Southampton is a city inspired. It’s not quite a league one to premier league story retold but things are moving up. Something is happening on the south coast, and off the back of a successful Independent Venue Week campaign, I wanted to tell you about it. The city has seen recent success; local faces from popular club nights have breached the borders and taken their music far and wide. Isn’t it exciting to be able to look at a band, hear the first note and NOT be tempted to put a tenner on their story and inspirations? The music ‘scene’ here has detached itself from its box fringe, mod in a tin or Pop Punk past and inspired ‘indie’ bands of real credibility. Bands such as Wild Smiles who have developed from a shed project to touring Europe with Rough Trade’s latest signing, Benjamin Booker. They’ve ridden the wave of surf rock and distortion and have grown into something between your favourite grunge revivalists and the most infectious pop band you’ll see in black. Just black. Joining them in the darker depths, are Dolomite Minor. Picked up by Oasis management before they were allowed to pick up a pint and they’re now gracing Europe’s most prestigious festival stages. Behind them they’ve left a city stirred up. Local success’ paired with local promoters Psychedelia South bringing in the most exciting bands about to break has forced change.
Where The Joiners is loved far and wide and is an important mainstay for this city’s music, it’s Club Psychedelia that is inspiring local people, it’s the club nights which create the ‘scene’. Club Psychedelia, held at Lennons nightclub each weekend, is bringing this country’s buzziest of bands (Temples, Royal Blood, Superfood, The Wytches) to play to Southampton’s cream of the young. Followed by the rarity of an indie disco. It’s turning heads, opening ears and it’s inspiring the next wave of local bands. In a time where our independent venues are at threat and people want everything (and more) for free, it’s the club night that comes as our saviour. Bands WE as music fans NEED to hear can come to Southampton without the risk of not selling out a room, they can drink £2 rums on top of their riders, party until 3am, leave with a bunch of new fans and let’s not forget, leave a room full of newly inspired local bands. Bands such as FEVER who combine dirty guitars with unavoidable pop hooks and the most exciting set of pipes in the city. Debut single ‘Shell Shock’ attracted attention as far as Seattle’s world famous KEXP radio station and it’s only takes one listen to hear why. FEVER supported Wild Smiles at this year’s wave of IVW shows and that’s a relationship that goes further. After producing his own album (released with Sunday Best), Wild Smiles’ Chris Peden took on some production duties for the band. This introduces how close Southampton’s rising bands are, there’s a gang mentality forming. They can’t all rise to the top but nobody is afraid to give someone else a bunk up.
The city also boasts some young bands who are seeking their own left turn from more familiar sounds. Bands such as Kid Ackley and Bel Esprit who are dragging their college faithful to gigs. The city has seen transition, young music lovers of the past would’ve missed their new favourite band coming to town as there wasn’t an ear to the ground. Club Psychedelia has dragged people from their bedrooms, pushed skulls to the floorboards and they’re ready to listen. Regardless of scale, the city seems ready. From the arrival of Nottingham’s mouthiest buzz, Sleaford Mods at The Joiners, to the very first large scale festival in the city, ‘Common People’. The curators of Bestival have tossed together a line up which hints at a bit of everything. The festival has put out its feelers in every genre and brought some very exciting guitar bands with it. Band of Skulls and Slaves take Main Stage berths, whilst local talent dominates the ‘Uncommon stage’ with the additions of So Young favourites, Pale Seas (who are far too quiet at the moment for our liking), and the man who combines Billy Bragg’s balls with Frank Turner’s knack for a sing along, Sean McGowan. Residents, Wild Smiles, Fever, Dead Rabbits and Bel Esprit have also earned a place on the line up. As far as I see it, if you are willing to dig beneath the surface and see it, Southampton is an essential stop on the tour circuit, and with the introduction of The 1865 (Southampton’s new 500+ capacity venue) it’s now ready for anything.