Live review: Electric Frog and Pressure Riverside Festival, 24/8/13

DSC_0118“I lost two hours and part of my soul queuing” – so this month’s Electric Frog already had the challenge of embracing a brand new location and getting it right.

The first echoes from the crowds that stumble precariously out the exit at 11 that tonight suggest that the organisers may have got it right but perhaps not spot on, with hard to avoid glitches that may have affected morale a little but did little to dampen a stunning line-up fitting of the Frog’s impeccable taste for the out-and-out techno lover and their band of Glasgow followers.

Surfacing daringly on the banks of the river Clyde, the iconic Tall Ship towering over a mini festival arena bursting with energy, the event takes place on an overcast Saturday buzzing with potential.

With tickets £30 a pop and after parties across the city signalling a return to the bank machine – the day/night/morning need to pack a punch as the finale of various Electric Frog events over summer 2013.

With new venue comes new levels of organisation though, and despite an enticing line-up of expected favourites including Optimo, Slam and Josh Wink, there is also a few exciting newbies booked and raring to go such as the now London based Auntie Flo and Underground Resistance gracing a city that loves them with their most recent live performance Timeline.

So far so good – and they do not disappoint on the day.

Once you get past the queue for drinks tokens, or dodge the crowds to pick up a drink and pelt towards the music, the whole experience really takes off.

With three stages curling their way around from the main entrance to the ship, the production team have a lot to pull off and although the organisation isn’t without hiccups, the sets are immaculate.

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The idea represented by the man behind it all, Dave Clarke of Soma Records, is to make not only the whole event more intimate and selective than the big events held in Glasgow across the summer, but also to continue to attract the same individuals Electric Frog has always attracted – the feisty electronic music disciple.

Slam can be summed up quickly here – a sure fire crowd pleaser as always, where we’ve seen them previously on a subculture boat party down the Clyde or at the bottom of our winning basement – the Riverside let them loose in a festival environment much more alike to their performances in an over-packed tent at T in the Park or Rockness (ok, with a little less mud).

Len Faki, a regular on the Berlin scene, take it up a notch – and unlike the refined take on this genre that staples many of Berghain’s usual patrons, Faki in many ways takes it firmly back to basics, producing deep house that pounds resiliently across the crowds and throbbing techno thrillers with little concern about deafening your ear drums a little and getting your adrenaline pumping.

It’s safe to say that these two sets explode into your earlobes and turn you upside down if your intoxication hasn’t taken you there already.

If these acts haven’t consumed all your energy, there is much more to be seen as a different calibre of artists pieced the event together and gave it, quite importantly, some variation.

Underground Resistance have created much of a buzz throughout Glasgow and if you know your old school techno you will be fully aware of this Detroit outfit and the impact their Timeline project has had recently.

The crowd seem fully aware too, treated to a set infused with carefully synced keyboards, a trombone and a throbbing back beat.

Mad Mike Banks and his crew produce nothing short of legendary, fuelled by the very best of 90’s Detroit soul making it both a credible and hugely memorable performance.

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Live machine funk at its best and perhaps the highlight of the entire event if I’m being biased and searching for something clever and refreshing.

Hot on their heels is the ever-popular African-inspired duo Auntie Flo and ESA who flow onto the Optimo stage to politely suggest they were back in town for the night.

A recent move to London for Brian D’Souza has seen the Highlife scene jump to greener pastures out of sheer reputation and a sound that resonates with multiple walks of life and cities.

It’s nice to be back’, Brian confirms after blowing up the tent with his very own ‘Sun Ritual’ and reminding us that you can go to London and remember where you started – and remember who you’re playing to with loyal faces lining the front row.

Undeniably shaped by a crowd of individuals that associate with the music – creating a genre and an atmosphere quite separate from the rest of the event –it’s hard not to notice that this set is about a culture far beyond its Scottish base.

It also seems a lot about not giving a shit and dancing your socks off, pretending the Clyde is a Caribbean beach and accepting its transparency.

Jamie xx, is the man in black, cool and casual and mysterious as always – who tweaks and twists the decks to his own rumbling basslines and huge yet well-calculated drops that see the audience pace back and forth to a remixer certain in his ability to mesmerise with no gimmicks.

From this performance it’s clear Smith is still one half of nominal indie act The XX, re-creating the moody, hypnotic dancefloor thrillers that underpin the group’s fan-base.

The difference with Jamie is that this is first and foremost a solo venture – a solo DJ set that associates with a deep careful brand of house without forgetting to get the Frog fanatics dancing (not swaying).

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And that’s what really stands out from his time on stage at the Riverside.

Boys Noize, one of the most popular names on the bill (so maybe with less to prove?), still put every inch of blinding effort into their closing performance on the main stage.

Sending the night off with a bang, German born Ridha bounces with the crowd as the electronic favourite shove track after track in your face in the spirit of the Frog’s reputation for a hard-hitting send off to a fast-paced, exhilarating day of underground music.

As the man the majority of ticket holders had come to see, Boys Noize makes sure every last oily electro number gets played, with several tracks from his latest album Out of the Black seeing a frenzy of heads and limbs climb the walls in genuine ‘XTC’ –staying true to the robotic vocals and infectious synth that comes back time and time again to tug at the heart strings of an audience who clearly came here for the genre of techno that they originally fell in love with – techno from the good ol’ days where Electric Frog started four years back that has stood the test of time in its very own right.

So next time – less token queues, toilet queues and collapsing booze tents – perhaps even less numbers so you can run to the next stage without being trampled by a stampede of eager fleeing folk.

This time – good effort – close with lots of cigar; if you were there for the music, you didn’t come away disappointed; and wherever you ended up Sunday morning it certainly wasn’t in bed snoring into your pillow with a clear head.

More photos

Words: Martha Sharladow
Photos: Lucy Sharladow

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