Devolution on the Geordie shore: Evolution festival
If this was a review based purely on a wholesome, family-focused festival experience, Evolution festival would struggle to secure a single star. However, the calibre of the musical acts, balanced by the low price of the ticket, just about cancelled out the negatives.
At a mere £35 for a weekend of top-notch music, it is unsurprising that summer after summer, Evolution never fails to pull in the crowds. This year saw the organisers ditch the stage across the bridge (the scene of many an underage riot in bygone events), and focus instead upon bringing great acts to Spillers Wharf and Ballast Hills.
Previously a grassy haven for the chilled, folky scene, Ballast Hills was transformed into a dubstep force field featuring the likes of Toddla T, Shy FX, Jackmaster and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. The latter churned up an enthused response during his live Monday performance, wearing a trademark prehistoric headdress in electric blue and enlisting the raunchy assistance of two ‘dino dancers’ in black lace catsuits.
Fortunately the sound seemed to have been cranked up a notch from the previous day when DJ Fresh suffered from ridiculously low decibel levels. “It’s gonna get, it’s gonna get, it’s gonna get…quieter” would have been more appropriate lyrics for his chart-topping hit ‘Louder’ as the crowd began a frustrated chant of ‘turn it up’. One festival-goer from Durham aptly commented, “If you can’t hear the music, it’s just not that great” and indeed before long, people abandoned Fresh to secure prime positions for Dizzee Rascal’s main stage appearance.
Dizzee unleashed the high levels of energy expected of such a renowned live performer, blasting out hit after hit to eager young fans who took every opportunity to attempt a ‘mosh pit’. Standing still was no longer an option if you wanted to remain upright, as testosterone levels surged and fights broke out left, right and centre. Another Durham student experiencing the delights of Evolution for the first time observed, “These people are so angry”.
Sitting down upon the tarmac car park in between sets is a somewhat traumatising experience as grasping your cider to your chest as if your life depends upon it becomes an act of paramount importance amid a raging sea of underage drinkers, broken bottles and chunder puddles.
Yet despite an array of possibilities for scathing criticism regarding the festival’s aesthetics, the music was hard to fault. Rizzle Kicks inspired a summery vibe with ‘Mama Do The Hump’ and ‘Down With The Trumpets’ while Noah and the Whale encouraged a sing-a-long to modern day classics such as ‘5 Years Time’ and ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N’.
Benjamin Francis Leftwich seemed drastically out of place amid the dance dominated line-up yet thanked his supporters for sticking around despite the dodgy weather to hear his man-and-a-guitar offerings. Leftwich provided a welcome pause in the fast-paced rush of the festival, with ‘Atlas Hands’ and ‘Pictures’ receiving particularly warm receptions. Deadmau5’s closing performance on Monday night left drew arguably the largest crowd of the weekend and reminded sceptics why Evolution’s slightly controversial take on ‘festival’ is worth a chance.