Feature: The Evo Emerging Experience
By Adam Clery on June 22, 2012 in Music
It was magical, wasn’t it? For all people like me bang on about how much we’re spoiled for great musical choice in this region, it’s not often that you can categorically prove it in one evening.
Which is the beauty of Evolution Emerging, of course. The best and the brightest of this scene of ours, all dropped within walking distance of each other and enough excitied punters to ensure that every single one of them gets to play infront of a good crowd that night. It’s an occasion, a spectacle, a celebration.
That said though, it’s a nightmare to try and cover.
7 venues, with almost 30 bands spread between them, and an army of reviewers and photographers who are constantly flitting and jumping from one to another. It’s essentially music journalism Tetris.
But we did our worst, and here’s our breakdown of the evening in as many words and pictures as we could muster. I was occupied with Natasha Haws, Amy Holford, NWKS, and The secret Lake Poets show, so I’ll save you all another 500 words and tell you they were, in their own ways, outstanding. There still holes in this of course, so if you’ve got your own memories that you’d like to see added them please get them over to me and we’ll add them to this tapestry of justified back-slapping.
Words: Paul Gibbins
Evolution Emerging is a truly special event, allowing punters the chance to see all the best unsigned artists in the North East on one night spread across a few venues all within walking distance of each other.
Playing early on at the Star and Shadow stage were Apollo Gets the Girl, making their live debut but arriving with a certain degree of hype thanks to a solid backing from the festival’s organisers. After a nervous start courtesy of some laptop-related technical difficulties (technology, eh?) they treated us to a short, four-song set of retro-inspired yet wholly modern dream-pop. Reminiscent of fellow-countrymen Cocteau Twins, their atmospheric, synth-laced instrumentals rise and swell beneath frontman Jack Bickle’s gentle, understated vocals.
On their live debut Apollo Gets The Girl gave us a confident performance and it was a shame that they didn’t get a chance to play more than 4 songs, they were certainly one of the most unique acts on at Evolution Emerging, and I get the feeling that it’s not just me who can’t wait to see more from them soon.
Headlining the Star and Shadow stage were Newcastle Post-Rock monsters Young Liar. Flitting between shows of tight, disciplined arpeggios and wild buzzsaw riffs, the band’s 3 guitarists are capable of launching from swirling, shimmering melodies to jagged, spiky noise. It can be easy for instrumental acts to lose themselves meandering aimlessly in overly-long ambient passages, fine if you like that sort of thing, but occasionally infuriating. Thankfully Young Liar recognise the importance of structure and immediacy in their music and at times the piledriving nature of some of their more raucous tunes can leave you gasping for breath in the breaks.
Young Liar are certainly one of the finest acts in the North East at the moment, they consistently prove it gig after gig and their new material sounds as good as ever, hopefully it won’t be long before we hear more.
Words: Carla Washbourne
I love Evolution Emerging. The Ouseburn in summer is generally a pretty great place to be, but Evo Emerging just brings out the best of the burn, with excited punters meandering between the 7 venues to catch some of the loveliest sounds the bank holiday weekend can offer.
The Polite Room @ Blank Studios are playing it sly, popping the details of their line-up on Twitter only minutes before each act takes to their small but perfectly formed stage. I’m awestruck at how Blank Studios has metamorphosed in to a truly beautiful space, and tonight conveys the comfortable aura of watching a gig in your living room (although sadly Deerhart don’t frequently pop up in the corner of mine). Deerhart (or Trev Gibb plus trumpet and fiddle to be more precise) are first up, playing a three song taster set before their pre-headline show at the Cluny. It’s great to hear deconstructed versions of tunes like the wonderfully named Corrina’s Nylon Strings, Trev’s dulcet tones really ringing through.
Fantasy Rainbow is the second of the Polite Room’s stealth offerings, and puts on a glorious show despite playing in a decidedly revealing setting for a silent cross legged crowd. The unimaginably talented FR brings some pared back, semi-acoustic numbers to the fray; the upbeat / downbeat lyrics and echoing riffs feeling perfectly suited to the intimate space.
