The intimate setting of Dalston Oxfam shop was transformed last week to become the first of countless venues across the country to participate in this year’s month long Oxjam music festival, raising awareness of the charity through the slogan “local music, global impact”. On Thursday evening I attended the last of a four night takeover launch at the east London store that boasted an impressive line-up of electronic music pioneers and well-known DJ’s ready to entertain a gathering crowd that began filtering into the building just after 7pm.
Once inside I was immediately struck by the relaxed atmosphere, people were mingling and talking amongst the clothes rails with a beer brought from the makeshift bar and individuals browsed the extensive record collection that was on offer, barely illuminated by the array of small improvised reading lamps attached to the vast racks of vinyl’s and CD’s. Others meandered their way to the front of the dimly lit store where a pair of turntables had been set up on a small stage positioned against a backdrop of numerous second-hand bookshelves and waited for the first act to begin.
Joe Goddard and Raf Rundell of The 2 Bears entertained the masses for the first hour and a half or so, sharing deck duties and playing a selection of chilled soul / hip hop that had the crowd nodding in appreciation of the ambient, laid-back environment they created. The combination of smooth mixing and carefully selected song choices proved to be a perfect way to start the evening and after the two DJ’s faded out their last song to loud, approving cheers the compere took to the stage to present the nights events and give a little background to the Oxjam campaign that has been going from strength to strength since its conception back in 2006. After this short interlude he then went on to introduce Hot Chip, naming them as the current kings of world pop and they certainly lived up to their billing.
Frontman Alexis Taylor set himself up on the turntables and addressed the crowd; “OK, hello” he said, adjusting his signature glasses and wearing a bright red Willie Nelson bandanna, “I’m playing some records that have been donated to this charity shop”. With the help of band mates Owen Clarke and Al Doyle they proceeded to play a diverse mix of country n western classics such as Dolly Parton, 70’s rock music, funky house and a selection of their own tracks, most notably ‘Flutes’ in which a percussion instrument used on the record had been brought in the very same Dalston shop only a few years earlier. I managed to speak briefly to Alexis who told me that they had done a similar thing three years ago, he really supported the cause and explained that all the artists were playing for free and were donating their vinyl’s to Oxfam in aid of the charity.
Up next was Four Tet who came on about 9.45pm, playing an eclectic set of 80’s disco with his own brand of complex carnival rhythms and intriguing sampling that proved a firm favourite with the crowd. Notable highlights included Fonda Rae’s 1982 classic ‘Over Like A Fat Rat’ and upbeat Daphni record ‘Ye Ye’.
Finally Dj Jas Shaw of the infamous dance duo Simian Mobile Disco took control of the decks and performed a euphoric set of Ibiza classics consisting of driving house beats, rich oscillated synths, deep bass lines and manipulated vocals to round the night off into a climatic high.
With the aid of celebrity support and public generosity the 2012 festival seems to be bigger than ever so if your around Oxford and have a bit of spare cash to spend on a free evening then please go to one of the many Oxjam sponsored events happening throughout October, safe in the knowledge that you’re doing your bit for charity whilst simultaneously supporting our vibrant local music scene. Try it and you never know, you might even stumble across your new favourite band.