Winter is the gloomiest time of the year for festival lovers. I know: you can’t wait to take a break from deadlines and enjoy a pint whilst listening to several bands, but Mutiny is four months away. The Isle of Wight Festival won’t be until the end of June and— worse!—there are still seven months to go before Victorious.
Well, fear not! There’s an indoor music event coming to Southsea very soon to break the ice of the local festival season. It’s probably not a coincidence therefore that the South’s largest unsigned metropolitan festival is called the Icebreaker.
The idea came in 2014, with a music event aimed to allow local artists to perform in front of larger crowds, and it was fully developed into a festival the following year. The first Icebreaker in 2015 offered 74 acts, performing throughout the whole day across six venues in Southsea. Now, at its fourth edition, it has doubled in size: 152 bands will perform on thirteen different stages on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd February.
“You’ll be able to jump from acoustic to metal, from folk to grunge, rock, pop and much more.”
The tickets come with a wristband that allows you in every single venue, and they are great value for money: £8 for Friday evening, £12 for Saturday all day, or £15 for both. The thirteen stages follow a path that must sound familiar to all pub-crawlers in Portsmouth and Southsea: they go from the Honest Politician in Elm Grove all the way to the Wedgewood Rooms in Albert Road. In between the two far ends, the other venues are the Deco, the One Eyed Dog, the Fat Fox, the Atrium, Little Johnny Russells, the Loft (above the Kings pub), two stages at the Wine Vaults, Acapulco (previously known as Al Burrito), the Royal Albert and the Edge of the Wedge.
The best feature of the Icebreaker Festival is the large variety of music genres that you can experience. You’ll be able to jump from acoustic to metal, from folk to grunge, rock, pop and much more. The different size of the venues will also allow you to choose from the most intimate ones to the largest stages. There is definitely enough to please everyone. Bands and solo artists are mainly from Portsmouth, but also from the rest of Hampshire and its surroundings. You might recognise a few from local open mic sessions, events and gigs in other cities, too.
For example, the Deco will begin their Saturday lineup with the winners of the Wedgewood Rooms Unsigned Showcase 2017 (Grief Daddy). The two headliners at the Wedgewood Rooms are the band Is Bliss, who toured around Europe last year, and Richard Morris, who won the 2017 Unsigned Music Awards in the category ‘Best unsigned male’.
Another silver lining that the Icebreaker Festival has been bringing for the past few winters is more business for local pubs and venues. January and early February are usually a nightmare for whoever works in hospitality; since the weather is often miserable and people have already spent so much money over Christmas, fewer potential customers go out. So, having two days of live music and festival goers is an enormous benefit for independent businesses.
But the most important thing is still the local artists, local bands and local talents. Let’s support them! Ready to break the ice and warm up for a year filled with music events?