August Bank holiday is one of the biggest weekends in the festival calendar! All over the country, huge stages blast out some of the world’s best live music. There’s almost too much choice! For me (Jessi), I had decided to revisit Shambala Festival having not attended since 2013. However, I have to say the line up for Victorious Festival in my home county of Hampshire ALMOST tempted me to change my mind! Instead, my long time festival buddy Stafford and his lovely lady Harriet offered to write me a review of their Southsea adventure.
Victorious is one of the fastest growing festivals in recent years, so much so that in 2018 it has been nominated in the Best Major Festival category of the UK Festival Awards (moving up from Best Medium Sized last year). What I may have thought of as ‘just’ a day festival in Portsmouth a few years ago is now a major player, and I will have to make sure I get there in 2019!
Over to Harriet:
Before I (Harriet) start, I just want to note that I have been to Victorious Festival before, in its infancy, when it was held at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard where the HMS Victory is moored (hence the festival name), however in more recent years it has now moved down to Southsea Common, which is much bigger and well suited to cope with the expansion the festival has seen over the last few years.
After what I can describe as a whirlwind festival (literally with the weather!) we are feeling VICTORIOUS in our efforts this August Bank Holiday weekend, however corny it may sound. Sat with a strong coffee trying to regain our voices, I have written a daily account on our experience of this coastal family friendly festival.
Friday Night – Kaiser Chiefs & The Libertines
I volunteered to drive on the first night and for that reason I wasn’t feeling as enthusiastic as I should have been. Due to only living around a 40 minute drive from Southsea we decided to make our own way to and from the festival each day rather than stay close by. For those that do not have the option to travel each day, there is offsite camping available with a shuttle bus to the festival, alternatively Southsea has a variety of seaside Hotels and Bed & Breakfasts to choose from, but you need to book these well in advance to get an affordable rate!
For those that choose to drive to the festival there is a car park on site -right next to the entrances where you can pre-book parking for around £10. We however decided to battle the roads of Portsmouth and try and find a parking space in the residential areas near by for free. It is doable but it is a little bit of a walk and you pass the same cars, battling to be the first one to find that impossible space (we did arrive at 6:30pm though!).
Arriving as late as did, we were a little worried we had missed a band we were hoping to see, Shed Seven, but we were able to catch the last couple of songs and enjoy a drink whilst the sun was still shining. By this point my mood had completed lifted. One thing that really impressed me about this site compared to others was the layout. First impressions, loads of bars and toilets in very convenient places, the queues for the bars were zig-zagged with barriers, sounds hectic, but it was quick and efficient and meant no-one pushed in. I don’t think we waited longer than 5 minutes to get served.
The food stands at Victorious are accommodating for all food lovers! They had your usual burgers, chips, pizza, churros and crepes but then also Thai Mania, BBC Good Foods ‘Hidden foodie gem’ Taste Tibet, Vegan food, to Flavours of Africa and Indonesian Coconut Curries. We stopped for the most amazing falafel and tzatziki in pitta bread. YUM!
After getting our bearings of the small part of the site that was open on Friday we returned back to the main stage for the Kaiser Chiefs. They were amazing, however Ricky Wilson’s on stage antics of climbing up the stage probably left the Health and Safety team uneasy. Say what you like about them, but they always bring the party! Everything they performed had the crowd singing along with them, personal highlights included Angry Mob, Everything is Average Nowadays, and of course I Predict a Riot.
Our reason for making the trip down on the Friday was predominately for The Libertines. Unfortunately being on the coast, the winds had picked up a lot and made the atmosphere a little flat by the time they finally came on. Tough crowd. Maybe we were also struggling a little, as I didn’t seem to think their stage presence or bond was as strong as when we saw them in 2015, just after they reformed. I have always thought of Pete Doherty and Carl Barat as musical and lyrical geniuses, however Carl did look a little worse for wear this time. After a slow start, they did win everyone over towards the end when they played Can’t Stand Me Now, and finishing off with Don’t Look Back Into The Sun could have been my festival highlight of the year.
Saturday – The full site, Sunshine & Paloma Faith
Yay – I can have a drink!!
