Live Review: Riverside Festival, Glasgow, Sat 25 & Sun 26 May
- Sean Greenhorn
- 28 May 2019
Despite the weather, Glasgow's premier electronic music festival shines, with sets from Denis Sulta, Jon Hopkins, Jeff Mills, Todd Terje and more
Riverside Festival has become Scotland's premier electronic festival. Located on the grounds of Glasgow's Riverside Museum, the festival transforms the usually family-friendly space into a secluded site of debauchery for the bank holiday weekend. The crowd skews young for the most part, picking up some of the mantle from T in the Park's infamous Slam Tent, although there is still a healthy showing for older electronic music fans, keen to check out the world-class talent on show. The festival makes good use of the limited space, with two stages on either side of the museum, using the building for soundproofing. A third stage has been erected this year, in what is termed 'The Docklands', although the distance from the rest of the site means it suffers a bit from the main party atmosphere.
Year-on-year the festival impresses with its bookings, and 2019 is no different. Many of the stages are curated by Glasgow bookers, or the talent themselves, with Denis Sulta and La Cheetah club each programming on the Saturday and Feel My Bicep and Maximum Pressure looking after the Sunday.
On a sadly damp Saturday, Todd Terje stands out with his typically eccentric take on all things disco and soul, dropping a few of his own glistening tracks into the mix. The rest of the day offers more techno and house with acts such as Mella Dee or Detroit's legendary producer Omar S, whilst FJAAK plays an entrancing live set on the mainstage, with crackling beats pulsing seamlessly. Headliner Denis Sulta is rapturously received, and plays a fluid set worthy of his mainstage Saturday night slot.
On Sunday, things are off to a better start weather-wise, although Saturday's rain is replaced by a bitingly cold wind. In the early evening, Daphni plays a set with Hunee, jubilantly mixing disco with funk and house classics to an ecstatic response. Âme and RØDHÅD take to the second stage, mostly foregoing the former's glitchy soundscapes for the latter's deep techno. Headliner Jon Hopkins is met with a dwindling crowd, who either forego his heady electronica for Jeff Mills' thunderous techno or depart the festival altogether for a warmer afterparty. It is a shame, as Hopkins delivers a truly great live set, culled mainly from his revered albums Immunity and last year's Singularity. His set is accompanied by dazzling visuals and hypnotic dancers, making for a memorable finish to the weekend.
Overall, Riverside Festival shines with regards to tech set-up and organisation, both of which were really put to the test with this weekend's weather. At some points, when the party is in full swing, it feels almost like the audience could be revelling to anything. However, when things click, such as during Berlin duo FJAAK's pulverising set on the Saturday, or Hopkins' glistening closing party on the Sunday, Glasgow's appreciation of this scene becomes clear. Riverside Festival has come a long way since its spottier early days, and if it continues to expand, it has the potential to become a big player on the international stage of electronic music, matching world-class talent with the shining lights of tomorrow.