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

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Saturday 26th March marks the seventh Stockton Calling festival, which will fill Stockton town centre with such a broad range of live music that you’ll be scurrying around the town all day attempting to fit a bit of everything in! Having expanded to include two new venues, there’s even more on offer this year. Here’s our handy little rundown on what you can expect to see.

The Georgian Theatre
Headliners Dutch Uncles are certain to provide one of the must-see performances of the festival. The Mancunian indie popsters received wide acclaim for their recent album, O Shudder, and their sublime vocals, choppy time signatures and canny dance moves are certain to thrill. Also joining the bill is idiosyncratic songwriter Kiran Leonard, who provides some prog-pop deliciousness; the thrilling garage rock ‘n’ roll snarl of Avalanche Party; The Vryll Society bring kaleidoscopic riffs and frontman who has to be seen to be believed; Inheaven present their noisy Strokes-esque scuzzy fuzz rock; while some delightfully rocky blues is provided by Stockton’s Cellar Door and Newcastle’s Bernaccia, whose neo-psych noise comes highly recommended; Manchester’s Medics provide a fine way to begin the day with their noisy shoegaze-inflected pop.

The Green Room
NARC. once again takes over the Green Room stage, providing local gems galore. Topping the bill are Krautadelic duo Warm Digits, whose exhilarating noisy guitar, pulsing samples and driving rhythms are backed by mind-boggling visuals and a visceral live show. Also offering a raucous live performance are Teesside’s finest indie disco floor-fillers Be Quiet. Shout Loud!; Newcastle riff monsters Drifts bring classy cuts of melodic heaviness; fans of Nick Cave and The National will be flocking to see Stockton’s The Golden Age of Nothing and their gothic psychedelia; Newcastle alt. rockers Coquin Migale also provide some psych-tinged vibes; folk trio Secret Of The Whipt are brought to you by By Toutatis’ Ben Muriel, so expect grand arrangements and stunning songwriting; agitated alt. pop comes courtesy of Hartlepudlians Antlez; while The Black Sheep Frederick Dickens open proceedings with a bit of Dickensian Goth disco.

Warm Digits by Ian West

Warm Digits by Ian West

In addition to some excellent live music, the revered surrounds of Stockton’s ARC also plays host to the ever-important lunch stop (it’s important to line your stomach kids). On a musical note, Sheffield’s Reverend & The Makers bring their lyrical odes to Teesside, recently released album Mirrors has been hailed as a melodic masterpiece, and self-proclaimed poet-come-frontman John McClure can always be relied upon to provide an eye-popping live performance. The unique prospect of an Inspiral Carpets tribute band fronted by actual Inspiral Carpets frontman Tom Hingley will be an interesting addition to ARC’s line-up, catch The Kar-Pets at one of only a handful of live dates this year; after causing full-to-capacity mayhem at The Green Room stage last year, Kingsley Chapman & The Murder quite rightly shift up the line-up and get a bit more elbow room to showcase their sublimely dark pop; there’s also jangly fun aplenty from Leeds-based Vitamin; harmony-laden pop from Sunderland’s Lilliput; and Young Rebel Set lead singer Matt Wilde will bring his tales of love and loss.

Ku Bar
Ku Bar can always be relied upon to provide a raucous rabble of bands at the best of times, and for Stockton Calling they’ve really excelled themselves. One of the hottest live bands on the indie circuit, Blossoms, will headline Ku’s stage. Their upbeat and catchy indie pop has caught the eye of many a tastemaker, see them now before they’re playing mega-gigs. Also on the line-up, scuzzy rock comes in the form of Hidden Charms, whose rhythm ‘n’ blues-inflected sound is charmingly infectious; Sheffield’s indie rockers RedFaces; local lo-fi duo Mouses, who are becoming quite the favourites in scuzzy pop circles; Newcastle’s indie-pop lovelies Serinette; indie scamps Social Room head up from Sunderland; and opening the stage are TOWZER, who are built from the ashes of Sister Rose and Randy & The Handstand Band.

