Review: Dials Festival, Southsea

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One of the joys of any music festival is coming across bands you never even knew existed until you lucked across them.

One such act at Dials was Dog in the Snow at Little Johnny Russell’s. This Brighton-based duo, with Helen Ganya Brown on vocals and guitar and Eva Bowan on beats and noises, created a beguiling noise that veered from pretty to feedback-drenched noise and back again. They have an EP out at the end of this week – I’ll be checking it out.

With Southsea Fest taking a year off, Dials Festival was put together by local promoters, bloggers and music fans to fill the gap. With 40 acts across five stages in the Albert Road area, there was plenty on offer.

Londoners Wyldest are regular visitors to Portsmouth, and a slickly delivered set of shoegaze-laced dreampop goes down well at the Wedge.

Local pair Rickyfitts showed that on form they can make other rock duos like Royal Blood sound like the Carpenters. Their awesome racket inspires moshing in a packed Edge of the Wedge – and even a spot of crowdsurfing.

Following that would be tough, but Brighton’s Black Honey are no pushovers. Fronted by Izzy B Phillips, she can switch from a smile to snarl within a single line. And the rest of the band can rock out with the best of them, with hints of surf-rock amid the feedback, they bring the Edge stage to a sweaty close.

Wedgewood Rooms headliners Hooton Tennis Club deserve a better response than they get from a lacklustre crowd. Their indie-rock draws from the jangle of Teenage Fanclub as well as the fuzzier likes of Pavement and Dinosaur Jr, and is strong on memorable tunes. And the final guitar blowout on set-closer Always Coming Back 2 You is particularly impressive.

Don’t change that dial, and let’s hope that the festival will return.