Oxford Art Factory: a keystone of Sydney’s live music scene
With the recent closure of multiple iconic music venues across Sydney and other major cities in the past few months, it’s great to see a relatively new music and arts venue, Oxford Art Factory, not just survive but even flourish. Late last year, it was announced the Annandale would be shutting it doors until autumn for renovations with the owners not confirming the return of live music, The Abercrombie has been forced to announce their farewell and Melbourne’s Empress of India Hotel has indefinitely closed up shop. With this bleak outlook and the apparent “downturn in the market and low attendance in the entertainment precinct”, it proves that the guys from Oxford Art Factory must be doing something right.
The venue has now been in operation for over seven years now, and has an array of established national and international acts grace their stage, often before the artist’s big break. The appeal of the OAF comes from a few different features, the décor is awesome, it was inspired by the Andy Warhol Gallery in New York from the 60’s. It doesn’t just consist of one singular stage, it comprises of three separate sections consisting ‘The Live Art Space’ which usually is used as the main stage, ‘The Gallery Bar’ and ‘The Cube’, and as the name suggests, ‘art’ provides the backbone of the venues concept and values.
Regardless of all these aesthetic features, what makes a great music venue are great musicians, right? Well they feature exactly that, always managing to have a healthy blend of local emerging acts, established national acts, buzz worthy internationals and an array of feature nights. These are often curated and presented by different organisations such as tastemaker publications, bands even and artist support agencies. Oxford Arts just gives them the support and venue to host it.
This weekend sees One Night Stand take place, a Sydney Festival sideshow in which legendary DJ Andrew Weatherall will be headlining the event, flanked by some of Sydney’s all-time greats in the Gallery Bar. Other recent events have included the launch of Visions, a recurrent night of bands curated by Hot Mosh and Deep Sea Arcade, an event from Niche Productions presenting ‘Hold Tight!’ which featured artists such as TOKiMONSTA and Oskar Key Sung, and also ‘Plastic Nightclub’ which was a psychedelic and rock ‘n’ roll night that The Upskirts, Bored Brats and Black Zeros were all showcased at.
As for the aforementioned international acts on the verge of stardom, does anyone remember both Of Monsters and Men and alt-J playing there early last year? By the time they came back for Splendour In The Grass just a few months later, Of Monsters & Men managed to sell out three consecutive nights at the Enmore Theatre. This is a testament to their choice of acts and their upcoming schedule is no different.
Scandinavian folk crooner Mikhael Paskalev is set to take the stage in March, which is rumoured to be the along the same lines of the Secret Sounds teaser tours for Splendour In The Grass that they did last year for acts such Of Monster and Men, alt-j, and James Blake, and look where they ended up?
Some other notable acts they have lined up is the 19 year old from UK who manages to blend elements of jazz, dubstep and hip hop, and goes by the name of King Krule. An artist that is sure to be massive in the future. Same with the sold out show from UK buzz band The 1975 that happened earlier in the week. The Kite String Tangle has got tastemakers ears pricking up all over the globe, and has two shows already scheduled, and even Auckland natives Broods, who have been getting consistent and worthy comparisons to Lorde, have got a support slot tonight warming up the stage for Youth Lagoon. Not only does Oxford Art Factory feature these international acts, but regularly hosts residencies and even free shows of local emerging artists, giving them a platform to begin their career in the live music scene.
Judging by the way the guys at OAF have been going recently, and with the prospect of all their different upcoming shows, it will be very exciting to see what is to come in the near future for them as they develop even further within Sydney’s music scene.
By James Sherley