FEATURE: Tynemouth Surf Cafe | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Standing in a completely packed room filled with surfboards and a makeshift cabana while witnessing tweeny moshers going mad to Glaswegian garage rockers Baby Strange is a thoroughly surreal experience. Surreal, but wonderful. The juxtaposition between the gothic and doom-laden thrash of the Glasgow trio, their youthful fans and surroundings more reminiscent of the South Pacific than North Tyneside, is something only the Tynemouth Surf Café can pull off, making it one of the most distinctive venues in the region.

Nestled between Juvan Arts and the Surf Co. along the beautiful North Tyneside coastline, the Tynemouth Surf Café has been open for three and a half years and occupies a building that’s over a century old. It’s a tiny venue – the capacity is only around 70 – and most days it serves as an intimate bar/café serving all nature of drinks and hot food. It welcomes dog lovers with open arms, hosts a darts night every Thursday and is home to a popular weekly music night. Much of the Surf Café’s charm is derived from its décor, which suggests that someone transported an alternative beach hut from the Gold Coast and set up by the North Sea. Two giant Australian and South African flags are suspended from the ceiling alongside fishing nets, a BMX strapped to the wall, framed photographs of John Lennon and a clapped-out neon sign encouraging the audience to applaud above the stage.

“The fact we are so small means we have a very natural intimate setting. We want people to feel at home”

For music lovers, the Surf Café offers the opportunity for fans to get a lot closer to the acts. At the aforementioned Baby Strange gig, a superfan of the trio was close enough to accidentally duet with frontman Johnny Madden. Aside from the occasional touring act the venue remains very North East focused, playing host to the likes of Coquin Migale, Charlie Dancer, Paul Liddell, Olivia Devine, Caolifhionn Rose and Champagne Charlies in recent months.

Richey Southern has worked with the Surf Café since November 2014, when he helped to promote an intimate gig by The Lake Poets, and he has fond memories of two recent gigs in particular: “Hyde & Beast and Grandfather Birds. We sold out in mega quick time and both gigs were tremendous. No egos or posturing and the bands socialised with everyone in attendance; it was superb. They are definitely two bands I’d love to have back at the Surf Café.” Luke Stuart-Smith, the founder of Gigiti, has promoted gigs at the venue and feels that it’s a special place. “The Tynemouth Surf Café has music at its heart. Gigiti have been lucky enough to organise a couple of gigs there and each one has been a very special occasion,” he says. “Without fail, the audiences have been some of the most appreciative around.”

For Richey, there’s one major thing that sets the Surf Café apart from the rest: “The location. We are perched on the shorefront overlooking Tynemouth long sands. The fact we are so small means we have a very natural intimate setting. We want people to feel at home.”

With what should be a thunderous headline show from Lisbon on Friday 7th and regulars Shinobi Fantobi lined up for Saturday 22nd, there’s never been a better time to check out what the Surf Café has to offer.

Tynemouth Surf Café is located at Unit 2, Palace Buildings, Grand Parade, Tynemouth.

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