Rippling out from the big splash that Bestival has made on the festival-going public over the last 12 years, Common People began in 2014 in attempt to bring the same all-encompassing spirit to a new location in the heart of Southampton. Off the back of a successful first campaign, the metropolitan festival returns again this May, this time branching out to add Oxford to the rota. Curated by BBC Radio 6’s Rob da Bank, the festival has a broad-ranging list of artists and events intended to appeal to people of all ages, all with the noble hope of bringing a community together with an accessible, compact and affordable city party. Returning to Southampton Common as well as a new location in Oxford’s South Park, Common People will run this coming weekend, on the 28th and 29th of May.
By all accounts, last year’s event was a huge success, the Southampton city-centre transformed into a surprisingly huge festival with a vast main stage, ample attractions for children and adults alike, and a variety of high-quality food and drink stalls to supply the weekend’s vital fuel. Following much the same recipe that has made Bestival one of the country’s most cherished summer events, Common People is blessed with an abundance of selling points, and not least an eclectic bookings policy that boasts the likes of Public Enemy, Primal Scream and Craig David’s TS5 as headliners on a stage which will also be set for Rotherham’s finest pairing, The Chuckle Brothers. Organiser and former Southampton resident Rob da Bank wants the festival to provide for people of all walks of life, and diversity is certainly one thing that Common People will not be lacking. Katy B and Duran Duran headline the Sunday in Soton, assisted by The Cuban Brothers, Chas & Dave, Mr Motivator and others, with lineups more or less reversed for the Oxford edition, the few changes between the two including an outing for Soul II Soul at South Park.
As should be expected from a DJ known for discovering new talent, Rob da Bank has also invited upcoming local artists to perform, with four additional stages in Oxford and three in Southampton providing plenty of space for less established names. Local businesses are also recruited to operate all other elements of festival life, with street food aplenty, bars galore and more activities than even the most energetic families could tear through in a single weekend. Both of the cities also boast a stunning location, with the beautiful grounds and over-city views of South Park mirroring the natural beauty of Southampton Common’s 326 acres of woodland, wetland, parks and lakes.
For many, the trip to Isle of Wight for Bestival is a highlight in the year’s calendar, but for those looking for a similar festival experience with no sleeping in ragged tents, no wading around in muddy wellies and a whole lot less travelling, Common People could be the perfect way to spend a weekend in May.
Words by Andrew Kemp
Photos courtesy of Common People