FESTIVAL REVIEW: Coast Fest @ Percy Park, North Shields (30.06.23-02.07.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: The Futureheads by Thomas Jackson

Organising a festival requires more than just sheer determination – it demands an audacious spirit and a healthy dose of foolishness. To launch a brand new festival in the North East, amidst a relentless cost-of-living crisis, and while fending off the legal threats of a litigious American corporation, takes this audacity to a whole new level. Yet, the team behind the festival which shall henceforth be known as Coast Fest) have proven that obstacles are meant to be conquered. They delivered an event they, and the town, can be proud of.

At the helm, the local heroes themselves, The Futureheads, alongside the perpetually exceptional Mystery Jets, stood as superb choices for headliners – a true testament to the festival’s intent. As the sun descended over Percy Park, both bands graced the stage with sets teeming with their greatest hits. The Futureheads, firmly at their laid back best, channelled the likes of Carnival Kids, Robot, and The Beginning of the Twist. The subsequent night belonged to Mystery Jets, reminding us why they have long been regarded as one of the country’s finest live acts.

For those acquainted with the North East’s vibrant music scene, the remaining line-up was an ensemble of exceptional quality, though perhaps with few unexpected surprises. The rapidly ascending talent of Tom A Smith graced the second stage early on Saturday, setting the tone for the day. Hector Gannet, on the other hand, left no doubt as to why no one likes to perform after them, magnificently paving the way for Sunday’s headliners. In between, we were treated to the heartfelt artistry of Glasgow’s own Connor Fyfe, the tantalizing pop stylings of the highly tipped Lauren Amour, and Liam Fender‘s fusion of Tom Waits’ gritty allure with Britpop sensibilities. Fender attracted a sizable crowd, proving that his name served as the initial draw, but it was his tunes that kept them interested. However, it was Ruth Lyon who undeniably conquered the stage on Sunday, leaving an indelible mark on the festival.

Yet, a festival is more than just the sum of its musical acts. Coast Fest fostered a great community spirit throughout the weekend, offering the experience where one could enjoy in the sight of bands performing while savouring a pint, all while keeping an eye on the enthralling finale of an amateur cricket match unfolding across Percy Park. It may seem surreal, but I wholeheartedly recommend it. Coast Fest stands in stark contrast to the gargantuan, city-sized mega-festivals, and that is precisely what makes it all the more extraordinary. Undoubtedly, the success of its debut year will fuel a rapid growth, but here’s to hoping it doesn’t expand too hastily. A wonderful debut year.


Image: Mystery Jets by Thomas Jackson

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