On the Saturday morning of Victorious festival, I groggily dragged myself from my bed, still feeling the effects of the Friday night launch party even in the afterglow. It was a great night and I had high spirits for the rest of the weekend.
To start the day, I was working at The World Music village and had to be there at 12pm to set up. I arrived in good time and having done all that I needed to, I had some time to enjoy the bohemian surroundings.
The World Music Village was a small part of the festival with a vibe entirely of its own: relaxed and chilled. Stalls selling hippy clothing, henna, hair braids and food and drinks such as vegan wraps and coconut juice (from real coconuts) surrounded a large ‘wishing tree’, adorned with fabric garlands and plaques hanging from the branches.
At the back of the area was an orange tent, adorned in colorful fabric and run by The People’s Lounge, who had started running workshops early on in the day, including Tai Chi from the Five Elements Academy and drumming. Before I started work, I watched some people gently sway their bodies in the wind, followed by a group of children banging on buckets with shakers.
When I was done working, I relaxed in the sun for a while on the comfy bean bags provided. Some hip-hop music started blaring from the speakers and a girl with long blonde hair, dressed in black and bare footed, took to the stage. A Swedish woman called Luna started rapping and soon brought in a huge crowd. She was very talented and her lyrics were powerful and witty, with a line directed at Donald Trump, ‘tell him pussy grabs back.’
Afterwards, I headed to the Real Ale stage in the D-Day Museum car park, sponsored by Mayfield Studios. The bar queues were shorter than the previous night so it was easier to grab a pint before I watched Sophie and The Darlings. A local singer, I saw her at Icebreaker for the first time this year at the Atrium but this performance was by far superior. For starters, the sound was better, compared to the small room above The Fat Fox, and she was accompanied by more musicians. She had two backing singers, a trumpet, a bass, electric guitar and keys – excluding her vocals and acoustic guitar. Sophie played a mix of originals and covers and particularly blew me away with her When I Go and cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams, which as a huge Mac fan, gave me goosebumps.
There were a few moments where the sound desk let Sophie down and I later learned there were some sound issues at other stages, such as the Castle Stage, including mics cutting out and sounds levels not being balanced.
Next up was The Day of The Rabblement playing at the Beats and Swing tent . Their music is indie folk with an Irish twist. The singer has a beautiful voice but it was the accordion player that blew me away. He was flawless.
After their set, I was hungry so I grabbed myself a hot dog from a nearby stall. For £7 it didn’t come cheap but I understand this is what to expect from a festival. With Victorious being in the heart of Southsea, I was very tempted to either pop home to eat or visit a local eatery on Osborne or Palmerston road: there are so many great places to eat nearby offering higher quality at a cheaper price. The same goes for drinking too: it was probably easier and definitely cheaper to nip to nearby pub than to wait in line at the festival bars.
As Victorious is so close to the shops and the camping isn’t nearby, it doesn’t have the same festival vibe you might expect from one of the larger, national festivals. This makes it easy to be tempted to go elsewhere for food and drink, which shattered the magic for me. If you’re attending all three days, you might have to plan your time strategically as you can’t nip back to your tent for a power nap.
After eating some pricey food and having been at the festival for almost 6 hours, I was getting quite tired. I knew if I went home I wouldn’t come back so I ambled around the kid’s area for a little break from the noise and chaos.
The kid’s area, although full of children, was less busy than everywhere else so all the stalls had little or no queues. There were arts and crafts, a kiddy rave, a sandbox and little tents, where musicians encouraged children to play. I joined a crowd who watched a boy, around 5, clumsily strum a guitar whilst baby singing Vance Joy’s Riptide – I can promise you it was adorable.
Exploring the rest of the festival, I found other quieter areas, like the AMP stage where the stalls were noticeably cheaper than the others I’d seen in the main parts of the site. Along the seafront were plenty more sellers with vegetarian food, bracelets and face painters. Glitter was a big thing this year and around 50% of people I saw had decorated faces as vibrant as Christmas lights. Even men had beards full of it. Although it made me smile a lot, I was a bit concerned to see so much of it, particularly at a seaside festival as glitter is notoriously bad for the environment.
At 6.30pm, I planned to watch the Naan Breddaz at The People’s Lounge but at 5pm I could already hear their music. They had been put on an hour early, without warning, and I almost missed their set. I sat down with the gathered swarm and listened to some hip-hop. This Asian duo haven’t been around for long but they already have a huge following. They are good with a crowd, have catchy lyrics and are great people. Recommended.
After their set, I was beat. The next band I wanted to see, Colour of the Jungle, were on an hour later but I was too tired to wait. I knew I would see them around Portsmouth again so I left. Perhaps I’m unusual in this, but I wasn’t bothered about the headliners, including Rito Ora or Stereophonics. I’d enjoyed Madness the night before and I prefer going to Southseafest or Icebreaker to watch local acts.
I would miss Colour of the Jungle this time but not the next. I slipped away into the night, kicked my shoes off at home and ordered myself a much-deserved curry to prepare myself for the final day of Victorious. I didn’t know that Sunday would not only bring more excitement but some frustration too.
The final part of Emily Priest’s review of Victorious is out this Friday. Catch up on Part 1 here.
Photography by Emily Priest.