It’s not every week we stage a national media event in our shop! This week saw us host the launch gigs for Oxjam 2010, a festival that runs all over the country with promoters and performers donating their time to help raise money for Oxfam. It’s a pretty simple idea that achieves great things.
The very first Oxjam was launched in our shop back in 2007, but that was a very different affair – it was not long after the shop had opened as a bookshop (the old shop was still open up the road) and the gigs were held downstairs. This time, when Tim from the Oxjam launch team approached us, we knew it would be a massive challenge. Find out how we managed after the jump…
The biggest challenge for the shop hosting the Oxjam launch was controlling the incredible amount of donations we get, as documented in previous posts. We closed to donations during the week of Oxjam because we literally wouldn’t’ve had anywhere to put it – we used our usual donations bay as a pre-staging area for our performers.
The next challenge was changing the shop floor into something capable of putting on a concert. Four concerts. In a row. From hosting our climate change event in March we knew it was possible to forge a useful space from the raw material of our layout, but this was something else entirely. Thanks to the great team at Festival Republic, it happened!
(When they were setting up last Sunday it was easier to take a picture of the stage on our CCTV monitor than of the actual stage.)
Festival Republic brought in a stage and audio/lightning equipment, the combined effect of which was to transform us into a venue capable of hosting something like this:
Unfortunately we couldn’t open the shop on Monday as there was too much set-up today, but we were able to open Tuesday to Thursday for a few hours, the Oxjam and Festival Republic teams doing a great job in putting the shop back into a reasonable state, enough for us to trade at something like three-quarter capacity. The main problem was with our books being inaccessible behind the stage, but I made a new module of some selected highlights to try and remedy this.
I documented some of our experiences from the past week on our Twitter account, but among the highlights were the Diana Vickers fans queuing up from 1pm on Tuesday, the Charlatans dropping The Only One I Know to the delight of their fans, our volunteers getting to see some great gigs for free, Johnny Borrell’s controversial (and pleasant) return to Dalston, competing with Katie from Oxjam for who could upload photos to Twitter quickest, and Dan le Sac and Scroobius Pip constantly ribbing the Charlatans fans in a good-natured, self-deprecating way, and every one of the ‘big name’ celebrities being polite, friendly and unassuming. My highlight of the week has to be the generosity of Kieran Hebden a.k.a Four Tet — as well as a box of Four Tet merch that he gave us to sell, he also brought along a few bags of good quality donations for the shop, including a pair of blue-and-yellow Adidas trainers that we sold on Saturday! All the artists were fantastic in donating their time to help promote Oxjam and raise money for our work, but Kieran gets brownie points for going above and beyond and really getting in sync with Oxfam’s ethos.
After some verbal highlights, how about some more photos?
At the close of the final night, our helpers once again sprang into action, dismantling the stage and backline and putting the shop back exactly the way they found it. We were back to normality on Friday, and have to find a way to cope with life that doesn’t involve daily brushes with fame…
Thanks to everyone involved, it was a great experience!
And before we go, some of the press clippings! ITN interviewing Diana Vickers in our basement; the Hackney Gazette picks up a video interview with the Oxjam team; listen to Johnny Borrell singing ‘Don’t Go Back to Dalston’ in the shop; we were in The Sun; NME review of the Charlatans; 6 Music interview with Johnny Borrell; Diana Vickers video interview with 3AM; some behind the scenes footage on the York Press website; review of the Charlatans on Closer Online.
Would we do it again next year? Watch this space…