We decided to get the train down from Southampton, which only took about 40 minutes (not counting a 25 minute delay at the train station though!). The train goes straight to Southsea, although it is about a 20-minute walk to the common from there.
The rest of the site was open on Saturday and it was a lot bigger than expected with around 10 stages dotted across the site, from acoustic stages with hay bales and fairy lights in trees to the main stages on larger open ground or overlooking the sea. After catching a little bit of the Happy Mondays whilst we put on our glitter, we decided to have a look around all the crafty, arty stalls which lined the walks on ‘Market Way’ between the stages.
The Castle Stage really gave the Main Stage a run for its money. Sheltered by grass banks from the wind and with a giant ‘Hollywood’ style Victorious sign overlooking it, to be honest we preferred this stage. We watched an all-women band from Manchester called The Pins, reminded us of Atomic Blonde but a little like they had googled the word ‘cool’ to dress themselves. The two drummers were really good but didn’t rate the singing.
By far the best place to chill at was the People’s Lounge with a vintage vibe going on; gorgeous lamps and upholstered furniture. There were brightly coloured palette chairs, vintage Moroccan style beanbags and fabric buntings. NeoRoots were awesome and dominated the area with their soulful and funky covers. Great vocals.
The festival incorporates the Southsea Skate Park, a charity run park where you could watch kids doing the most amazing tricks on their scooters and skateboards. Thought it was really cool that the festival brought an audience to an activity that should be supported and encouraged.
The Pigeon Detectives was our absolute highlight of the weekend on the Castle Stage. Waited years to see them. They had great interaction with the crowd chucking bottles of water over their heads and then into the avid fans near the front of the stage. I’m Not Sorry and Take Her Back got everyone absolutely buzzing with inflatable balls flying everywhere, then finally they got everyone on each others shoulders for Everybody Wants Me. LOVE THEM.
Back at the Main Stage we got a good spot for The Cribs. Enjoyed the first couple of songs and sang along but then they started to loose the crowd a little. For a band I have seen several times, and really enjoyed, it felt like they were just churning out a few tunes as a filler between a few hits. I cannot deny that they came alive with Men’s Needs. It kind of made up for the rest of it. Award for the best Lloyd Christmas lookalike though.
After wandering around some of the smaller sets between acts and passing by Radio X at the Strongbow Yard for a boogy , we went to see Paloma Faith as our final act of the night, she was good but the set was quite short. Found her very down to earth, taking off her shoes and singing bare foot, complimenting her supporting singers. Incredible live voice.
Sunday – Wet, Windy and the Prodigy
It was wet, cold windy and literally no-one should have gone outside… but we did. I have at least two broken umbrellas as proof and a backpack that might as well go in the bin.
Unfortunately due to the weather a lot of sets were cancelled including Bang Bang Romeo on the Main Stage and we found it very hard to naviagate round the site with very limited shelters. We ended up staying mostly by the Acoustic Stage under trees and a ceiling of umbrellas listening to Lauren and the Heatwaves. They had a bit of the ‘Hairspray’ vibe going on singing mostly 60’s, Motown and northern soul. It wouldn’t have been my usual cup of tea but they really did have amazing chemistry and brought some sunshine to what was a VERY miserable day.
When the rain finally stopped we got the most amazing Venezuelan corn arepas (like corn bread pittas with different fillings!) from Guasacaca and could finally enjoy the rest of the day. We watched Friendly Fires at the Main Stage. They never disappoint. I have nothing but positive words to say about them as they kept the crowd happy and buzzing.
The final act of the whole weekend was The Prodigy, they brought the roof down. I am sure there is still light pollution in the sky from the amount of lighting effects they had going on. It was definitely the biggest turn out of the three nights. Voodoo People probably had to get the award for getting the crowd to go the craziest.
Overall it was an awesome weekend!
Just a small shame about the weather on the last day. There is definitely a mix of things to do for all ages with rides and a kids area, face painting and even the skate park right in the middle. Great for day tickets or the whole weekend!
See you in 2019, Victorious Festival!
Photos were all provided by Victorious Festival (credit to Tom Langford & Becca Egerstrom), or taken by Stafford & Harriet themselves