Festival Review: Riverside Festival 2018, Glasgow

Along with most of the UK, Glasgow has been basking in glorious sunshine over the past few weeks. The locals, however, had been careful not to jinx the heatwave, in fear of dampening something very special that’s been on the horizon for Scotland’s dance music capital.

The sixth annual Riverside Festival, run by local promoters Electric Frog and Pressure, was the occasion, and the weather gods delivered the goods for the Glaswegian faithful. Over two stages, such esteemed party institutions as Ibiza’s Cocoon, local favourites Soma, and Jackmaster’s Mastermix brought together a cacophony of sound on the banks of the Clyde from the industry’s biggest and best names.

After having a blast at last year’s edition, we were lucky enough to be invited back this time ’round – here’s what RIOT made of RF18!

The festivities began with a more techno-oriented lineup on Saturday, with Paula Temple kicking things off with an uncompromising early dose of hard hitting kick drums and bass lines on the Soma stage. Those who stayed put were rewarded immediately after with a stellar live set from Lady Starlight, who’s meticulously layered build ups offered a bit of a breather for the early afternoon ravers, whilst still maintaining the uptempo foundations laid by Temple.

Next up came arguably the highlight of Saturday, in the form of the inimitable presence of Robert Hood. He blessed the growing masses by delivering his soulful, gospel-inspired brand of house – including his other alias Floorplan’s ‘Sun in the Sky’ and ‘We Magnify His Name’ – before building up to a pounding finish as evidenced by Clouds’ ‘Chained to a Dead Camel’. As evening approached and the Soma crowd reached fever pitch, Dax J upped the ante further with his industrial style, while on the other side of the striking museum designed by the late Zaha Hadid, Cocoon’s main stage also offered a rapturous finish.

Rødhåd was able to enjoy an extended set due to Dixon‘s delayed arrival at the festival – with the latter’s cool display impressing, despite the expectations that come from being repeatedly voted the world’s best DJ in Resident Advisor’s now-defunct polls. Saturday’s headliners saw two titans of the industry colliding, as Sven Väth and Len Faki split the crowds for one last time on the first day of RF18.

After a night’s rest, Sunday’s embarrassment of house riches enticed even bigger crowds Clydeside, with much to live up to after the previous day’s instalment. An early spectacle for those present north of the museum was Green Velvet, who showed off some of his own most recent productions like ‘Lazer Beams’ and ‘Voicemail’, before one of the most popular performances of the day from Fatima Yamaha over at the Mastermix stage. His live set exceeded expectations, with ‘What’s a Girl to Do’ being greeted with a unanimous singalong of that flighty melody, while the throbbing bass of ‘Araya’ proved a fitting end.

Then came the turn of Four Tet to step up to the decks, who delivered an openminded set that kept the crowd guessing in a way that local legends Optimo (Espacio) would have been proud of. So ensued a whirlwind journey that only he could pull off, with highlights including: ‘Planet’, Selena Gomez’s ‘Bad Liar’ (yes, really), ‘Lush’, a quick cross-genre expedition into jungle, ‘Patchwork’ by Demdike Stare, Daphni’s ‘Tin’, his own remix of ‘Opal’ by Bicep, and Tchami’s ‘Don’t Let Me Down’. Special mention goes to another of the spellbinding curveballs that Four Tet has thrown into his recent sets – ‘Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo’ as performed by Verna Felton in the original version of Cinderella.

Waiting in the wings to take the reins was Skream, who opened with a teasing accordion rendition of Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ mixed into a heavy remix of ‘This is America’ by Childish Gambino, setting the crowd alight early on. He later dropped sound of the summer in Krystal Klear’s ‘Neutron Dance’, which was naturally lapped up as Jackmaster watched on in preparation of closing his own Mastermix stage with a homecoming set once again.

A welcome complement to Jack came over at the main stage, as the other highly anticipated Sunday headliner Leftfield treated their fans to a spectacular live show – including old-school favourites like ‘Phat Planet’ and ‘Afrika Shox’, with special, trippy visuals tailored to accompany each track. Meanwhile, Jack’s set included ‘It’s Only Real’ by Denis Sulta in a nod to another of Glasgow’s prodigal sons, as well as close friend Peggy Gou’s ‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)’ alongside classics like ‘Crispy Bacon’ by Laurent Garnier and Davina’s ‘Don’t You Want It’. Jack bid farewell to his adoring crowd with a taste of the 80s and ‘Blue Monday’ by New Order leading into Human League’s ‘Together In Electric Dreams’ – and as darkness fell, so did the curtain on a hugely enjoyable Riverside Festival 2018.

Words by Jonno Mack

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Jonno Mack

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