Odd Box Records is turning five!
To celebrate the happy occasion, Odd Box label boss Trev is throwing the 4th annual Odd Box Weekender the first weekend of May. Taking place in various venues throughout London (Friday at Power Lunches, Saturday at Macbeth, and Sunday at the Lexington), the Weekender is chock full of bands from the US and the UK. As the Facebook event states, “It’s also a BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND so no fear of an early start on the Monday.”
The Weekender has been occurring steadily on the same weekend in May for the past four years now but Trev is certainly no stranger to organizing gigs in general. We asked him for a little background on the Weekender and got some great insight into how he’s been managing such an undertaking for the past few years.
1. Can you give us a history of the Odd Box Weekender (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
Odd Box Records is just me. I used to be involved with Lost Music Records before I started Odd Box. We used to put on pop shows (me and a couple of friends). That ran into difficulties and I was feeling constrained by the need to compromise on band choices and so on. In 2009, I decided to leave/bring Lost Music to an end. The plan then was start Odd Box and continue running a record label and not do any shows, but that kinda didn’t pan out as I planned, as Odd Box became heavily involved in promoting shows. So after two years of running Odd Box, I thought I’d hold an all-dayer to celebrate the 2nd “birthday” of the label — that event took place in May 2011. There were so many bands that it soon morphed into a two-day “weekender” and hence the weekender was born. It’s happened the first weekend of May ever since. This year is the label’s 5th Birthday and the 4th Annual Weekender. It’s also the first time I’ve run the weekender over 3 days (although I did do a warm up show on the Friday last year!).
2. What is the process of choosing bands like? Do you contact them or do they have to apply to play? Are there any rules as to who can or cannot play?
As it’s just me, there is no process apart from me liking the band and asking them and hoping the band says yes. There are a few bands that, for one reason or another, I’ve asked that have been unable to play, but for the most part bands seem keen to play. Some bands have “applied,” but I tend to discourage this as I want the weekender to be a balance of showcasing bands on the label and picking what I consider to be a selection of the most exciting new bands. There are always too many bands I want to book, and I can only ever fit in about 20-25 bands over the weekend. It’s also a delicate balancing act when looking for headliners, but I try and make sure the line-ups are fairly weighted towards new bands, but I have had a few more established bands play too. I also like to mix it up and pick bands you often wouldn’t see at a regular indiepop fest, simply because that’s where my taste lie — somewhere between indiepop and noisepop. I don’t have a rule about bands playing 2 years in a row, as that would often rule out a lot of Odd Box bands which is part of the reason for doing the weekender. I think a fair few bands have played two years in a row!
3. What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing the Odd Box Weekender?
Pffff, lord knows. I should try and do less maybe! You probably shouldn’t get drunk on the Saturday and try to pay the bands twice when you’re a little too refreshed (no, no, no that has never happened to me ;-)). Keep a timetable and try and stick to it. Have fun. If it stops being fun stop doing it.
4. When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the festival ends do you begin to plan the next one?
I usually start planning for the next one after Indietracks ends (so early August). It seems sensible to try and have an idea on venues and potential headliners early on — but first bookings aren’t usually confirmed until just before Christmas. After that, I like to get everything booked by February so I can start promoting the event to try and make it a success.
5. Do you have any inside tips for festival goers?
Not really! Enjoy the weekend and take a chance on new bands is probably the key thing. As the venues often change year on year, so I can’t really recommend places to eat/stay! But I suppose my tip for the all dayer would be to get there early on the Saturday so you don’t miss out on some of the exciting opening acts.
6. What are some of the best and worst Odd Box Weekender moments you can remember?
Every year it just always feel like the best time. It’s a tremendous thrill seeing bands you’ve chosen (many relatively unknown bands too!) getting a good reaction and it’s lovely to see a bunch of people having a fab time listening to new music. I think when The Chasms played the Windmill in 2012 stands out for me as one of those moments that I find hard to forget — nearly everyone there had no idea as to what to expect as they unleashed their wall of noise sound. The Chasms didn’t play live very often and both their London shows were for Odd Box so it was a thrill seeing them confront and confuse the audience a little. I like the bills to be nicely varied. Elsewhere I’ve enjoyed sets by all of the Odd Box stable down the years — it really is hard to pick a favourite or best moment. I mean Standard Fare wowing the Buffalo Bar was special, as was the double-drummer assault of Methodist Centre. And getting a crowd of unsuspecting people all really getting into at Martha before they had played many “popshows.” And those three examples are all from the Sunday in 2012! And every day has had these moments that I’ll cherish forever.
As for worst? Falling asleep a little worse for wear one year at The Windmill when I was supposed to be DJing was probably something I regret. I don’t tend to DJ the weekender anymore as I simply have too much to do!
You happen to be in luck, too. Very few weekend passes are still available, so don’t hesitate to snatch one up while you still can! Click here for more ticket information, including weekend passes.
Odd Box artwork by Andy Hart. Odd Box Weekender poster by James Indiehorse.