Live Review: Portsmouth Psych Festival 2019

Just under two weeks ago Portsmouth Psych Fest returned to the Wedgewood Rooms/Edge of the Wedge bringing the best in both local and international, upcoming psychedelic music to the city. 18 bands played on the day spanning all corners of psychedelic rock with no clashes meaning there were no excuses to miss anyone this time. Now in its third year, Portsmouth Psych Fest took over the two venues with its best lineup yet and also with Calamity Cratediggers curating the Edge of the Wedge stage. Visuals on the Wedgewood Rooms stage were once again provided by the brilliant Innerstrings. There were too many bands to mention whilst keeping this piece under a thousand words, so here are some of the many highlights from the day.

Opening the festival, Ventnor based psych-punk duo Fat Earthers hit the Edge of the Wedge with their politically charged, angsty tracks embellished with important topics. The Howlers followed this up with something a bit more mellow but their desert rock infused music. Having not seen the band before I wouldn’t have guessed that there stand-in bassist had only done one rehearsal with them previously. Local 60’s inspired, psych-pop, now quartet (?) Number 9 completed the opening trio of bands on Calamity Cratediggers stage with their refreshing, sometimes funky tracks.

“Since when were Drusila psych?” was my first thought when I saw that the band were announced for Portsmouth Psych Fest earlier this year. This was confirmed by a somewhat bemused duo who were somewhat apologetic for being a more “electronic pop” band a few tracks into their set. However, after seeing the band at Icebreaker Festival earlier this year I knew they were going to be entertaining regardless and they failed to disappoint with the band hardly seeming out of place in the end.

Southampton’s Freya Beer brought attitude filled, poetic tracks and made more than enough noise for just two people with catchy, urgent tracks including her latest single ‘Six Months’. Fellow Southampton based band Mystic Peach followed with their intense live performance whose set included latest, and only single available at the moment ‘Across The Pond‘. The bands terrifying energy only increased as their set drew to a close. In comparison to their set at Acapulco at last year’s Portsmouth Psych Fest, their sound is more refined and filled with tracks that could quite easily be singles.

There was an ample amount of instrumental bands at this year’s Portsmouth Psych Fest which I was very happy about. Japanese Television were a band I was particularly looking forward to after being sent their latest single ‘Bloodworm‘ a few months back. The band brought their hypnotic space-rock, psych instrumental music to life taking the crowd on a sonic, psychedelic journey of colourful riffs and epic soundscapes.

Los Bitchos were definitely one of my highlights of the day. Despite hearing plenty about how good they were live, I hadn’t listened to them prior to seeing them and I therefore failed to realise that they were an instrumental band! Huge plus. Anyway, the Cumbia inspired band brought something of a more tropical vibe to the Wedgewood Rooms playing mostly upbeat, funky instrumental music.

When you walk into a venue and think “what on Earth is going on here?” then you know a band is going to be special. My number one highlight of the day had to be Snapped Ankles who I hadn’t listened to previously and I’m now making up for lost time. The band who (jokingly) take “post”-punk seriously with their synths crafted out of tree branches (posts!) create music unlike anything else. Donning fuzzy masks coming from the forest, the band are completely anonymous as they play their electronic-tinged rock music.

GURU picked up the pace with a high-energy set with plenty of crowd interaction and their snarling, brutal rock n roll infused psych which followed nicely into Scalping. The band played in a near-pitch black Edge of the Wedge by this point with just hypnotic visuals projected onto the wall behind them. This fully complimented as well as highlighted their intense techno, psych-punk sounds with near no gaps for a full 30 minutes.

Calamity Cratediggers stage headliners, Glasgow’s Sweaty Palms set included cowboy hats, saxophones, lyric booklets and yes, a drum made from a beer keg. The band joked between themselves “I don’t think they understand Scottish!” after they exclaimed that this would be their last song and there was an oddly muted response. They seemed to have went down well otherwise though so that probably was the case.

The KVB were the penultimate band of the night at the Wedgewood Rooms before headliners YAK bringing their shoegaze-infused, brooding electronic sounds to the festival. With blissful monotony and hypnotic melodies, the duo created something truly mesmerising. Headliners YAK brought the party with their indie-rock tracks and antics. It was a suitably odd end to the day anyway. This included the dismembering of one of the graffiti-alien mannequins which donned the sides of the stage and also the first crowd-surfer I’d seen in the Wedgewood Rooms in a long while (probably going to the wrong gigs!). I wasn’t as thrilled by YAK as I’d have hoped based upon their recorded music, but I’m putting it down to being super-tired by that point and the rest of the lineup being overwhelmingly good in comparison.

Portsmouth Psych Fest lineups, have gone from great to stellar following this years offering. Out of the sixteen bands that I saw on the day, I’d only seen/listened to about six before but I came away with many new favourites. One can only hope that this brilliant festival returns once again next year to expand the minds of many once again.

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