and the Tenth Hole for late-night mac and cheese. This year my newfound favourites include sustainable chicken from Pollito Loco, juicy burgers from Three Cuts and Crack Burger and a fresh wholesome wrap from the Southsea Deli.”
Catching up with Gemma, the owner of Pollito Loco, she said, “We were over the moon to be trading at our first Victorious Festival this year. Being in the Neighbourhood Eats area was a great opportunity for us, We really enjoyed feeding all the lovely people and our fresh n funky flavours definitely went down a treat! Residing in the Neighbourhood Eats area has also helped create more awareness of our delicious chicken with local people and has given us a great foundation to build on for the grand re-opening of our chicken shop which is happening in early October.”
Being gluten intolerant, my son struggles at festivals as to what he can eat apart from chips. He was delighted to eat at Pollito Loco as their chicken is coated in corn and not the usual breadcrumbs. He also loved the brownie stand Eat Dark Matters which pulled out all the stops to bring delicious brownies that were all vegan and GF. It is hard to find a brownie stall that offers both but this indie really offered a huge selection to choose from.
There is so much to say about my highlights this year. My biggest one really was the people I saw around the festival site. I feel Southsea has a real community feel around the independent scene. It was fab to see so many people either enjoying walking around or busy tending to their businesses, making sure other people had a fab time.
I caught up with Mel and Phil from Pigeon Books an hour after McFly had done a surprise set on Saturday. I asked Mel what she had loved about the whole 3 days and she said, “I loved so much about it! I loved McFly, it was so fun and joyful. I thought Belle & Sebastian were great, I don’t really know their music so didn’t have any expectations but I loved how they chatted to the crowd and got people up on stage with them, it made me really emotional! Amyl & The Sniffers were bonkers and SO FUN, they were another highlight. I think my favourite part of the weekend was hanging out, wandering around and bumping into people we know, it makes me really proud to live here.”
Using the word ‘support local’ might get expressed a lot, but there is an appreciation of local businesses at Victorious Festival. Small businesses are allowed to have a pop-up hut in the Portsmouth Creates area and I feel is a great idea that has been going on for a while now. This allows for the growth and support of these small indies. Spott and Herbert had such a beautiful hut with sweatshirts and jewellery and it was so busy at the Rainbow Child hut where the owner had spent many hours doing tie-dye items to buy.
Along the main road, Strong Island Clothing pulled out all the stops for a wknd of special edition tees and showed what Southsea is all about, shopping local and being proud of Southsea. Leather Heather Crafts was there and had a huge selection of wares including fab cushions and bunting that can be personalised.
All the different areas had been changed around from last year like the VIP area, which had a new child play tent. There was more seating and a shift in where certain things resided. I felt the flow of the festival site worked well and liked how you could get lost in the World Music area of the festival site which had 3 stages in tow around this section. The Neighbourhood Eats path was well signed and I thought the big screen of the Common Stage that sat in the middle of the site was a good touch.
Sometimes the attractions of what to do onsite are just as appealing as the music and the Kids Arena always caters for little ones well. I personally loved the comedy tent as this gave me a chance to focus on something other than music and just take in my surroundings.
Blossoms kicked off the whole day by performing early afternoon and boy they did not disappoint! Such a polished set and lovely to hear their tunes. I then headed over to The People’s Lounge stage to catch Alice Milburn who performed with her jazz band. I love her voice and find her so easy to listen to. A great crowd joined there and it was nice to lounge on the floor cushions with my friends in the sunshine.
Friendly Fires were playing the Common Stage as I was walking back and I loved their upbeat tunes. Having something to eat and sitting for a while, we then headed over to watch Jake Bugg. He was just brilliant and his voice sounded so crisp when he was on stage. I never tire of hearing his songs and loved the crowd’s response to his set.
Seeing the huge Big Top Comedy tent, we went to see Omid Djalili perform some comedy around tea time. He was so funny and blew the tent off, it was so nice to stop, sit down and enjoy laughing our heads off.
