NEWS: Evolution Emerging | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Having started in 2009 as the little brother of the Evolution Festival, Evolution Emerging has not only survived its sibling event but grown in size, scale and artistic scope with every year. For its ninth year, it returns with a jam-packed line-up of over forty artists playing across ten venues in the Ouseburn Valley on Saturday 27th May. Here’s the low-down on what you can expect on the day:

The Cluny

The heart of the valley and the biggest venue at Evolution Emerging, The Cluny boasts a suitably generous line-up this year. Lulu James makes a long-awaited return as this year’s headliner, merging sounds from left-field R&B, electronica and soul with her own unique and charismatic performance. Having already won fans including BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, Cape Cub’s atmospheric pop is sure to delight, as is the brilliant, enigmatic dream pop produced by Keiandra. Meanwhile, young guns BLESH and Japanese TV Club add a dose of energy and quirky lo-fi experimentation to the bill, while reverb-laden local favourites Headclouds (formerly High Tide 15:47) and synth-pop maestros Twist Helix open.

Cluny 2

There’s an equally star-studded bill next door, as the hugely popular Coquin Migale – a band already boasting a huge fan base – head up proceedings. Joining them is the hotly tipped Welsh songwriter Bryde, compared to the likes of Whitney and Angel Olson by critics, and the folk-tinged storytelling of Newcastle’s own Mat Hunsley. The Fletcher Jackson Band (described as the ‘Sound of Young Newcastle’) and indie-folk newcomer Callum Pitt also bring their acoustic sounds to the venue. Make sure to turn up early as well to catch the enigmatic alt-rock of Sloe Kid, whose performance here is already eagerly anticipated.

Tyne Bar

The Tyne Bar has long been the home for the more raucous side of Evolution Emerging, and this year’s line-up doesn’t disappoint. Fuzz rockers Eat Fast follow up the release of brilliant new EP Cannibal Hymns with a headline slot on their home turf. Before them, catch the dazzling post-hardcore of Mongeese, the brilliant dance-rock of Shamu and the shoegaze influenced Teeside quartet Figmennt. Apologies bring sardonic psychedelia to the sunshine, while the debut performance of laid-back garage rockers Penguin and New Horror’s drum-machine post-punk also promise to be unmissable.

The Tanners

The region’s thriving hip-hop scene once again commands attention at The Tanners, whose intimate atmosphere can make for some euphoric performance. Fresh from supporting De La Soul, Sagaboi’s headline slot is not one to miss, while the multi-talented Chaos Jigsaw (with his backing band The Afronauts) and MC of choice for Shy FX and DJ Zinc amongst others ZICO MC also promise much. This month’s NARC. Cover star Jister will also be performing, as will the fantastic Middlesbrough native Leddie MC.

The Cumberland Arms

Merging a psychedelic sensibility with a cutting pop edge, The Old Pink House headline The Cumberland Arms for this year’s Evolution Emerging. This diverse stage is also set to host performances from young indie-pop stars Llovers, the stripped-back alt-rock and Britpop of VITO, the enigmatic, eighties indebted stylings of County Durham’s Primitive Painters and the hotly-tipped wordsmith and musician Eve Simpson. The mansion on the Ouseburn hill does it again.

Little Buildings

Venture down to this rehearsal space and lo-fi den near The Free Trade Inn, and you’ll be rewarded with a trio of stunning artists more than deserving your attention. Fresh from the release of their long-awaited debut album Recherché, the ambitious neo-prog outfit Cauls are sure to deliver a closing set that will linger in the memory. Darkwave/gothic pop duo The Black Sheep Frederick Dickens bring their conceptual music (based on the lift of Charles Dickens’ dissolute brother) to life here, while continuing the literary atmosphere is the intelligent and powerful song writing of Slow Decades, showcasing songs from the stunning second album Hinterlands.


Over at the Ouseburn’s own late-night joint Ernest meanwhile, you can enjoy a bill of exquisite new song writing talent in their back-room venue. County Durham artist Harri Endersby merges traditionalist folk musicianship with the loops and electronic layers of acts like Samaris, while Belfast-born Rebekah Fitch is set to perform an eclectic and energetic set of material that has brought comparisons to Florence and the Machine and Lorde. The atmospheric work of Warrilow, influenced by bands such as Midlake, brings another immersive layer to this venue’s offerings.

The Ship Inn

Tuck yourself inside the cosy confines of The Ship Inn, and enjoy a trio of inventive electronic performers that are sure to delight. Having exploded back onto the scene with their expansive new mini-album Arrhythmia earlier this year, What We Call Progress will give the grey cells some exercise, while upcoming synth-punks Novyi Lef bring art, architecture and propaganda to the line-up. Sunderland duo Mony Tanero (see what they did there?) meanwhile are set to make a live debut to remember with their glossy studio pop.

Ouseburn Farm

If you can tear yourself away from the cute animals long enough – and that’s no mean task, let me tell you – Ouseburn Farm’s café hosts four very special performances. Having already built a reputation as a dazzling live performer, make sure to catch Afnan Prince, while the urban alt-pop of Darlington’s Eve Simpson is also bound to make an impression. Featuring former members of Brilliant Mind, Ludd Heat’s experimental chamber pop is like nothing else on the line-up, while Jennifer Walton’s mix of complex soundscapes and intense dance beats is one of this writer’s must-sees of the event.

Evolution Emerging takes place on Saturday 27th May. Tickets are £10.00 in advance or more on the door (subject to availability.)

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