Review: Oxford Gathering (20/10/2012)

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We arrived in Oxford at approximately 5pm and got out wristbands for this mini festival around various venues in Oxford. The music started at about 16:30 and various bands were playing throughout the evening and into the night at venues such as Cowley Road Methodist Church, The Bullingdon and the O2 Academy. Seeing as we couldn’t watch everything we decided to choose a select few that we wanted to see. First were a last minute addition to the bill in the form of Empty White Circles an Oxford based indie folk band. They were great! They played their last song completely unplugged in the middle of the small crowd, a very nice touch.

Cut Ribbons were next at The Bullingdon, an alternative quintet from Llanelli in Wales. They were very entertaining apart from not really being able to hear the vocals (this is more of a technical problem than a lack of talent). After watching their set we head over to the O2 Academy where the best music of the night would be taking place. We stayed in the downstairs area of the O2 and Clock Opera were the first band on. Having never heard any of their stuff before I was so impressed and will definitely be getting some of their music now. It’s a great feeling discovering a new band simply by their live performance. Their new single ‘The Lost Buoys’ was a personal favourite from their set. They finished on the track ‘Lesson No.7’ whose baseline really added another dimension to the song.

Next up were Bastille. They walked on stage to the Twin Peaks theme tune. I did feel a bit nerdy for recognising it but it was a great touch to their set. They opened with the fast-paced, insanely catchy ‘Icarus‘, the crowd sang along to every word, screaming “Icarus is flying too close to the sun.” back at frontman Dan Smith. In fact throughout the whole set Bastille added little touches that made this show different to any of theirs I have seen previously. For example the samplings of film clips before songs as heard on their ‘Other People’s Heartache’ EP. Despite Dan having a pretty lethal case of tonsillitis he put in 110% and I hardly noticed any flaws in his vocals. Big pat on the back (and a get well soon) to Dan. They played their latest single ‘Flaws‘ and the crowd literally erupted, almost each and every one of them wearing a skeleton mask. The track has always been, and always will be, a live favourite. ‘Bad Blood‘ caused another eruption and an inevitable sing-a-long. They finished on ‘Of The Night’ a cover that Bastille have now adopted as their own and is always a crowd pleaser. I definitely didn’t want their set to end, bring on another tour!

The festival headliners were Dry The River and I couldn’t have picked a better way to end my night. They opened with ‘Shield Your Eyes’ and set the bar for the rest of the night. Peter’s flawlessly beautiful vocals shine out as a definite talent, even when they are stand alone, I was captivated. They managed to get through the majority of their debut album Shallow Bed with every song ended as though it was their last; energetically prolonged endings where they would thrash their instruments until literally falling to the floor. It was potentially the loudest gig I’ve ever been to and Scott from the band said this was the best crowd they had ever had. So to end the night in the soft and gentle manner that is often seen on the album they decided to come down into the crowd and play ‘Shaker Hymns’ completely acoustic. It was a beautiful end to a wonderful evening of music.

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I’m Megan Downing, an English Literature graduate from University of Southampton. I am the Music, Arts and Culture Editor for The National Student. I am the Membership and Communications Officer for the Student Publication Association, I write about music for 7BitArcade, and contribute regularly to The Culture Trip. I have a passion for live music and this is where I began in student journalism. Reviewing a gig or festival is still where my heart lies four years on. I will be starting at MTV as a News Intern in June 2015. One thing you should know about me is that I have an unhealthy obsession with Kevin Spacey.

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