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

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Image: The Zutons by Jonathan Turton

Ten venues. Over 80 bands. One day. It can only be Stockton Calling! Teesside’s longest-running multi-venue festival returns on Saturday 30th March for what promises to be a talent-packed day of musical delights.

As usual, ARC plays host to two stages. The main venue sees the return of Scouse psych rockers The Zutons to the top spot, as they return after a 16 year hiatus with a brand new album released in April. They’re ably assisted by the infinitely danceable and wonderfully melodic indie pop of Ellur; synth-laden purveyor of skulking grooves and devilishly infectious hooks Good Cop Bad Cop; North East songwriter supremo Hector Gannet; gritty-meets-glam wild indie rockers The Chase; sharp-tongued South Shields songstress Cortney Dixon; and massive riff-meisters Gone Tomorrow.

The Kids Are Solid Gold take the helm at ARC 2, where edgy post-punkers Deadletter bring their gutter punk for the masses to the headline slot. Also performing is socially-aware songwriter Gemma Rogers; five-piece melodic indie rockers Reignmaker; the mysterious Velkro, who are influenced by The Cure, Warpaint and My Bloody Valentine; Sun King, whose sound nods to soul, jazz and funk; Glaswegian Lizzie Reid blends melodic folk with a pop sensibility; fellow Glasgow-dweller Tina Sandwich brings the romp and pomp of synth pop; while Brodie Milner combines intelligent lyricism with intricate melodies.

Around the corner at KU, headliner Corella meld luscious indie penmanship with a knack for emotive lyricism; maximalist trio NOISY bring a diverse mix of alternative rock and electronica; Liverpool four-piece The Kairos offer up their full-throttle rock and roll; Mancunian four-piece The Covasettes infectious riffs and pop rock grooves will have you heading straight for the dancefloor; Reverend & The Makers’ guitarist Ed Cosens brings an irresistible combination of brooding vulnerability, soaring vocals and lush instrumentation; The Guestlists simple guitar riffs and aloof manner have won them fans far and wide; Teesside-via-Newcastle’s Sarah Johnsone moves effortlessly from dreamy, soulful jazz vocals to powerful alt. rock; Darlington’s hottest indie band Blackout The Arcade are your go-to for alternative indie rock with a touch of psychedelic energy; and if classic angry punk is what you need, Teesside five-piece Dossers are bringing the revolution with a blend of post-punk, rock, metal and indie.

Teesside’s longest-running multi-venue festival returns for what promises to be a talent-packed day of musical delights

Sister venue The Social Room welcomes eclectic and eccentric Welsh psych rockers CVC (Church Village Collective in full) to their headline spot with their sleazy yet soulful melodic loungecore. Also performing are Wings of Desire, who peddle sublime indie pop, sultry spoken word and dreamy shoegaze; Nottingham’s GIRLBAND! offer up a dayglo musical omelette of influences incorporating everything from Elvis to Dee-Lite, plus contemporaries such as Wet Leg and Big Moon; North London trio Safe At Any Speed pair scrappy guitars with cocksure vocals to produce short, acerbic slabs of wit; post-punk bedroom project sounds mint has mushroomed into a snowballing juggernaut worthy of support slots for the mighty Blur; firm favourites of the North East scene, Cat Ryan have honed their art rock sound to encompass rattling guitars and foot-tapping beats; Newcastle’s Hannah Robinsons sound takes a broad swipe at evocative indie rock and dream pop; alt. indie band Weathership brings poignancy, lyricism and influences from jazz to Americana; and Durham’s teenage trio Jam Tub bring an explosive combination of blues, rock, punk and grunge to the stage.

The Storytellers welcome back promoters This Feeling, whose headliners The Lilacs are one of the hottest indie pop bands of recent years thanks to their dynamic and animated mix of reflective storytelling and jangling guitar-driven melodies. Also on the bill, Dictator morph from indie to pop and electronica with irrepressible energy; rising alt. rock stars LOCK-IN lace every track with a touch of indie Britpop, memorable guitar riffs and catchy lyrics; Toy Car offer up a raw, retro sound, with roaring guitars and seductively dark themes; young Yorkshire quartet The Slates are passionate and energetic; about-faces promise a dreamy sound world of lyrical storytelling; Glasgow’s THETA are equally comfortable with a belting pop melody or a wild guitar solo; while the infectious Sunbeam’s anthemic hooks are as bright as their name suggests.

