Here comes the summer

Entertainment Life

Oxstu Music suggests ten alternative musical experiences to fill up those long summer months

1) Find your musical heartland

Whether it’s jazz in New Orleans,  reggae in Belize or dubstep in Croydon, the Oxford summer vac presents the perfect opportunity to source your very own international musical Shangri-La.

First up, Belize. The only Central American country where English is the official language (a hangover from its British colonial past), and with strong Carribbean reggae roots, Belize offers a thriving melange of cultural and linguistic traditions. Combining mestizo, Kriol and Garifuna (go and look that up) influences, Belize offers the perfect melting pot of reggae and indigenous folk.


New Orleans: admittedly Katrina didn’t do a lot for this hive of musicality, but it takes more than the sixth strongest hurricane ever recorded to dampen this city’s thriving legacy of jazz and Dixieland blues. You’ve missed the world famous Jazz and Heritage festival, but the city’s bars and clubs are permanently jammin’ with jazz offerings.

Repulsed at the gap yah premise of these Carribbean offerings? Then get yourself down to Croydon, South London. Birthplace of dubstep, what this urban centre lacks in aesthetic appeal it makes up for in underground musical integrity. And concrete. Lots of concrete. But with the Big Apple Records record shop in Croydon spawning the dubstep genre,  Croydon has continued to a crucial locus in the underground EDM scene.

2) Go busking


Always yearned to be in a band but  hate the idea of that cramped, festering tour bus? Want to ‘express yourself’ musically but without constant rejection from record labels? Then the open air nature of busking should be right up your street. Take it back to basics, pick up that accordion/flute/guitar/bongo drum, situate yourself in a prominent location (busy shopping streets and notable landmarks tends to be the buskers’ preferred option) and pourforth your sweet musical offerings. Oh, you might need to apply for some sort of permit first though…



3) Go to a Rainforest festival


Yeah festivals are typical summer musical fare. But the Rainforest World Music Festival is an annual three-day music festival celebrating a diverse range of world music, held in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. That’s right: MALAYSIA. And featuring a huge range of performances and genres from traditional music, to world fusion and contemporary world music, it certainly strikes a decidely different note to Reading/Leeds 2k13.

rainforest music

4) Make a cult music video


Think you can better the Harlem Shake?   Feel like internet glory is a keyboard-tap away from your grasp? Then why not take advantage of the long summer vac to get cracking on your own music video. If you’re struggling to build up a pre-existing music canon, best go down the remix path…



5) Work at a festival 


It’s hard to fund a summer’s worth of festivals on your average student budget. The solution to this lies in choosing to work at one instead. Litter-picking can be both vaguely revolting and lonely, so your best bet is probably stewarding or bar staffing. It might not be as great as having the entire weekend for those typical hedonistic pursuits, but it is an ideal way to soak the festival atmosphere and get paid for doing so.


6) Be a roadie


Got an in-built obsession for a particular band? Then why not abandon all caution and do a Kerouac. Hit the road and follow your favourite band in the capacity of adoring fan, humble minion and general dogsbody. If the  relationship turns sour at some point, you can always rest assured that come October, you’ll be settling down for a quiet life of hall dinners and evenings in the Bod.


7) Go to an open air opera


It’s that summer event we all mean to go to. But however much we studiously intend to appreciate the ringing tones of Rigoletto’s La Dona e Mobile, we all-too-often let outdoor opera’s myriad charms pass us by. Whether it’s due to a depleting bank balance or lack of inclination, outdoor  operas don’t have a huge hold on the student population. It might not be alternative, but garden operas deserve a place in every student’s itinerary.



8) Sample a bit of dad rock


The long summer months ahead provide the perfect oppurtunity to delve into music’s past. The best place to start is a rummage through your parent’s record collection. If their taste proves as bad as you think, Cliff Richard bad, then you’ll be left with some useful ammo the next time the  ‘turn that racket down-it’s just noise’ type comments come your way.

At best though, you could discover a new artist or a whole stream of artists   that will stay with you for the rest of your life. It’s admittedly a cliche, but your parents were once young too you  know!

This summer might be a particularly fruitful one to start getting into dad-rock. The Rolling Stones are headliniwwng Glastonbury, disco legends Chic are making an appearance at Bestival,  and Bobby Womack is in the midst of his European tour.


9) Go to a record label- hosted night or promo night


Some of the best nights on offer this summer will have a special twist: all the acts performing will be on the same record label.

Particularly common on  the dance music scene, these nights provide the perfect oppurtunity to discover new talents within the same style or genre as the act you came to see. Your first introduction to these new acts will be within a club setting, with the added benefits this brings – a vastly superior sound system, and the wondeful inevitability of experiencing the music with people in the crowd who will be passionate about that act and about that genre of music.


Record label nights that stand out are drum and bass label Hospital Record’s ‘Hospitality’, and the nights that their competitors over at RAM records run on a regular basis. For UK urban and dance music, special promotional nights to watch  out for include Metropolis and Rinse – these are always guaranteed to produce great lineups.



10) Back to basics


Ok, so it’s not all that alternative. Still, nothing beats a deckchair on the beach, beer in hand with a set of  speakers! Whatever your plans are for the summer, this is a must!



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