Indy Man Beer Con 2016

This being my 4th Indy Man Beer Con, I was surprised I hadn’t written about it before. I have to say it’s probably my favourite beer festival, based on variety. I’ve been to so many (mostly CAMRA) Beer & Real Ale festivals, where I can literally count on 1 hand the amount of dark beers they will have. Usually it’s 3, one of these being a stout above 5% that sells out sometimes before you even arrive. Another will be a watery substance that claims to be a porter, but lacks body and flavour. There will then be upwards of 30 varieties of bitter. I once asked for a dark beer at one of these festivals and was shown their darkest beer, which was a ruby ale. If it’s translucent, its not dark enough sorry.

So back to IMBC – I’m like a kid in a sweet shop, because not only does almost every single brewery have something dark, some have several dark beers and there’s also sour beers and salty beers, not to mention saisons and barley wines, beers made with figs, beers made with bananas and coffee and you get the picture.

So this year was a slightly different, more expensive format and therefore less beers/tasting went down on our part – you can read more about that here on my partner in crime, Kirsty’s blog as I can’t be bothered to reiterate.

The long and short of it is, I had a blast, tried a few more beers I hadn’t, had some nice cheese (from Epicerie Ludo) and all in an amazing building (Victoria Baths).

The beers I had were (well according to my untappd account, I’ve also included ratings):

Chances are I’ll be back again next year, but I hope they consider revising the token policy – the one thing we both noticed is that with 1 token per third of a pint, and 1 token costing around £2.50, we were less inclined to try something on a whim.

Save

Aurora & Xamvolo, Oxford o2 Academy

Tuesday night for me was almost a year in the making. You see, I’d somehow missed seeing Aurora play at Iceland Airwaves last year, I don’t recall whether it was a schedule clash or pure exhaustion, but either way I missed her show and regretted it. Then to rub salt into an already raw wound, I found out she was supporting Of Monsters and Men who I was seeing in later that same month, but not the date I had tickets to. So unsurprisingly when news of a full UK tour came around and by some stroke of luck an Oxford date was announced, I was on it like the proverbial car bonnet and snapped up a ticket. I’d also like to state for the record that my love for Aurora’s music has everything to do with the Running with the wolves EP and nothing to do with that John Lewis advert (I also wasn’t a fan of the song when Oasis were one of my favourite bands).

So on with the support act -21 year old Xamvolo came on dressed in black, cutting a sleek silhouette in amongst the stage smoke and really blew away those cobwebs between my ears. having checked out the video below on youtube I was expecting good things. I was perhaps not expecting a an upbeat jazzy set that had the crowd dare I say, dancing? He has such a powerful voice and stage presence, as well as having a cheeky sense of humour, the crowd really started to warm up.. in his words ‘ I play this jazzy upbeat stuff, then I play … other stuff and played Down’ (also from the Chirality EP like Runner’s High). You can check out more of this stuff on soundcloud I think he will be one to watch in future.

In the swift break between Xamvolo and Aurora I grabbed a beer from the bar – the O2 Academy sells one of the Wychwood ales in an orange bottle – either a ruby or halloween ale, it was dark, malty and a nice respite from the 3 or 4 types of lager they seem to overly promote – hidden in the fridge out of view, would be nice if they promoted it a bit more, or even had a drinks list visible, so I’m just putting it out there!

Norwegian singer Aurora Aksnes performing at the Oxford O2 Academy
Aurora @ O2 Oxford Academy 2

On to Aurora, when she enters the stage looking several years younger than her 20 summers the crowd go pretty wild. There’s a good mix of people here- from young kids with parents, to people old enough to be my parents. Stood in front of a backdrop of a woodland scene she immediately starts with Black Water Lilies her voice mesmerising the crowd as she waves her arms around reminiscent of a Hindu goddess. We get treated to almost the whole of All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend, as well as the whole of the Running With The Wolves EP. My 2nd favourite track from the latter, In Boxes was particularly drum heavy which I loved – Aurora later told us that any variations to the tracks were down to a new band member Noel (or possibly Noah sorry if I’ve gotten that name wrong.. I couldn’t hear that well) who was ‘very creative’ and bringing new things to the music.

Aurora
Aurora

After several upbeat songs, the stage cleared leaving just Aurora and the guitarist (who may or may not be called Olaf), and sometimes co-writer to perform a new song Animal Soul, where Aurora declared she thought there were several of us audience members with animal souls. It is these sort of whimsical comments that endear her to the crowd instantly, that we all feel like we’re living in her fantastical world with her, just for tonight. After another acoustic track by way of Murder Song, where we’re reminded how dark her world can go we remain fairly mellow with Remain and Runaway (where I muse that I still can’t believe she wrote this when she was 12!). But soon enough the energy is fired back up with I Went Too Far and Running With The Wolves – where the intense, more danceable drum beat was back, reminding me of the remix that’s included on the deluxe album version. And just I was thinking, well the show can’t be over yet, she hasn’t sung Conqueror, Aurora announces that this will be their last song, as the inevitable drum beat starts the crowd cheers and we all start dancing again, then I realise I need to leave and get the bus, to beat the rush. I get on the bus happy and exhausted put my headphones in and relive the last hour and a half, blissfully unaware that there was one more song…

 

full photo set here.

Review: Lingo: A Language Spotter’s Guide to Europe

Lingo: A Language Spotter's Guide to Europe
Lingo: A Language Spotter’s Guide to Europe by Gaston Dorren
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t think I can truly express how much I loved this book? It really surprised me – I don’t recall why I downloaded it, probably some Kindle deal day, but it must’ve sat there unread for a year or so, I actually put it in my ‘Holiday Reads’ folder twice, but when it came to the actual holiday thought it would be too much hard work. Silly me.
It’s a witty and interesting whirlwind tour through European languages since the Greeks. Where they came from, how they evolved, languages that died out, languages that have been resurrected. Learned at least what some of those squiggles under and above some letters mean, along with why my Finnish friend Liisa spells her name with two i’s.
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, well why don’t they just spell it like that or why does this language put words in this order? Why are something masculine and feminine and others not – you’ll likely learn all about that in this book.
One of my favourite parts was at the end of each chapter, there was a word English has loaned from each language – along with often a word that doesn’t exist in English that probably should.
As someone who’s learning Swedish, this book was so insightful, as someone who’s had brief dalliances with several other languages through life, I feel again so much more informed – knowing the why not just the how.

View all my reviews