Preview: Evolution Emerging 2012

By on Thursday, 24th May 2012 at 9:00 am

There’s not long to go before Evolution Festival, held on the quaysides of Gateshead and Newcastle upon Tyne over the Queen’s Jubilee weekend. To supplement the main festival, those who prefer their acts a little more underground can rejoice: Evolution Emerging – being put on with North East music supporter Generator, alongside Amazing Radio and Narc. Magazine – takes place on the Friday before the festival proper, taking over the cultural mecca that is the Ouseburn Valley, just a stone’s throw away from the main site. Several venues are dedicated to showcasing the best in North-East talent, with a sprinkling of proper royalty at the head of the bill: local lass Beth Jeans Houghton and her Hooves Of Destiny (pictured above), whose star has gone stratospheric in 2012 in response to their debut album ‘Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose’.

Other sources might argue that the bill is too long to preview properly. Not us. Exclusive to TGTF, here is a venue-by-venue run-down of who to watch, who to miss, and who to dance alone with your top off to, conveniently in the style of Live and Kicking’s low-brow musical critique spot Hit, Miss, or Maybe. Clearly there is far more to see than can be seen, unless one is in possession of a Tardis, so at the end there will be a clear recommendation of how to spend one’s Evo Emerging evening wisely, maximising exposure to great new music. Here we gan…

Beth Jeans Houghton – needs no introduction. HIT! [Post-Great Escape, Mary heartily concurs. – Ed.]
Lulu James – does trip-hop make a comeback with this darkly-styled songstress? HIT!
Deerhart – Trev’s mahogany voice can’t paper over the maudlin, lengthy arrangements and clichéd lyrics. MISS.
Boy Jumps Ship – American FM radio polished garage rock, no space to breathe. HIT!
Eeves – Going nowhere fast. Song Silhouette nearly five minutes long – post-punk? Not. MISS.
Total = 3/5 = 60%

Cluny 2
Fantasy Rainbow – classy twee-pop troubadourism from Gateshead. What’s not to like? HIT!
Natasha Haws – foetal, sparse singer-songwriter with pain in her heart. She could use some warmth – could you be the one? MAYBE?
Amy Holford – despite being yet another acoustic singer-songwriter, voice has the power to amaze. MAYBE?
Let’s Away – brilliant dreamy arch-pop from the musical honeypot that is Sunderland. Bottom of the bill for not much longer. HIT!
Total = 3/4 = 75%

The Tyne
We Are Knuckle Dragger – like being repeatedly kicked in the brain. Resistance is futile. HIT!
Nately’s Whore’s Kid Sister – dirges for slothly moshers. MAYBE?
O’Messy Life – jaunty arms-wide-open guitar pop, best band name ever. BULLSEYE!
Acrobatic Society – completely mental avant-garde drone-pop. Drugs essential. MAYBE?
The Watchers – 60s guitar pop, 70s psychedelic trips, 90s baggy, 2012 movers and shakers. HIT!
Total = 4.5/5 = 90%

The Tanners
Bird Island – self-assured American-influenced guitar pop. Get that top down and go for a drive. HIT!
Iceni – underdeveloped piano-led jazz-pop. MISS.
Reckoner – nothing of any note online. MISS.
Ben Watson – nothing of any note online. MISS.
Total = 1/4 = 25%

The Cumberland Arms
Symphonic Pictures – superbly funky psychedelic alt-pop. HIT!
Collectors Club – Teesside youngsters with the catchiest products this side of a north sea trawler. HIT!
Lilliput – utterly sublime folk-pop from windswept Wearsiders. Desolation, beauty, cups of tear. BULLSEYE!
Crooked Hands – minimalist instrumentation, cracked vocals, gently beautiful. HIT!
Total = 4.5/4 = 112.5%

Star & Shadow Cinema (afterparty)
Young Liar – mute, melodic, hard-hitting. Newcastle’s answer to Mogwai. HIT!
Weird Shapes – obscurantist neophiles with their head in the clouds. Could hold the answer to life, the universe and everything. HIT!
Apollo Gets The Girl – the love between Chris Lowe and Nicolas Winding Refn as soundtracked by a Yamaha SY77. Simultaneously classy and cheesy, like a Parisian croque monsieur. MAYBE?
Ghosts Of Old Berlin – as architectural and stark as the name suggests, nevertheless display a strange beauty. MAYBE?
Total = 3/4 = 75%

Scores on the doors
Cluny – 60%
Cluny 2 – 75%
The Tyne – 90%
The Tanners – 25%
The Cumberland Arms – 112.5%
Star & Shadow (afterparty) – 75%

The Tanners’ sparse musical offerings mirror its outlying geographical location – an uphill struggle. Bird Island are the only reason to venture there, and I suspect few will bother, unluckily for them. The central Ouseburn offerings are all strong, with The Tyne showcasing a particularly strong line-up. But the Cumberland is the clear winner here. All four acts are superb, and a canny punter will ensconce themselves in a comfy chair in the corner and nurse several pints as the night unfolds. Beth Jeans Houghton is undoubtedly the biggest name of the event as a whole, and will attract the biggest audience – all the better to thin the crowd at the modestly-sized Cumberland, for those who wish to see acts who are genuinely emerging. Not all of them can be stars of tomorrow, but I’d put good money on one of these acts becoming a household name within twelve months. Be there to see it happen.

Under the cut: an interactive poster for Evo Emerging.

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