Saturday 2 April 2011

Newcastle Bands Emerging From Obscurity

As the years go by and Newcastle’s Evolution festival expands, it is becoming evermore apparent that the real highlight of the local music festival is actually Evolution Emerging, a platform for the best local bands to play some of the city’s greatest venues. Whilst the main event gets further and further away from what it once set out to be, getting more commercial but less exciting names and charging increasingly high prices for it, Evolution Emerging line-up improves every time, and remains absolutely free.

This year’s edition, on the 27th May, sees six venues and bars across the Ouseburn valley, including the Cumberland Arms, The Cluny and the Star and Shadow Cinema, hosting twenty seven acts over the evening. It’s one of the biggest and best evenings for the local music scene, allowing Newcastle to showcase the quality and diversity it has to offer.

Though the stage times have this year been staggered to hopefully allow for less set time clashes than ever before, the main difficulty still of the evening is deciding who to see. Opening at the Star and Shadow Cinema are the frankly brilliant Shift-Static, who create beautiful, epic electronic soundscapes, full of shuddering, fragmented beats and gorgeous female vocals. It’s a fantastic live act that should appeal to fans of Radiohead’s more experimental electronic work.

Line-Up Poster - click to see in full size
Making a rising impression on the local scene are Quiff Pro 'Fro favourites Mausi, who can be seen playing the wonderful Cluny2. Newcastle’s answer to Sky Larkin, they play shining, melodic pop-rock with ridiculously catchy melodies, and have a captivating frontwoman in Daisy Finetto. With an impressive launch of their debut single ‘Follow Me Home’ at the Cluny the other week, they’re certainly ones to keep an eye on and to try and catch on the day.

Fans of Everything Everything should make a point to see Tomahawks for Targets at the Cumberland Arms early in the evening. Featuring ex-Yourcodenameis:milo member Ross Harley, strong comparisons can be seen to Everything Everything’s joyously mind-scrambling mix of indie, pop, funk and art, but they’re still a promising prospect in their own right, and well worth seeking out on the day.

At the Cluny, indie-dance three-piece Polarsets will no doubt be playing to a crowd of tapping feet and wiggling hips (or, more likely, loads of pissed lads who still think they can dance credibly after several pints), in one of the more unmissable sets of the day. They’re one on the region’s biggest bands, and the chance to see their highly energetic live show for free isn’t one that should be passed up. Folk-tinged anthemic bar-rockers Coal Train headline at the Cumberland Arms. A good bet for fans of the likes of The Decemberists, they’ve recently supported the likes of Maps & Atlases, and have a dedicated local following.

If all that isn’t enough to tickle your fancy, the the Star and Shadow Cinema is also hosting Evolution Emerging’s official afterparty, featuring various DJ sets including Whip Your Hair, Kingsley Chapman, and, erm… Fist’n’Poon…

It’s great to see that although Evolution may be becoming a bigger name on the UK festival map each year, the Emerging event shows that it’s certainly not forgetting its roots. So before you head off on the Saturday and Sunday in giddy excitement to ‘Pass Out’ to Tinie Tempah, go ‘…On A Mission’ to find Katy B, or wait for Example to ‘Kickstart’ things (see what I did there?), be sure on Friday May 27th to take the chance to check out what Newcastle’s music scene has to offer – I think you’ll all be mightily impressed.

Originally published in The Courier.

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