Icebreaker Festival is always a staple in our yearly festival calendar. The Southsea based festival takes place across multiple venues along Albert Road and Elm Grove including the likes of Wedgewood Rooms, Little Johnny Russells and The Fat Fox. Icebreaker Festival showcases the best of new local talent plus bands from further afield putting on over 100 acts across the day. We returned to Icebreaker again last weekend and where this was going to be a brief 300 word review, it’s ended up as a rather long account of the day. There was so much going on and 300 words would never do it the justice the day deserved.
To start the day off, I saw Ever at the One Eyed Dog. Ever is an electro-pop solo artist who we’ve mentioned on the blog various times in the past, so it was great to see her live again. Although modest between tracks, Ever’s performance is assured and flamboyant. Following this I then headed off to Little Johnny Russells and saw Minque, who are quite new to us. I’d heard lots of good things about the band and I was intrigued with what to expect. I’d listened to Minque before seeing them, but found that I enjoyed them a lot more live and would definitely go and see them again. Other than that, what I did come away realising though, is that Minque does indeed rhyme with lots of things!
One of the best things about this is that with the venues being so close together, you can randomly drop in on random acts to see when you’ve got a gap. This is great because you can end up finding a great band who you wouldn’t have known existed otherwise. This is also how I ended up seeing Crxsses at The Wine Vaults. The two piece are local and play bass guitar led, electronic, indie pop. The band often interacted with the crowd, mainly checking in with quips about football and how Portsmouth were doing as they were playing at home the same day.
After Crxsses, I headed to the Edge of the Wedge to see Boltik, but due to (presumably) technical issues, they ran late and I ended up missing them which was a shame because I’ve heard good things about them. Maybe next time! But instead, in the main venue of Wedgewood Rooms, I ended up seeing Jigsaw Eyesore who I’d not previously listened to, but probably should have. It turns out that the band won ‘Battle of the Bands’ to play that slot at Wedgewood Rooms that day and well deserved that was… The band owned the stage, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last time!
Proceeding them, I went back to Little Johnny Russells to see Broken Links, a self-described “death electro-pop-rock” trio who I discovered at Icebreaker Festival last year. I hadn’t seen them live since and it was great to see them again as they were far better than I ever remembered.
Next up for me was Blackfoot Circle at Wedgewood Rooms, who I’ve been aware of and have seen three times now, but couldn’t miss them again as they’re always fun live and I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve still got various tracks of theirs in my head days later! Straight after, I caught the last half a track from Submariner over in the Edge of the Wedge. From what I gather from this was that it must’ve been rather hectic and the must’ve put their all into the performance as their frontman had blood all over his guitar! A sure sign of a good show!
The next two bands I saw at Edge of the Wedge were both bands that I’d mentioned as must see’s in recent posts. Although slightly later than planned, first up was Temples of Youth, whose minimal, yet powerful performances have wowed me in the past. They also performed their first live cover, that of which was ‘Heart Shaped Box’ and their rendition of it quite literally gave me goosebumps. Next was Me and the Moon who are an indie rock/folk band who I’ve also kept meaning to see for a long time, but never got around to it for one reason or another. They were definitely worth the wait though!
Last up for me was Is Bliss. I’ve read a lot about this band over the past 18 months and have been recommended that I should see them often, yet never got the chance due to clashes in the past. I don’t know why I was surprised as it was Is Bliss, one of the most top tipped bands of the day, but I’ve never seen The Fat Fox so packed. It was definitely set to be a sweaty gig, but that’s never a bad thing for a band like that in a venue of that size.
I should probably mention that despite the delays over at the Edge of the Wedge, everything else that I saw at the festival was pretty much on time. I’ve never known a festival to keep to its times as well as Icebreaker does. That’s always a blessing when packing so many bands into a schedule, but we understand that things beyond any planning can and will go wrong anywhere.
Overall, Icebreaker Festival exceeded all of my expectations from the year before and is definitely set in stone as one of my highlights of the year, especially as a festival for finding brand new, mostly local music. It’s always great to see bands that I’m already aware of, yet find bands that I’ve never heard of.
Icebreaker really puts Southsea on the map as a place with an incredibly diverse music scene as well as many small, yet mighty venues. I’m really excited to see the festival return as a two day festival next year and I’m already looking forward to it!
You can find out more about Icebreaker Festival as well as book tickets for next year’s festival by clicking here. If you are a band or artist reading this and are interested in playing at Icebreaker Festival 2018, then you can apply to play the festival following this link.