ROB da Bank is always a cheery chap, but this week he seems even happier than usual.

With just one day to go until the gates open to his Common People festival in Oxford’s South Park, he is quietly confident that we are in for the best yet.

“It looks like it’s going to be a great weekend,” he says as he joins his crew putting the finishing touches to the site.

“The site looks great. The main stage is up and the sound and light equipment is coming in. The field has dried up nicely, summer seems to be here and I am enjoying the view over the dreaming spires.

“It’s mad how a few people can come together and build a mini wonderland in a city centre park in just a few days.

“And this year’s seems to have come around really quickly.”

The Oxford Times:

More than 10,0000 people will descend on the park for each day of the weekend-long festival, which begins on Saturday morning. They will be treated to a rich line-up which puts many bigger events to shame.

Musically the bill is more diverse than ever, with a day of disco-themed fun on Saturday topped by The Jacksons and Prince’s former backing band, the New Power Generation, who will play in the shadow of the world’s largest disco ball which will be suspended over the park and the planet's largest bouncy castle!

Indie-rock band Ride will headline the Sunday line-up in a joint headline set with pop act James.

The Oxford Times:

Ride

Other acts include Morcheeba, Boney M, Aswad, The Cuban Brothers, Jungle Brothers, Hak Baker and Oxford’s Easter Island Statues on Saturday, and Maximo Park, Sparks, The Sherlocks, Honeyblood, Low Island, Cut Capers,

Chainska Brassika and Elvana – an Elvis-fronted Nirvana tribute band – on Sunday. Sunday will also feature a set by the London African Gospel Choir who will perform songs from Paul Simon’s Graceland.

A smaller carnival stage features General Levy, Craig Charles, Fred V & Grafix on Saturday and DJs from Oxford’s Simple club nights on the Sunday – including Heidi, Haai, Em Williams, James Weston, Ebenezer, Rodney P & Skitz.

Local bands will once again play the Uncommon Stage, hosted by Oxford’s music monthly Nightshift.

They include Deadbeat Apostles, Tiger Mendoza, The August List, Candy Says, Earinade, Laima Bite, Premier Leisure, Worry and Inner Peace Records on the Saturday, and Brickwork Lizards, the Great Western Tears, Drore, Msry, Lucy Leave, Haze, 31 Hours, Ghosts in the Photographs, Self Help and the Young Women’s Music Project on the Sunday.

Also returning will be Count Skylarkin’ and Peepshow Paddy’s popular Disco Shed – a DJ booth in a real garden shed – complete with hanging baskets and gnomes. Highlights will include a joint DJ set by the former owner of the city’s legendary Zodiac (now O2 Academy Oxford) Nick Moorbath and one of the club’s best-loved DJs Nelly B Page featuring some of their favourite Zodiac floor-fillers.

Vintage sounds come courtesy of Pig’s Big Ballroom, hosted by DJ and radio presenter Greg Butler of the Shellac Collective, who will be spinning a selection of his own gramophone records.

There will be a strong Oxford flavour to the festival, with local food and drink suppliers, a pop-up by the Great Oxfordshire Gin Festival, and entertainment by Oxford Playhouse Children’s Theatre Tent, The Story Museum, Pegasus Theatre and Cowley Road Carnival.

The Oxford Times:

“It’s a real celebration of Oxford,” says Rob.

“We have local bands, DJs, dance and theatre groups and food and drink.

“We are also blessed with a really fantastic site which is perfect for a festival.

“It is in the middle of the city, so people can go home to their beds at the end of each day, but it is surrounded by trees and feels like it’s in the country. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Rob is also responsible for the award-winning Bestival and Camp Bestival events in Dorset, and Common People is held concurrently with its sister festival in Southampton. However, Rob insists he has no plans to expand the festival or take it elsewhere.

“This is a well thought out plan and we are not thinking about starting any more,” he smiles.

“We are not rolling out some mad franchise. Oxford and Southampton are beautiful cities with a lot to offer and are perfect for these festivals, which have become landmark events in the summer season.”

With that huge bouncy castle, a Kids Garden, a gorilla circus, theatre spaces, inflatables, a have-a-go circus, tree climbing, dance workshops and a giant sandpit, the festival has made itself even more attractive to families with children. Rob says making Common People a family day out had always been his objective.

“This year we have gone for a much more family-friendly angle,” he says. “It has always been great for kids but we are doing more to keep it that way. We don’t want to rest on our laurels, though there is nowhere else you can do so much this bank holiday weekend for such a reasonably priced ticket.”

He adds: “Ticket sales are where we want them to be but it is a tough market out there, and every promoter knows that. It’s been a harsh winter and there’s lots of competition even without Glastonbury. Our line-up angle has changed and that also hasn’t been everybody’s cup of tea – though that’s not what Common People is about.”

He said more money had been spent on this year’s line-up than the previous two, which were headlined by Duran Duran and Primal Scream, and Pete Tong and Sean Paul, respectively.

“It’s going to be a fun weekend out for people of all ages. People can walk around and do whatever they like, but it still won’t feel over-run by kids and there is more than enough going on for everyone.”

“It’s a festival for Oxford – and a really brilliant weekend.”

