Evolution Emerging 2017 review
Evolution Emerging 2017 took place on Saturday 27th May across 10+ venues in the Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle. We were lucky enough to have a couple of press tickets to go along and see what it was all about.
Presented by the UK’s leading music development agency, Generator and now in its ninth year, Evolution Emerging is the North East’s biggest event for new music and annually presents over 40 exciting emerging artists in some of the region’s best independent music venues, located in the thriving Ouseburn Valley.
It was a sweltering bank holiday weekend and after a brief downpour at midday to clear the air it was the perfect sunny weather for a jam-packed schedule full of fantastic music. We arrived at about 2.30 pm and picked up our tickets. There was already a great buzz around Ouseburn with lots of folk sitting out on the green outside the Cluny enjoying a drink. We decided to join them and grabbed a quick couple of pints. It was a great atmosphere with a mixed crowd of all ages coming together to see some of the best the North East has to offer in new and exciting music. We bumped into a few of the artists such as Keiandra and Lulu James before their sets just taking it all in and checking out each others acts. This was great to see and gave fans excellent access to the bands.
To kick off our day full of music we went to The Tipping Point Main Stage at The Cluny to see opening act Twist Helix. This electronic alternative-pop trio from Newcastle consist of Bea Garcia Cisneros (Vocals & Keys), Michael Humble (Bass) and James Walker (Drums).
I had not seen them live before and was certainly not disappointed. They referred to this gig as being in their “spiritual home” on Facebook and it is clear to see they really do love the venue and region with their opening song “Evolution” and forthcoming album “Ouseburn“. They were the absolutely perfect band to get things started with their opening song getting the crowd pumped, it was impossible not to join in with their infectiously elegant tunes, with 80’s synths, hauntingly beautiful vocals, fiery guitar and powerful drums, building up epically to its conclusion like something out of a sci-fi movie soundtrack.
The venue was packed and you could tell they had some real hardcore fans, the crowd absolutely loved their opening song and you could sense the excitement at the day of music ahead.
“Twist Helix have already built themselves something of a following for both their giddy, densely melodic synth-pop and a touring schedule that would put most signed acts to shame” – NARC Magazine
Bea talked briefly about how excited the band were to be at Evolution Emerging. Their passion for the gig was plain to see and made it a really memorable performance.
It was clear to see they loved performing there and Bea’s smile was as infectious as their tunes as she belted out their new single PULSE.
“’Pulse’ is the kind of song you can dive into and become immersed in the depths of its dark layers. It is, in a word, mesmerizing ” – The Revue
“PULSE is akin to Depeche Mode‘s earlier tinkering with the darkside, Bea Garcia Cisneros’ vocals are the real deal Dave Gahan gone bad and possibly never coming back, accompanied only by maidens Siouxsie Sioux and Dolores O’Riordan” – Deadly Music!
I absolutely loved their set and it was the perfect opener to get you in the mood for Evolution Emerging.
I will definitely be keeping an eye out for these guys in future and can’t wait to see them again!
Their next North East show is on Saturday 17 June at Think Tank? Underground with Outside Your House for the Five Pence Game album launch party, with lots of collaborations and surprises! You can purchase tickets here.
You can also watch their video for PULSE. Beautifully shot it tells the story of their song released earlier this year. The video has a clear nod to some of the recent cuts to Arts Funding in the region and some of the aggression student housing developments that have blighted the area of late. Set in a dystopian vision of the future it is delivered by a protagonist who returns to Newcastle after a long absence only to find that the once vibrant Ouseburn Valley creative hub has been abandoned. Let’s just hope with brilliant events like Evolution Emerging that never happens!
Buzzing from the start to Evolution Emerging 2017 and with our first band under our belts we decided to grab another beer and chill out on the green once more. With all the hot weather it was a nice chance to get some air, refuel and work out our next choice of act. The vibe in Ouseburn was amazing and you could not have asked for a better day out.
Next up on our list was Callum Pitt at 3.30 in the Cluny 2, this was one set we were really looking forward to and was one of our “ones to watch” picks from our previous Evolution Emerging blog. We grabbed a couple of drinks and headed in early to find quite a crowd had already gathered in anticipation. It was a real mixed crowd, reflecting his popularity and cross-over appeal amongst fans, with twinges of folk, indie, pop and even country in his music.
Taking influences from The War On Drugs, Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes, indie-folk newcomer Callum Pitt combines finger-picked folk riffs with a stunning falsetto voice. His first demos, recorded in his bedroom, received airplay from BBC 6 Music and Amazing Radio, resulting in a spot at Evolution Emerging festival 2016 and high-profile tour support slots with Meadowlark, Cape Cub and Isaac Gracie.
We managed to grab the last couple of seats and sat waiting for the band to come on stage. The venue was really packed out by the time Callum and his band emerged on stage.
This local alternative indie musician looks set for great things with an amazing reputation already for someone so young. The band were incredibly tight, confident and looked at ease throughout the performance, they really seemed to enjoy the gig from start to finish.
We knew this one was going to be a good set but it still blew us away as it was a near perfect performance, it will definitely stick in my mind as one of the highlights of the year in terms of gigs. It is hard to pigeonhole Callum into a musical genre but obvious comparisons will be made to Jake Bugg with his tone and style of singing, but to be honest it does not really matter, the songs are catchy, the lyrics heartfelt and the music perfect for both big summer indie band festival stages and stripped-back acoustic performances in tiny dimly lit venues.
