FEATURE: NARC. Fest ‘18 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice / Rob Heron / Kathryn Hodgkinson / Simon Hubbard / Allan Scorer / Wesley Stephenson / Linsey Teggert / Joel Thomson

On Saturday 7th July, NARC. Fest celebrates its 11th year! Taking over the Ouseburn Valley with a series of free gigs, we’ve handpicked some excellent local promoters who have curated line-ups which span all genres and styles. Get stuck in…

The Cluny

Taking on headlining duties at The Cluny are alt. rockers A Festival, A Parade. Having recently signed a development deal with Generator’s Tipping Point Records, their energetic and dark melodic rock has caught the ears of tastemakers across the UK. Expect an urgent set and what’s certain to be a festival highlight.

More alt. rock comes in the form of Newcastle punkers Penguin, whose debut track Not A Problem secured Radio 1 airplay from Huw Stephens and scored them a Reading/Leeds performance too. No strangers to these pages, Nano Kino will bring their hypnotic dream pop to proceedings, while local punks Luxury provide urgent hardcore and post-punk melodies. (JT)


Jazz North East @ The Cluny 2

Jazz North East will present an evening of diverse and innovative contemporary jazz. Opening the show are Martin Pyne and John Pope Duo. Martin Pyne is recognised as one of the finest vibraphone players in the UK for his progressive style and fusion of electronics, he’ll team up with one of the region’s most respected bass players, John Pope, for their debut performance together. Fast making a name for themselves on the national jazz scene, all-female trio J Frisco combine art and poetry with improvised music, aiming to change perceptions and break down boundaries through improvisation. Riffs, grooves, noise and improv come together in Archipelago’s set, with Paul Taylor acting as a special guest. Mark Williams is renowned as one of Tyne & Wear’s most exciting guitar players for his unique amalgamation of jazz, rock and blues stylings. For this headline concert he will be joined by Andy Champion on bass and Russ Morgan on drums. (WS)


Little Buildings

As the Little Buildings is a creative place for creative people, it seemed natural for us to bend to Hot Sex For Boys’ wishes for a toga party! Opening proceedings will be experimental post-psych noisy four-piece Luna Del Cazador. Expect howling vocals, one floor tom being used like a full kit, zany guitar solos and a steel lap board thrown into the mix. No Teeth have spent the last year making waves across the city and beyond, the now five-piece bring a whole new level of depth, and with front man Sam acting like a circus ringleader you never know what to expect. Lovely Wife are another band who are a whole new level of ‘you never know what you’re gonna get’. Signature bass and vocals, plus two drum kits, will ensure a raucous live show. Headlining the stage are our chief protagonists Hot Sex For Boys, with some of the dirtiest, sleaziest garage punk rock. Strap on in for Toga with the Boys! Did I mention it’s a toga party? (AS)


The Tea Pad @ The Cumberland Arms

I am honoured to have been asked to programme a stage for NARC. Fest again. This year I have tried to be diverse in genre, as well as making sure I have consciously included female performers in the line-up, which is something I feel guilty of neglecting in the past. 

The Buffalo Skinners are the only ‘out-of-town’ band, but they are one of my favourite UK bands at the moment, they will be sandwiched by the delicate yet angsty songs of the talented Martha Hill, and the heavy sounds of Newcastle band Behold A Pale Horse.  In between and after the bands, local celeb DJ and fashion icon Lady Annabella of Jesmond will be playing her selection of 60s pop, soul, Latin and Tarantino-esque sounds. (RH)


The Free Trade

Having worked at the Free Trade for five years I saw it as a great honour to curate the event that I have had to work on the wrong side of the bar for so many times!

