Over the May bank holiday weekend, the producers of Bestival brought music, food, art and entertainment to the heart of Southampton city centre – Southampton Common – for Common People festival and it did not disappoint. I spent my weekend partying with everyone on the common, here’s how I found it.
Saturday 27th – Day One
3:30pm: Surprised at the lack of queues and crowds leading to the entrance of Common People, I arrived at the festival and the common had been transformed into a wonderland. ‘The World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle’ was brimming with children, people were enjoying the sunshine on giant beanbags and couches, and feel-good music was blaring from the Common Stage. There was certainly not a lack of food to taste as I walked around the park, with pizza, burger and paealla stalls, a duck wrap stall and most importantly – a mac’n’cheese stall (heaven). There was a bar located next to every stage so nobody missed any music while they were topping up on their dutch courage and the vintage funfair rides were constantly in use.
4:00pm: After grabbing half a pint of cider from the bar (spirits were £6.50!!) I made my way over to the Common Stage where The Voice contestant Becky Hill was getting the crowd into the party spirit with her arrangement of dance hits including Afterglow, False Alarm and Overdrive. Wearing a denim dress, Hill introduced some new singles which incorporated old-school garage sounds and proved that her voice is just as powerful live as it is in the studio.
4:40pm: Once Becky Hill had finished her set, I headed over to the Shisha tent where they charged £10 for a 40-minute slot. The staff offered me a menu with various flavours to choose from and offered to add vodka into the mix (result). Inside the tent, reggae music was being blasted and tiny cushions were provided for everyone to sit on.
6:20pm: After dancing around to 80s classics in the Uncommon tent, I was introduced to Happy Accidents, an indie-pop trio from London. Frontman Rich Mandell oozed charisma and had conversations with crowd members between songs. One track which stood out was Facts and Figures which Mandell described to be about “how the daily new cycle can be so tragic that we become immune and don’t take it in properly”. Their harmonies were excellent over the top of the heavy drums and bass riffs and their British heritage was consistently evident in their sound.
19:05pm: On the way to the loo I caught the end of Tom Odell’s set at the Common Stage, where he was building up suspense before pleasing the crowd with his 2013 hit Another Love. He showcased his multiple talents on the piano for his last song and got the crowd pumped in true Odell style.
19:35pm: House and dance hits were being played at the Common Stage to prep the crowd for electronica band Faithless. Whilst it was only Sister Bliss who performed the DJ set, she did not falter in getting the crowd bouncing to her house and electronica mixes before finally playing the bands biggest track Insomnia.
20:50pm: Back at the uncommon stage, female-led indie/psychedelic band Black Honey attracted more festival-goers than some of the previous bands and from their unique and unnerving stage presence, it was hard to see why. Frontwoman Izzy Baxter was feisty yet unsettling, and whilst the bands general sound was impressive, her vocals were squeaky and irritable. Although the set wasn’t great, one positive aspect of the band was their interactions with one another and the audience; the drummer and bassist were constantly making each other laugh and they all made direct eye contact with audience members. Baxter ordered the crowd to be silent at the end of the set to see “who’s really in it” and then performed what seemed like a ritual by making everyone bend down to the floor. Watching them was a unique experience, but not one I’d want to have again.
21:25pm: As the sun set over the common, Headliner Pete Tong did not disappoint alongside The Heritage Orchestra and Jules Buckley, playing Ibiza masterpieces from the likes of Fatboy Slim, Eric Prydz, Shapeshifters, Robert Miles, ATB, Moby, Frankie Knuckles & Inner City along with renditions of Disclosure’s Running remix and Daft Punk’s One More Time with the help of Ella Eyre. Tong ended the day on a high, bringing out Becky Hill for a rendition of You’ve Got The Love.
Sunday 28th – Day Two
4:00pm: At the Uncontained stage, My Nu Leng presented Goldie with his set of reggae remixes which brought a summer feel to the crowd despite the rainy weather, as well as soul and hip-hop classics such as a remix of Kelis’ Trick Me.
5:00pm: Bristol-born House DJ Redlight was next to be presented by My Nu Leng, getting everyone moving with his heavy basslines and break beats. Whilst his remixes of chart hits like You’ve Got The Love pleased the crowd, his own tracks Get Out My Head and Lost In Your Love had a much better reaction. Meanwhile, the Batala Samba Drummers were performing amongst festival-goers between the Uncontained stage and the bar so there was never a dull moment.
6:00pm: The mac’n’cheese stall was far too good for me to not go back to, so once I got that down me I headed back over to the Uncommon stage where pop-rock band Natives were due to play. Although their audience was relatively small, everyone was dancing to the bands lively sound and their stage presence was very engaging. The band made sure that every single crowd member was on their feet and moving, at one point asking everyone to pose for a photo and praising one girl for being the first to get on someone’s shoulders.
19:35pm: 80’s hits were once again played between sets in the Uncommon tent with people running in to dance and sing. Ghost-jazz trio Blaenavon were next to perform, and they did not hold back in their heaviness. As they played tracks Take Care and No One Else In Mind, the crowd moshed, the frontman head banged vigorously and their authentic look made them all the more appealing.
20:20pm: Another House and Tech set was being played over at the Common Stage, this time by long-running duo Groove Armada. They played remix after remix of 90’s classics, making sure that the beginning of the end the festival was uplifting and memorable. Yet another remix of You’ve Got the Love was played by the duo which, at this point, was becoming quite repetitive – but their final track Superstylin’ ensured that their set ended on a high.
21:45pm: In the run-up to Sean Paul’s well-anticipated performance, reggae classics were blasted through the speakers at the Common Stage, including a reggae remix of Katy Perry’s Chained to the Rhythm. Sean Paul’s performance was brimming with classics such as Baby Boy, Temperature and Got to Love You which of course got every single person moving and singing along. He consistently made sure the “sexy ladies” in the crowd were having a good time and ordered the crowd to show their mothers some love before performing Rockabye. As his set came to a close, the crowd dispersed and the lights went down, there was a huge buzz across the entire common and the night ended with everyone singing Oasis’ Wonderwall as we walked out of the gates.
Music has always brought people together and Common People was no exception – with its great atmosphere, excellent food and drink and ent
ertainment for all ages, it will certainly be on my calendar next year.