Review: Hit The North Festival

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Hit the North Festival presents us with a view of Newcastle music that is young, exciting and up for the challenge of becoming a great music destination. With around 100 bands playing across several venues in the city from 1pm to 1am, the festival offered a lot of choice and a great variety of acts. I decided to leave the Billy B for the day and venture north to check some of them out.   

After picking up my wristband at the Boiler Shop, a large venue in the centre of the city, I stayed to watch one of the first acts of the day, the lovely Charlotte Brimner aka BeCharlotte. I did not know the majority of the bands playing at the festival, so I was open to any new discoveries on the day, and she was a pleasant surprise. With strong vocals and a lively stage presence, the young Scot is certainly an act to watch out for having recently snapped up a major record deal with Columbia/Sony Music. Sadly she could only perform a limited number of songs as her set already started late, but her honest girl power pop was a great opening to the day for me.

Hit the North could profit by getting a few more people to come, perhaps through better advertising next time.

Afterwards, I ambled down to the Head of Steam basement to see one of my favourites at the moment, Irish rapper Kojaqueand his support act Kean Kavanagh. They livened up the mood playing his most famous songs including ‘Eviction Notice’ and the poetic and powerful ‘White Noise’, creating an intimate atmosphere and prompting excited chants from the audience and free beers for the boys. Kojaque is a great performer, and could have easily carried a later spot at a larger venue. I also had the great opportunity to hang out and interview him after the set, which was great fun and the relaxed atmosphere created throughout the day is certainly also a testament to the festival itself.  

After some pizza and another pint, we wanted to catch Irish electronic-pop duo LeBoom. Unfortunately, their set was a good half an hour late, and the basement which was quite full for Kojaque was strangely empty at this time. After chatting to some people, this seemed a common theme throughout the day and the festival could profit by getting a few more people to come, perhaps through better advertising next time.

Thus, we decided to skip Le Boom’s set after waiting a while and popped in to see Blaenavon and a room of moody teenage girls at the Boiler Room. This indie pop/rock was not really my thing, but my friend enjoyed it and so I decided to stick it out for a few songs.

Two minutes in, Shame’s lead-singer Charlie Steen had his top off and was urging the mosh pits on, crowd-surfing and bringing the energy levels to an all-time high.

The highlight of the night for me was the end of the night at Riverside. This is one of the great music venues Newcastle has to offer and was packed to the brim with the culmination of festival attendees. The banner across the stage captured the mood, delightfully exclaiming “Too fast to live, too young to die”. By this time, the beers had started kicking in and the captivating SOAK presented a magical start to the night. The enthralling young Northern-Irish singer Bridie Monds-Watson’s melancholic songs from her new album “Grim Town” were only disturbed by some minor sound difficulties.

The headline of the night was authentic and truly insane post-punk South-London band Shame, an alternative to the other headliner Jake Bugg at the O2 Academy. Shame made the night for me. Two minutes in, lead-singer Charlie Steen had his top off and was urging the mosh pits on, crowd-surfing and bringing the energy levels to an all-time high. Reminiscent of bands such as The Fall, or newcomers Fontaines D.C., this is the type of music that can best be experienced live, in a sweaty venue at midnight, a few pints in.

Overall, Hit the North was hugely enjoyable, with many new bands and great venues, that proved a lovely respite from Durham exam season.

Image Credit: Una Connolly

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