The crowd was hooked on Callum’s every word, from the first note and it was a joy to see. Much to my surprise it felt like you were watching a band that had been together for an age, loving every nuance of their performance, exchanging occasional glances to smile at each other and share their enjoyment of the gig. They played Callum’s catchy debut single, “You’d Better Sell It While You Can”. It was a perfect cheerful upbeat summer tune (even if it is a break-up song) and got the audience tapping along to the beat. His second single “Least He’s Happy” was outstanding and had the crowd swaying as one. The reception was great and well deserved, it was a joy from start to finish, the whole performance was absolutely seamless and I would definitely recommend seeing him live.
You can catch Callum at his next gig at Sedgefield Manor House, Durham Friday on the 30th June 2017. You can find tickets here.
We filed out of the gig with the crowds and headed over to The Ship Inn for some well-earned refreshments. The place was jam-packed by this time and the festival atmosphere in full flow, it was great to see Ouseburn so busy and buzzing from the festival.
We fought our way to the bar and got some beers in as well as some of their delicious vegan grub. Famous for it’s all-vegan Sunday lunch (check out our blog review here!) they were just doing their bar menu today because of the hoards of customers but we were not disappointed with their offerings. We demolished some of their amazing beet burgers and a tofu taco with a side of chilli chips. The food was amazing and hugely popular, a huge shout out has to go to them for coping with the influx of people as they spilled out across the beer garden and onto the green.
With our fantastic food wolfed down we grabbed another drink and settled in comfortably for the next band.
Up next was Mony Tanero, the brainchild of Sunderland lads Ben Deacon and Kristopher Forster. This funk fuelled duo brought some much needed feel-good sunshine disco pop to the north east.
The slap bass was in abundance with the upbeat vibes getting the packed bar grooving along to the music. It was a great fit for the venue and the weather, as the sun blazed down on Ouseburn with the earlier showers just a distant memory.
It was a pleasant surprise to see a little nod to disco appearing in Ouseburn this year, with such a choice of great talented local artists, musical styles and venues Evolution Emerging really has something for everyone. The packed bar also loved their set and I recon they probably got a free pint of two for their troubles!
With our funk well and truly on we wandered over back to see Keiandra perform at The Cluny Tipping Point Stage.
We are big fans for hers having seen her at Meet The North last month.
A local lass Keaindra is a Newcastle based singer-songwriter, her alternative expansive soundscapes have a haunting quality with an etherial folk feel. She appeared on the scene with her debut single Wanted in 2015. We were lucky enough to get to meet up for a chat prior to her set at Evolution Emerging, to read our interview click here.
The venue was absolutely packed, as we waited for Keiandra and her band to come on stage. When we asked her what we could expect from her set she said “Lots of glitter, And the rest is a secret so you’ll just have to come to find out!“.
Well we certainly were not disappointed with a spectacular of sequins on Keindra and guitarist Adam’s jackets. And while their drummer did not join in with all the glitz and glitter this time he looked like he was really enjoying the gig, cracking a huge smile at guitarist Adam’s rocking out!
The half hour slot was a great chance to showcase her new music with the release of her single Milk Tooth late last year. I really enjoyed her performance, and it seemed to fly by with her haunting melodies captivating the crowd, as they swayed along gently to the songs. They got a well deserved and huge applause as their set came to an epic finale.
The Belfast-born musician now calls Durham her home and has made a real name for herself with some stunning singles. With influences ranging from Florence and the Machine and Sia to Amy Winehouse and Lorde, we expected a real eclectic set from the talented musician and were not disappointed!
It has to be said this was the perfect venue and set up for her, with a close and intimate feel, more akin to someones living room than a music venue. It meant you could get up close and really appreciate her music.
It was amazing to see her do her thing, she made it all look far to easy, playing keyboards, pressing pedals and buttons, all the while being confidently composed and belting out her pitch perfect, passionate and poignant lyrics.
With thumping jazzy beats, delicate soulful moments and catchy choruses she had the audience in the palm of her hand. Although the size of the venue meant there was always going to be a small crowd it felt everyone was completely an utterly lost in the moment and the performance.
Her song writing and performance was so assured, professional and soulful you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a much older artist. The crowd absolutely loved it, feeling every lyric and losing themselves in to the music.
In between songs she mentioned how she had just finished her degree and will be doing her music full-time now and looking forward to the adventures ahead. We wish her the best of luck with her endeavours and she is sure to be a success with such a huge goal range and a strong catalog of songs, having written from such an early age. She really blew us and the whole audience away with her powerful set. It was actually our surprise favourite on the day, no mean feat with such a strong festival line-up.
Alternative-pop singer-songwriter Rebekah hopes to establish herself further on the North East music scene and with performances like that she certain is one to watch.
She got a well deserve standing ovation for her set and everyone really enjoyed it. Afterwards she stopped and chatted with fans, one of the great benefits from such an intimate venue. This was great to see.
For a little taster of the gig and Rebekah’s music you can watch her videos to “Afraid of the Light” and “Another Show” below.
You can also find her on iTunes here as well as SoundCloud below.
Overall Evolution Emerging 2017 was a huge success, we had a great time and would definitely recommend to anyone and everyone! The great thing is you can tailor your night to your tastes with so many different styles of music on show. Each of the venues lay on a suitably fitting genre of music for their settings, all you have to do is pick which one to go to or even pick and mix your styles eclectically to see a wide variety of acts. So whether it’s hip-hop, folk, electronica or indie pop there is somewhere for you! The festival goes to show what a strong pool of talent we have in the north east and we can’t wait for Evolution Emerging 2018, it promised to be bigger and better than ever. Hope to see you all there!
This blog was proudly sponsored by The Neon Greenhouse, photos by Melissa Nicholson photography.
Did you go to Evolution Emerging 2017? Tell us about your experience, we’d love to hear from you…what was your favourite act?