With summer over, autumn here and the county lashed by repeated deluges, it may sound like a crazy time to organise a music festival.

But Ritual Union, which takes over Oxford’s Cowley Road on Saturday, is not like most festivals. Featuring 45 acts over 12 hours, it is Oxford’s biggest and best multi-venue feast of bands – and it all takes place indoors.

The fun occurs at four venues: the O2 Academy, The Bullingdon, The Library and Truck Store – all mercifully insulated from the excesses of the autumn weather.

Bands range from local cult acts – such as The Young Knives, Pet Semetary, Premium Leisure and Candy Says – to up and coming buzz bands like Teleman, Ibibio Sound Machine, Murder Capital, She Drew the Gun, Twin Peaks and the frustratingly titled Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs.

“You can expect loads of awesome new bands and a few old favourites, plus plenty of good vibes,” says Simon Bailey of promoters Future Perfect and Crosstown Concerts.


“There are also loads of good places to eat up and down Cowley Road.

“We like to try and keep this event all about the music so there aren’t too many other fancy gimmicks – expect for one or two secret acoustic sets at Truck Store.”

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This is the third Ritual Union festival, but follows a string of short-lived multi-venue events in East Oxford. This one, however, looks set to stay, with Simon currently working on a Bristol instalment of the event for next March.

So who is Simon looking forward to seeing this Saturday? “There are too many to mention,” he laughs.

“There are so many brilliant new artists who have really great futures ahead of them such as Katy J Pearson, Lazarus Kane, The Murder Capital, Working Men’s Club, Bess Atwell and Scalping to name but a few. I’m also dead excited to see Twin Peaks in Oxford for the first time.”


Ibibio Sound Machine

He goes on: “We’re very blessed with some great venues in Oxford. The upstairs room at O2 Academy is the old Zodiac which has tons of history. For me though, it has to be The Bullingdon. It’s a super vibey room run by great people. Some of my all time favourite Oxford shows have happened in that room.

“The Comet Is Coming are headlining there on the day, they’re going to tear the roof off!”


A native Brummy, Simon is a pillar of the local music scene, providing gigs for up-and-coming artists and big returning stars.

“Oxford has produced some of my favourite bands over the years from Radiohead to Ride and Supergrass,” he says.

“The current crop of artists coming through such as Willie J Healey and Low Island are really exciting. Oxford is, in a nutshell, vibrant, diverse and always interesting.”

And as he prepares to get stuck into the third Ritual Union, what has been his favourite moment so far?

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“There have been some really special moments,” he says wistfully. “I think last year’s event on the whole was brilliant. It felt like we were really able to kick things on with a fantastic line-up and having snooker legend Steve Davis closing the whole thing with a DJ set was a wonderful moment!”

So can we expect a fourth instalment?


Julia Meijer

“Yes! We’re not planning on going anywhere next year. In fact we already have some great artists pencilled in for Oxford next October and, as mentioned, we’re in the advanced stages on launching a Bristol version for March, so it all feels very exciting at the moment. I think we’ll end up with three Ritual Unions somewhere down the line. I’d like to get a third one going somewhere so watch this space.”

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Gaby Elise Monaghan will be playing her second Ritual Union with her project Pet Sematary.

“I’ve been to the last two, so I should probably get a loyalty card by now,” she laughs.

So what can we expect? “Lots of reverb, lots of banshee sounds, lots of shimmering guitars. Also a lot of oversharing and possibly tears.”

And what other acts on the line-up would she recommend checking out?



“I’m absolutely stoked to be seeing some of my favourite artists – like Bo Ningen and especially the Soft Cavalry,” she says. “I’m a massive Slowdive fan so it’ll be wicked to see Rachel’s new project. Aside from that there are so many talented Oxford artists playing. Premium Leisure and Candy Says are incredible, as is Max Blansjaar who continuously blows my mind and inspires me every time I see him play... and he’s only 16 years-old! I’ve also heard loads of good stuff about Lazarus Kane and Katy J Pearson, so I’m excited to check those guys out too.”

And what is Gaby's favourite venue?

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"100 per cent the Library," she says. "I’ve made so many great memories and friends in that sweaty little basement.

"As an indie venue it’s great for DIY shows and is a huge gem for the local scene, as well as for discovering new music. There’s a real sense of community and the people there are just the loveliest.

"The Oxford music scene is inclusive, inspiring and just family really.

"I’ve met some of my best friends through the Oxford scene, and it’s been a continuous support from the get go.

"I’m really proud to have so many super talented people as my pals and the Oxford scene just inspires that confidence and safety with music.

"The promoters are all super great and really look out for you, as well as providing some absolutely insane opportunities, with Ritual Union being just one example."

Ritual Union takes place at the O2 Academy, Bullingdon and Truck Store on Saturday. Tickets from seetickets.com