The Storytellers
The Kids Are Solid Gold programme the line-up for The Storytellers, and as always provide a line-up featuring up and coming artists and sure-fire hits. The melancholic beauty of headliners Dancing Years will close the stage; also playing Storytellers are Plastic Mermaids, whose Flaming Lips-esque creativity is backed with subtly grand arrangements; all the way from Sydney, Spookyland pack a raw emotional punch; Leeds-based alt. pop trio Actor join the bill; as do indie quartet Blue Kassette, who have been described as sounding like Interpol with added vitamin C; you can also expect the shimmering lush pop of Tamu Massif; hotly tipped local Americana-peddling rockers The Last Spectacular; the much loved Dressed Like Wolves, whose lo-fi folk is always a delight; and folk pop behemoth and misleadingly monikered Tom Joshua (for there are many of them) will open proceedings.

The Vault
Promoters Nouvelle Musique have curated a stage filled with highly regarded acts from far and wide. Topping the bill are Liverpudlian five-piece The Hummingbirds, whose jangle pop is fittingly upbeat, they fuse indie sensibilities with a canny Americana-esque twang. Also playing are local rockers The Purnells, whose live show is often unpredictable and always gripping; glitchy ambient pop is the order of the day from Oxford’s Pixel Fix, who are complemented by the highly rated Newcastle-based Cape Cub, whose infectious and expansive alt. pop is really quite lovely; Irish duo Morrissey And Marshall share harmony duties on their joyous rock; singer-songwriter Samantha Durnan’s gently paced sound is studded with lush vocals and quirky beats; Natalie McCool’s effervescent and catchy melodies are complemented by a perfect pop vocal; Middlesbrough’s Joe Ramsey provides some accomplished acoustic sounds; James Gray Robson & The Lovely Burn’s simple yet moving songs and stunning vocals are guaranteed to stop an audience in their tracks; while honey-voiced songwriter Carl Eaton kicks things off in gently affecting style.

THE SUN INN STAGE - X Ray Cat Trio__1455289836_128.65.101.133

X Ray Cat Trio

The Sun Inn
Local promoters Into Tomorrow prove once again they’ve got their fingers on the pulse, with a line-up which includes the punky goodness of headliners Ming City Rockers, whose DIY approach and fresh-faced looks has gained them legions of fans. Also ready to rock the intimate surrounds of The Sun Inn are local blues rockers The Magick Godmothers; the surfabilly joyousness of Leeds-based X Ray Cat Trio; Liverpool’s funky psych-fuelled jazz pop mashers Dusst; the electronic hi-fi buzz of Hartlepudians Lost State of Dance; the funky and grungy stylings of Middlesbrough’s Crease; the jazzy neo-psych of Whitby’s Major Matilda (previously known as Nocturnal Dictionary); expect glorious indie funk from Manchester’s The Tapestry; while opening the stage is gifted young local songwriter Heather Story.

Music Lounge
Whirling Dervish head from their home at Middlesbrough’s TSOne to provide their usual manic mix of live music for Music Lounge’s debut Stockton Calling outing. The line-up is topped by Leeds favourites Post War Glamour Girls, whose off-kilter post-punk is always a live favourite. Speaking of which, hang onto your hats as the joyously unruly blues rock howl of Goy Boy McIlroy will entertain the masses alongside the deliciously dark bluesy twang of Velvoir; the feral psych-rock of Kobadelta; lo-fi grungy trio Bruja; Stockton’s fabulous alt. rockers Idle Violets; Newcastle’s Yellow Creatures, whose artfully driven garage-infused rock will be sure to titillate; while Figmennt add some delightful shoegazy post-rock to a cracking line-up that it’ll be hard to tear yourself away from.

Room 21
Another new addition to the Stockton Calling family welcomes another local clan, Hartlepool’s The Jar Family. Currently embroiled in the admirable feat of playing 100 gigs throughout the year, the multi-limbed industrifolk group always put on a storming live show. Also heading to Room 21 are the epic indie sounds of Abel Raise The Cain; the Zane Lowe-approved indie pop of Clay; Teesside’s very own extravagant alt. popsters Weird Shapes; hook-filled pop courtesy of Alistair James; the ever-entertaining ramshackle folk rock of John & The Ragmen; the mod-inspired King Mojo adds some rock and roll to proceedings; and the avant chamber-folk of JP Riggall sets the bar high from the start.

Add to this another two free stages from Sound It Out Records and The Golden Smog, and you’ve got yourself a damn fine festival.

Tickets for Stockton Calling cost £16.50 in advance. Having sold out in advance for the last few years, it’s advisable to grab your tickets early!


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