There was much anticipation for the return of IceBreaker Festival to the Southsea music scene, having been absent for 2 years due to Covid restrictions.
This years festival took place with over 80 bands performing across a mammoth 10 venues along Albert Road & Elm Grove, showcasing a whole range of unsigned acts from solo acoustic artists to full-blown rock bands and everything in between, there really was something for everyone.
Whether you carry out meticulous pre-festival planning to ensure you get see everyone you want or you take in a venue and see what comes your way, this really is a cracking day for any music fan.
There were, as you can imagine in these crazy times, a number of last minute changes to the line up (to be expected with over 80 artists on the bill) and festival organiser Mike Hartley and his team had to work hard to move bands around & alter running orders. One such covid casualty was local favourite Hallan who were due to headline the Wedgewood Rooms stage, with Fake Empire moving up to the headline slot and Arcade Hearts being added to the line up at the last minute.
I arrived early in the afternoon and from the point I collected my wristband at The Vaults (which was very well organised by the way) I could feel a sense of excitement amongst gig goers, bands and organisers all clearly looking forward to getting back to the live music scene we all love. There was a real buzz around the venues, particularly around the bottom end of Albert Road where there are 2 or 3 in close proximity (The Vaults, Lord John Russell and The Fat Fox) all with people milling about and chatting about the bands in the line up.
First up for me was South Coast Ghost up in the Edge of the Wedge, before I headed back down to poke my head into Back at the Belgrave & LJR before catching ‘Becoming Branches’ in The Vaults, followed in the same venue by ‘Yellowlees’, a singer songwriter from Portsmouth by way of Norwich with a great voice and some cracking tracks.
I then headed back up to the Wedgewood Rooms in time to catch ‘Van Gosh’, who definitely took the award of best dressed artist at the festival, resplendent in sequins, wigs and viking esq armour costumes.
The remainder the day was spent with me darting between stages in the Edge of the Wedge & The Wedgewood Rooms, there were some real stand out acts for me across the day and Guildford based ‘Sour Kix’ a family band of brothers & sister (plus one adopted member, their words not mine!), were one of those as they gave a great, energetic and vibrant performance for such a young band. Another was Brighton based female fronted glam rock band ‘Slant’ who brought a real riot girl energy and swagger to the stage during their set!
A huge crowd arrived for the set of local artist ‘Tom Bryan’, who describes himself as loop-based with an electric twist adding folk and dub element! His style and technique were outstanding to watch with a performance that matched the atmosphere in the room and he is one I will definitely be going to see again.
Overall the day went off as a huge success and saw welcomed return of the festival, a big shout out should go to Mike Harvey and his team for putting on such a great festival during incredibly challenging times.
Icebreaker Festival’s USP remains in their ability to showcase unsigned acts from all musical genres across multiple stages & venues in one full on day, what’s not to love about that! When Icebreaker Summer 2022 returns (date TBC likely July) make sure you are there, you will not be disappointed and may get the chance to see a future ‘massive’ act before they get to those big venues, and who doesn’t love being the first to find great new music!
Photos: Mark Butler