Festival Review: Victorious Festival 2013

on Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Victorious Festival (Portsmouth, 24-25 Aug '13) // Words: Saam Das

Victorious Festival has the pleasure of being hosted in Portsmouth's historic dockyard - an area containing several museums, including the new Mary Rose Museum. And quite likely the only festival in the country, at least, to allow you to visit such museums for free during the weekend. For most though, it was the music that was the real attraction with a varied line up including TEED, Maximo Park, and Level 42. Find out who I caught below.

After a short queue to enter the dockyard, I sauntered over to catch Curxes, who don't half make a racket for a duo. Their dark industrial sounds accompanied by Roberta Fidora's belting vocals got the festival off to an impressive start. Louis Barrabas & The Bedlam Six continued the good work of Curxes over at the main stage - the rambunctious ensemble had a touch of Gogol Bordello to their performance, if not their music.

One of the great things about Victorious Festival is its support of local bands, and I obliged by catching the mathy synth rock of Observing The Ghost and the blues garage rock styling of Kill Kasper. Fairly inoffensive stuff all round, a trend followed by the pop of 'X-Factor' graduate Janet Devlin - although her music seemed to actively encourage people to talk amongst themselves, a problem reflected throughout the weekend (and to be fair, at many a festival).

The Milk proved more arresting for much of the main stage crowd, although their faux American singing was a constant source of irritation. Elsewhere, Chapel Club appear to have adopted a much darker and electronic sound from when they first emerged, although did have the best comment of the weekend by stating that the beer backstage at Victorious Festival was better than any other fest. (Indeed, there was even a real ale festival on at Victorious - I had an under-par raspberry wheat beer.)

The returning Nine Black Alps delivered a visceral, sonic assault - their frontman seemingly channelling Craig Nicholls from The Vines, which may or may not be a good thing. The contrast between Nine Black Alps and The Feeling couldn't be much greater but the latter provided their hits in a relatively cheery fashion, concluding the day rather nicely before I headed back to London.

I began the following day with the curious new musical approach of Charlotte Church. Having already transformed herself from pre-pubescent opera singer to popstar, she has now adopted a more experimental guise. One which went down particularly poorly with the Portsmouth crowd. Although some of the comments were crass ("get your tits out" etc.), I was similarly disappointed as Church was seemingly on a mission her live set as unlistenable as possible, with an array of baffling sound effects.

Church's vocals suffered immensely from the initial addition of distortion, and the acapella quintet of The Boxettes demonstrated the absurdity of diluting a powerful voice. Coming across a bit like the real life version of the Barden Bellas of 'Pitch Perfect', The Boxettes enthralled the crowd with their bouncy set - the highlight being a mash-up of Rudimental and Destiny's Child's 'Jumpin Jumpin'.

I had low expectations for Reef but was surprised by the strength of their sound, considerably more influenced by Pearl Jam than I had remembered. Amusingly, they noted that they were "like a dirty secret from your past that just popped up". Again, the faux American accent grated but understandably 'Place Your Hands' had seemingly the whole festival getting into a solid groove.

The Joy Formidable were my concluding act for Victorious and delivered an appropriately killer set - wisely taking hits from across their back catalogue despite a mere half hour slot, albeit finishing off in a curiously elongated and self-indulgent fashion with a five minute breakdown. You could just have fit another song in, guys.

At just £15 a day, Victorious provided great value for money. Unfortunately, it didn't quite provide enough toilet or catering facilities - something that must be looked at should it (hopefully) return. Similarly, it would have been great for some of the bigger acts to have slightly longer sets but that's pretty much it as minor complaints go. A festival almost as Victorious as its name suggests. Find more info at victoriousfestival.co.uk.

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