Over at the Star and Shadow Apollo Gets the Girl are channelling the 80’s big time. Think Europe vs Depeche Mode, pumped through a Glaswegian sound system. It’s actually quite difficult to describe how much I now love AGTG, with their spine-tingling riffs and haphazard charm. Are there many things better than massive synths and a super-animated drummer in a vest? I think not. They pop onstage to shake things up at a particularly fortuitous point when the mid-evening-lull is threatening. As astutely noted by a toe-tapping crowd member, the only thing missing is some dry ice.
Teeside based Weird Shapes are another revelation. Throwing all kinds of shapes over some crazed visual trickery, the boys are equal part north-east indie heroes and electronic mavericks. Following AGTG’s synth onslaught with a balanced, staccato storm of keys and guitar, the boys have nailed an inimitably restrained but rousing sound. Weird Shapes cut a strong figure, ones to watch in waiting, and must be pretty much destined to pop up much further up some bills in the very near future.
Thanks to some swift but creative crowd management, I actually manage to slink in to the start of the penultimate Cluny set with no impedance. Phew! Deerhart bring us their second offering of the evening. Having played surprisingly few gigs for their notoriety, I’m still thrown by their ability to cast Trev Gibb’s solo-singer-songwriter genius in a whole new light. Boasting some of the best musicians from around the region Deerhart should be guaranteed not to disappoint, but they are much more than just a sum of their parts, their show feeling relaxed, incisive and joyful in equal measure.
Beth Jeans Houghton strides onstage to close proceedings at the Cluny, with the rag-tag Hooves of Destiny not far behind. Beth has carved out quite a career for herself since she first trod the boards of the Cluny, and hits the stage tonight with a stunning album under her belt and glowing reputation from all corners. The all-too-short set whips through album faves ‘Atlas’ ‘Dodecahedron’ and ‘Sweet Tooth Bird’, with their riotous nods to folk, pop, punk and rock stitched skilfully together by Beth’s operatic vocals. Totally laid-back and simmering with sweetly bemusing banter, the crew are clearly at the peak of their game and having a ball. As 11.30 approaches and the lights pop on mid-track it looks like we might be in the process of curfew-cut-off-crisis, but they flick back down for just long enough to let BJH gallop through a triumphant finale of Prick. Awesome.
Words: Andrew Openshaw
Evo Emerging kicked off at The Cumberland Arms with Chester le Street’s answer to Mumford and Sons – the much hyped Crooked Hands. Accompanied by new guitarist Tom Booth and the rest of the four piece band, front man Chris Brown led a spine tingling intro of harmony singing before launching into E.P. track ‘Waldridge Fells’. The ‘full band’ experience totally different from the recording – powerful, emotional stuff. New song ‘Eager Eyes’ was well received by a totally packed Cumberland Arms and that husky, caramel voice was again splendid for the awesome ‘Under’ at the end. What a start!
Sunderland’s Lilliput were up next with their jolly take on the alt folk thing. Maracas keeping the beat and a very happy, gnomish looking front man James Gilling belting out some of their well known tracks, including Little Wanderer – the crowd singing “I’ll take my time” in unison. For a band that have been together less than twelve months, the five piece looked calm and collected on stage and impressed the big crowd, many of whom I spoke to said they weren’t even planning to stay for the whole gig but found they couldn’t move once Lilliput started!
As soon as Lilliput left the stage however I was off. The great pilgrimage was underway, as flocks of Evo revellers descended on The Tyne Bar for what was perhaps the most eagerly anticipated band of the night – Newcastle’s Nately’s Whore’s Kid Sister. Music videos with lead singer being hung, vitriolic rants about money, press shots with band covered in blood – these things could only partly prepare you for the onslaught of Nataly’s. Arriving on stage slightly later than expected, the five piece all donned balaclavas and launched straight into their blistering set. Highlights included ‘Just Below the Ribs’ and debut single and ‘Fix My Corrections’. Aggressive, uncompromising and if I’m quite honest, totally terrifying!
