Live Review: Stockton Calling – Multi Venue, Stockton 08.04.2023

Craig Young

With the sun shining it was time again for one of the North East’s best multi-venue festivals Stockton Calling. With a packed lineup of some of the finest bands around, it was a difficult choice on which band to see and which to miss for many of those who attended to.

My day started with local group Komparrison who opened up Stickys with their friendly pop and vocal harmonies. Stickys is a newer venue to the festival with a great stage placement giving good views where ever you are in the venue. Their loaded fries were a particular highlight of the day too. Komparrison had the venue packed out, which isn’t surprising as they are a bit of a Teesside staple, and with a full band they were well justified of having the large crowd.

The next band, Ten Eighty Trees, brought the rock to the very familiar Georgian Theatre stage which has been bringing entertainment to Stockton one way or another since 1766 and is an important musical point in Stockton. The bigger stage suited the trio and their raw unpolished sound came across as an awesome wake up for the crowd ready for the rest of the music filled day.

A quick hop over to the Georgian’s sister venue The Green Room to catch Haunted Hair. A trio that delivers raucous post punk. Many a local band have been created by one or more of these three and you are always guaranteed a memorable experience when you catch them live. The at ease banter between them all and the energy they lay down is infectious and one of my favourite parts of the day.

Courtney Dixon was dressed to the nines whilst keeping things nice and simple with bass and drums backing. With a captivating voice, she filled the Georgina Theatre with her energetic performance and upbeat tracks that brought an interestingly varied audience to witness her. I have been meaning to catch Courtney live for some time and glad I did today.

One of the bands I had to catch today was Backseat Mafia’s favourite Scruffy Bear, who delivered an electric set at The Link with singer Georgie blowing the roof off with her vocals. The band are a true northern powerhouse of vein deep blues rock. The Link could barely contain them and well worth the walk over to the other side of the town to catch them.

Bedroom High Club were a surprise highlight and clearly loved being there as much as we enjoyed having them. They bring a blend of intelligent songs with an American rock look that went down well with the Social Room audience. They may be young but they make up for it with their mature well constructed songs delivered with great enthusiasm.

Skinny Living brought along a huge following with The Arc stage reverberating with the applause for this acoustic based unassuming trio of heartbreakers. What this trio can do puts many a big band to shame. The Arc suits a bigger band with its more professional set up and big stage yet these guys had no trouble filling it.

The double bass indie dance band Kkett are a brilliant live, with their main singer working the crowd flashing snazzy moves to accompany his snazzy dressing. They mix funky disco tunes with a pinch of death metal attitude that whips a storm up in the crowd. They were new to me but came highly recommended and garnered a new fan after that performance.

Opus Kink made the festival theirs for those of us that caught them at the Social Room. A bombastic display of jazz tinted indie mayhem, played with a punk attitude and a crowd owning defiance. It’s this well controlled chaos that had them drawing a big crowd who lapped it all up with equal passion.

Newcastle’s The Pale White were one of the headliners, closing the festival at The Social Room delighting the audience with their hook filled indie pop. They chilled the room after Opus Kink had whipped up a storm bringing the whole room together in celebration of another cracking day of music.

This year has been the best yet which is something of a huge compliment to the organisers as they had a hell of a festival to beat after last years. They manage to up the anti each time with cracking lineups and a brilliantly well managed festival. With the inclusion of venues like the Link and Stickys along with favourites Ku bar and The Georgian, the festival allows a good mixture of new and established acts to bring an intimate gig experience

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