LIVE REVIEW: Stockton Calling (31.03.18) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: We Are Scientists by Sam Wall

Stockton Calling returned for its ninth year, packing out nine unique venues to showcase a mix of amazing upcoming artists alongside familiar faces. Although it wasn’t the best weather in the quaint market town, spirits were far from dampened as crowds braved the rain for a day full of music at the sold out festival.

The first act we caught was indie-pop outfit Llovers. Opening the ARC stage, the hotly-tipped Teesside lads managed to pull in an impressive crowd. Launching into a set-list sprinkled with jingly keys and funky foot-tapping basslines, they delighted with dreamy shoegaze-esque tones throughout tracks such as I Don’t Mind and Feeling Sound, which radiated perfect 90s psych garage vibes. Although the rawness of being a brand new act still leaked out, a lush crescendo of crashing drums for the closing track Borderlines showed that these guys have huge potential.

As Llovers departed the stage, we headed down to quirky and cosy pub The Storytellers to see Feva. Cramming into the tiny venue, the four-piece strutted around the little space they had and launched into a rambunctious indie rock set that shook the room. It was rowdy, it was passionate and they shone with the determination that bands such as The Libertines kicked off with in the earlier days. Another cracking North East band. 

Heading back to ARC, we stumbled across Sheffield indie rockers Oddity Road. Blasting out old-school rock vibes, this young quartet didn’t quite fill the venue to the rafters, and their fast-paced sound and a combination of crashing guitars with rowdy drumming failed to stir the atmosphere, which unfortunately didn’t reflect the band’s output. I wish that these guys had been on one of the smaller, lively stages where they could have been appreciated more.

We stuck at ARC for the next band and what was ultimately my personal highlight of the whole day, Leeds indie quartet Marsicans. Opening on the popular Sleeping Alone, these lads are no stranger to playing live and their energetic nature ricocheted around the walls. The delicate Wake Up Freya and ebullient Too Good, were particular highlights; dreamy keys circled dirty pop basslines and they cemented themselves as one of the best new acts that I’ve seen in a long time.

Image: Cape Cub by Tracy Hyman

The next act on my radar was Cape Cub, after hearing phenomenal reviews across the board. Piling into Ku Bar and battling through the packed audience, the atmosphere was buzzing and the band didn’t disappoint. Cruising through seven tracks, including the anthemic opener All I Need and silky smooth finisher Flowers, it was obvious why Cape Cub is already extremely popular. A stunning amalgamation of similarities from Bastille to Glasvegas, get ready for immense things from these guys.

After immersing myself in an indie-heavy day, we swung on by to the Green Room to catch Teesside’s alt hip-hop artist Dylan Cartlidge. Swaggering onto the stage in sunglasses, Cartlidge’s unique rap style has a melodic and funky edge, with freestyle rapping a real treat. Very different to what I’d seen all day but absolutely brilliant.
As the day drew to a close, it was time to choose from the headline acts across the venues. I managed to catch The Spitfires at Room 21 with their mod-influences reminiscent to late 70s punk legends The Jam.

Finally, it would have been criminal to not catch the legendary We Are Scientists at Ku. With queues spilling out down the street, it was evident that so many people were excited to see the popular American rockers. Delighting with songs new and old, including favourite Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt, there is little else to say about this band other than ‘wow!’. They’ve been in the business a long time and I didn’t expect anything less, but it’s good to know that they have still got it. A pleasure to see them here in the North East and a perfect finisher for the Ku stage.
Alongside the plethora of amazing acts across the day, spanning genres that I didn’t even know existed, it was great to see Stockton waving the flag as home to really cool venues. With this much talent in the North East and beyond, the Teesside music scene is an exciting place to be a part of right now and Stockton Calling was testament to that. Roll on the next one!

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