[Worth mentioning at this point that the image at the top of the page is the hands of NWKS member Angus, after he decided to beat the very paint off his drum during the last song - Adam]
After having our faces literally melted by Nataly’s it was then time for We Are Knuckle Dragger to smash them in. I spoke to front man Aran Glover before he went on and the excitable Irishman was, to be fair, totally pumped for the show and was speaking at a million words per second. In typical metal style Aron got on stage and shouted ooooaaarraghggg into the mike and we were off. All of the highlights off debut album, the Albini produced ‘Tit for Tat’ were played, included the awesome ‘Bad We Bastard’.
Words: Mark Kelly
We arrived at the Tyne bar just in time to catch Acrobatic Society finishing off their dangerously loud set. I’d seen them once before at the Cluny 2 although it was whilst on a (successful) third date and so wasn’t paying much attention. The two songs that I caught however so ferociously performed it put me right in the mood for some top giggage. With a long fuzzy violin adding a texture that just underlined the brutal guitars and cleanly missed beats perfectly, it’s performed at a frantic pace and with enough energy to power Blackpool illuminations. “It’s going to be a good night,” I thought.
As it turned out, Acrobatic Society were indeed the perfect band to kick off the evening with because unbelievably they were the most gentle. Cinematic Submarine – aside from having the most excellent name – crashed straight into their fierce Math Rock and instantly dissolved my face with the most inconceivably cool guitar part. I spent the whole song just hoping the guitarist would do it again (he did but only once). And after that I was hooked. Colossal screams, riffs you could send a Viking army into battle with and rhythms that constantly kept you guessing. CS are a very exciting prospect.
While I found it impossible to pass any proper judgment on the next act – Nately’s Whore Kid Sister I’ll describe what happens at their shows for the benefit of those who have not yet stumbled across them in this varied, beautiful world. Notes to wit; they wear medium denier tights on their faces and head. The percussionist’s tights have a bobble on. They wear black wife beaters.
Their performance is reminiscent of Korn/Slipknot/Deftones/Spineshank circa 1998. They sell their own brand of beer at the side of the stage. They seem to slamdunk chords and let them ring for about ten minutes at a time. Your face wobbles. They sound like a window being permanently smashed. A double-glazing salesmen’s dream. It’s really fantastic to watch. At this point of the night I’m starting to think writing the review entirely in German or Russian would have been best to really get the aggression/atmosphere across. But alas, I can’t speak either, my iPhone app is crap and its Jubilee time. So God Save the frigging Queen. Next
Fortunately, NWKS they are just a warm up for the even louder noises that come next. We are Knuckle Dragger have recently recorded their debut album with Steve Albini. Which is a bit like recording your debut album with the god of lightning. Or thunder. Whatever. Das is Laut. Sehr Laut. The songs are often short but never sweet. Always vicious, always intense and always making you feel like you’ve grabbed hold of a 10,000v copper pipe.
There’s an age old trick bands use when they want to stand out and it involves doing a sound check and then when stage time comes along, just turning everything up a few notches and telling the drummer to break out the baseball bats. This appears to be WAKD’s default setting. There’s a chunky mix of bravado, exciting riffs, virtuoso musicianship and jaw dropping bass lines that sound like a vomiting goblin. People are climbing onto the stage by the last song to stomp around only to be hastily muscled off by bouncers. I want to join in. I want to mosh. With no hint of irony, I really do. This is music to make your eyes bleed and power trio doesn’t even come close to describing them. Go and watch them. You idiots.
Here’s the gallery in full. Images brought you by the warmth and kindness of Tracy Daniel, David Wala, Caroline Briggs, Tracy Hyman, Jill O’Donnell, Paul Burgess, and Hannah Parvaz.
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