  • Common People Oxford takes place in South Park on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets: oxford.commonpeople.net
  • Alternatively, get your ticket on the gate

The Oxford Times:

OXFORD COMMON PEOPLE - LINE UP

Saturday

The Common Stage

21.15 – 22.35 – The Jacksons

19.20 – 20.35 – New Power Generation

18.10 – 18.50 – Morcheeba

17.00-17.40 – Boney M

15.50 – 16.30 – Aswad

14.40 – 15.20 – The Cuban Brothers

13.40 – 14.20 - The Jungle Brothers

12.50 – 13.20 – Hak Baker

11.55 – 12.25 – Chainska Brassika

11.15 – 11.35 – Easter Island Statues

11.00 – 11.10 – Messy Jam Dance Company

The Uncommon Stage

21.45 – 22.45 - Deadbeat Apostles

20.15 – 21.00 – Inner Peace Records

19.00 – 19.45 – Tiger Mendoza

17.45 – 18.30 - The August List

16.30 – 17.15 – Candy Says

15-15 – 16.00 – Death of the Maiden

14.00 – 14.45 – Earinade

13.00 – 13.30 – Laima Bite

12.00 – 12.30 - Premium Leisure

11.00 – 11.30 – Worry

Carnival Soundsystem

21.30 – 22.45 – Fred V & Grafix

20.15 – 21.30 – Fineart

19.00 – 20.15 – DJ Yoda

18.00 – 19.00 – Burt Cope

17.15 – 18.00 – General Levy

16.00 – 17.15 – Back for Good

15.00 – 16.00 – Big Fish Little Fish

14.00 – 15.00 – Sir S*mbo Sound

13.00 – 14.00 – Drop Bomb Entertainment

12.00 – 13.00 – Natty Mark

11.00 – 12.00 – Light Roots Sound

Disco Shed

21.15 – 22.45 – Bam Bam Sound

19.45 – 21.15 – Count Skylarkin VS DJ Binge

18.15 – 19.45 – Del Gazeebo

17.00 – 18.15 – Euan Booth

15.45 – 17.00 – Tastes Like Chicken

14.00 – 15.00 – Disco Darrell Vs Steamin’ John Dash

13.00 – 14.00 – Soul Sessions

12.00 – 13.00 – Checkmate

11.00 – 12.00 – Lochie

Meet & Greets

11.00 – 18.00 – Peter Rabbit (throughout the day)

Pig’s Big Record Club

22.00 – 22.45 - Greg’s Greats 78s

21.00 – 22.00 – It’s a Wind Up

20.00 – 21.00 – Terry and Gerry

19.00 – 20.00 – DJ GG

18.00 – 19.00 – Vote Pedro

17.00 – 18.00 – Ms Chameleon’s Mechanical Melodies

16.00 – 17.00 – Tom Lumley

15.00 – 16.00 – Mick Howson’s 78s

14.00 – 15.00 – The Hooligans

13.15 – 14.00 – Brother Graham

12.30 – 13.15 – Li’ll Miss Lonesome

11.45 – 12.30 – Paul McCaffey

11.00 – 11.45 – Shellac Wake Up

Sunday

Common Stage

21.30 – 22.45 – James

19.35 – 20.50 – Ride

18.20 – 19.05 – Sparks

17.20 – 17.50 – Maximo Park

15.55 – 16.50 – London African Gospel Choir Presents Paul Simon’s Graceland

14.50 – 15.25 – Honeyblood

13.45 – 14.20 – Elvana

12.45 – 13.15 – Low Island

11.45 – 12.15 – Cut Capers

11.15 – 11.20 – Step2Dance

11.00-11.05 – Mini Professionals

Uncommon Stage

21.45 – 22.45 – Brickwork Lizards

20.15 – 21.00 – The Great Western Tears

19.00 – 19.45 - Drore

17.45 – 18.30 – Msry

16.30 – 17.15 – Lucy Leave

15.20 – 16.05 – Young Woman’s Music Project

14.10 – 14.55 – Haze

13.15 – 13.45 – 31Hours

12.20 – 12.50 – Ghosts in the Photographs

11.25 – 11.55 – Self Help

Carnival Soundsystem

21.30 – 22.45 – SIMPLE: Willow

20.15 – 21.30 – SIMPLE: Ross from Friends

19.15 – 20.15 – SIMPLE: Em Williams

18.15 – 19.15 – SIMPLE: James Weston

17.15 – 18.15 – Count Skylarkin’

16.15 – 17.15 – Big Fish Little Fish

15.15 – 16.15 – Rodney P & Skitz

14.00 – 15.15 – Craig Charles

13.00 – 14.00 – Danny Dread MSD

12.00 – 13.00 – Whit Magic

11.00 – 12.00 – Mr Clive White

Disco Shed

21.15 – 22.45 – Peepshow Paddy

19.45 – 21.15 – Kerry & K-Tel

18.15 – 19.45 – Bustmasta Barrydark

17.00 – 18.15 – TROL23 Vs Alex from Wigan

15.45 – 17.00 – Nick & Nell’s Zodiac Discotheque

13.30 – 15.00 – Dan Bossaphonik

12.15 – 13.30 – The Hip Drop W/Louche

11.00 – 12.15 – Thematics

Meet & Greets

11.00 – 18.00 – Paddington (throughout the day)

Pig’s Big Record Club

22.00 – 22.45 – The Shellac Roundabout

21.00 – 22.00 – Johnny Louche

20.00 – 21.00 – Flint Moore

19.00 – 20.00 – Neon Trotski and Tony Tunes

18.00 – 19.00 – Hip Bone Slim One Man Band

17.00 – 18.00 – DJ Reverend Turner

16.00 – 17.00 – Flashback Photograph

15.00 – 16.00 – DJ Henry Nurse 78s

14.00 – 15.00 – Paul McCaffrey

13.00 – 14.00 – Dr Damian Swings

12.00 – 13.00 – Tony Tunes Rockin’ Piano

11.00 – 12.00 – Shellac Wake Up