Priding itself as being a family festival, Victorious really pulled out the stops to cater for everyone this year, as young and old flocked in their thousands to spend the bank holiday weekend at Southsea seafront. And like all memorable extended weekends, it absolutely bucketed down.
But as a testament to the crowds, they didn’t let the weather dampen their spirits, as they flitted back and forth between the nine tents and stages offering a plethora of brilliant acts. With everything available from ska in the Real Ale tent, Octonauts for the kids, a funfair and silent disco, the weather may have been depressing, but the atmosphere certainly was not.
There was a lot to pack into just two days, and Kirkby boy Louis Berry was a delightful start to Saturday on the Castle Stage, drawing in quite a few stragglers for his half an hour slot with his up-tempo Jake Bugg-meets- Mumford And Sons set. Bath-based blues rockers Kill It Kid really did kill it on the main Common stage with the atmospheric building choruses of ‘Caroline’ and a glimpse of the husky-voiced Rae Morris was enough to catch her hit ‘Under the Shadows’ before the major players of the day really got underway.
Kicking off with a track hot off their new album, The Fratellis peaked interest with the bouncy ‘Baby Don’t You Lie To Me!’, but the drenched crowd were somewhat subdued until they really got into the swing of things with ‘Henrietta’ and firm foot-stamping favourite ‘Chelsea Dagger’. With some schedule clashing and tough decisions to make, I sadly missed The Subways’ set, but stuck around for Mystery Jets, who were pleasant but were unfortunately let down by some pretty poor sound quality throughout their set.
The real standout performance of the day came from acoustic duo Seafret, who packed out the Nevada Music Acoustic stage with their emotive song-writing and vocalist Jack Sedman’s ridiculously powerful gritty voice. Sat on a hay bale in the fading light, the sensitive ‘Oceans’ really made you feel like you were part of something intimate, and the commanding ‘Be There’ had the power to grab you by every part of your being and force you to really pay attention to every word. It’s moments like these that we really drag ourselves into a field to be battered by the elements for, isn’t it?
Headliners for the evening, The Flaming Lips were their usual brilliantly kooky selves – a mash-up of LED light shows, giant balloons, confetti cannons and hits. ‘The Yeah, Yeah, Yeah Song’, ‘A Spoonful Weighs A Ton’ and ‘Do You Realize??’ certainly brought the party back to an exhausted crowd and rounded off Saturday night with a bang that only a band as experienced as these know how.
Sunday started on a (somewhat sunny) high with Rhythm Of The 90s tucked away on the smaller Seaside stage, a live cover group who attracted a horde faster with their ’90s floorfillers than any of the other acts managed all weekend. But having been transported to the sunnier sandy beaches of Ibiza with classics including ‘Rhythm Of The Night’ and ‘Set You Free’, it was nice to be soothed back to reality by the charismatic duo Bipolar Sunshine, who urged the Pompey crowds to ‘Love More Worry Less’ with their funky electro-pop.
New York rockers We Are Scientists were a personal favourite, easing fans in with a number from their latest album before whacking out all the crowd pleasers, taking everyone (or at least those of us old enough to remember MySpace) back to their angsty schooldays with fist-pumpers ‘Nobody Move’, ‘Nobody Gets Hurt’, ‘Chick Lit’ and ‘The Great Escape’. Just when we thought the weather was on our side, the heavens opened with the opening chords of ‘After Hours’, but being the good sports that they are, the trio kept spirits up with their pure enthusiasm and witty banter. Fifteen years and still going strong, these guys proved that they’re not to be written off yet.
But real showstoppers were The Darkness, purely for Justin Hawkins’ fantastic stage presence. A combination of stripping, camera shenanigans, headstands, flying kicks and plenty of prancing about belting out his trademark falsetto, ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ and ‘Love is Only A Feeling’ went down an absolute treat. Hardcore Darkness fans air-guitared to their heart’s content whilst the kids delightedly splashed along in the puddles, but the chanted requests for the band’s Christmas hit went unfulfilled, instead giving way to an epic rendition of Get Your Hands Off My Woman’ and an electrifying guitar solo from Justin as he moved through the crowd on brother Dan’s shoulders.
After catching ‘Hello Sunshine’ from the bizarrely dressed Super Furry Animals, headliners Basement Jaxx made sure that the weekend ended in a blaze of glory, proving that although this little festival is still making a name for itself – it truly did come out Victorious this weekend.