Caffeine galore, several unexpected cocktails, some musical rumours, a few Oxford Creatives and a last minute gig. Where do I even begin in describing the various vitality that all this talent exuded and induced?
Let's start with coffee
It all started last Saturday when I returned once more to the, very much literally, buzzing London Coffee Festival. You may remember from last year that this wondrous and oh so hipster event contains more than just hot beverages. There's art, music, roasting, blending, brewing and more.
In fact, this year there was even more - a whole floor more of stands and people and cocktails. Gin and Prosecco no less. The art section was extended and while there was latte art there last year, I certainly didn't see anyone with a special little toolkit creating portraits in people's coffee like I did this time around.
When I told people what I was doing last Saturday, I got lot of confused looks and high-pitched, extended 'why?'s. 'Do you have to go for work?' 'Why would do that?' To which my most common response was, 'Because it's awesome.'
Don't get me wrong, I know there is a lot of pretension at events like this, and certainly some bold choices in tattoos, hats and beards. But who the hell cares when everyone is sharing in a love of the same thing, getting legally high on gorgeous-tasting coffee and grooving around absorbing all the lights and colours, machines and machinations on display?
Honestly, there was so much passion and talent there. People who, yes often were selling something, but because they really loved it and believed in it. Just being around that kind of excitement is infectious and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone, no matter how high-falutin' your cultural tastes may be.
Cocktails and rumours
Well, since I had started with an espresso Martini and moved on to gin and Prosecco, it only seemed right to continue in such a mixocological vein back in Oxford. And while it's best to leave most of the remnants of that decision in the mists of my own mind, there is one little nugget worth mentioning.
Some of the highly talented (recurring theme much?) yet somewhat elusive Home Third Light members were out and about drinking cocktails too. Now, when I reviewed this collective at the end of last year, a promise was made that there would be more than one live gig this year.
And the word on the East Oxford Street is, that ain't no lie...I guess we'll all just have to watch this space and see...
Lovely laughing people
And so on to the next collective of talent to cross my path this week. For the first time, I attended the Oxford Creatives Meetup group. Turns out, creatives in Oxford are really great people. Funny, interesting and lively. Not to mention creative in all sorts of ways.
I met a freelance editor, a local publisher, someone who does artwork for the music industry and a textile designer (who is competing for the Women in Making award 2014) to name but a few. It was great to be around a group of people all working to make their interests and natural compulsions pay the bills. It takes a lot of guts, conviction and winging it I think, but utterly worth it and exceedingly commendable.
Finally, a few tunes
Flights of Helios describe themselves as a 'drone/ popular song/ psychedelic ensemble'. Haunting and atmospheric is where I'd go. When signing up to their mailing list, I was asked to add a comment on their performance: shuddering in my immediate post-show digestion, I went simply with 'cleverly unnerving'.
There is a lot of pain, and some anger in their songs but it's not played out sharply. Rather than cutting like a knife, it feels more like a rope slowing twisting around you, getting tighter in a way that's initially almost comforting, but gradually becomes slightly terrifying.
Seb, the keyboardist, did some clever things, bending and echoing sounds, and the singer's voice, while initially sounding fairly typical of your Smiths-esque heartbroken drone actually revealed some pleasing nuance as the set went on.
The Fauns, I have less to say about. They were not bad, they could all play their instruments well and the singer had a good voice. One or two songs were even quite catching. But overall it was such a wall of 90s shoegazing guitar with a wispy fade-in of female vocals, that all the songs began to merge into one.
There is nothing wrong with taking an existing genre and remaining faithful to it, but do something with it. Have a reason for putting the band together and putting out the songs, beyond basically reproducing what's already been done. There were, like I say, a few glimpses of this, but not enough to carry the set.
Onwards to some dancing
And so I must run, as tonight is the night: The Brickwork Lizards, the Rabbit Foot Spasm Band and some newness from The Dublings and The Temple Funk Collective. Bring on the boogie I say! There's nothing like a panoply of talent to get your feet moving.