Last week we attended Winchestival, a small festival based just outside of Winchester city centre but still central enough to be within walking distance of the train station. Last year I missed the festival for one reason or another but with a lineup even bigger and better this year, it just wasn’t to be missed.
I arrived mid-afternoon and caught most of Hooli, a south coast based blues-rock band’s, set and they certainly brought the party to Winchestival. The band’s set was feel-good and included tracks such as their debut single ‘Cider Sue’. Next I caught Wild Front tucked away doing an acoustic set for Sofar Sounds at the festival. This was their warm-up for Isle of Wight Festival the weekend later where they headlined the main stage on the Saturday. Big things are ahead for the band.
The good thing about Winchestival is that all of the stages are pretty much within a 30 seconds – 1 minute walking distance away from each other, so it’s pretty much impossible to miss anyone. Plus everything was undercover in tents so even if it rained, you wouldn’t be left stood outside like at larger festivals.
There are so many local bands and musicians that I keep missing everywhere and it’s always a blessing when you finally get to see them live. I’ve been hearing good things about Richard Morris for quite a while now so it was great to be able to catch most of his set. Bringing a full band in tow and pop, acoustic-style tracks along with them it was a relaxing set full of powerful songs including his latest single ‘Albert Road’, a homage to Southsea. Me and The Moon are always a pleasure to see live and they were up next on the second stage. I’m not normally into folk-pop but their performance is always too enchanting to miss.
Back to the main stage, next up were Orchards, a band who I wasn’t familiar with before but they were a great discovery. The band brought their flamboyant, even eccentric performance to a very welcoming Winchester crowd. Their indie pop is catchy, rather unique and they’ve got plenty of ear-worm hooks throughout their music. I was also unaware of Wildwood Kin (who also played the main stage) prior to the festival. Their music wasn’t exactly to my taste but the three piece, Devon based band with folk-y, harmony laden and if anything rather beautiful tracks with a lot of power to them. Despite a few technical issues it was still good to see something a bit different.
Next up on the Quay West led second stage The Collision took their chirpy indie-rock music to another level. Their set was wrapped up by a half Justin Bieber cover of all things, but the band were quick to assure the crowd that it’d be far better than the original. Costellos brought their Britpop infused indie tracks to the stage next with a new track or two in tow alongside previous singles such as ‘Say’. Local favourites of ours Arcade Hearts were our second to last band of the night. With a set brimming with new tracks as well as old favourites the band brought a refreshing mix of indie-pop completing their sub-headlining slot on the second stage with style.
The Big Moon are a band I’ve been meaning to catch live for years and they certainly did not disappoint. Opening with ‘Silent Movie Susie’ and playing through various tracks from their critically acclaimed, Mercury Prize nominated debut album the band wowed a packed out tent. The band also threw in a cover of Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ for good measure and “because it’s fun to play/sing”. Although they ended up having to cut their set short by one track due to technical issues earlier in the day this didn’t distract from an otherwise great set which was well worth the wait. Fickle Friends then went on to headline the main stage later on in the evening with Cassava headlining the second stage.
As festivals go Winchestival is a very pleasant and very family-friendly festival with plenty to do regardless of your taste. There was a lot on offer including a whole host of comedy acts as well as yoga classes in the afternoon and various other activities going on with something for everyone. The same goes for the food as well, something for everyone and regardless of your diet.