Summer Came in January

January is no one’s favourite month. Christmas has been and gone and emptied the bank account, Oxford’s biting winter cold shows no sign of relenting – and the summer festival season seems centuries away. Which is where Equitruck comes in. Exactly half a year away from the summer’s Truck festival, this all-day event showcased some of Oxfordshire’s most exciting local talent, keeping fans of live music ticking over until the sunnier months arrive. For under a tenner, less than twelve hours upstairs at the Jericho Tavern saw fourteen local bands take to the stage and perform to an audience more than happy to dance and drink their winter blues away. The first real highlight of the day was Space Heroes Of The People, an exciting, irresistibly danceable outfit comprising drumkit, laptop-enhanced samples and a weird-looking electric double bass played by a barefoot girl in a short denim skirt. SHOTP seemed a little nervous, but this was completely unwarranted: the bluesy bass melody and video game noises of ‘Tesco Disco’ went down a treat, ‘Shiny Shiny’ recalled Ladytron’s layers of icecool vocals and beats and new song ‘Roger Bacon vs. Gillian McKeith’ was a bass-heavy musical rant against the ‘evil, evil, evil woman’ – which could surely never be a bad thing. Sunnyvale Noise Sub-Element (left) followed. They were clearly having a total blast on stage, playing songs like ‘Techno Self- Harm’, which apparently centred around Spiderman’s wife. Played on bass and guitar, the merry sound of all kinds of Warpish, industrial beats was supplied by a drum machine in the corner. Their sound was a genuinely new take on the marriage between rock and dance that’s been brewing for the last 20 years, with impressive heavy rock riffs that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Sonic Youth or Shellac record never far from their electro noise-making. One of the tightest, most joyful and simply the most fun performances of the day came from Truck favourites Morrison Steam Fayre. Their breezy, toe-tapping bluesy pop songs took their main influence from country and American 60s rock and roll, and their cute love songs and charismatic stage presence had several couples in the crowd boogying along non-stop. Gracing the stage later in the evening, Witches were a real treat. This was soaring indie post-rock, with intricate layers of guitars accompanied by a glockenspiel, a trumpet and even some maracas. Their powerful, slowly building sound and driving drums were complimented by beautiful, subtle vocal melodies and downbeat lyrics about heartbreak. And so the day went on, with an enthusiastic, energised crowd for every act and a warm and friendly atmosphere in contrast to the drizzle outside. Summer’s not so far away after all. by Helena Zaba