Ritual Union Festival 2019: Who to see

Ritual Union festival have announced details of their third incarnation, which will once again fill Cowley Road with the sound of some of the very best up-and-coming bands Britain (and beyond) has to offer. A packed 19th of October will see more than twenty-five acts, with more additions still yet to be confirmed, play some of Oxford’s finest venues: the O2 Academy, Truck Store, The Library, and, of course, the Bullingdon. Starting at 11AM and going on until 3AM, this is sure to be the best 16 hours of live music Oxford will see all year. Naturally, the best and freshest of the city’s current crop of local musical talent will be given ample opportunity to showcase themselves to a home crowd, with Premium Leisure, Pet Sematary, The Cooling Pearls, and TMA among the homegrown bands announced so far. The line-up represents Ritual Union’s commitment to spotlighting new artists from the local scene. Early bird tickets for the 14+ event are now available for only £25 at http://ritual-union.co.uk , with standard tickets priced at £35.

Image provided by organisers

Image provided by organisers

With so many acts performing in such a short space of time, however, clashes are inevitable, and you won’t be able to see everyone. To try and help narrow it down, here are some of our picks for the gigs you really won’t want to miss.


London-born Teleman have gained the approval of and opened for a host of Indie legends (Suede, Franz Ferdinand, Belle and Sebastian to name only a few), but their charming, foot-tapping brand of psychedelia-tinged indie pop is more than worth seeing in its own right. Reminiscent of Metronomy (who, naturally, they’ve also played as support for) in their irresistible melodies and fearlessness at the sight of a cowbell, they certainly know their way around a chorus.

Check out: ‘Skeleton Dance’

The Comet is Coming

The Comet is Coming are another brainchild of the inescapable Shabaka Hutchings, one of the most prolifically creative figures on the modern jazz scene, who, along with leading the captivating and politically-charged Sons of Kemet, whose breakout album My Queen is a Reptile won over critics and new audiences alike last year, has played saxophone with such icons as the  legendary Sun Ra Arkestra and Ethiopian Jazz cult hero Mulatu Astatke, to name only a couple. Here he enlists the help of synths and all things electronic to accompany his typically hypnotic saxophone to take you on a breathless tour through bubbling primordial pools and swirling galaxies of sound, leaving you just enough time to stop and appreciate the view through the porthole of your space capsule. Buckle in.

Check out: ‘Summon the Fire’


Serving only the meatiest of riffs and the most demented of howls, Newcastle five-piece PIGS x7 (yes they’re well aware of their “awful” name) are coming to Cowley to pummel your eardrums, batter you in the mosh and put on one hell of a live show. Well worth the subsequent ear-ringing.

Check out: ‘A66’

Twin Peaks

No, Dale Cooper will not be gracing the Bullingdon with his presence, but you can rest assured that Chicago-bred outfit Twin Peaks will put on a more exciting show, bridging the gap between Ty Segall and Whitney (the band, not Houston) and effortlessly pulling off chaos and bliss alike. Throughout their rise from scuzzy DIY roots to modern garage rock veterans, their gigs have never been in danger of losing their reputation for the riotous; expect sweat, expect mass singalongs, expect unadulterated fun.

Check out: ‘Tossing Tears’

Heavy Lungs

Exhilarating post-punkers in the vein of Protomartyr who aren’t too moody for a good chorus, and whose two EPs to date have firmly asserted their place in the midst of Britain’s most exciting new band prospects. Having personally seen them live supporting fellow Bristolians and close friends IDLES, I can attest that this will not be a gig to be missed.

Check out: ‘Jealous’ (absolute carnage live)


Former member of notorious London hell-raisers Fat White Family (and writer of Fat White’s classic Touch the Leather) Alex Sebley teams up with Jessica Winters of Will Sin For Love to produce the mystifying PREGOBLIN, whose one currently available single mingles intoxicatingly funky piano-based grooves with Sebley’s silkily-delivered yearnings for a death by spontaneous combustion. They’ve apparently got “two albums worth ready to go”, one embodying the fun, carefree spirit of Combustion, and another “nasty and grim”. Whichever side they bring to Cowley, you can rest assured that it will be an experience.


MusicAlec Holt Comment