Live: Twisterella Festival

Twisterella is a venue crawl festival which consists of 5 stages across 4 of Middlesbrough’s best small venues. The event was put together by two local promoters, Pay For The Piano and The Kids Are Solid Gold, who specialise in bringing some of the best up and coming acts through Teesside i.e. The Vaccines, The 1975, Wolf Alice and loads more (they also put gigs on in Newcastle so please do keep an eye out for them because they’re ace).

I started my day off in a venue called The Townhouse watching a young band from Hartlepool called Plaza, who actually gig quite regularly in Newcastle (Little Buildings – 17th October). They played a tight set of alternative indie-rock that fearlessly lent itself to math-rock at times – think Foals, Wu Lyf and maybe a bit of Colour, and there you have it. Whilst the music was tight and intricate, it didn’t restrict the band from movement or rocking out as they gave a full, passionate performance doused in reverb and the odd compound time signature.

Heading over to the Westgarth Social Club straight after, there was a band from Middlesbrough called Figgment (again, making music well beyond their years), who played a refined brand of emo/slowcore which was particularly reminiscent of Sunny Day Real Estate.

Twisterella interestingly has a partnership with a festival in Oberhausen, Germany, called Olgas Rock Festival. Billingham duo Mouses went over there to play this year, and in return, German indie-pop group Cama Maya came to play at Teesside University Student’s Union and delivered a confident, upbeat set reminiscent of The Libertines and The Wombats with some synth noises going on. Gig swapping is always tremendous fun and it’s good to see it happening between the North East and the mainland. I happened to be playing just after with Kingsley Chapman and the Murder, where a faithful and attentive Teesside crowd came in for a rendition of our, what are described as, “death cabaret songs”.

Rounding off the evening was three of Tyne and Wear’s top hitters. Slug played in The Westgarth Social Club – ‘Cockeyed Rabbit Wrapped in Plastic’ and ‘Greasy Mind’ particular highlights, although the entire set was littered with interesting quirks and bursts of eccentricity, sometimes making me think of Zappa and sometimes making me think of something like Dutch Uncles or Metronomy. All in all, enthralling stuff. Hyde & Beast have been firm regional festival favourites this year, as well as making time to appear at a festival in South Korea earlier in the week. They played at Teesside University SU, with a stylish rendition of material from both their albums and their most recent EP Hard Times Good Times. More good times were to be had back over at Westgarth Social Club where Du Blonde rounded off the night, playing a headline show consisting of pretty much all of her latest album, Welcome Back to Milk. ‘Isn’t it Wild’ particularly stood out for me this evening; a beautiful song.

There was a really cosy vibe to the whole day, yet the organisation of the festival was slick and everything ran on time (it makes a difference). Venue crawl festivals seem to be getting better and better in the North East. To conclude, I wish to point out that I also enjoyed a corned beef sandwich and some chili nachos prepared by two ladies in a pop-up kitchen in Westgarth SC. Marvellous.

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