The Electric Frog and Pressure Riverside Festival, 29-30/5/15

The Riverside romp returns: the ominous thump flooding the area and surrounding walkways with echoes of a more prosaic, but no less cultural, industrial past.

As a responsible adult *cough* I decline the chance to piss in the queue on the way in – almost certainly a knowing and wit-filled nod by the micturating fellows to the legendary piss-fest at this very venue in 2013 – and head for the bogs forthwith: and lo, it has come to pass… motions have been put in place and it’s thoroughly well catered for and really rather fine.

An unusual way to initialise an assessment of the festivities on offer, but after the open-sewer type mayhem of the first edition of debauchery round ‘ere it is really the only way to go… as it were.

Satisfaction gained, what lays before us?

A rattling good time it would seem: three stages (we shall ignore that bane of clubland – the paid for “VIP” area) of varying delights and drama.

Across two days we have artistes from Slam (of course) to Ricardo Villalobos to Mr Carl Craig to Magda to Nina Kraviz to… well, lots of ’em; lots.

If you can’t find something to wave your arse at you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong era; seriously, what’s the matter with ya?

It’s a thoroughly good natured affair, with the disco bunnies and required contingent of madmen (and ladies) in attendance: weaving through the tents around the range of grooves on offer the common thread is the crowd; a thoroughly bouncy lot; some of the security are even spotted swinging there hips along whilst trying to keep the appropriate level of stern-ness on their physog.

Putting all this on at the iconic Riverside Museum is delightfully incongruous and yet apt in its own way; the juxtaposition of the building itself and the kinetic artefacts inside against the seething mass of an entirely different type of movement and machine funk surrounding it this weekend is oddly serendipitous.

The days’ events starting at 4pm, before the museum even shuts, means of course that some rather startled looking older citizens with attendant grandchildren in tow left the inner confines, having prodded cars and trams and whatnot, to be met by the mechanical judders shaking the ground all around: a cunning plan perhaps… get the bouncing babies young; lock ’em to the needle on the record.

On that note we wondered what the slipway swans and family think of proceedings.

Hard to read a swan – other than the fact they’re all mad bastards obviously – but they didn’t look too perturbed paddling about beneath the chaos; a bewildering introduction to the world for the fluffy cygnets one might think, but there’s fluffy folk running about up here too… albeit with rather more enthusiasm and definitely more booze and fags.

Debate is broad as to highlights over the two days but Siriusmodeselektor gets an across the board nod; as does the aforementioned Nina Kraviz who delivers some satisfyingly tight and locked in grooves most particular to her.

Perhaps the main draw for many is Sven Vath on the Saturday: to these ears it’s impressive, but a touch too ‘big room’: it’s startling upon first arriving but actually works better when he calms down a bit; no doubt about it though, the tent is rammed and screaming for him; indeed I take myself dancing (not) naked in the rain around the periphery.

Ricardo Villalobos plays a better, more considered set – whilst still being appropriately insane for one of clubland’s great loons: it’s intense and as darkness falls the ramping up of tension (in the best possible sense) is palpable and electrifying.

If one is to be critical, the trend of large club crowds facing the DJ as if at a gig rather than dancing with each other continues apace: but hey, what ya gonna do?

Towards the end of the weekend ravechild is drawn to Ron Trent playing at the, perhaps slightly misnomered, but nonetheless rather more relaxed, Sunset Stage: and it is a delight; an entirely appropriate delight.

For Mr Trent has played a rather larger part than perhaps most people realise in this whole shebang existing in the first place: after making the truly extraordinary ‘Altered States’ in 1990 we watched as it became the equally huge Terrace Remix in 1992.

And that, arguably (not arguably), begat ‘Positive Education’; the record that truly launched Slam and Soma internationally and brings us here to the collusion of Pressure with Electric Frog in continuing the party; the party that seemingly and hopefully will never end.

It’s all quite emotional really and looking out down the rainy Clyde, as Ron delivers ever more beautiful tunes, the sparkling domestic lights stand in for their nightclub analogues and the remnants of the shipbuilding industry make their mark in much the same way as the high rises of Chicago did on those early iconic compilation album covers that brought this strange, alien music from across the Atlantic.

I’m reminded that Glasgow has been a House Nation right from the beginning: whatever kinship in DNA between here, Chicago and Detroit was, and is, immediately apparent.

‘Strings of Life’ plays in the drizzle and the wet vista and shiny people combine to form a rather perfect moment.

Words: Andrew Morrison
Photos: Joe Hart Photography


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