The Oxjam has always been a “well-played” charity event and this particular one in London, was in one of the larger branches of the charitable mastodon. The setting was ideal, an avant-garde neighbourhood of the metropolis which has recently gone from a quietly infamous repute to one of a hip, up-and-coming place to be and an unsuspecting, unpretending and unkempt, corner-store Oxfam shop. However, the disposition of the shop was a clear indication that this was all carefully planned as it incited the grooving visitors not only to buy tickets or alcohol but also clothes, all to the rhythm of the entrancing sounds of some of the most popular current DJs.
As you came in there were two sets of security guards one for the outside and one for the inside; 6 men all in black, one of them with strikingly similar features to Wesley Snipes. A good choice, in a neighbourhood on edge between troublemakers and hipsters – wouldn’t you say? I was also pleasantly surprised at the kindness of the staff as the manager of the shop even allowed me to print out my night’s bus return ticket (props to him if he’s reading this), for which of course he was duly rewarded with my charming smile and kind words and of course, A BEER!
The evening started with Dan Avery, who unfortunately lacked a sufficient audience for the greater part of his set. His beats were all eighties-reminiscent, accompanied by melodies which went through a broad spectrum of light and dark, like you might find in Kraftwerk or Joy Division or New Order. Minimal, simplistic but far from boring, he would have profited from a later start and a more unhinged crowd. It just goes to prove what renown can contribute to a show, as most people were simply too shy to dance, for fear of standing out, no doubt. Avery’s set culminated around the two or three last mixes where his minimal powers grew stronger and he rolled out some heavier sounding, thumping bass-laden tracks. His last track was effortlessly and flowingly mixed straight into that of Breach (aka Ben Westbeech) and the only difference was the face of the DJ, at first.
Breach started out strong, but as his set went on it became weaker, sacrificing his heavy and ominous introduction for some vocal house culminating with one song where some woman singing in the foreground was accompanied by an electro-minimal beat. Not something you want to encounter in a line-up like this one, it ruined the mood for some going against expectations and made those few obnoxious drunk students start to sing along to what was being played, which is never really a good sign – except when that music is the night’s theme – but really, who can blame him for trying to arouse the crowd from their stoicism.
Eventually, after shutting out most of the audience with a few other sonic burdens, it was about time for some new sound which only came with open arms as the crowd started cheering as soon as Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs stepped onto the podium to collect his fair share of the evening’s attention. Orlando laid out an impressive set, nothing to do with his normal music really – still minimalistic and light-sounding, with that almost whispering quality which his music can sometimes have, but only until the bass dropped and he brought in some interesting samples.
The night’s headliner exceeded expectations as he, in completely casual clothes, gradually moved the crowd to a state of drunk thrashing cum mellow pirouetting which, at electronic music events, is often equated to dancing. The culmination of his set was his remix of the wonderful seventies Roxy Music’s ‘Love Is The Drug’ which was absolutely delicious and took its time to develop and conclude with an also a generally fitting theme for the night. Orlando’s and Dan’s sets were uncannily similar and definitely my favourite of the three that night but TEED brought a more bold and boastful sound to the style, and some older music, which will probably come to Avery in time as his popularity grows.
Unfortunately, I was forced to end my night abruptly as I feared I might miss the previously mentioned bus, and though my departure did turn out to be too early I was glad to get one last glimpse of Dalston and its inhabitants in the streets and the underground: a jolly bunch of inebriated hip kids with a good sense of fashion (for the most part) and a will to party. All in all, a night worth its while and some artists which I am listening to frequently ever since. Over and out.
Photography by Dan Medhurst