In keeping with the inclement weather at the weekend, the Oxjam Festival took Edinburgh by storm on Saturday as five venues across the city’s Old Town hosted an eclectic variety of musical styles and mediums. Undeterred by the wind and rain, a raft of impressive acts were supported by a praiseworthy team of volunteers and a plethora of music-loving, charity-aiding weekend warriors as the festival celebrated its tenth anniversary in style.
Unsurprisingly, it was the outdoor pop-up stage on the Grassmarket which suffered the brunt of the adverse climate, leading to the cancellation of some acts earlier in the schedule. However, as the afternoon wore on and the heavens decided that might be enough for one day, some excellent acoustic singer-songwriters (not least Johanna Crossley-Zels) took to the stage to charm a small but delighted throng of supporters on the cobbled stones.
Elsewhere, Brewdog gastropub also fostered some impressive acoustic acts, including Scottisher-than-thou Alex Maxwell with several rabble-rousing numbers and a softly-building set of Snow Patrol-esque songs from Michael Timmons. Ever popular with an alternative crowd, Brewdog proved to be the perfect backdrop to the spirit and camaraderie that defines the festival.
In the Grassmarket Community Project, spoken word was the order of the day as seven distinct acts delivered their unique take on this mish-mash of a medium, combining poetry and music in a sometimes educational, sometimes emotional fusion of art forms. Though the venue doesn’t nurture the same raucousness of atmosphere as Brewdog or other bars, it is an ideal place to communicate the intimacy and sentiment of the work in hand.
Up at Bristo Square, Paradise Palms served as an exotic environment in which to witness an eclectic array of bands. Experimentation seems an apt buzzword for the musicians on offer here, as indie electronica, classical arrangements and funky upbeat pop-rock vied for attention. In particular, the last two main bands provided a microcosm of the variation on show, as Esther Swift’s delicate harp orchestration was followed up by The Micro Band’s balmy brand of irrepressible art pop, clinging to the last vestiges of summer despite the conditions outside.
Finally, Stramash served as the centerpiece to this celebration of independent music and charitable good-will as it hosted more homegrown talent in the shape of bands such as Delighted Peoples and Numbers Are Futile. The cavernous interior of the church-cum-venue was the perfect setting for the trippy, psychedelic melodies of various acts to unfold, proving to be the cherry on top of what must be regarded as another success for the Oxjam enterprise.
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the elbow grease, dedication and continual scurrying to-and-fro of countless volunteers, who must receive kudos for their hard work in pulling off the spectacle. Likewise the bands themselves are deserving of hearty pats on the back for their role in Edinburgh’s contribution to the Oxfam cause – roll on anniversary eleven!