Riverside Festival, 26-27/5/18

The river glitters and so do the arses on this most spectacular weekend in Glasgow: early summer sun competes with remarkable sparkling butts, freshly decorated at the onsite stall.

While it may not appeal to Rave Child on the ground, the young folk being basted in pounding house and techno all weekend are not so abashed; the arse-adornment stand does a roaring trade at the weekend-long shindig.

It may not be the industry celebrated within the Transport Museum or, for that matter, what this area of Glasgow is historically famed for but making yourself look like an explosion in a tinsel factory is quite the hit.

This must go down as the most successful Riverside Festival to date: there’s no point pretending, the weather doesmake a difference and it plays a blinder; gallons of sunblock instead of gallons of rain across the whole 48 hours.

The perennial bemusement as to how Electric Frog and Pressure are allowed to take over this fantastic location continues; indeed, not only are there thousands of frothing loons running about outside, they’ve only gone and let them into the museum as well.

In amongst hulking great steam trains, trams and Dickensian street scenes, a solid sound system thumps away noisily: a marvellous addition though the non-plussed staff look a little taken aback by the revellers, to say nothing of the stuffed and distinctly unimpressed-looking stuffed otter scowling down from above.

Outside across three stages, Riverside delivers serious material in 2018: a particular coup is getting Leftfield in to play live – “My God, this sounds like the end of the world“, says a reveller within earshot as they rumble on with what must be the loudest set of the whole weekend.

Another heavyweight catch is Robert Hood who delivers an utterly beautiful couple of hours by the Tall Ship as the sun descends on Saturday: to warm appreciation from a lurking Slam waiting to come on afterwards, he drops a hefty smattering of gospel and soulful vibes alongside the powerful 4/4; a Sounds of Blacknessvocal filters in through the pure Detroit vibes and, though not religious in any way, it’s hard not to be affected by the spiritual angle he takes in a quite wonderful setting; brilliant stuff.

Watching the Easyjet planes swooping down the Clyde and surrounded by a wriggling party crowd with (creosote colour #9) fake tan on and alarmingly aggressive eyebrows, the whole shebang has a touch of the Ibiza about it – in a good way: as the still futuristic-sounding ‘French Kiss’ is dropped, the throng is entirely nuts but the vibe is equally entirely positive and shiny.

There’s a markedly younger crowd this year, particularly on Sunday, possibly due to LCD Soundsystemplaying within a well-launched haddock at SWG3 around the corner – kudos to the authorities and ever cheerful police dealing with both large events and loved-up punters firing in for a hug.

Not a jot of trouble is spotted and a sort of collective delirium infests the whole postcode: the odd punter resembles a walking shower curtain in a Lady Gagakind of way but it seems entirely appropriate: the madness of crowds.

There really is the broadest of dance music offerings across the various stages: You want Sister Sledge’s ‘Lost In Music’with a gin and tonic by the waterside? You got it.

You want Rødhåd battering the shit out your ears with uncompromising but groovy techno from the main stage? All yours.

To quote somebody else, if you can’t find something to enjoy here, it’s your fault, not theirs.

We particularly enjoy a second set by Slam on Sunday: functional and hard and actually surpasses Richie Hawtin who precedes: we loll about on the sandy beach – some stuff chucked out the temporary pit presumably – and imagine we’re at some far-flung location…the crowd, needlessly to say, go mental.

Other highlights are a live set of clipped excellence by Lady Starlight – rocking the techno milkmaid look: Skream dropping the Gat Decortrack ‘Passion’ to near total delirium – luckily no one hops into the river with glee – and, perhaps greatest of all, Four Tet.

Four Tet lays out a set that is all over the place musically, but, with its chimes, faded then thunderous bass, pitter-patter drums….then frankly frightening beats…it’s just astonishing.

Kieran Hebden (for it is he) manages to get everyone from disco bunnies to tops offloons waggling their toes and dancing without being in the least compromising; or even particularly accessible.

It’s musical, it’s groovy, it’s tough as you like; perfect and the highlight of the weekend by an astonishing talent.

As we stagger towards the latter stages on Sunday, some barriers are erected to control the progressively more mental crowd as Jackmaster closes the festival around the back…and it soon becomes apparent why.

Hometown boy and hometown hero, the crowd swarm in and steam drifts off the sweaty mob: it may be crowd-pleasing, it isunashamedly party-stuff but, my is it good.

The stage looks like a crowded club itself let alone the swarm of punters below and the barriers are jumped as colossal records like ‘Age of Love’ are banged out: a fitting and barely-controlled end to a weekend of mounting mayhem: he is shoved off the decks as the plugs are pulled at 11pm on the dot.

This annual hoo-ha really does go from strength to strength: impossible always to run through all the artists but this year’s bill is the strongest yet.

We even forgive the absence of the scowling slipway swans this year: an annual presence stoically refusing to move even whilst their feathers are rattled by sub-bass, they are nowhere to be seen; we can only hope they’ve bowed to (temporary) defeat and taken the kids away for the weekend.

We froth out into the humid night with much more than a spring in our step: the departing headcases bounce around in the unseasonal warmth in shorts, t-shirts…and still just aboutglittery elbows and ears.

This may not be quite what Zaha Hadid intended when she designed the transport museum but one would hope she would appreciate a small but appropriate piece of mirroring: inside the glorious wavy building is a collection of venerable old bicycles called ‘Flying Scots’…outside there are thousands of the buggers…

More Photos

Words: Vosne Malconsorts
Photos:  Stewart Fullerton


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