“Sitting as a teenager on the hill of Hall Garth Park in Hornsea, Yorkshire, during the annual Hornsea Carnival, I used to watch local bands play to the crowd on the back of a trailer. Whilst the quality of some of the bands was questionable, it was a rare experience to enjoy live music and the energy it created throughout the crowd. In those days, it was almost unthinkable to start a band without 7 amps and an array of electric guitars.
Fast forward to today, and the singer-songwriter types have staged a comeback. Artists like Lulu James and Beth Jeans Houghton draw a strong crowd with lyrics, vocal delivery and heartfelt emotion taking preference over the bands that like to put your testicles in a vice and give them a good old squeeze. Myself and Matt, however, still like to rock out with our proverbial fenders out.
And with that in mind we made our way to the Tyne Bar for the first act of the evening, The Watchers, who delivered a fairly tight set. With a guitarist that dances around like a ten year old boy who’s just unwrapped the latest Transformers Cyberverse Vehicle (with firing missiles) at Christmas, and a singer who enjoyed sinking to his knees and shouting into a microphone in such a way that made him look like he was violently eating a teacake, it was a great start to the night. Noise-enthusiasts sat by the speaker, surely to the detriment of their eardrums, whilst others stood around wearing questionable clothing that justified my decision to not ‘do’ fashion for the past ten years. Overall, a set everyone enjoyed.
We quickly made our way over to the Cluny, where Eeves had already begun their set. We made our way to front and centre to stand with team amazing, all of whom were sporting the ‘Keep The Faith’ Amazing Radio t-shirts (available now in either black or white – all proceeds go towards musicians). In the same venue that I have watched both Focus and Arctic Monkeys, I always expect a great performance from whoever is playing.
Watching the band go through a great set with some aplomb, my eyes were drawn to the floppy hair of the guitarist who was forced to constantly flick his hair back so he could see what he was doing. It’s called hair gel son, I stumbled onto this little secret years ago and have never looked back. Opposite him on the stage, the bassist spent a lot of shaking his head. I don’t think he needed to be disappointed with himself, he was doing a grand job. Before they ended their set with a track that was either written, performed, endorsed, or heavily influenced by the Pixies, I still had time to notice that the new music crowd are very tall. And it wasn’t even 9pm yet. Still, a great live band we’d recommend going to see.
As Matt went for his first toilet break of the evening, I discussed other acts the rest of the team had watched already that evening. Dani Charlton provided her one-line review of Apollo Gets The Girl (“Synth-apocolypse, future promise”) whilst the all-round awesome Kevin “Mr Amazing” Read saw Ghosts Of Old Berlin (“They’re as musically talented, as the pillow scene in Planes, Trains and Automobiles is quotable”).
We hung around for the next band, friends-of-the-show Boy Jumps Ship. We had planned to stay for only 15 minutes so we could go catch some of Collectors Club, but the boys had other ideas. They metaphorically hooked us by the nipples with their brand of catchy chant-rock. As ever, Jonny-Rob was full of smiles and hair straight from a Pantene advert, whilst drummer ‘Tops-off’ Gav delivered in his usual energetic style. The other two, guitarist Dougie and singer and guitarist Si, also contributed to the superb showcase of their new EP, Be Good Be Gracious (out now), by seemingly having a sweat-off competition. Whilst both put in a sterling effort, we think Si just edged it by sweating as much as a guy who just ran the Great North Run in a boiler suit. Twice. In 30 degree temperatures. And relaxing in a sauna afterwards. Still, we’d heartily recommend that if you’re going to Evolution Festival, go catch their set on the UMT stage at 7.45 on Sunday. You will not be disappointed.
Matt then went for a second wee at 9.30pm, a mere 45 minutes after his first.
We then strolled back over to the Tyne Bar for our final two bands of the evening. Now it’s not every day that a pub encourages you to “Try Nately’s Whore’s Kid Sister”, but luckily the band of the same name were not only on stage, but had their own beer. The band members themselves all dress like terrorists taking over the Nakatomi Plaza building, who use their instruments as weapons. Bizarrely, the much-hyped band had their own little fan club, with a group of young females all removing their glasses and jumping around in front of the stage, as though Justin Beiber himself had taken to dying his hair black, picking up a guitar and producing a powerful wall of sound. Whilst you expect some classic metal riffs, what you actually get with NWKS is a more relaxed yet intense, melodic heavy rock experience. And it really was an experience, ending with the ‘percussionist’ kicking over his drums in signature rock ‘n’ roll style, ignoring the help of an enthusiastic audience member who picked up his fallen cymbal and presented it back to him. Jog on mate, your help is not needed here. And with that came the various murmurs of people saying “Best band in Newcastle.”
Closing this year’s Evolution Emerging Tyne Bar line-up was the 3-piece We Are Knuckle Dragger. For a small group, they don’t half produce some noise. Honestly, if you’d closed your eyes, you could easily have imagined another 3 members of the band on-stage. At this point, NWKS’s beer had taken its toll and so it all becomes a bit hazy, especially with the soundwaves passing through, and aggressively vibrating, our entire bodies. If you like bad examples of headbanging, people shouting “Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!” and a woman under cover wearing a plastic raincoat with the hood up, you’d have enjoyed this.
And with that, we made our way home to get some sleep before our live show on Saturday. I laid in bed, eardrums still obliterated, and I thought back to my days at Hornsea Carnival. They were fun, but the quality of north-east bands is unbeatable. However, Evolution Emerging is more than just a showcase for the local talent. It’s a community, a movement, a shared belief that we have the best bands in the whole of the UK. It’s amazing, unique, special, and it deserves to get bigger and bigger, year upon year. And I genuinely believe it will. It may not have a parade full of floats, adorned with school kids dressed as princesses waving to the crowd but hey, you can’t beat the Hornsea Carnival at everything…”