The pre-Cowley Road Carnival warm up event to be seen at last night was a gig at ‘The Bully’ (one of Oxford’s leading venues) by fresh-from-Glastonbury Australian band, Formidable Vegetable Sound System. I’m not sure if its the world’s first permaculture rock band – but its certainly the first I’ve come across. The event was a fundraising gig for the Barracks Lane Community Garden. What fun it was. Packed out, the event raised over £600 on a sultry summer evening with a local ukulele band in support and a reggae session before the main act. Hard to describe the mixture of influences but when I went down early to help set up, Charlie the lead described it as ‘..mashing together speakeasy electro-swing style wonk and live ukulele quirk with a side serving of radish beets..’
It was certainly quirky , but the message was spot on with more songs about composting that I could have imagined possible, plus others on permaculture, the end of the fossil fuel culture, waste and recycling (!) and the creative uses of marginal spaces. Funny, relevant, inventive, and not nearly as serious as the subject matter suggests, Formidable Vegetable Sound System apparently were a hit at the Glastonbury Green Field and I can see why as they turned sustainability into an epic dance floor sensation for the 100 plus who turned out to see them. With further stops in Suffolk, London, Bristol and Ireland amongst others in the next few weeks before their ‘world tour’ moves on to Canada and the USA, its worth the effort to check them out.