Positive Vibration Festival


This year’s Positive Vibration festival, located in the heart of one of Liverpool’s most vibrant music and arts areas, shows once again just how positively diverse and culturally adaptable the land of Scousers truly is. Featuring DJs and groups specialising in all things reggae – including adventures into dub, 2tone and ska – the family friendly atmosphere amidst slight urban dinginess is a fantastic achievement.

Usually at festivals you see one or two participants (probably hundreds if not thousands actually) venturing into activities firmly placed in the illegal category. This festival however, doesn’t feel like your usual piss up (and pill up) in the park. Well, it isn’t actually in a park for starters, but you get my drift. There isn’t an over-excited or drooling, half-conscious punter in sight, only a wide range of individuals merging together through good conversation and good music. Acts such as London based Dreadzone certainly sum up that latter observation perfectly.

Playing for what feels like 2 hours, this beast who boldly meld elements from many different musical styles such as trip hop and dub play an absolute blinder. Even though frontman MC Spee was bound to a chair – which I can only assume is down to a reggae related injury – he holds his crutches aloft with such vigour, alongside his invigorating vocal performance, that I find myself hopping up and down uncontrollably. I can’t remember the last time I felt 100% free of judgement and worry at a musical event. That’s what I discover during the entire festival to be honest, it’s the sort of environment which allows for individuality and freedom. Rather than an indie pageant of who’s got the thriftiest dungarees on.


Dreadzone’s set in District is the first I witnessed of the weekend and quite frankly it was the best. Playing tracks from their latest LP Dread Times – which I highly recommend – it is absolutely packed and from the crowd’s raucous reactions to various songs, which I hadn’t heard before, they’re clearly a legendary act which I need to brush up on quickly!

Amongst the many other artists and DJs such as Dub Pistols, Sinai Sound System, Redemption Sound, Roni Size and the legend that is Lee Scratch Perry, there is some fantastic international art. Whilst venturing to Constellations around 9:30pm on the second day – after immensely enjoying many different artists and talks – a wide selection of framed posters catch our eye. Rather than immediately indulge in alcohol and lose most if not all of my inhibitions, the gorgeous and sometimes socially graphic art draws me away from the bar successfully. I don’t even end up buying a bevvy for like an hour, which is rare.

After viewing this art, which is part of a competition Positive Vibration holds over the Friday and Saturday, I feel inspired to take in the music in a less inebriated manner; almost allowing myself to feel the music more purely. (I know that sounds cringe but bear with me please lad).

I’m often guilty of enjoying the liquids on offer at gigs via wallet denting transactions a little too much, sometimes focusing my night on the physical consumption rather than the musical consumption. It’s not big and it’s not clever, it’s certainly not professional either. By subsequently appreciating the set of Don Letts then on the quality of the music alone, which by the way was fucking stellar, it helped me have a much more enjoyable experience. Sadly, witnessing the former Big Audio Dynamite member’s set is one of the last actions for me over the weekend and I know this review seems a bit vague and bare but trust, I have an explanation. In a way I forgot I was reviewing it. And not in, I literally forgot I got the green light to cover it for Silent Radio, but more I felt less pressured or duty bound to follow every small detail to compose some “clever” little journalistic piece, which is so subjective that upon viewing it immediately renders itself useless; a splodge on a screen full of spelling mistakes and incorrect grammar. I didn’t feel it was necessary to capture every note, every song, every audience interaction, I genuinely feel it’s something you need to experience yourself.

The people who attend, the acts who perform and the staff who help run the bars, man the doors and yards and provide the sound all seem to be completely in love with reggae. A style of music I wasn’t at all knowledgeable in beforehand, this Positive Vibration festival visit has peaked my interest and I’ll certainly be attending next year’s event; I think you should too.

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Liverpool born music writer with passion for punk and Everton FC