Saturday 30th October was finally here! The sun was shining, the car was packed and I hadn't received any 'bad news' texts or emails; happy days! As much as I wish that positive streak had continued, unfortunately it dissolved pretty quickly when I arrived at the venue.

A local music promoter had made an online announcement that one of his bands, CalatrilloZ, had joined the Oxjam set. I hadn't been consulted and given that the set-list was already full, I was far from impressed. This was followed shortly by a text from Hellbound confirming that they were pulling out of the festival. Although it would appear to be a simple case of swapping one for the other, due to CalatrilloZ's prior engagements and other bands needing to get away by certain times for other commitments, things could so easily have fallen apart before the first band had even played its first song. After a quick discussion with the Patriot Inn's music manager, we agreed new, more flexible timings which would see CalatrilloZ play an early evening slot. As the bands and festival-goers turned up one by one, the panic I had felt earlier in the day started to fade away and was instantly replaced by overwhelming excitement; whoever said the life of an event manager was easy!

The crowd size did vary throughout the day. Whilst it was particularly busy during the early afternoon, numbers did plunder until mid-evening when the bodies turned up in their masses. We could barely move and we loved it! I was happily surprised that the Oxjam T Shirts sold out within hours of the start of the gig, whilst the CDs were also the subject of much interest. The raffle was particularly entertaining, especially as the members of CalatrilloZ lined up in front of the stage, eagerly waiting for their ticket number to be called. We were delighted to hear that, as well as the prizes we had had donated by Delta Force Paintball, Luvbee, Voice FM, Global Music Ltd and Harley Davidson, we had had a number of prizes also donated directly to the Patriot by an anonymous lady, to help in our fundraising efforts. These included, amongst other things, vouchers for beauty treatments, MOT's and flowers, which went down a storm with the winners. Whoever you were, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

All in all, the money raised for Oxfam came to... *drum roll*... 490.13! We are all hugely proud of ourselves and so glad that we could help such a worthwhile cause.

The most important aspect of Oxjam was of course the 9 bands who kindly gave up their time to help us in our fundraising efforts. They were as follows:

Kicking off Oxjam was Cardiff-based indie trio Recluse. Playing a dark set of alternative tracks from their EPs "Baby Monster" and "Anhedonia", as well as tracks from their forthcoming album, the guys had the early Oxjam crowd captivated from start to finish.

The youngest and heaviest band on the set, thrash metal trio Tempestora were more than ready to prove their worth to the Oxjam crowd. Full of energy and playing at an incredible speed, the guys definitely impressed me; I predict that they have a bright future ahead of them.

Local heavy metal favourites Counterhold took to the stage to one of the best audience reactions of the festival. With Oxjam being the band's new bassist's first gig, it could so easily have gone wrong but if anything the guys played with more force than normal to blow any doubt right out of the water. Playing with a breath-taking power, the guys were definitely one of my favourites of the day.

Blackwaters completely embraced the spirit of Halloween, turning up to Oxjam in full fancy dress - zombies, vampires, Freddie Krueger, they were all here! Despite the gory costumes, the band lightened the atmosphere somewhat in The Patriot Inn with their easy listening, melodic rock anthems. Unfortunately, Blackwaters was one of the only bands to suffer from the small crowd numbers but this did not dampen their spirits. The guys played a blinding set that deserved a much bigger audience.

An unexpected addition to the Oxjam line-up, CalatrilloZ's unique theatrical rock definitely had people talking. I'd heard so many stories about the Brazilian front-man's opera vocals and their extravagant costumes that I couldn't wait to see the set. Well, they definitely didn't disappoint. Masters of building suspense, the guys, who wore either masks or heavy make-up, put on a show that will be remembered for a long time to come. Dramatic movements, massive vocals and doom-laden instrumentals all assisted in grabbing and retaining the attention of everybody at the Patriot, many of whom had to pick up their jaws from the floor once each song was over. Nicer guys you will never meet, they were so humble and grateful for being added to the set-list; I really hope our paths cross again in the future.