Idle Hands play dreamy, Americana-influenced indie with lush harmonies. If the weather is good (which it will be) I couldn’t think of a more suitable band to sit in the Free Trade beer garden with. Although they haven’t been going for long, Roxy Girls are getting a decent recognition already. Comparisons to Parquet Courts, The Futureheads and Gang of Four aren’t far off the mark with their off-kilter pop stylings. Milk Lizards are a band I have admired for years. The best way I can describe them is ‘really heavy surf music’. Fully instrumental, mega tight and really sound. Could also be filed under the ‘great beer garden music’ category. When I asked William Denton Wilde to describe his sound, I got: “songs driven by sleazy, fuzzy bass grooves that lament the joys of unattainable love and happiness and other stuff”. Their singer and bass player Karl is a regular in the Free Trade so what better place for him to play, hopefully this performance doesn’t get him barred. (SH)

Endless Window @ The Tanners Arms

Our fourth year at The Tanners Arms features a mixture of synth-pop, psychedelia, shoegaze and dance.

Opening the stage is the eclectic pagan pop of Mother Night, whose music nods at acts like Tame Impala and Caribou with songs full of driving bass lines, electronic trickery and engaging vocal melodies, merging dance hooks with psychedelic pop. A new project from acclaimed folk artist Ditte Elly, Knight Knight finds her taking a detour into futuristic R&B and intense electronica. Another new artist we’re delighted to have on the bill is Waves of Dread, whose beautiful and experimental dream pop and hypnotic and melodic sound is perfect music for a summer’s evening. Joining them are the stylish New Horror, whose drum machine-driven sound takes influence from The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Smiths to nineties rave and lo-fi house. Dramatic and grandiose, their night-time slot is sure to be a dark delight. Headliners Twist Helix have gained national and international attention for their sparkling, ideas-packed electronic pop. Given how euphoric their live show is, the chance to see them in an intimate and friendly venue like The Tanners is not to be missed! (MC-L)


Confusion Is Next @ The Tyne Bar

For the fifth year we have another stellar line-up covering the noisier side of the music spectrum.
Kicking things off with their early QOTSA-esque garage-tinged rock are Blyth four-piece Hollow Legs, who will present their hooky, infectious earworms. Tiny Mind have been causing a stir recently with their dynamic live show, and their absolute banger of a debut EP, Equals Closed Parenthesis, demonstrates their superior math-rock inflected hardcore – comparisons to At The Drive In are certainly not unfounded.

Bradford-based trio Trigger Thumb have been described along the lines of ‘if Muse and System Of A Down had a math-rock baby’, they’re an absolute spectacle to behold. Okay Champ are going to create a bloody lovely racket with their nihilistic noise pop. Featuring former members of Nately’s Whore’s Kid Sister, Let’s Buy Happiness and Mass along with current members of Eat Fast, the recent NARC. cover stars will be sight indeed.

Our headliners played the Tyne Bar stage for us back in 2015, so we thought it was only right to get feral garage rockers Avalanche Party back before they become superstars. Now known across the whole country for their insane live show, we reckon this will be the last chance you get to see them in such an intimate venue…brace yourselves! (LT)


Aftershow Party @ Cobalt Studios

Cobalt are flying Raj Pannu all the way from his new home in Greece to get on the decks alongside two of his oldest musical cohorts, Bert Verso and DaGu. Expect varied genres and a journey through banging electronica. 
Raj Pannu has enjoyed a long music career, alongside his work as a solo DJ, promoter, audio visual artist and producer, his key collaborations have been with Ninja Tune, Coldcut, Talvin Singh and the BBC. Bert Verso is a well-respected producer and performer with Grey Tapes, he is equally known for his adventurous and bold cross-genre DJ sets, and DaGu, a new alias for one of Newcastle’s longest serving and eclectic DJs, will be showcasing a deeper, more industrial jazz-tech sound, spanning underground ghetto styles. 

Cobalt is delighted to be a part of this important event in the Newcastle music calendar and, with a 3am close, it’s the perfect place to bend your ears and shake your limbs. All welcome, but come early as it’s first come first served for the biggest party in town. (KH)


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