NEWS: Wandering Oak 5th Birthday Gigs | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Lean Senior by Jamie Wdziekonski

We’ve spoken in these pages before about the trials and tribulations of being a gig promoter; given it’s often a money draining, enthusiasm sapping and largely thankless task, it’s something to celebrate when a promoter hits a birthday milestone. This month, it’s time to don your party hats and crack out the cake in celebration of Wandering Oak, who have braved five years in the promotions game.

Walter Allison and John Nellist have brought some of the world’s finest psych, garage and rock ‘n’ roll bands to the North East over the last five years, from Kawabata Makoto and Dead Meadow to Six Organs of Admittance and Damo Suzuki.

“I think the nucleus of it’s always been just to bring people together and help out the bands we love! We’ve certainly never been careerist about it. We started with a night of close friends, whose music made for a great bill, and that set it all off on the right footing. The first time we got Kawabata Makoto to play though, that was definitely inspirational to us thinking internationally in scope.” Says Walter, about the aims for the duo. “Our other loose parameters have pretty much coalesced along the way – it needs to be something one or both of us love, and psychedelia and garage rock ‘n’ roll are fundamental passions for us, so that’s always been in the mix. We both love a good curveball though, and it’s always satisfying for one of us to surprise the other with ‘have you heard this?’ touchpaper moments, whether it’s a luminous outsider artist like Paddy Steer or something as gleefully raw as Viagra Boys. The other aim that became clear was establishing that other people in Newcastle definitely were hungry for the kind of gigs we do – which regularly happen in Brighton or Glasgow say – but that nobody was as committed to doing them here. So that’s the niche we continue to carve.”

It’s obviously a successful formula, and Walter is pleased to be able to say they’ve achieved their goals over the last five years. “We reaffirm it in the doing. I’d never have predicted much of what we’ve achieved, so it’s great knowing that we gave a platform for figures like Silver Apples and Damo Suzuki to shine here, plus eventually getting Acid Mothers Temple back here brought it all full-circle. We’re fluid and don’t think in terms of ‘we need to secure x band by x date, otherwise we’re not working hard enough’ – our milestones only got reached through blindly ploughing on, and only present themselves in retrospect. However, my personal goal for 2019 was to book less stuff than last year, and already that’s not working out too well…”

Such a milestone deserves a party, and not to be outdone the boys are giving you five opportunities to celebrate with them this month; French ‘quasar punks’ Slift start the party at The Cluny 2 on Friday 1st; there’s Thai surf garage from Khana Bierbood (Head of Steam, Wednesday 6th); awe-inspiring Aussie folk dreamer Leah Senior (The Cumberland Arms, Friday 8th); dancefloor psych renegades The Lucid Dream (Cobalt Studios, Saturday 16th) and a free entry gig from retro sci-fi surf dudes Japanese Television (The Tyne Bar, Sunday 24th February).

The future remains full of exciting discoveries and, Brexit be damned, Wandering Oak are still scouring the world for something new. “It’ll be a challenge to continue securing international talent, in the face of that B-word we’re all sick of… still not sure how that’s going to pan out for us, to be honest, but that won’t stop us trying. It makes things more exciting around here. Sometimes the most incendiary garage psych will be beaming out of France, or the best new post-punk noise from a squat collective in Canada, or the most spellbinding kosmische will emerge from Russia or Mexico. That’s who we want. Especially if they’re driven enough to tour their art internationally – they deserve respect. Having Australian, French and Thai talents in the birthday run of gigs though, and with Swedes like Viagra Boys and Josefin Öhrn already cued up for the spring, means we’ll continue to deliver that in the short term at least. It definitely helps us to have a dialogue with labels like Stolen Body and Rocket Recordings, whose A+R sense mirrors that ethic, and gives us something of a window to sustaining that. Plus we’d love to see some local act benefit from the shared exposure, and be able to release and tour abroad, as a consequence of what we do… however that’s not up to us!”

Wandering Oak 5th birthday gig list:

Fri 1st Feb: Slift (France) – Cluny2
with Cheap Lunch and the Lightwaves Museum
Torrential freakout psych bands
£5 advance – doors 7:30pm

Weds 6 Feb: Khana Bierbood (Thailand) – the Head Of Steam
with The Da-Da’s and Mr Comfortable
Garage / surf gang from Thailand, on Guruguru Brain Records
£6.50 advance – doors 7:30pm

Fri 8 Feb: Leah Senior (Australia) – the Cumberland Arms
with Cath & Phil Tyler and the Dawdler
Australian folk artist from the Flightless Records roster
£6.50 advance – doors 7:30pm

Sat 16 Feb: The Lucid Dream (Carlisle) – Cobalt Studios
with Pit Pony and Squarms
Dancefloor psych renegades in the Ouseburn’s best party space
£7.50 advance – doors 7:30pm

Sun 24 Feb: Japanese Television – the Tyne Bar
with Behold A Pale Horse
Cosmic surf dudes, in the second of our free Tyne shows this year
FREE ENTRY – doors 7:30pm

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