For the past few years, Southsea Fest has quietly been bubbling away as one of the places to see unknown and unsigned bands. Taking over venues, pubs, theatres and social clubs down Albert Road for one day in September, the independent festival has gone from strength to strength and continues to attract bigger names. 2011's event had the strongest lineup to date - with the likes of Pete And The Pirates, Trophy Wife, Dry The River and Ffionn Regan all making appearances. But the strongest bill had to be at the tiny Edge Of The Wedge, where Alcopop! Records and Big Scary Monsters had joined forces once again to create something truly special.

Jumping Ships opened the stage to a decent crowd, of people drinking at 2 in the afternoon, and delivered a perfect wake-up call, running through a mixture of older songs such as 'The Whole Truth' and 'Heart and Hope' as well as songs from the newly released brilliant 'Talisman' EP. It was loud, all four of the band members were drenched in sweat two songs in and they put on a real show full of enthusiasm, energy and the occasional rock star pose. In contrast to this glorious assault on your eardrums was the delicacy and sweetness of Katie Malco's songs that followed them. A replacement for Hymns, she played a very short set with just an acoustic guitar for company and battled resiliently against a very talkative crowd. Winning them over quickly, you could understand why Jack Pop has signed her, with the songs aired from her as-yet-unreleased EP (released in October) drawing from her influences, but never losing her own sound. My First Tooth were on next and as the venue started to fill close to capacity, they delivered a perfect dose of pop, and some supreme marketing skills. After people had clapped during a false ending, Sophie Galpin quickly mentioned they had albums for sale, "so make sure that doesn't happen again". Airing a brand new song that fitted seamlessly into their set, it seems the follow-up to 'Territories' will follow on from where that incredible album left off.

Due to their drummer suffering from tendonitis, Alan Welsh from Tangled Hair delivered a solo set, although the songs still shone through in this more sparse setting. The set was being 'sponsored' by Love It magazine, so between each song, bandmate Alex Lloyd would walk on stage to deliver one of the reader's tips from what is surely a fine publication. So not only was the music entertaining, we also learnt something - did you realise if you put a balloon on the aerial of your car, you won't lose it in a huge car park? There were more gems like that as well, but the set was over all too quickly. A break while The 405's very own Wil took to the decks for a good 45 minutes allowed Stagecoach to set up. Band members were in the crowd within seconds of their set starting and the crowd was in singalong mood to the likes of 'Ice Age', 'Axe Behind My Back' and 'Jonah Lomu'. Although it's probably fair to say the EOTW stage is not designed for a five-piece who like to jump around a bit, with all the band members looking on the verge of passing out at various points during their 40 minutes. Coming towards the end of a year full of festival appearances, they know how to work the crowds in different venues and the confidence gained from all these shows does shine through. Having mentioned the stage, it was no surprise to see two of Talons set up in the middle of the floor. Opening with an apology that they had to pull out of Southsea Fest the past two years, what followed more than made up for this as they put on a show of such intensity, that it was hard not to be swept up in what was almost an euphoric experience. The double violins crashing and colliding with the experimental noise from the rest of the band, and no respite as they played pretty much non-stop.

It's a hard job to follow on from something like that, but one band who will always be up to the task is The Xcerts. Last time they played a night that involved Alcopop!, it was at the Pav Tav in Brighton during this year's Great Escape. Sadly, the EOTW does not have any chandeliers, but the trio still went all out for it with their performance. The venue was now operating a 'one in, one out' policy and there were people bouncing around throughout the pub, even at the back, especially to those huge sounding songs from 'Scatterbrain'. The band asked for a request and of course, the obligatory huge singalong to 'Aberdeen 1987' followed, before the finale of 'Hurt With Me' saw huge numbers of crowdsurfers and even bigger smiles on everyone's faces. After a nightmare journey down from Birmingham that contained an unfortunate incident involving a pheasant and a van radiator, headliners Johnny Foreigner made it to Southsea in plenty of time for their set due to lifts from friends' parents, and they proceeded to go through their back catalogue with aplomb. Alexei Berrow mentioned how he thought it was amazing that the pub was full to capacity, while the NME-sponsored stage next door had loads of space. I think everyone in there knew they made the right choice. It was the new song, 'The Hand That Slaps You' that really struck a chord for me, possibly JoFo's angriest song yet, and one that really whets appetite for that new album in November. Before going crowdsurfing during a rare encore, Alexei also mentioned how proud he was to be part of the "family" of people who had curated such a stage. A love-in all round then, and Southsea Fest once again had proved to be a success.