Did you go to SMILEfest this year? If you didn’t, you should have done. Check out who was there this year…


SMILEfest 2013 is now official over, leaving behind memories of fantastic live music and guest speakers, concluding with the SMILEfest Big Gig at the Southampton’s Guildhall featuring Reverend & the Makers.

So this is what it had all been leading up to, the SMILEfest Big Gig at the Southampton Guildhall. Doors opened at 6 to ensure there was enough time for all five acts to play the huge event.

First on the Guildhall stage was Solent Sound Music Festival Battle of the Band winners The Arrivals from Portsmouth. The band looked entirely comfortable up on the stage and didn’t seem daunted by the crowd at all. The band sound consists of indie rock with obvious influences coming from the Arctic Monkeys and even one of tonight’s support acts Little Comets.

Next up were Southampton Solent band Skymarshal chosen from a range demos submitted by students to the university. The band looked at home on the huge stage and their energetic performance ensured that all the free space was utilised. They played their own brand of radio friendly hard rock and proved that all their hard work is completely worth it. Their live show was even better on the Guildhall stage and they seemed to feed off of the audience’s positive reception.

Local singer-songwriter Seán McGowan was next to the stage, a huge moment for him and the first time he had played the venue. He opted for less chatting in-between songs in order to get through his set, a decision which appeared to go down well with the audience, many of whom were singing along to the lad’s inspirational lyrics. Dubbing his music as the ‘people’s music’ seems to be the most accurate description as the people tonight loved him.

Indie pop rockers Little Comets were next up and had the audience moving and jumping within in seconds. The much anticipated support act played through a mix of classics and songs straight off the new album however it was big hit ‘Dancing Song’ that really got the audience moving. It was a great show and a great chance to see them before they embark on their own headline tour.

Finally it was time for the headline act, Reverend and the Makers straight down from Sheffield for a one-off gig. This was the act everyone had been waiting for and the audience went wild as they took to the stage. Frontman, Jon McClure’s banter went down a storm with the audience in-between each song and truly had them all eating out of his hands. This was the most energetic the audience had been all evening and it was apparent that both the fans and the band were enjoying the performance just as much as each other. Even after the main performance the night was not over as Jon raced out of the Guildhall with fans trailing behind him as he performed a few more acoustic tracks in front of the newly formed crowd. Overall it was a fantastic evening and an incredible end to Solent SMILEfest 2013.

Other highlights of the week included The New Riot opening the festival with their ska-punk style. Brighton based quintet Written in Waters headlined UNIT on the Tuesday playing their genre defying rick/pop style. The annual conference day took place with the likes of Andy Copping and Steve Strange gracing the stage to enlighten everyone with their musical knowledge.

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Man and guitar smilefest

Jon McClure – Playing in the Guildhall square.

purple stage smilefest

Little Comets

lumberjack shirt stage

Sean McGowan

black coat stage

Reverend & The Makers

The Verse Staff

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