Oxjam Norwich ’19

Posted on November 11, 2018
oxjam music festival banner

What’s Oxjam?

It’s an annual music festival that takes place in cities across the UK raising funds for Oxfam.

The bands and organisers skewed younger, student types. Same with the audience. We got our tickets early for £8. Not bad for 10 hours of music and spoken word. We managed about seven. There was a lot to enjoy.

The Birdcage

We’d been out the night before so came in late via Grosvenors fish bar.

First venue: The Birdcage with bands alternating with spoken word acts from the Poetry Collective. I enjoyed the poetry. Mixing it with the music kept things moving. I like poetry, just in moderation. I especially liked the honest and playful piece about the writer’s love for cheesy music. The poem was mostly made of lines from songs and had a surprise on every verse.

Emily Parish was the first we heard of the musical acts. Lovely voice but I found myself looking at her lyrics more than was charitable. My brain still on poetry mode. Aphra (above) was headlining the first venue. I’ve seen her before. She’s a good performer, getting people joining in on a silly song about toast. I still dislike Billboards. It’s the lyrics. It’s the chorus. It’d not telling me anything I don’t know. I want more. And now it’s stuck in my head! But Candyfloss is a delight.

Platform 12

It was cosy, if a little chilly under the aircon. Rows of mismatched seats and tables. First up was the poet Piers Harrison-Reid, again. This time with a backing track and I find the work stronger for it. Made me regret not seeing the Words with Friends project he contributed to. I’d heard Sefo Kanuteh before. He plays beautiful music on his Kora. So calming and tender. So different in tone to what came before and after. Billy Lubach was nice enough in his not-too-mournful nostalgia.

People started to clear out at six. Doors had opened at Bedfords so people started moving on. We stayed with our drinks and Bug Teeth. I like the buildup when you have a guitar and a set of loop pedals. It’s still magic to me. A backing track is a welcome refuge from singer-songwriter fatigue. She’s young and sounds it. Great work for he first gig but nerves and big boots make things harder on the pedals.

Bedford’s Crypt

We got in as Space is Big (below) were setting up. I’d seen them here before. Fun pop punk featuring Minty Taylor, one of the earlier poets. This is more my thing.

I’ve missed the Crypt. I’m a nervous person but I’d been here enough times to be comfortable. Handy to know the layout as I felt quite ill so had to leave during American Blondes (below). This was their first gig an I hear they did well. I liked the one track I heard. They are not American and 3/4 not blond.

After some air I got down again for the mystery act. I think they said their name was Rascal? I don’t know. I liked them and the mustache. A fair few people must have been here to see them as the place cleared about a bit before Sophie Mahon & The Readymades had finished setting up. That or they were finding dinner before the last venue opened. Less pop punk and more 80s for the finale. A strange act that rather piqued my interest.

Oxfam Shop

This felt kinda special. Finn Doherty was performing lively pop/hip hop while crowds wandered around trying on clothes and messing with ornaments. You could almost forget there was a live band if not for the ‘shoppers’ being lightly pissed. And the clapping.

My nausea returned as SISTERAY started. No matter how fun their punky music sounded it was time to leave. We called it a night. I’ve seen Marigolds and I’m tired after 11 hours of music in the past two days.