Review | Psyched Fest, Southsea: 'A smorgasbord of esoteric delights'

Music starved Pompey music fans were served up a smorgasbord of esoteric delights at this year’s (sadly the last) Psyched Fest.

Friday, 24th September 2021, 4:37 pm
Billy Nomates headlining Psyched Fest at The Wedgewood Rooms, September 18, 2021. Picture by Paul Windsor

If you had your roller skates on you could catch 25 bands playing across three venues in Albert Road.

First up for me are Portsmouth band Fast Trains at Lord John Russell’s.

A few weeks back I caught lead singer Tom Wells performing a solo show at the then newly reopened Wedgewood Rooms.

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With a full band the set of well-crafted songs take on a new life with glimpses of how this band will potentially go onto greater things in the future.

It’s JJ Summers’ debut gig, but there are no sign of nerves.

Formed last year, the enforced break from live shows meant that they could patiently develop their sound.

Drummer Jon Callender is literally a towering presence, providing the bedrock to the band, bassist Summer Sprake has the cool of Talking Heads’ Tina Weymouth, while vocalist Jim Harding guides the band through with enough light and shade to make the audience want to check them out on further dates.

Psyched Fest attract bands from all over the country and it’s a testament to promoter Nicki Allen and her formidable taste in music.

Making the six hour journey for their half-hour set are Manchester band Well Yeah.

I immediately spot a familiar face its Carolina Faruolo on lead guitar from garage/surf -rock combo Los Bitchos who played the Wine Vaults at a similar event a few years ago.

Thankfully they still retain the beguiling mix of twangy guitar lines, South American rhythms with added blokes and keyboards.

As the sun sets on the many people in Albert Road soaking up the last rays of the Indian summer I head up to the Wedgewood Rooms where the evening takes on a more electronica edge.

Brighton band PVA are just plain bonkers with a hint of Captain Beefheart to their disco beats, if that's at all possible to conjure up in your head.

The newly refurbished Edge Of Wedge played host to rap duo Deema from Sarf London who seem to melt under the new lighting system, but sweat it out to one of the best reactions of the day.

One of the most intriguing acts of the day was Baba Ali. Taking their cues from a broad palate, with nods to the Bristol trip-hop scene, the dark electro beats were very compelling. Worth checking out again.

And so to headliner Billy Nomates, promoter Nicki Allen was adamant to have a female performer at the head of the mast, and one couldn't think of a finer choice.

Like a hip-hop aerobic instructor she is utterly exhausting to watch with her boundless energy.

It’s a set full of insightful wit and observation – a joy to watch.

Sadly this is the last Portsmouth Psyched Fest , but once again proves the city has regained its appetite for live music, and looking at my diary for the next few months long may it continue.

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