Having seen many headdresses around the site over the day, I knew I was in for a treat with Jamiroquai and I thought it was a fab end to the first night. His voice hasn’t faltered in 30 years and he definitely still has it. I loved his live version of Space Cowboy and really enjoyed all that he gave on the late Friday evening.
My first visit was to see Crystal Tides play on the Beats and Swing stage. They were one of my biggest highlights of the wknd. Having won the competition that Victorious introduced earlier in the year, Road to Victorious, meant these guys got to play the Castle Stage as well as 2 smaller stages. I loved this particular set as it felt intimate but still had a fantastic crowd and a lot of people that filled the car park behind the landing craft.
Playing all my favourite songs and starting off with Courtney Love, I just feel they sounded polished and ready for the next part of their journey. The band all still have jobs and are working so hard to push for the next steps. They played Headcase halfway through their set list which is one of the first songs I ever heard of theirs and they absolutely smashed it.
Honey is a great song and one of the last songs they played and the crowd loved it. With a mixed group as an audience from 16-year-olds to people in their 60s, you can see the band appeal to a wide audience.
I see real potential for these guys and can’t wait to hear some new music soon. If you haven’t seen them yet then I would say go and watch them as you won’t be disappointed!
Batala had performed at something like 11am in the morning and I knew I wasn’t going to make it in time but they then performed in the afternoon and it was such a treat. I thought that Batala was just from Portsmouth but I later found out that they are actually worldwide and many people in the group had travelled to come and play. Landing here from Canada, France you name it, the entire group were on course for other places including the Notting Hill Carnival in London. To hear that many drummers, well 280 plus to be exact, play at once really brought goosebumps to your arms. A fabulous addition to the festival and it has made me want to find out more about them.
Next up was catching Kerry Godliman and Tom Davis in the Comedy tent. I liked that you could sit on hay bales and soak up the atmosphere before they arrived on stage. Kerry was so funny and being a similar age, I could relate to her humour. Tom Davies made us all laugh and brought his wit and stage presence to the crowd.
We headed back to the Common Stage for Kaiser Chiefs who played so well and Kasabian who brought such a good end to Saturday night.
The first stage that I visited was Castle Stage to see The Blinders. They have a huge amount of stage presence and bring power to their gigs with guitar sounds and a strong sense of indie rock. They had a great crowd and pulled off a great set even though the frontman had problems with his guitar at the end, they held their own and brought energy to the crowd.
Thinking about the whole wknd, there was one band I really wanted to see which was Sea Girls and they lived up to my expectations. I felt they were a real highlight for me as I love their music. They played a great set and got the crowd going. Hearing ‘All I Want To Hear You Say’ across the huge stage made me feel that I was going to remember this moment for a long time. Looking up, I could see seagulls floating around the sky and the landscape lent itself to one of my favourite moments of the wknd.
Having loved Sigrid since she began, I wanted to see how she dealt with a big stage and how her music would work at a festival. I thought she was outstanding. Her music was upbeat and she danced across the stage looking happy and genuine. There is still an innocence there with her, a real feeling that she isn’t ever going to change and I love that. Performing Strangers and getting the crowd all geared up, I feel she did a killer set and one hard to beat.
Seeing the Southsea Castle sitting in the distance, we wanted to head there for a dance and were not disappointed. Standing high up in a booth was Molly from Unmade Radio doing the thing she does best, mixing a house music set to a bouncing crowd. We only stayed about 15 minutes but the atmosphere was one to remember.
I wanted to watch Mumford and Sons but we had to call it a day!
Stretching out all across the seafront, this festival managed to bring a fab atmosphere and I feel we are so lucky to have this here. The entire wknd is about so much more than music. I just wish I could have cloned myself so I could have seen more bands and musicians but I am just grateful for the music I did see.
You know you have had a great time when you don’t want it to end so it is nice to reflect now on my highlights and what a great wknd it was. I love how after the weekend event you can look to plan for next year and have a monthly plan so it doesn’t feel like a huge payout in the Summer. Check out the early bird tickets and how you can plan for next year here.
Featured Image – Tom Langford