If I'm honest, this was the set I was most looking forward to witnessing at Oxjam. I fell in love with the southern rockers when I heard their debut album earlier this year, but had not had the pleasure of hearing them perform live before the big day. Instantly grabbing attention, vocalist Savs' blue and white starry trousers really did give an indication of the madness that was to come, whilst guitarist Sam Woods, who was noticeably younger than the other band members, was the subject of much cooing by the older female audience members. Savs' bizarre anecdotes, which centred mainly around drugs, put smiles on the faces of even the grumpiest crowd members whilst their "boogie" music (often described as "psychedelic"), which was quite unlike anything that had been heard throughout the rest of the gig, persuaded many to take to the dance floor. The band's warmth and off-kilter sense of humour made them irresistible and as such, they were one of my favourites of the festival.

Blind Ambition
Blind Ambition front-man Martin Care had promised me before Oxjam that the band would put on a high-energy show to entertain the crowd and he did not let me down. There was plenty of headbanging, the guys only taking short breaks to drink or throw cheeky grins at the cameras; it wasn't long before the performance overflowed from the stage onto the dance floor, breaking down the barriers between the performers and the listeners. Playing a range of songs that included their single 'Judgement Day', as well as my favourite BA track 'Figure of Hate', which was kindly dedicated to me (aww!), the set ended way too soon for my liking.

Headlining Oxjam, Isolysis had travelled all the way from Nottingham to take part in this event. Throughout the day I'd overheard discussions between fans that were eager to see the band play only their second Welsh gig. By the time the guys took to the stage, the Patriot was absolutely packed and the atmosphere electric. Playing a varied set that included songs such as 'Ties that Bind', 'New Disorder' and 'The Condemned' from their album "Condemned", as well as a number of covers, including a surprising rendition of GUN's 'Word Up', the guys had the Oxjam crowd eating out of their hands in no time. Although it never crossed my mind that Isolysis would not be a hit, even I was blown away by just how quickly and deeply the audience fell in love with the Derbyshire quartet, a reaction that too many original bands fail to invoke at this venue. Finishing their set appropriately with the anthem 'Vampurity', Isolysis left the crowd hungry for more, with a promise to return in the New Year. By far the best set of the festival.

The Last Ride
The Last Ride was the final band to play the Oxjam gig, with the tall task of continuing the wave of pure adrenalin that the crowd was surfing. The lightest band on the list, would they be able to make their mark? The simple answer is yes, of course! Despite severe technical problems, the guys' professional attitude kept the crowd on their side and ready to rock. The Last Ride played a great set that included many Welsh rock anthems from the likes of Stereophonics and Manic Street Preachers. As most of the crowd sang along and danced the night away, this set was never going to be long enough for their adoring fans; a huge hit that really highlighted the diverse nature of the festival.

Photographer James Smith, after finding out that all bands that performed were unsigned, commented that the quality of their music was so high, that they put to shame most of the signed bands out there and I'm inclined to agree. The bands really did put in 100%, instantly gaining themselves a number of new fans in the Oxjam crowd.

I would like to finish the report by relaying my gratitude to the team that worked tirelessly to make Oxjam a success; Andy Kuruc, Angel Gareth, James Smith, Sue Sharland and David 'Sooty' Down, as well as Owen Woodward who stepped in to help with fundraising. Secondly, a massive thanks to all of the bands who participated. Every single one of them put on a fantastic, memorable show, I can't wait to catch up with them again in the future. Thirdly, I am eternally grateful to the Patriots MC UK for letting us use their venue, The Patriot Inn, their equipment and also for providing security for the event. Finally, I would like to thank every person who came along to the gig and showed their support for the bands and put their hands in their pockets for Oxfam; you all rule!

I'm ecstatic to announce that I've been asked by The Patriot Inn to put on another Oxjam show in 2011 so watch this space!