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Gathering Festival, Oxford.

I think I’ve had enough time to let the first Gathering Festival sink in, and I reckon it was a pretty good evening all in all. Similar to Portsmouth’s Southsea Fest, Gathering Festival saw musical acts take over venues up and down Oxford’s Cowley Road. And what a fantastic idea, not to mention the perfect opportunity to see Dry The River for the seventh time!

I had thought that it might have been an opportunity to see tiny bands in the earlier parts of the festival, which began at 4pm, but instead we opted for a wander into Oxford city centre before having Chinese and queuing up at the festival’s main venue, The O2 Academy to catch Clock Opera, Bastille and Dry The River.

I must be honest and say that I’d never heard of Clock Opera before seeing them, but I’m looking forward to seeing more. They were great and really knew how to get the crowd going, a brilliant start to the evening. I’ve got a lot of time for bands that know how to incorporate a cowbell.

Bastille were a big surprise for me, the crowd were absolutely mental, I think my current minor tinnitus might be down to the screaming girls in the crowd alone. Their performing style was a lot different to how I thought it would be, but I was mainly basing it on ‘Bad Blood’, they seem to me to be a lot more pop-punky than recordings would suggest. Very enjoyable though, and they won some serious points for their on-the-money cover of City High’s ‘What Would You Do?’.

Lastly, it was Dry The River, I was so pleased to see them again, after seeing them at Reading, they were great as usual and full of energy. It was the first time I’ve been at the front of a gig in ages and it was pretty good, but loud. The crowd were so loud in some parts the band were almost drowned out, probably one of the noisiest crowds I’ve ever heard which is crazy considering the size of the bands that were performing.

They played my standard favourites, with some songs complete with a brand new brass section, and ended the gig by getting in the crowd to play ‘Shaker Hymns’; a brave move considering how rowdy the crowd was. Sadly we were ‘on the wrong side’ in that sense, but it was okay because I’m privileged to have seen them at eye-level already and it’s a little awkward. I ended my time with Dry The River by high-fiving Scott, and nearly knocking a mans glasses off. *sorry.

We cashed in at the merch stand and picked up a sleeve for Dry The River’s acoustic copy of ‘Shallow Bed’ to be released in December, as well as their two beautiful limited edition screen print posters, can’t wait to get them framed and up on the wall.

We had hoped to get up to The O2 Academy 2 to catch Spector, but there was a silly ‘queue again’ policy so we missed out, I heard on Twitter that it was a sweatbox but they were amazing. It was drizzling, which was annoying as we had to rush back to the car to get me wrapped up so I wouldn’t fall back into flu again.

After the pitstop, it was over to the East Oxford Community Centre to see if we could see The Staves and then Lucy Rose – it was packed! With a one-in-one-out deal, we did manage to get in, but only into the entrance hall which meant a view through the door, so not worth it. We were advised to go down to The Bullingdon where The Other Tribe were playing but after the disappointment we decided to call it a night and head home.

All that aside, for a first try, Gathering was bloody brilliant, and maybe you could criticise a slight lack of organisation – unless you were very lucky – but for value for money and quality of acts you can’t fault it. It’s Gathering’s first year too, and I had a good time and am happy to go back so I’d say it was a success. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it will happen again next year.

I know there are quite a few photos here already, it’s purely because I’m crummy at ‘editing down’. There are a even more on Flickr, in their own set and everything and you can check them out here.

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