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

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Image: Tummyache

When it comes to all-day music festivals, Stockton’s got the jump on pretty much every other town in the region, and when it comes to the biggest and the best – it’s got to be Stockton Calling! The original multi-venue music festival returns to 10 venues in the Teesside town on Saturday 8th April, bringing big names, hotly tipped emerging acts and local stars alike.

ARC welcome indie quartet Circa Waves to the headline spot, whose recent album Never Going Under has been praised for its euphoric sound which is as resplendent with synth-led melodies as it is angsty rhythms. Also performing is bone fide up and coming rock star Tom A Smith; stylish electro pop duo Eevah; soulful indie band Skinny Living; brat-pop siblings and rabble rousers ZELA; high octane rockers We Tibetans and intoxicating indie pop songwriter Faye Fantarrow.

Veteran promoters The Kids Are Solid Gold take over the stage at ARC 2. Headliners Panic Shack present a punky sound full of frenetic, angst-fuelled and socially-aware three-minute bangers. Joining them will be pitch-perfect indie popsters Second Thoughts; post-punk dance-offs courtesy of The Queen’s Head; confident pop with an indie edge from The Big Day; trip-hop influenced pop from Silvi; folk-infused indie duo Lilo; Teesside alt. rockers Gone Tomorrow; and danceable electro punks Snayx.

Over at The Georgian Theatre you’ll find 90s indie rockers Sleeper at the top of the line-up, whose irresistible charm, perfect pop melodies, melodic hooks and accessible bravado will have the audience eating out of the palm of their hands. Also on the bill, Benefits bring their caustic, poetic and acerbic wit ahead of their highly anticipated debut album release later in the month; buzzy upstarts Divorce offer up grungy, alt. country leanings amid post-punk angularity; there’s slinky, retro-infused funk from Moon Wax; young RnB songstress Sisi will wow a hometown audience; guitar-wielding multi-instrumentalist and producer Cortney Dixon; Newcastle-based rock trio Ten Eighty Trees keep things hot and heavy; and opener Finn Forster’s heartlands rock swagger keeps him a firm local favourite.

Little sister venue The Green Room has plenty to shout about too – not least because NARC. have programmed the line-up! Our headliner is self-styled ‘grave rave’ artist STRAIGHT GIRL, whose array of synths, electronic bits ‘n’ bobs and endless energy sits somewhere between dreamcore electronica and whacked out psychedelia. Miss them at your peril! There’s more joyful energy from Northumberland’s Kkett, who fuse emo, hardcore, indie, pop and punk with a raucous performance; bedroom pop artist Cosial emerges with a fully-fledged live band and deliciously upbeat instrumentals to counteract her often melancholic lyrics; inventive genre-shifters Common Courtesy will bring spiky alt. rock and electro-infused bangers; Newcastle songwriter India Arkin’s sound is typified by honest and confessional lyricism and idiosyncratic soundscapes; expect garage-y tones and punky attitude from Haunted Hair; while openers Ramé Kari’s self-proclaimed ‘new-age blues’ fuses hip-hop and groove-based blues.

The ever-reliable KU welcome Yorkshire’s finest The Sherlocks to the headline spot, renowned for their electrifying live show, expect a set of stirring rock ‘n’ roll hits. Also on the line-up are Leeds’ Apollo Junction, whose recognisable modern Britpop has garnered rave reviews; expect an exuberant cocktail of house, drum and bass and old school baggy from Big Image; Wigan’s Stanleys are fast becoming the darlings of the North West indie scene; the dreamlike and infectious indie pop of Blondes is at once cannily nostalgic and urgently fresh; expect soaring indie earworms from Coventry’s Candid; Teesside pop funk favourites The Lulas are unapologetically upbeat and gloriously catchy; anthemic Wearsiders Docksuns come bouncing to Stockton with indie-infused glee; and Billingham newbies WhiteNoise are a must-see for next-big-thing seekers.

Upstairs venue The Social Room will see headliners The Pale White bring their arena-ready bombast, bluesy swagger and melodies that writhe and soar to thunderous effect. Earlier in the day expect a thunderous set from jazz-inflected post-punks Opus Kink; thrilling garage punks Avalanche Party, whose live show is as visceral as they come; indie rock band The Clause, who cite the likes of ABBA, The Doors and Kasabian among their influences; South Yorkshire gang Bedroom High Club bring their jangle-filled sound; teenage singer-songwriter Ruby J is a vital new talent; there’s frantic rock ‘n’ roll with a conscious edge from The Silver Lines; expect melodious vocals and expansive electronics from multi-instrumentalist Teesside talent Jen Dixon; and local four-piece Provenance open the bill with their melodic indie pop.

Over at The Storytellers, promoters This Feeling have curated a line-up topped by buzz band Overpass, whose tales of lust and heartbreak are soundtracked by thumping rhythms and euphoric shimmering guitar lines. Also on the stage will be sets from euphoric hook-filled quintet Rosellas; The Lilacs offer sharp-tongued narratives and writhing beats; Nottingham’s metropolitan and melodic four-piece The Chase; the in-your-face poppy punk perfection of bigfatbig; driving and heartfelt anthems courtesy of The Rosadocs; bedroom pop upstarts Barstaff; and ferociously carefree indie band Dirty Blonde.

The Globe Stockton’s sister venue The Link is curated by Darlington music collective Tracks, so expect a typically inclusive and well thought-out roster of established and up and coming talent. The stage is topped by Tummyache, whose sound embodies a pan-genre approach where indie, electronica and pop are all equally valid. There’s also dreamy indie and alt. pop from Mollie Coddled; art rock project Dilettante are a must for fans of St Vincent and Fiona Apple; funk rock with punch, Scruffy Bear are a whole lot of fun; expect gritty, slinking indie from King Violet; Newcastle songwriter Hannah Robinson weaves dreamlike, melancholic indie; and enigmatic and entrancing performer Girl From Winter Jargon opens the line-up.

The stage at Sticky’s has been curated by BBC Introducing Tees presenter Shakk, and it’s a melting pot of superb local talent, topped by Hartlepool songwriter Michael Gallagher whose honest storytelling and concoction of pop, rock and everything in between will have the audience in thrall. Also performing is Sarah Johnsone, whose angular alt. rock and impressively mature lyricism is a real joy; Darlington-based soulful hip-hop artist Luke Royalty; neo-soul star Frankie Jobling; the gigantic vocals and mega-pop sound of Viia; four-piece Britpoppers from Stockton, The Collectors; contemporary songwriter Esmae, whose sound straddles country and pop; and in a classic bit of reverse headliner action, Teesside indie pop band Komparrison kick the day off in style.

And last but not least, the cosy NE Volume Music Bar will play host to Manchester punk outfit Loose Articles, who bring their madcap attitude and off-kilter tales of everyday surrealism to their headline spot. They’re ably assisted by socially aware indie rockers Spilt Milk; the brooding rhythms and soaring guitars of Middlesbrough’s Nice Guy; stomping Scouse post-punk mob Eyesore And The Jinx; the catchy tunes and arresting vocals of The Redroom; psychedelic grit-pop from Marseille; there’s genre-bending instrument-swapping indie escapism from Sugar Roulette; heartfelt piano ballads courtesy of Elizabeth Liddle and prolific Teesside musician J.P. Riggall’s Weathership outfit open the stage with affecting arrangements and heartfelt lyricism.

Stockton Calling takes place across 10 venues in Stockton on Saturday 8th April.

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