Being on-site in South Parks from the start meant DI could appreciate the plethora of food stalls, stages, disco sheds and family activities on offer. But we needed two more elements – weather and people. They were (respectively) glorious and super-numerous: half of Oxford’s population, at my count. You were all dazzlingly attired, Oxford – from those wearing novelty animal tails to the glitterbearded gents, you were only outclassed by one woman staging her hen party here in full bridal regalia.
2. The Selecter
Many eras and genres being represented, it was ska survivors The Selecter that got our Saturday crowd bouncing. Their mix of effervescent rhythm and social consciousness is as potent as ever - Pauline Black has increased in regality, and 'Gaps' Hendrickson reading a roll-call of slain black youths was a sobering moment.
3. St Etienne
The acts just kept bringing the ‘classy’ – who else but dance-pop legends St. Etienne could boast silver jackets, feather boas (at 22?), a cellist and a Green Party candidate on guitar? The fabulous Sarah Cracknell and crew are also popping instore to Truck this weekend…
This was a week of nationally significant and reprehensible events - Common People created a safe space in the middle of a city, through things as pragmatic as bag-check policy and as perfectly judged as their celebratory décor. Mounted police were around on-site, but punters made friends with the forces and stroked their horses’ manes.
5. Sean Paul
“I got the right temperature to shelter you from the storm” promised former chef Mr Henriques – and a wave of Caribbean pop-fusion certainly helped keep the clouds away. We all heeded his suggestion to “Get jiggy / Get crunked up / Percolate”, and (I’m told) club-ready dancehall could be heard all over OX4 and OX3.
6. Pigs Big Record Club
Secretly, my favourite CP place was #PigsBigRecordClub, a vinyl-decked tent in which DJs spun 78s and other ancient formats. Saturday morning: introverts were artfully arranged across its sofas. Sunday afternoon: the tiny floor was heaving with all ages of punters were jiving to zydeco, ragtime and Little Richard.
Who’d’ve thought that an Elvis impersonator fronting a Nirvana tribute act could be a good idea, let alone something so vital? Singalongs to a grunge reading of ‘Suspicious Minds’, karate kicks executed in time to expert drum fills, and several outings into the crowd (to high-five a beaming 7-year-old, why not) changed plenty of minds.
8. Cuban Brothers
Anyone still traumatised by the ‘thong malfunction’ of increasingly clothing-free Cuban Boys frontman can call the hotline number below.
9. The Uncommon stage
Ok, so it’s not really a moment – but to have the entire weekend of local acts on the Uncommon Stage showed what an embarrassment of riches Oxfordshire has. From the Epstein to the sweltered gypsy-punk-ska of Balkan Wanderers, from Catgod to Kanadia – DI thought this could’ve been a festival in itself, and enjoyed such new discoveries such as Leader and Low Island.
Quite some headliners ya got there, Common People! Rising soul star Rag ‘n’ Bone Man not only played a blinder, but visiting Oxford for the first time he was visibly moved to find thousands singing along to every word of his songs. He may have timeless tunes and the voice of a haunted Isaac Hayes, but Rory Graham unleashed the smile of a big kid.
11. Pete Tong
In terms of artists, atmosphere and random things to do, Common People turned it up to 11. So my Top Ten is similarly overstuffed. 2017’s closer Pete Tong and the Heritage Orchestra welcomed Chicagoan house pioneer Jamie Principle to the stage, dedicating his house classic ‘Your Love’ to Manchester in an undeniably moving experience amid a set full of bangers.