For someone who likes to see as many bands as possible at festivals, Dials Festival is pretty much heaven boasting five venues within a five minute walk of each other. The festival returned on Saturday 5th October bringing near 40 of the best upcoming talent to Southsea’s Albert Road with all profits going to Solent Mind charity. The lineup this year was so good that halfway through the festival I scrapped my Clashfinder schedule and went to see whoever I could in the hope of finding something new. It worked out pretty well!
Northampton’s Sarpa Salpa, one of our favourite discoveries of this year, kicked off the day their their set at the Wine Vaults with their powerful combination of pop and rock. The band were followed by suitably chirpy, Southampton favourites BASH! donning brightly coloured boiler suits which complimented the vibrancy of their music.
As venues go, I quite like the Wine Vaults. The venue feels like bands are playing in someone’s lounge rather than in a music venue, so if you’re looking for an intimate venue without it feeling like a sweaty box, it’s the right one for you. It can get packed in there though. However, if you don’t mind standing out on the street you can still see/hear what’s going on in the venue (see photos of Arxx below).
Bristol’s Pocket Sun played their first gig in Portsmouth filling The Loft with their blissful, synth-lead electro-pop to life. Also probably one of the friendliest bands I’ve ever come across! They were followed by local collective, Friday Night Weird Dreams who impressed once again with their hypnotic, even déjà vu-esque performance of synth loops and vocal snippets.
By this point I’d scrapped my schedule and went to see Brighton’s Winter Gardens at the Edge of the Wedge who put on a suitably impressive gig filled with powerful shoegaze/rock. Winter Gardens were currently on tour with Seattle’s Acid Tongue who happened to be up next. LibraLibra returned to Dials Festival this year, this time also playing the second largest stage, the Edge of the Wedge. The band’s performance was compelling and even better than what I saw last year. Vocalist Beth Cannon can seriously hold a note and a half, impressive!
Walt Disco brought their suitably dark, gloom-disco to the Wedgewood Rooms putting on a flamboyant, mesmerising performance embracing their theatrical side. A few technical issues plagued Another Sky‘s set, but as a band I was intrigued to see live, it didn’t mar their set. Frontwoman Catrin Vincent’s vocals are incredibly unique and the band are a must-see live though.
One of the many, many good things about Dials Festival is that they didn’t clash anyone with the long-awaited headliners, Doncaster’s The Blinders. Taking the Wedgewood Rooms by storm to the sound of sirens, the band burst into the rampant track that is the band’s debut album opener ‘Gotta Get Through’. Frontman’s Thomas Haywood’s strikingly black face paint didn’t last long thanks to the sweatiness of the venue. It’s an intense live performance packed with various tracks from their album ‘Columbia’ including the likes of ‘L’Etat C’est Moi’, ‘Hate Song’ and ‘I Can’t Breathe The Blues’. The Blinders finished up their set with a raucous duo of tracks ‘Et Tu’, then ‘Brutus’.
Dials Festival is 100% the festival to go to if you want to discover new bands and also boasts one of the most pleasant crowds you’ll find. The general consensus amongst everyone I spoke to being that they’d seen so many bands new to them. I saw ten bands I either hadn’t seen before or even listened to before and yet I’d see each and every one of them again! The mix of bands/artists was also incredibly diverse, so there was definitely something for everyone and the calibre was very high for the ticket price. See you in 2020?