FEATURE: STOCKTON CALLING 2022 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Self Esteem Olivia by Richardson

Taking place across eleven venues throughout Stockton on Saturday 16th April, over 80 bands and artists representing all manner of genres will fill the town with glorious sounds in what promises to be a joyous celebration of live music.

Chief among the cache of superb bookings this year is a headline set from experimental pop artist, Self Esteem. Capable of veering between cutting, propulsive wit and expressive, poppy delights, all wrapped up in iconic feminist bangers, Rebecca Lucy Taylor has cemented her status as a bona fide star. If you want to see her headline set at The Georgian Theatre, I’d start queuing now if I were you. Also at the Georgian, expect glam gothic pop courtesy of Glaswegian rabble-rousers Walt Disco; indie rock lushness from English Teacher; heartfelt and soulful rap from Luke Royalty; sparkling indie joy from Hartlepool’s Marketplace; Mr Matthew Fisher demonstrates his lyrical pop rock; Newcastle’s Pave The Jungle offer up their effortlessly cool fuzzy rock sound; and The Shakin’ Nightmares bring some garage rock ‘n’ roll to kick off the day in style.

Next door at The Green Room, the NARC. stage features some of the most exciting artists in the North East right now. Headliners are this month’s cover stars Komparrison, whose intelligent and infectious poppy rock tells relatable tales of being a young woman in the 21st Century. Also at The Green Room are bouncy pop punks bigfatbig; mysterious and intense garage rock act Wax Heart Sodality; Newcastle’s melodic rockers Pit Pony; MXYM adds a touch of glamour with a fusion of emo, rock, punk, pop and everything in between; Mouses frontman stebee ratchets up the social discourse with his acoustic punk tunes; while opener Sarah Johnsone’s full band show demonstrates her astonishing vocal talent and canny songwriting knack.

Things get rowdy over at ARC, as indie party starters The Pigeon Detectives bring their catchy and anthemic hits to their headline slot. Also performing will be stylish R&B multi-instrumentalist Brooke Coombe; dreamy Scottish rock ‘n’ rollers Shambolics; highly regarded local songwriter Jodie Nicholson; thoughtful pop rock artist Joe Ramsey and the beautiful and highly lyrical pastoral folk of Nel Unlit.

On the ARC 2 stage, Glasgow-based duo HYYTS bring tongue-in-cheek lyrics and delicious retro synth pop to their headline slot for super-promoters The Kids Are Solid Gold. There’s also vibrant guitar-led anthems courtesy of Retro Video Club; hazy indie from Swim School; the psychedelic pop of moa moa; lo-fi songwriter Frankie Beetlestone; indie pop band Moy; socially-aware lyricist Cara Rose and local indie folk popsters Mt. Misery.

Over the road at KU, there’s an opportunity to revel in the soundtrack of the disenfranchised, as South Yorkshire four-piece The Reytons present a headline set of energetic indie rock. Also leading the indie charge are The Skinner Brothers; the celebratory and euphoric sounds of Courting; festival-friendly Scousers Stone; psych hip-hop fusion act CVC; politically-minded TikTok favourite Seb Lowe; Hartlepool’s soulful singer Michael Gallagher; alt. rock guitarist Samantha Durnan and indie psych duo Shore.

The Social Room is a brand new venue in the KU family, and where you’ll find Darlington’s Tracks/Noisy Daughters curating a stage of cracking female talent, spearheaded by the melodic punch of headliners The Mysterines. There’s also ‘songs for mad people’ from political punks Loose Articles; bedroom popsters The Let Go; North Yorkshire punks Duck; scuzz-fueled locals Ocean Floor; hotly-tipped folk pop songwriter Faye Fantarrow and melodic soundscape creator Madeleine Smyth.

New venue Sticky’s are blessed with what promises to be one of the festival’s stand-out performances. Artists on the cutting-edge of politically-charged commentary, Bob Vylans explosive sound is typified by their call to arms tracks which effortlessly merge rap, grime and hardcore. Plus, local lad done good Dylan Cartlidge brings his retro hip-hop sound; electro-noir brat-popsters ZELA will turn in what’s bound to be a thrilling performance; expect big choruses from Stockton rockers We Tibetans; there’s guaranteed funky sounds thanks to Teesside’s Moon Wax; Newcastle songwriter Heidi Curtis has personality and vocal chops in spades; garage rock quartet Onlooker will deliver a blistering set, and riff monsters Ten Eighty Trees start the day with panache.

Round the corner at The Storytellers, promoters This Feeling bring Liverpudlian quartet RATS and their catchy ‘indie dub’ sounds to the headline slot. Also performing will be soulful indie rockers Casino; enigmatic rockers The Shakes; the blistering beats of Rolla; Brit-poppers Coco And The Lost; punchy spoken word punks Headshrinkers; there’s plucky and whimsical tunes from The Facades and opera-trained indie rock from Megan Wyn.

Over at Globe Stockton’s little sister venue The Link, BBC Music Introducing on Radio Tees curate a line-up which includes lo-fi bedroom pop ‘noodler’ Trunky Juno taking the top spot, with additional sets from R&B fusion artist Chloe Castro; slacker pop songwriter James Leonard Hewitson; the soulful alt. pop vibes of Nadedja; young Stockton-based songwriter Sisi; and cheerful folk artist Amelia Coburn.

Local promoters Famous Last Words curate the stage at Vault Hidden Bar, with Sunderland indie rockers Plastic Glass leading the way with their likeable charm and fun, catchy tunes. Highly regarded County Durham four-piece The Thieves also perform, alongside indie popsters Police Car Collective; intense songwriter Josh Vine; dynamic star in the making Tom A Smith; art rock band Youth Sector; creative post-punks Pizza Crunch; slick singer-songwriter Elizabeth Liddle and the folky piano-based songs of Lottie Willis.

Another new venue for 2022, NE Volume Music Bar sees Leeds-via-Hartlepool’s Venus Grrrls headline. With influences ranging from Garbage to Wolf Alice, expect songs touching on feminism and mental health, all wrapped up in angsty yet cool vocals and catchy tunes galore. Also performing will be melodic rock band Motherland; local troubadour Finn Forster; rootsy Americana artist Callum Spencer; the contemporary, minimal sounds of Lees; fast-rising Middlesbrough rapper Shakk; melodic rockers Church, Honey; superb songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Patrick Jordan and retro funk trio Pattern Pusher.

Coming at a time when musicians are raring to get back on the road and audiences are desperate to experience the thrill of a live show, Stockton Calling will represent a rightful return to form for our region’s bustling festival calendar. Don’t miss out.

Stockton Calling takes place at various venues in Stockton on Saturday 16th April. Tickets, priced £31 including booking fees, are available from Dice.



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