The perfect end to one of the busiest festival seasons ever, Southsea Fest offered one of the best lineups of the summer, bringing together a wealth of the freshest talent with a smattering of established indie icons in a remarkable seaside setting.
Throw in the ease of the whole day-long event taking place on one road and you have the makings of a perfect city festival, with Southsea fast becoming an unsuspectingly ideal home for new acts, offering the chance to see a host of artists that are going to be huge in the coming months in a matter of hours.
Now in its eighth year, the festival has unsurprisingly come into its own in 2014, well organised and offering a varied lineup perfect for those who want to discover their new favourite band, or catch their idols in an intimate setting, with a wealth of fantastic venues taking part every year, from the iconic Wedgewood Rooms to tiny rooms like The Wine Vaults and stunning rooms such as The Kings Theatre.
Needless to say, we had a great time at Southsea Fest 2014, so without further ado, here are our highlights.
Despite being plagued by technical difficulties throughout their performances, CURXES still managed to prove themselves as one of the most exciting duos breaking through at the moment. Offsetting hectic instrumental backing with engrossing and urgent vocals, the onstage chemistry between Macaulay Hopwood and Roberta Fidora is effortless, much like their ability to fuse big pop hooks with delightfully crazy experimentation. If you get a chance to see this duo live, do it.
Hunter and The Bear
Without doubt the most beautiful venue of the festival, The Kings Theatre was a stunning piece of architecture, with the effortless sense of grandiosity providing the perfect setting for Hunter and the Bear's folk-pop extravagance. With shades of Mumford and Sons but with more heartfelt, approachable elements at play, their sound was anthemic without being overbearing, bringing big choruses into the mix alongside intricate intimacies to create a familiar yet fresh landscape to work from. With only one EP under the belt so far, their seamless live set early into the afternoon ranks anticipation high for any forthcoming material.
Also taking to the stage at The Kings Theatre, Southsea Fest was the first time we had been introduced to Lovepark, and they proved to be one of the best discoveries of the summer. Their optimistic bouncy live set brought in a sense of fun amongst a flurry of calculated layers and cut to the core vocals, every track resonating instantly with an unexpected sense of urgency. It is the elements they leave out that perhaps grip you most, allowing an underlying sparsity to heighten the atmospheric swooping guitars and meandering vocals, a point only further proved in the stunning venue.
We always knew Prides were going to be awesome at Southsea after the huge year they've had so far, but their performance at Little Johnny Russels was nothing short of spectacular, a testament to their ability to capture and command a crowd of any size, whether it's the millions of people watching The Commonwealth Games closing ceremony or the 100 or so capacity of a tiny pub on the South Coast. Despite the fact they had to cut their set short, the Glasgow trio still managed to reel off their string of huge singles including 'Messiah', 'I Should Know You Better', 'The Seeds You Sow' and the forthcoming 'Out of the Blue'.
One of the best things about Southsea this year was the presence of Pie & Vinyl one of the finest record stores in the country that offers exactly what their name would suggest. Taking over one corner of The Wedgewood Rooms, the fact we could eat a 'Moo & Blue' whilst watching Racing Glaciers made us enjoy their momentous set even more. Showcasing their veritable selection of stadium-ready hits, everything about the group's set seemed effortlessly majestic, exemplifying the development of their sound over their three EP's to date and ultimately proving them as a band to keep a keen eye on over the coming months.
During Flyte's performance in The Kings Theatre someone behind us told their friend "this is the kind of band you listen to whilst eating fish fingers to with your parents". To be completely honest we have absolutely no idea as to whether that's a good or bad thing, but we can say that Flyte are one of the most enjoyable live bands we've seen in a long time. Fresh off the biggest summer of their career so far, the four piece justified why they have become a festival favourite over the last few months, bringing an unrivaled sense of optimism to proceedings. One of the most infectiously fun performances of the day.
On record Beautiful Boy sound suitably massive, but their live show is another level, taking the emotional outpour that dominates their material to huge new territories, offering a newfound sense of urgency amongst already passionate surroundings. One can't help but think they would have sounded better in The King's Theatre rather than Little Johnny Russels, but that didn't stop their set being every bit as momentous as we had hoped. Despite not having a wealth of material online at the moment, it became abundantly clear throughout their short slot that what they have to come is going to take them to giddy new heights.
Eliza and the Bear
A celebration of their impact to date, Eliza and the Bear's triumphant set late in the evening was a complete joy to watch. Drawing a huge crowd (well, as big as the room could fit) the ludicrously tight five piece kicked off with 'Friends' before venturing into a career-spanning set that vigorously testified why they have become one of the most well-loved indie bands on the live circuit in recent years. With a UK tour on the agenda over the next two months, catch Eliza and the Bear live or seriously regret it.