FESTIVAL REVIEW: Hit The North 2019

Hit The North

Hit The North logoVarious Venues, Newcastle, 5th May 2019

Words: Sammy Sadler & Lauren Mellor
Photos: Elena Katrina & Lauren Mellor

Sammy’s Words

I’ve said it so many times before and I’ll say it again – festival season is my favourite time of the year. Whether it’s shuffling between packed venues in a city or running between stages in the middle of a field with pints spilling everywhere, there’s no greater feeling than being surrounded by live music for the majority of hours in the day.

The first bank holiday in May proved to be a busy one for Popped Music and we found ourselves spread across Live At Leeds, Sound City and the awesome Hit The North. I don’t think it’s necessarily me being biased saying how good Hit The North Was just because I live in Newcastle – it really did deliver in terms of both line-up calibre and venue choices.

So without further ado, let’s get cracking with the review shall we?

The first artist on our list was Alligator but due to a last minute cancellation, we were surprised with Southampton four-piece Wild Front and their lush, experimental soundscapes that had me in awe. Starting off with a sweeter, delicate instrumental accompanied with a violin bow on the frontman’s guitar and intriguing ways of creating different sounds by what looked like him blowing into the pickups of his guitar, I was massively impressed from the get-go. Track Physics did change the tempo slightly with its funkier base and when Elena turned to me and muttered “oh my god, their harmonies are gorgeous”, I knew we’d found a new Popped Music fave.

The Ninth Wave – Elena Katrina

Next up was popular Glasweigan alt-rockers The Ninth Wave in one of my favourite bars in the Toon, Brewdog. Squeezing into the small space available, I bagged a spot right at the front to watch the outfit dazzle with their dreamy rock numbers including Sometimes the Silence is Sweeter and Used to be Yours. The vocal ability between these two is phenomenal and their onstage dynamic is perfect to watch as each lyric they chant complements each other. I really hope these guys return to Newcastle soon as I definitely have to get down to see them in a venue that I can move without fear of blocking the view of someone behind.

After The Ninth Wave, we headed back to Digital for Essex trio BILK and I was instantly reminded of Slaves. Each track was chaotic and pretty much perfect for that time of the day to perk everyone up for the night ahead. Special shout out to new song Can’t Get It Up which had me in stitches laughing at the lyrics – expect tracks from these guys to be screamed from festival tents everywhere very soon.

Red Rum Club – Elena Katrina

Following BILK was Liverpool’s very own Red Rum Club which Elena has & Gary have both been talking to me about for ages. When someone hypes up a band so much there’s always the worry they might not live up to your expectations but this sextet far succeeded any that I had. So much so that I told them afterwards they had been a highlight of mine for the whole weekend and I was absolutely telling the truth.

These guys can absolutely put on a show, I mean they have a trumpet player for crying out loud! Tracks such as Honey and Calexico are so infectious that each beat has you dancing along and you can join in with each chorus instantly and their latest single TV Said So gives me serious 80s vibes that I was instantly addicted to from the first listen. Special shout out to Fran’s snake hips, this was a set to remember. I’ll catch you all down the front next time they are in Newcastle.

Next up we had to American indie-pop outfit Flor and their dreamy tracks. The venue wasn’t packed but it didn’t need to be – we’ve been a fan of Flor for a good while now and it’s always such a pleasure to catch them this side of the water. If hazy instrumentals are your bag, check them out next time they are in town, you won’t be disappointed.

Tom Grennan – Elena Katrina

Feeling a pizza craving coming on, we took a break at Central Oven & Shaker before planning the rest of the artists for the night. Deciding on Another Sky and Tom Grennan, Elena and I split up to cover both grounds and I even managed to catch Tom Grennan at the end so naturally I was thrilled. I’ve been following Another Sky closely since they supported LAUREL a little while ago in Newcastle and I’ve honestly been hooked ever since. Catrin Vincent’s vocals are captivating and the intimate setting of The Town Wall made it even more that special. As the outfit produced a setlist packed with my favourites including The Cracks, Chillers and Avalanche, I had serious chills. A mesmerising performance and a band that I’ll need another fix of again very soon.

Whilst I swayed around to the gorgeous tracks from Another Sky, Elena had found her way to the front for our favourite, Tom Grennan. 

