There was a lot of exciting stuff happening around the city on the bank holiday weekend, but the thing I was most excited about had to be the Pitt St Skatepark Bank Holiday Bonanza.
The festival is the first to be held at the Skatepark and ran for three days, opening on Friday 26th of May and finishing on Sunday 28th May.
Bands and DJs from around the South Coast came to play at what proved to be a fantastic set up, which made this event what it was and makes me very excited for future events. The DJs played from a booth inside, overlooking the skatepark, with a section for amateurs like myself to roller disco, that was separate from the main space where the seasoned pros were busting moves.
There were a set of doors that led out to the courtyard and what was a fantastic space, with an impressive stage set up, and stalls to the side, including local brewery MakeMake, who were serving their range in cans, with some items on tap. There was also a food stall and a big old space for the crowd. It was a really sun trap, and with its location in the old Sainsbury, the mostly commercial area had little potential for noise complaints…which was for the best really as the set up was loud!
The music started at 2 pm with local lads Bitterman, a supergroup whose members are part of several bands in Portsmouth. The riff fuelled rock bounces around from catchy hooks to seriously heavy breakdowns. The guys have been playing the circuits for a while now and it’s always a treat catching them at a gig.
Following on were London punks Clobber and they brought the antagonistic sentiment, with frontman Charlie proving beautifully confrontational, taking aim at everything he deemed wrong with the establishment and society. True to punk, the confrontational tone delivered righteous and heartfelt statements about important topics like mental health and abortion laws.
We all needed a bit of a breather after that performance, and luckily the timings were great, with about an hour in between bands and each band getting a soundcheck just before playing. It worked well, giving people time to check out the stalls, to eat, to drink or just to mingle. The event attracted a lovely crowd of locals and being fully family friendly it was nice to see youngsters running around with their air defenders on.
Next up were Southsea locals, Bleeding Maw. They played a great set. They’re rather elusive online, but let me tell you they are heavy! If you see them on any bill then get yourself down there and you are in for a treat. The Strongest Tool, and Brighton-based, The Complete Snake, played great sets too. That said, I was start to waver in the sun and needed to get some shade. It was around this time I had an overwhelming urge to hire some skates and hit the floor…and hit the floor I did! For one, I must apologise as I spent most of the time out at the stage watching the bands, but there was a whole rota of DJs playing throughout the day, with great set up overlooking the floor for starters and roller discos (the skatepark run regular roller discos with sets from local DJs. You can head down and get on the floor, or head down to boogie and watch the fun).
Having an iota of skating experience under my belt as a teenager, I thought I would pick it up again easily enough. Alas, my centre of balance has shifted with age and I spent the majority of the time clinging to the side and howling with laughter. And yes, I did stack it a few times. Would I do it again? Absolutely! I might not be good enough for my own skates yet, but it’s super cheap to hire a paid and I love the idea of getting good enough to roller disco!
I’ve got a soft spot for a two-piece, and Regal Cheer delivered what I hoped. Another band from along the coast in Brighton, their warm, and bright punk was just the ticket in that warm weather. Real sunshine vibes!
That all changed when Body Crisis took the floor, smashing out a raucous set of heavy numbers. Another two-piece, these guys have only been going a short time, but are already well known for kicking out big sounds and sass and have developed quite the following around the city. They are actually holding a free gig at Pitt Street on Friday 28th July to celebrate the launch of the first music video for their song Candy Blues. The video has been put together by local legend and creative powerhouse Dave Sloan, who plays in Bitterman, and spends most of his time recording, photographing or filming bands. If you want to find out more and get yourself down to that free gig, you can do so here.
Island of Love did their thing. The band, who travelled down from London for the event are fab live and well worth keeping an eye on. Do go see them if you ever get the chance. Finally, were the band everyone had been waiting for. Pest Control are a crossover thrash outfit from Leeds and are doing pretty well for themselves, so much so that they are supporting the mighty Obituary at the Wedgewood Rooms in August. Their set did not disappoint and they whipped the crowd up into a frenzy, and we all had an absolute hoot. You’ve got to love a bit of thrash, it was a real crescendo to the day. Pest Control not only play rad music, but they are lovely people. If you like your thrash then I would highly recommend you pick up tickets to their gig with Obituary at the Wedgewood Rooms, you can find out more info on that here.
Hot, tired, sweaty and aching all over, I could not have had a better time. But, I still managed to fit in a final drink with Jay, founder of the Skatepark, and we had a great chat about the event and plans for the future. The skatepark is a fantastic venue and the potential for events there in the future is very exciting. As well as roller discos they are looking at holding day time raves and I cannot wait to get out and play. That said, what I am really itching for is another all-dayer in that courtyard with that stage set up, and that sound. That was such a treat. I cannot urge you enough to get along to check the place out, be it for an event, or to get your skates on for a few hours and have some fun. I’ve been thinking about that ever since the event, and it won’t be long until I’m back.
Photos: c/o Pitt St