Psyched Fest returns to Southsea with Billy Nomates, PVA and more

Psyched Fest returns to Southsea this weekend in what could be its last ever outing.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 4:26 pm
Billy Nomates is headlining The Wedgewoods Rooms stage at Psyched Fest

After five years helming the annual day-long event celebrating the best in psych and left-field music, Nicki Allen has announced this year will be her last.

This year’s line up will see politically-motivated alt-pop artist Billy Nomates headlining The Wedgewood Rooms stage with performances from dance-punk risers PVA, avant-garde Londoner Nuha Ruby Ra, psych-jazz jammers Lunch Money Life, spine-tingling songwriter Rosie Alena and many more.

It takes place across four stages – The Wedge, Edge of The Wedge, Lord John Russell and The Loft, in collaboration with local promoters including Strong Island Recordings, Honeymooner, Calamity Cratediggers and Mix It All Up.

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Looking back at the event’s origins as Portsmouth Psych Fest in 2017, Nicki says: ‘We had Bo Ningen headline that year and to be honest I really didn't think the first year would be as successful as it was.

‘I had a lot of experience working on festivals with Southsea Fest and I was part of the original Dials team, so I knew how to run things from the get-go, thankfully!

‘I had also been attending Liverpool and Manchester Psych fests for a good few years beforehand and they inspired me to bring that down to the south coast.

‘I didn't know how Portsmouth would respond to be honest as it is a very niche type of music, but psych lovers did appear and luckily they have stuck with us over the five years.’

Keen-eyed observers will have noticed a subtle change in the name this year from Psych to Psyched Fest, why was this?

‘We started to bring in more post-punk and electronic genres to the line-ups as it was hard to book just psych, plus post-punk and more experimental bands have had a major impact on the music scene over the last few years, bands like, Black Midi, Squid and Scalping are turning heads left, right and centre.’

When asked her favourite act to appear over the years, there’s no hesitation: Black Midi.

‘I am super-proud to say I was the first promoter to put the boys on outside of London. My friend Max was working as the sound engineer at The Windmill in Brixton and he told me I had to come up to watch this band, which I did. I watched their second ever live show with about 20/30 people in the room and booked them straight away!

‘Now they are playing to thousands at major festivals across the UK and I still love them and what they are about.’

And looking ahead to this weekend’s fest, she says: ‘We have an amazing line-up once again, I have also made a conscious effort to try and get 50/50 gender representation.

‘Being a female in the music industry is hard work, a lot has changed over the years, but so much still needs to be done.

‘I wanted a female headliner no matter what, and when Billy Nomates was available to play I was over the moon.

‘I watched her set at End of The Road Festival a couple of weeks ago and she is an outstanding performer – we really are in for a treat on Saturday!’

Another act Nicki is looking forward to catching on Saturday is PVA: ‘They are one of my favourite bands at the moment, again I recently saw them at Green Man festival last month – they are so energetic and uplifting, even people who don't dance have been having a little wiggle!’

As to why this will be her last, Nicki says: ‘There are a few reasons why I am stopping, lots of things have happened to me personally in lockdown, and I feel I have run my course now.

‘I am hoping that someone with more ideas and bigger dreams may come along and step in my shoes, fingers crossed!’

Psyched Fest takes place in Albert Road, Southsea on Saturday, September 18 from midday. Tickets at dice.fm, £1 from every ticket sold goes to the Music Venue Trust.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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