Southampton: Music's Next Big Thing?

For years the world’s biggest music acts have passed by Southampton- is the tide about to turn? A cursory glance at the most popular UK tours on Ticketmaster and Live […]


For years the world’s biggest music acts have passed by Southampton- is the tide about to turn?

A cursory glance at the most popular UK tours on Ticketmaster and Live Nation will show you that the big acts just aren’t interested in Southampton.

Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons, Foo Fighters, John Legend, Nicki Minaj and even childhood throwbacks McBusted are just a few of the acts who are avoiding us on their tours this year.

Southampton's O2 Guildhall looking dramatic

Southampton’s O2 Guildhall looking dramatic

So why does Southampton struggle to attract the big names?

Location. While Southampton is easily accessed by road, air and even sea, its position at the foot of the UK means that it’s too out of the way for the big acts to work into their tours.

Lack of cultural and musical history. Compare Southampton’s cultural reputation to the likes of Portsmouth and Brighton. We are very much a dull, shipping city in comparison.

Southampton doesn’t exactly have a reputation for producing great musicians either (although we can boast Craig David and the drummer from Coldplay. Go us).

Lack of a big venue. Southampton boasts several small music venues, such as the Joiner’s Arms and the Talking Heads. While these are great for smaller acts, they can’t attract big names.

The O2 Guildhall, our biggest venue, can only hold 1,500 people. Compare that to Nottingham’s Capital FM Arena (10,000) or Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena (13,000); we just can’t compete.

But all is not lost. There are reasons to be hopeful that Southampton may be undergoing a musical renaissance.

Towards the end of May, Southampton will play host to the Common People festival, a Bestival ‘satellite’ which is bringing us Fatboy Slim, Clean Bandit and more.

Could sights like this become more common in Southampton?

Could sights like this become more common in Southampton?

In a recent interview for the Tab, Bestival founder Rob Da Bank told us he’s optimistic about the future of Southampton’s music scene:

I’m really encouraged by what’s happening in Southampton and Portsmouth and the whole south coast at the moment. Between the Isle of Wight, Southampton and Portsmouth, we’re creating quite a cool triangle of bands, festivals and things for people to do that weren’t there before”.

This is promising stuff for an area overlooked by acts for years.

Rob Da Bank, champion on Southampton?

Rob Da Bank, local boy and music mogul

Warehouse and Switch are also contributing to Southampton’s resurgence. They’ve drawn in big names such as Annie Mac, Hannah Wants and Chase and Status.

They’re not stopping there; the Soundclash Festival at the start of May is another new creation which is helping to put Southampton on the map.

Southampton has potential. It has a growing student population, and the backing of people such as Rob da Bank and Ryan Keary.

Soundclash and Common People are just the beginning, and the addition of a large-capacity venue really could make Southampton a musical powerhouse in the future.

Do you think Southampton has what it takes to become a big music destination? Let us know in the comments.