By Ashleigh Goodall
On Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th March, Northumbria Gig Society – in collaboration with other music societies around Newcastle and Durham – organised a three-stage music festival, packed full of acoustic, indie, rock and metal bands. Here’s a reflection on some of my favourite acts of the weekend.
The Pasolas hit up the alternative/indie stage on the Saturday. When they took to the stage nailing the moody, brooding look, I was half expecting another indie-pop band. It was a pleasant surprise to instead hear them playing a completely unusual sound they describe as “blues rock with beachy vibes.” The lead vocalist’s voice was incredible, and the power of it completely took me aback: it would be best described as a mash-up between Jake Bugg and Paolo Nutini. They played a number of original songs, including “My Darling and Me” – my favourite song of the set – which included some fantastic melodies that could have been straight out of the 1950s. Overall a refreshing and enjoyable set: The Pasolas are clearly very talented and good at what they do.
On Sunday, alternative/blues rock four-piece Crux kicked off the Rock & Metal stage. I walked in just as they were starting to play their original song, “The Norm.” Their sound featured catchy blues-style guitar riffs and a growling bass-line, culminating in some very impressive (and strangely captivating) high-pitched screaming, which created a distinctly Muse-like vibe. My highlight of the set was “Positive Cognitive,” which started with a slow-tempo, leading the front man to joke “it’s not an Adele song” before launching into a beautiful keyboard intro. This was followed by guitar picking of the same melody, and the tempo soon picked up as the rest of the band joined in. From there on out there were guitar and bass solos left, right and centre, which kept the song diverse and entertaining.
Next up were Durham’s very own Gecko. I’ve seen Gecko play on several occasions now, and they never fail to deliver a fun, entertaining set full of catchy tunes and good crowd interaction. Their Canny Fringe show was no exception to this, even despite a few technical issues – if a lack of amps can be described that way. They played several original songs, including my personal favourite “Fragile Ego,” an incredibly infectious tune which got the crowd singing along. Some popular covers including Arctic Monkeys, and Blink-182’s “Dammit” also succeeded in getting the crowd going. To add to this, Gecko’s set was completed by some bad jokes, on-stage displays of affection, and a particularly dodgy “slut drop” – overall creating a fantastic atmosphere, and a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Gecko were followed by the post-punk three-piece, Casual Threats, who took to the stage clad in black face paint, and kicked things up a notch or two as they produced the heaviest and most energetic performance yet. My favourite song of the set was “Stalking Awareness Month,” which filled the room with loud, snarling bass, as the drummer thrashed the sh*t out of the drums, and the lead singer crooned in a way that bore great resemblance to Morrissey. They weren’t afraid to get stuck in dancing at the front of the crowd either and ended their set by tossing their guitars on the floor; very rock and roll! Packed full of energy and aggression, Casual Threats’ set was exciting and electric.
Overall, one of my favourite acts of the weekend was the alternative rock/indie group Deep.Sleep. They played a wide range of cheerful, upbeat originals, such as “Orange English Sun in West L.A.” – a song about home, and growing up around Newcastle. “Slowdown” featured a particularly good guitar tone – it created some fantastic riffs, which got me in the mood for a bit of a dance along myself! They closed their set with “1994”– a song with a particularly catchy chorus line which had the crowd singing along. Overall, Deep.Sleep radiated energy – particularly the bassist, who never stood still and was even dancing in the crowd at one point. This was clearly reflected in the audience, who looked like they were having a great time. Elements of Deep.Sleep’s set bore similarities to bands such as Deaf Havana and The 1975 at points, whilst they still managing to retain it’s own unique sound.
Photograph: Ifza Tindall