The Georgian Theatre’s line-up features headliners and indie Britpop legends The Bluetones who, alongside a catalogue of fan favourites, are set to showcase their first new material in 14 years. Also performing are duo Getdown Services, who deal in groove-inflected slabs of synthy goodness and cheeky, rambling diatribes about everything and nothing; expect brooding vocals, fuzz-laden guitars and moreish choruses from Newcastle’s Ernie; Newcastle’s thriving indie frontrunner Lizzie Esau is standing on the cusp of a massive year; Hartlepool’s Scruffy Bear have won much acclaim for their bluesy hard rock; anarchic six-piece No Teeth will wreak havoc with their bold and dissonant punk rock; End Credits are at the vanguard of Teesside’s new wave of young indie rock; and Teesside four-piece Wingz Of The Monkey are full of poetic punky spirit.

Next door at The Green Room, here at NARC. we’ve curated a tasty North East-centric line-up which features headliner Dilettante, the delightful art-pop project of multi-instrumentalist Francesca Pidgeon, whose genre-phobic approach to music results in everything from fuzzy guitar licks to five-part saxophone harmonies and glitchy percussion. There’s also excitable indie rock from Hartlepool’s DAWKS; the widescreen indie rock of Sugar Roulette; Tyneside’s Fashion Tips, who peddle a distinct brand of deadpan, punchy and danceable angst pop; the dark and atmospheric pop of hotly tipped Middlesbrough-based artist Loren Heat; raucous and intense metalcore Teesside quintet All Before; and the off-kilter sound and pissed-off racket off hotly-tipped newcomers, Maeve & The Trains.

The Globe’s little sister venue The Link’s line-up has been put together by Darlington’s Noisy Daughters, and includes London trio deep tan, whose endlessly danceable cuts of thoughtful post-punk will hypnotise and intoxicate. The North East’s own mesmeric alt. rockers Pave The Jungle provide suitably cacophonous support; plus there’s poppy indie from India Arkin; dark pop, blues and dirty electric guitar from Pretty Velvet; Lake District-born Melanie Baker explores modern life and Queer identity with a captivating mix of raw vulnerability and poetic lyricism; Darlington singer-songwriter Emily Rowan has already turned countless heads with her tender, self-penned acoustic cuts; and Marina Josephina blends soulful elements with a tender appreciation of jazz and classic R&B.

BBC Introducing have taken over the stage at Sticky’s. Their headliners, Venus Grrrls, have evolved from pure riot grrrl, occasionally flirting with space rock, before harking back to their punk roots with a subtle metal twist. In support, Teesside’s pastoral indie veterans Moon Wax will bring the gentle funk and nu-soul to the party; there’s melodic harmony-drenched pop from Twayn; spiky and melodic sounds from Dayzies; expect a fun, high-energy performance from Durham’s charming indie pop quintet Ivies; Northern troubadour Jack Rasmussen has an ear for a spellbinding melody; Middlesbrough-born singer-songwriter Church, Honey brings the heart and soul to indie rock; while off-kilter, deadpan and gloriously moustachioed artist Trunky Juno kicks off proceedings in fine fashion.

At nearby NE Volume Music Bar, their headline act is Lucia & The Best Boys, who offer a blend of catchy indie pop and messages of strength and resilience. There’s also raucous rock ‘n’ roll from We Tibetans; dreamy, nostalgic indie pop from Manchester-based Megan Wyn; Cusps songs fizz and sparkle with an ebullient verve; there’s affable alt. pop from singer-songwriter Spielmann; Jen Dixon hits the sweet spot between blissful indie and socially-aware pop; North East psych punks TV Death promise a scintillating live show; Britpop-influenced Stockton-based trio Risco will get the venue moving; while Lost In Translation meld elements of rock, pop and funk.

Stockton Calling takes place at various venues in Stockton on Saturday 30th March.

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