Oxjam @ Nestival

Oxjam @ Nestival

Recently, I’ve been volunteering as part of my local Oxjam team in New Cross. It’s been fun and great to meet people who are passionate about using live music as a way to bring people together and give back to charity. We had our first proper event at The Birds Nest as part of Nestival and it was mint.

The Birds Nest is a wicked little venue in Deptford, really nice atmosphere and every time I have been in the staff have been lovely. The burgers are also delicious. I went down early to help set up, it was nice meeting Tom and Joel and they were both so helpful – which is good as I would have probably broken my neck putting up those banners by myself!

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Nestival is a 5 day event at the Birds Nest with a killer line up for each evening, culminating in a performance from Kate Tempest on the final evening.

We had selected half of the Thursday night line-up and they had chosen the other half. The event kicked off with Black Plastic, one of their choices. Opening a show can be tricky sometimes but they gave no sign of this, delivering high energy performance that managed to enthuse the audience.

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The tone changed with the next performer – Lewis Floyd Henry. He was understated at first, with the sound building up into something mesmerising. A real treat to watch, as a one man band he absorbs your attention so casually it could almost be accidental.

Lazarvs played after, my favourite band of the evening. I first heard these guys at New Cross Inn and loved them. They create a smoky atmosphere when they play, you can almost see it unfurling beneath them. Have a listen to this and you’ll understand a bit of what I mean.

Little Mona – iPhone recording

Keep in mind that is an iphone recording. Wow.

Another highlight for me was Elephants and Castles. I’ve seen their name dotted about the south east of London a fair amount and wasn’t sure what to expect.  At the beginning they explained that their debut album ‘Fashanu’ was named for the football player Justin Fashanu, he was Britain’s first black footballer to command a £1m transfer fee. He then took his own life in 1998 after coming out as gay and being subjected to harassment and abuse. Their performance was a combination of solid song writing with delicious harmonies and despite the tragic inspiration behind the album, it managed to be fun.

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I also had a lot of love for First, another 3 piece. I was flagging when they made it onto the stage, a combination of too much ale and sleepiness, but was soon rejuvenated.

I was gutted to be working nights the next few days as it would have been mint to see the rest of the acts. However, it was lovely to work with Matt again. He kindly agreed to sound engineer in return for booze and food.

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New Town & Old Friends

I just spent a wonderful, if not bittersweet, weekend with three of my old friends. Two of them came down from Manchester for Lovebox and one of them came just for a visit. Myself and Matt have just moved to Peckham, literally getting the keys to the place on the same day they arrived. It did mean that they were kipping in chaos but they knew what they were letting themselves in for when they decided to stay with us.

Peckham is completely new to me, being a Mancunian I had no views on the area, had heard nothing about it and didn’t know what to expect. The reason I picked this place is because I really loved the flat and it is a lot closer to work, for me…

Peckham seems to be very vibrant, with lots going on. You’ll have to forgive me for speaking in northisms but it has the multiculturalism of Rusholme with the nice bars and art spaces of the Northern Quarter. Or at least that’s how it looks after two whole days here!

Two of our friends went to Lovebox and with our third friend, a beautiful spinning creature of madness, we chilled out, drank some wine and then decided to find somewhere to go dancing. Having spoken to a couple of people from work about Peckham, we had the Bussey Building recommended to us.

Walking in to be greeted by ‘Earth Wind & Fire – September’ was a joy. I really liked the venue, reminded me of where I used to work in Manchester, similar vibes. The production quality was a lot higher though. The fact you can choose from a variety of floors and genres also worked well for someone with an attention span like mine.

J + J didn’t make it back to us from Lovebox that night, the journey down and the festival wiping  them out completely.  The next day though we all went for breakfast at Café Viva. When I’m hungover I always try to trick my body with fresh fruit into feeling okay again, their berry smoothie did the trick. I could tell at this point that I’d become numb to London’s inflated prices for everything when my friends were reacting to the prices. It is commonly repeated but the price difference between north and south, in this case Manchester and London, is ridiculous. Café Viva’s food was lovely, delicious bagels and really good coffee- perked me up enough to realise the best thing to do would be to go to another bar.

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Franks. I had heard conflicting things about this place. From someone who had lived in Peckham for a while it seemed to be almost an embodiment of evil. From a guy from work who hadn’t been here long (also from Manchester) it was meant to have great views and nice booze. It is a bit tucked out of the way, but to be honest I like that quality in somewhere I am drinking. It makes me feel removed from the world and able to relax a bit more. After we’d settled down we could see that the views were overwhelming. It was such a bright but hazy day the colours all looked  cold and brittle, it felt like I was seeing some kind of dystopian future. On a hot day though I would recommend it as there was a breeze up there that cut through the hot muggy day.

I used to work with all three people who had come to visit us. I left the business in very unusual circumstances and there was a lot of strain all around. For them and for us. Spending that time with them reassured me that friendship goes deeper than our circumstances. When you form a bond with someone out of understanding and respect, not because you share the same geographical location, it can still be there regardless of unintentional hurts on both sides. It does make it harder when they leave. We shared a lovely afternoon drinking cider, getting told off by a friendly security guard and sharing our plans before it ended and they had to head home.
I smiled through the hugs and goodbyes but as soon as they went up the stairs I cried my way out of the station. It is good to know that even when people are apart from you they can have love for you, and not time or geography can change that.