Taking to the stage to a packed out o2 academy was popped fave Tom Grennan and you just knew he meant business. The crowd were all on board and made it clear that they were there for him …. screams… actual Beatles fan ones – frantic and fanatic sounds filled the air around me and he swaggered his way in. Tom has a set that we are very familiar with now – opening with something a little calmer before letting rip into the big hitters. Getting the crowd to join him at key points is always something wonderful to be stood amongst – go see and hear swathes of people singing passionately while the artist stands smiling and enjoying. Tom knows allllll the tricks of the trade and how to keep his crowd happy and we were happy indeed

After nipping into see the phenomenal Ten Tonnes, more on that in Lauren’s words, we whizzed over to catch my local favourites, Ten Eighty Trees. I’ve had a lot of love for these guys for a while now, covering lots of their tracks for Popped, so to finally catch the glorious chaos live was a special one. Playing the Beyond Vinyl stage, which was essentially the only outdoor stage hidden away in a secluded spot close to the o2, there was plenty of room to crash about and chant the lyrics surrounded by other fans. As I screamed each lyric to Lip Service and Casual Habits, appreciating each piercing riff and booming drum pattern, I was totally satisfied that this was exactly the kind of festival-style atmosphere I wanted.

LUCIA – Elena Katrina

Back to Brewdog next for Popped’s other Glaswegian sweethearts, LUCIA. I’ve been bordering on obsessed with LUCIA since I caught them supporting Marsicans – they are just everything you want from band performing live. Each track smashes through to your very core and Lucia’s stage presence is admirable as she manages to snake her way through her audience, no matter how much tiny space she has. A great way to end the musical treat that was Hit The North!

I can honestly say that for me, Hit The North was an absolute dream to be at. Top class musical talent, fantastic venues and everyone was in great spirits. Can’t wait to do it all again – see you in 2020!

Lauren’s Words

Festival season has truly begun here in Newcastle and with Hit the North kicking of a great month of music, there were some great bands I was eager to catch across the city this Bank Holiday.

Headclouds – Lauren Mellor

I started off the day by heading to Beyond Vinyl to catch Headclouds’ set. Luckily the weather was dry because this stage was outside the back of their store, complemented with pizza and vinyls for sale of course.

Sadly, being a bit earlier in the day, the crowd was a little small for these guys, but that didn’t stop them from putting on a top performance and giving the crowd exactly what they’d came for. This Newcastle five piece, offer a light heart indie feel and are definitely on my one to watch list.

A surprise band on my list was Inhaler. Hitting up the brilliant Riverside venue, a first time visit for myself, these guys just exuding cool. With the frontman being Bono’s son, I knew I was in for a great experience. They have some great indie-synth bangers and with songs like It Won’t Always Be Like This, they’ve definitely become one of my new favourites. Having been on tour with the likes of Blossoms, these guys are heading to bigger things fast.

Inhaler – Lauren Mellor

Amidst the numerous bands playing, I of course couldn’t miss one of my ultimate favourites – Retro Video Club. These guys were playing the SOTN x Distiller stage at Brewdog, which I thought would be an intimate setting for these guys, and in some ways it was. I was close enough to basically feel their breath but that didn’t stop them from putting on one of their usual top performances.

Their witty interactions with the audience created a great atmosphere and these guys clearly have a big fanbase, with one gig goer even singing all the lyrics out before the songs had even begun. Definitely one of the best performances of the day for me.

Ten Tonnes – Elena Katrina

The final venue on my list was of course the o2 Academy for the headline acts. We ran to the main stage in just enough time to catch the end of Tom Grennan singing to a packed-out venue.

Then it was time to head upstairs and see Ten Tonnes, another first time performance for me. It’s no surprise that this was going to be a high-energy performance with an atmosphere to match. With everyone clearly being a few pints down and ready for a proper dance and singalong, Ten Tonnes did not disappoint. Opening with complete crackers, he gave the crowd exactly what they wanted.

Jake Bugg – Lauren Mellor

Last of the night for me, was the headline act Jake Bugg. This was the second time I had seen him perform, and I think it might have been even better than the first. He had a clear planned out set filled with all of his top hits and ultimate singalong tunes.

You might think a solo artist, who is mainly guitar based, could be a bit stale but you would be wrong. There was a tangible buzz in the room with everyone fully invested in singing their hearts out to their favourite Bugg songs. For me, it was the perfect ending to a packed-out festival.

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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