August Bank Holiday sees Portsmouth host Victorious, a little music festival that we’re proud to call our own. Since 2014 Southsea Common, Castle Field, and the surrounding patch has been awash with revelers all mingling for a good time. There’s beer and food, things to do, and of course music. Loud music. I’ve been able to hear it clearly from my home.
Maybe because I live so close. Or maybe because I’m inert after 8pm. I’ve never been. I’ve only listened to the music blaring and occasionally caught a song I recognise. I know when kick-out happens because kick-off happens outside my door. But that’s no different to any regular weekend night.
This year was different, though. I got a ticket for the Saturday! I figured it was a better time than any to find out what all the fuss was about.
I teamed up with my partners in crime and we dressed to tackle whatever may come. Rough seas, drowning people, we were prepared for anything.
(Myles got in some practice flying the Air Ambulance. Nee-naw, nee-naw. Well, he must keep his skills up if he’s going to save lives.)
As a foursome we trekked the whole 4 minutes it takes to walk from my front door to the entry gate. It took us a little longer because of the crowds. Glitter people with flowers in their hair. A man stuffing cans of Stella down his pants. Spandex and fairy wings and all things fantastic.
Through the gate and our first stop was the Kids Arena. All the attractions and entertainment are free. If you have a child, are in the area, and have a ticket — visit!
It had bouncy castles, merry-go-rounds — the scariest looking and least convincing Thomas The Tank Engine ride I’ve ever seen — face painting. The Waltzer. Myles loved The Waltzer. My vertigo, not so much. A Ferris Wheel, but we didn’t go on that. Pepper Pig was on stage. There were tents for reading. The beach was on the grass. The New Theatre had something going on that I couldn’t quite work out. Maybe if I lingered longer, I don’t know. And it had much more! For kids, fantastic. Could keep them entertained for hours.
Myles had a picnic, us adults found the bar — I got reduced to fruity cider, I’m not the biggest fan.
Slowly we gravitated to the Common Stage where we met Hannah’s friends. That’s pretty much where we stayed. By the light. Listening to Feeder, Maximo Park, Jake Bugg. Occasionally wading through piss at the urinals and queuing for the bar.
On one of our jaunts, we stumbled on his hidden nook of music. A band was playing covers of songs with their particular twist and they were very good.
Stereophonics capped the evening with a spirited set of their classics. They played some new stuff, too. Not bad. I’ve never fawned over them but, hey! A show’s a show and it’s easy to have a good time.
All in all, it was bizarre. A good bizarre. Wholly strange. Wholly a Portsmouth thing, no-one else could pull it off.
There was lots I didn’t see so next year I’ll have to venture further.