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Live Review: Oxjam Brum 2018 (13/10/18)

What after seems a long time in the running, Oxjam Brum 2018 has been gone now. And what a day it was, full of independent music at independent music in the heart of Digbeth, the creative quarter of Birmingham. The quirkiness and intimacy of the venues was what really made the day special though - so let me run you through who I saw and where I saw them!

Dig Brew Co.
Dig Brew was my favourite venue of the day, not the best acoustics or set up - not for that reason at all. But because it was in a brewery, literally in the brewery and with some tables set up it was the best vibe in there as I bought one of the Oxjam Pale Ales and sat down to watch Robert Craig Oulten. He was phenomenal, a perfect opener to the day in a great venue, he reminded me very much of Willie J Healy with his laidback singing and stage presence which only added to the allure of listening to him. I'd love to hear more of him and his music and I'd also love to see some more gigs organised at Dig Brew!

Mockingbird Bar
I think it's safe to say the concept of the Mockingbird cinema has been sold to my girlfriend and I as we decided that we'd love to go and see a film at this cute independent cinema which creates such an intimate vibe with the screen. I digress, we saw Sleepy Heads at the bar area who's lead singer has a fantastic voice and despite playing quite a few covers made me want to go and check out their music, not to mention there was an air of confidence about them that is usually missing at these intimate gigs! Unfortunately we didn't get to see a gig in the actual cinema despite sitting down for one twice because they were running over - so it's a shame we missed UUOO and Elle Chante but hopefully I'll catch them some other time!

By far the strangest venue which was quite far out of the way of the others and was definitely the worst to get into. After being frisked by the bouncer and showing my wristband to the girl on the door I walked in a little and turned around to see that my girlfriend hadn't followed me in, when going back to check the bouncer had stopped her and asked for ID (I wasn't asked for ID, and the place was full of Sub-18's). He then checked her ID twice and showed it to the woman on the door as well before making me go back and show my wristband again! He then proceeded to menacingly walk around the venue with his hood up and never threw out the couple who were clearly on drugs and annoying people!
Anyway, rant aside - Suki10C is where I saw some of the greatest performances. We walked in to accidentally catch Flares' set and they were brilliant - the acoustics were bit rubbish in the venue but you could clearly see their nurturing talent on the stage as they commanded the stage as if they were 15 years their senior. A few of their tunes were absolute crackers as well, I'd love to see them put on Spotify at some point so I can keep them in rotation!
Then came the band we were there to see, Echo Beach!. And I always maintain the stance that if you can impress my girlfriend then you've done REALLY well, she's a very harsh judge of live bands and she loved Echo Beach! and Flares. Echo Beach! stormed through tunes with such ease it was exhilarating to be a part of and their cover of Amsterdam by Nothing But Thieves was truly majestic, they reminded me a lot of Wolf Alice in the sense that they can flip from heavy to soft with such ease and make it seem like such a natural transition. I genuinely can't say enough nice things about them, just go check out their single "She".

The Engine Room
This was the venue with the best vibe, and whilst I didn't really like how the stage was in the corner it definitely contained most of the bands I wanted to see on the day.
The first band we caught there was Dirty Jane, an exciting, loud and raucous band who you feel could command a large crowd into numerous mosh pits - which is hard to do when theres only 6 people in the room. However, I don't think they could quite get the sound right in the room, which seemed to frustrate them quite a lot as their lead singer struggled to get his vocals over the instruments and this just led to noise some of the time. One to watch though, I can imagine them gaining a cult following.
Then there was The Sunset Beach Hut, one of my ones to watch for the future these lot are. Their latest tune "Upside-Down" is an indie stomper with soft vocals to really entice you. And there's literally no difference to their performance live than there is on record - pitch perfect throughout. Not to mention their previous singles got a run out as well with "Comfort" sounding particularly excellent! If you live in or around Birmingham then you need to get to see these before it's too late.
And the last act of the night was Bryony Williams with full band in tow - at this point it was dark out so The Engine Room really felt like it came to life with it's fairy lights and mood lighting. This coincided with Bryony's ambient and empowering music which led to the perfect setting to enjoy amazing songs such as "Honey" - my favourite from her latest EP 'Conscious'. The set was just so cohesive and brilliant I couldn't take my eyes of the stage for the whole 45 minutes.


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