Day two of Newcastle's city centre festival

Day two at what is dubbed as the 'North East of England's premier music event', and what was yesterday's windy over-capacity crush had transformed into a sunny and tranquil contrast. The spot on which I'd crammed between shoulders to see The Futureheads was now covered in relaxed, reclining bodies (not dead), observing the rather impressive Leicester outfit, Minaars. I only planned to quickly check the band currently on and then explore further but such was their melodies that I watched the whole set. The kind of fluttering math-pop melodies that seem to go way beyond the point of any orthodox return to the song verse, but then do. Minaars finished up, laid down their tools and strutted straight through the crowd in front of them to the bar, clearly young enough to still rather enjoy being recognised. Not a crime.

Festivals are an excellent opportunity to see huge novelty bands such as De La Soul (scheduled to play later), but it's also a great chance to catch the youth tipped to lead our ears into the next decade. Consecutive slots from Egyptian Hip-Hop and Everything Everything fitted that bill, with both leaking hugely hyped tracks and the former; enthusiastically championed by Joe Lean (of Jing Jang Jong fame). Egyptian Hip-Hop went up first to set the day's bar of standard and fell somewhat flat, leaving the bar at a more limbo than high-jump level. Opening with a lengthy instrumental was a risk that didn't pay off, and live renditions of 'Rad Pitt' and new single 'Wild Human Child' only seemed to strike chords with those already familiar with the songs. It would be harsh to class this as a bad performance, but perhaps more that of a band out of their comfort zone.

Everything Everything were polar opposites, and I would go so far as to say; they were the best act I witnessed all day. They made the main stage their own for 40 mins turning their set into a journey somewhat, with a soothing instrumental mid-set slow down to boot. The flexiblity of lead singer Jonathan Everything's voice is startling, turning vocals into an instrument of sorts as he jumped from low to high notes instaneously through the addictive 'Suffragette, Suffragette'. Unfortunately, his unique vocal style meant that during the lyric "who's gonna sit on the fence when I'm gone", it came across quite vividly as "who's gonna sit on your face when I'm gone". A lyric worth pondering either way.

The rest of the day was an assortment of tough choices. Hip hop old or new, as Example clashed with De La Soul. Arty young upstarts or just young upstarts, as Horrors clashed with Hadouken. And then a really easy decision, Enter Shikari or anyone else. Before all this, I felt rather obliged to view Ellie Goulding (seen doing keepy-ups backstage with a ball before going on) as they say it was her live performance that vaulted her this far. That and the commercial radio abuse of 'Starry Eyed'. I approached it with the snooty reservations of an over-opinionated twat, and by the end I was dancing, so she must of been good.

By the time the sun went down on Newcastle, it was a relief. Those (like myself) that had dared it not to come out by refraining from sun cream now looked like the afflicted of a beetroot epidemic. It was also a relief, as it was Delphic time. The Baltic stage turned up it's lights, and the sheer amount of revellers wishing to catch the Mancunians was emphasised when security closed the bridge to oncomers. Awash in blue illumination, they took the stage. The insanity that ensued was that which can only be experienced with a thousand northerners on a Bank Holiday Monday night as they throw themselves head first into the final hours of a long weekend. 'Doubt' and 'Halcyon' were given techy layers to extend them further, but the climactic track of the night was the triumphant 'Counterpoint'. Six minutes of absolute joy, as a choral capacity screamed out the prominent lyric "nothing's wrong today".

I'm in a habit of travelling south for my festivals. I'm also in a habit of having them in a field. But if anywhere is going to make this all change, it really is Evolution. A perfect model for future city festivals.

Words by Joe Zadeh
Photos by Thomas Jackson


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