From the dartboard to the snooker table, from the projector screen playing Sky Sports to wonderfully priced alcohol, you know what to expect when walking into a British social club. They have been a constant feature in almost all towns and cities for what seems like forever, with only their political allegiance setting them apart. Well, political allegiance and the barrage of left field noise coming out of the odd one or two. Thanks to Portsmouth locals Alasdair Taylor and Neil McMahon, Southsea Social Club is one of the odd one or two.
Avid live music fans Alasdair and Neil started promoting gigs at South Social Club in earnest a little over a year ago, after having both seen something of an absence of events that suited their tastes. After spending over a decade in the city, they felt somewhat disillusioned with the lack of live events catering for music that was firmly situated in the left field. Out of town gigs had become more of a regularity than local events. But disillusionment is a much more common event than action and the birth of Champagne Justice! took the help friends, local bands and promoters to reach its birthing point. “Basically me and Al had talked about putting on gigs for years and it took finding some of the right people and the right venue to give us the kick up the arse we needed,” remarks Neil.
If the discovery of the right people could be said to have been something of a catalyst for Champagne Justice!’s creation, the unearthing of Southsea Social Club as a long standing host helped ensure a certain level of longevity. Having access to a near hundred capacity venue situated in the center of Southsea has given Champagne Justice a fan base building regularity. With this pairing of audience and venue, Al and Neil have been able to attract some of the finest purveyors of noise on the underground circuit. Sharing band contacts and networking with similar established promotions – such as Brighton’s Tatty Seaside Town – has meant that they have been able to put on bands that probably would never turned onto the M275 at all.
To list all the bands that have passed through the social club under the due care and attention of Alasdair and Neil would be an exhaustive and most likely boring measure – bands should be listened to not read after all. Just taking a glance at the Champagne Justice! Facebook home page though, gives you an idea of the achievements they’ve made in the last year and a half. Throughout this time they have also made sure to keep their local ties strong by having the best local bands regularly support and headline events and having local artists create their event posters. All this hard work was rewarded in September of this year when Champagne Justice! were invited to curate a stage at Southsea Fest which included even more national and international acts whilst still representing the best local talent. Through Champagne justice!, Alasdair and Neil have managed to create a haven for the left field in Portsmouth and helped to replace disillusionment with enjoyment.
“We want to promote local artists via our own promotional activities. There are many talented artists, designers and musicians in the area and we want to promote them all. I guess, in part anyway, it’s routing for the underdog while sharing in the excitement of local talent, resources and art in general, with the intention of giving it – and us – an enjoyable, accessible platform to demonstrate it to those in the locality and beyond.” – Alasdair Taylor
This is the second in a series covering some of the local music promoters in the city, Champagne Justice!, Strong Island recordings and Pie & Vinyl Presents as they curate an all day festival in aid of the Feel Yourself Campaign which aims to raise awareness for the importance of checking for breast and testicular cancer.
(Artwork provided by Roma-May Daly)