SQUEEZED between the big guns of the summer festival season, Charlbury’s little Riverside Festival holds its own with an easy-going vibe and high quality line-up.

That organiser Andy Pickard and his team manage to stage a stellar event for free is testament to their energy and the level of support it enjoys on the Oxfordshire music scene – with bands heading out to its corner of the Cotswolds for little more than a can of cider and a pat on the back. The fact is, bands love being there as much as we do. Inevitably that means seeing a lot of the same bands year after year, but when they are of the calibre of Candy Says, Zurich and the Knights of Mentis that’s no bad thing.

Following the longest summer heatwave of recent years you’d have to be pretty unlucky to get rained on. But Riverside is also no stranger to bad weather, and a bit of rain was not enough to scare off its punters as Saturday’s fun proved. There were standout sets by Candy Says (showing off a darker, slightly harder-edged electro rock to the sugar-coated art pop of a few years ago) and Rainbow Reservoir – the duo of Angela Space and Ian Hargest sounding like a four-piece as they powered through a set of snarly pop-punk, Angela in faux fur and shades on drums, while Max dived around the stage like a drunken rock god with trousers full of bees, while wielding a shocking pink Flying V.

The Deadbeat Apostles were stunning, as ever, thrashing out super-tight boozy cowboy rock to make the heart soar, hips sway and feet move uncontrollably.

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Saturday’s headliners, local lads The Standard brought a different kind of party vibe, keeping punters dancing in the drizzle with a lively barrage of chart pop covers and fancy dance moves – not as good, though, as the small breakdancing child doing ‘the worm’ at the frontof the stage.

Saturday’s second stage saw sets by a mix of traditional rock and indie – Daisy, Modern Comforts and Oxford’s exciting Ghosts in the Photographs – and technical wizardry from Tiger Mendoza and the awesome Kid Kin. All excellent.

Surprises abounded on soundwomen Glenda Huish’s Fringe Stage – where we freaked out with Grateful Dead covers band Franklin’s Tower, were charmed by the wonderful Rose Segal and thrilled by virtuoso guitarist Seb James.

Sunday was, by all accounts, equally blessed with talent. Sadly the weather was even more unkind, and fewer got to see it. All the more reason, then, to go back next year and, hopefully, see them again. Maybe even in the sun.


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