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Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Stockton Calling 2018

It's that time of year again and Teessides largest, annual multi-venue festival is upon us once more. Since its incarnation 9 years ago Stockton Calling has gone from strength to strength pulling in sell out crowds year after year.  And 2018 is no different with the quickest sell out in the festival's short history. Multi-venue festivals are definitely the future of live music. They give the punter the opportunity to dip in and out of several venues seeing a whole plethora of talent all in one day. Stockton Calling 2018 spans across 9 venues with over 70 bands on offer for just one day only. It's always an ace day where you bump into Teesside's finest musos you know the ones who actually dig new bands and tunes as opposed to spending every Saturday off in Flares or down the local boozer... Over the years Stockton Calling has built up its notoriety as one of the best multi-venue festivals the country has to offer. Last year saw Sheffield indie boys Milburn headline KU Bar to a sold out crowd and it went off... Proper... Over the last few years I've seen the likes of Blossoms, Reverend and the Makers, Cast, The Spitfires and a host of great local bands all share a stage. Music brings people together and unites communities and Stockton Calling does this year after year even when times are getting tougher for both the people and the area itself. 2018 is set to be another big day with a line up that's got its share of emerging talent and established bands as well as artists you might not even have heard of. Let's have a butchers shall we?.....

This year's lineup is one of the best I've seen for a Stockton Calling with the likes of The Lighting Seeds, We Are Scientists, The Spitfires and Twisted Wheel just some of the artists to grace the stage come March 31st. I for one am very excited to see the return of Manchester powerhouse Twisted Wheel who burst onto the scene back in 2009. Originally a three piece The Wheel took the nation by storm with their debut single, 'We Are Us' which earned wide critical acclaim. Fast forward a few months and several energetic live shows later The Wheel were asked to support Oasis on several dates across their 'Dig Out Your Soul' tour. Noel and Liam were very impressed by the trio and Twisted Wheel successfully wrote themselves into Oasis history. It's 2018 and Johnny Brown is determined to make a success of the band and I for one am right behind him. We Are Scientists come to town with their back catalogue of Indie hits which everyone knows at least one of! They're sure to play a stellar live set which will be a great end to the festival. Another headliner come in the form of The Lightning Seeds, the 90's favourites have plenty of tunes in their locker including 'The Life of Riley' and the well-known England singalong 'Three Lions'. With the World Cup quickly approaching I'm sure many will partake in an alcohol fulled singalong for this tune.

The Spitfires return to Stockton for the first time since 2015 when they last appeared at the festival. The band have two strong albums behind them in the form of 2015's 'Response' and 2016's 'A Thousand Times'. Both albums have been very well received and have gained the lads several new followers with every chord played. Frontman Billy Sullivan is constantly progressing and moving forward and is becoming one of the best young songwriters of his generation. The Spitfires bring 2018 to your ears with verses of social commentary, tales of broken Tory Britain and infectious ska, dub beats. With an added brass section the band's sound has grown massively and they're a live force to be reckoned with. The Spits aren't a band to miss, they build momentum with every live track played and you can feel the energy rise from the floorboards up and propel all around the venue. They're a band who will stop at nothing until their voices are heard and lyrics absorbed by those lucky enough to be in the crowd. The boys headline Room 21 on they day, be there...

Warrington's 'Man and The Echo' are another band among this already beauty line up. Originally called 'Cheap Cuts' Man and The Echo continue to supply their listeners with soulful grooves which make the ears perk up in delight. They've got a great catalogue of tunes from their self-titled debt LP which was released in 2016 and sounds as fresh then as it did now. 'Distance Runner' , 'Operation Margarine' are just two tracks to listen out for, they're sure to impress any new head who happens to be in the Georgian when they're on. Scottish boys Vida return to Teesside since their support slot with The Sherlocks in Feb 2017. These lads are a band on the rise and they proved back in Feb 17 to Teesside's finest that they were as good as if not better than the 'headliner'. Frontman Jamie Pollock is proving himself as one of the best, young Scottish songwriters out there at the moment in a time when Scottish bands are on the rise again. Sunderland's best music outlet at the moment come in the form of 'Social Room' who's huge indie guitar anthems grab the listener and transport you back to a time when frontmen who didn't play guitar were all the rage. Matt and the boys have some big tunes and are determined to make 2018 a success.

Alongside all the talent that's travelling from far and wide there's the usual host of local bands on the bill. Cape Cub, Tom Joshua and Dylan Cartlidge are just a few of the many who are worth a mention. Saturday 31st March 2018, a day of great tunes, beers with mates and a warm, loud atmosphere from some of Teesside's finest. Be there yeah!?


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In loving memory of Denise Pottinger