INTERVIEW: Brave Exhibitions | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed

Image: Mykki Blanco

There have been three Brave Exhibition festivals thus far, two before The Awfulness, and one this time last year when we were all emerging, pale and anxious, from our own personal lockdown hell. They were all rightly acclaimed, last year’s especially so for its diverse and inclusive bill that largely eschewed blokey guitar bands in favour of laptop acts, a strong showing for female and queer artists and a general sense of new possibilities. The festival is largely the work of Joel Thomson and it started back when he booked the bands for The Cluny, continuing once he’d branched out on his own as a promoter under the F54 banner.

This year, rather than a festival taking place at The Cluny over a single weekend, Brave Exhibitions is spread across the month of November (and a little bit of December) at various venues in Newcastle and Sunderland. Thomson explains that this new approach is a response to the prevailing circumstances and mood. “Asking our customers to spend a full weekend in one place seemed like too much of a stretch at this point in time. We felt we needed to adapt to the major economic turmoil and a cost-of-living crisis that is very real in this part of the country. So while a full Brave Exhibitions festival wasn’t practical this year, a busy November means that we’ve been able to pull together a programme of great gigs under the BE banner.”

a busy November means that we’ve been able to pull together a programme of great gigs under the BE banner

What Thomson wasn’t able to foresee when building this programme was that the Low gig at the Boiler Shop – which very much felt like the centrepiece of the festival – would be cancelled as Mimi Parker from the band deals with treatment for cancer. Nonetheless, the twelve remaining gigs build on strengths of last year’s festival, focusing on two central weekends with a couple of gigs either side.

Things kick off with a show from Liverpool pop/R&B artist Jetta who plays The Cluny on Sunday 6th November, before the first big weekend of gigs the following week. On Friday 11th, upcoming indie outfit The Bug Club play The Cluny, while the fierce feminist Russian punk happening that is Pussy Riot play Cluny 2; down at Zerox, you’ll find psych sisterhood ĠENN, who doubtless picked up some new fans at last year’s BE. On Saturday 12th the mighty Part Chimp – also veterans of Brave Exhibitions past – play The Cluny with Ghum and local supergroup Irked in support, while Derry punk outfit are at Zerox supported by Tin Ribs. The weekend wraps up with AO Gerber at The Cumberland Arms on Sunday 13th, the LA singer-songwriter stopping off in Newcastle as part of a short UK tour.

Anthemic but inventive Chicago trio DEHD kick off weekend two with a show at Pop Recs Ltd. in Sunderland on Friday 18th November, with Teesside ragers Benefits in the same venue the following night supported by the wonderful Straight Girl. Manchester rapper Algernon Cornelius is at Zerox on Sunday 20th, and NYC indie outfit Widowspeak wrap up the weekend back at Pop Recs Ltd. on Monday 21st with support from Night Shop. Finally, Brave Exhibitions has pulled off a coup by getting the remarkable Mykki Blanco to play The Cluny on Monday 5th December, bringing the run of Brave Exhibitions show to a magnificent close with their intense and funky, powerful and political take on hip-hop and R&B.

Like this story? Share it!

Subscribe to our mailout