Common People is the latest addition to England’s festival season and the next in the growing trend of urban festivals. Run by the team behind Bestival and Camp Bestival, Rob da Bank and the gang have ditched the tents and wellies for a weekend and instead created a two-day festival in the heart of Southampton.
With tickets still being sold on the door, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Common People, but this was a festival that blew me away. The Common has been totally transformed into a proper arena, with flags and tipis galore, a school bus that had been adorned with Dia de los Muertos skulls and was serving cocktails and a tent where you could go ‘yarn bombing’. There was a huge focus on families, with activities for people of all ages, but this focus didn’t deter the thousands of students in Southampton who turned up with force.
The line-up was one of the most varied this festival season. The Saturday started with 90s fitness instructor, Mr Motivator, over on the main stage and closing with the legendary Fatboy Slim. Motivator drew a huge crowd in with his early afternoon set getting everybody involved in his fitness routine (and managed to keep everybody on their feet for a solid 40 minutes). He was followed by local boys The Novatones, who put on a slick set, which was made even more impressive as drummer Sean Swift played the entire thing with a broken wrist. Oozing with brit-pop and ample riffs, they drew in a huge crowd.
The eclectic Plastic Mermaids followed them, having hopped on a ferry from the Isle of Wight to be here. Draped in the most eccentric outfits of the day, the five-piece put on a killer set, with band members swapping between instruments intermittently and a set of songs that are just waiting to be fully orchestrated.
George the Poet took to the main stage to an incredible reception with his inspiring lyrics and captivating performance. Over in the Big Top there was a stellar array of DJs, with standout sets from Dusky and Jeremy Underground drawing in the crowds. Back on the Main Stage, DJ Yoda and De La Soul turned the main stage into a fully blown dance party, with De La Soul even insisting that the photographers put their cameras down and join the revelry.
Headliner Fatboy Slim pulled out all the stops in his performance; with a live choir performing a the beginning and end of the set, a grand piano being wheeled out for the finale of ‘Praise You’, a vibrant light show and zany visuals being projected behind him throughout. Astoundingly, the energy didn’t dip throughout, and was topped off by an impressive firework display, which rounded off day one at the festival.
With such a diverse line-up, the Saturday of Common People could have easily tripped up, but it stormed its way to what could become a regular slot in the festival season calendar. Team Da Bank have done it again and created another hit.