Dave Clarke: 'Programming Riverside is a game of Fantasy Football, you name who you want and see who you can get'
Slam Events promoter brings Sven Vath, Alan Fitzpatrick, Nina Kraviz, Derrick Carter, Loco Dice, Paula Temple and Scuba to the Glasgow Riverside festival
With T in the Park taking a break this year, there will be a couple of vacancies going – one of which is the opening for 'the new Slam Tent', the festival's legendary dance stage. 'We've been doing the Slam Tent for 19 years, so 20 actual events, and this year was going to be the 20th anniversary,' says promoter Dave Clarke, who runs Slam Events on behalf of the Glasgow production duo who gave the company its name. Slam Events are also partners with Electric Frog in what's (with strong competition, particularly from Nightvision's new Terminal V event in April at Ingliston) got a good claim on being the Slam Tent's spiritual replacement for 2017 – the Riverside Festival in Glasgow, now well into its stride since setting up in 2013.
With a track record of selling out both of its substantial 5000-capacity days, the Riverside this year plays host to another excellent lineup of artists new and old, young and established. With more than 70 percent of customers choosing one day or the other, Clarke says he's keen to give each day a different feel. 'The Saturday has a more techno flavour, more akin to what (Slam's club night) Pressure is well-known for, with Sven Vath, Alan Fitzpatrick and Nina Kraviz on the bill. Sunday is more house music-based, with Derrick Carter, Loco Dice, and we've also asked Jackmaster to curate his own stage, with artists like Hunee and Mr G. Also Scuba is joining the bill, doing a back-to-back with George Fitzgerald. These kind of performances which people haven't seen before are always good for a festival.
'A lot of the acts we work with at Riverside are newer acts, because we try to introduce something different,' he continues. 'Detroit Swindle is a Dutch guy with a very big soul and disco influence. Paula Temple describes herself as a "noisician", I really want to check out what she's doing. On Sunday, somebody who really blew the roof off the Slam Tent recently is Art Department, he's not such a regular performer in Glasgow.' Surgeon, Levon Vincent, Glasgow's own Jasper James and Slam themselves are all there too.
'Pretty much the point of the Riverside Festival was to do something like the Slam Tent but closer to home,' says Clarke. 'Musically, the way we programme both is very similar, although Riverside's in a completely different setting, an open air festival in the city. Much like the T in the Park main stage, we're at the mercy of the elements, but we've been quite lucky so far.' The way he has it, the Riverside is both a breeze and a nightmare; the former because its unique setting on the Clyde outside the Riverside Museum has found willing supporters in the property's owners Glasgow Life, the police and the emergency services, but the latter in that he has to try and bring the kind of lineup which people will travel to Glasgow for on the busiest bank holiday of the year.
'Programming Riverside is a game of Fantasy Football, you name who you want and see who you can get,' says Clarke, 'but with bank holiday parties in England, Europe and Detroit, and opening parties in Ibiza, it's a real headache trying to book acts on this weekend. You can't always entice people through financial means, it's often about using a bit of charm – "how much do you love the Scottish crowd", you know? But it's the start of the summer, people are off work on the Monday, and we have a festival which is in a beautiful spot down by the Clyde, where the city was built from.'
Riverside Festival, Riverside Museum, Glasgow, Sat 27 & Sun 28 May.