Evo Emerging Highlights Part 1: Party Buses, Teesside avant-garde and Holly Rees
This year marked the tenth incarnation of Evolution Emerging; a one-day festival that showcases fresh live acts from the signed and unsigned music industry.
And they celebrated their anniversary in style, with 35 acts to choose from, playing on 10 stages dotted around the city of Newcastle.
I made my journey from Middlesbrough to Newcastle on a ‘party bus’ hosted by Teesside’s legendary popsters Be Quiet. Shout Loud!
This turned out to be an ideal way to travel to any festival because the atmosphere was full of excitement and anticipation. And not just excitement for the band’s set (more on that later) but for the festival as a whole, with superfans and musicians alike chatting about which acts to see.
After we arrived and collected wristbands, maps etc we all made our way to Mustang’s Alley Outdoor Stage to catch the remainder of fellow Teesside avant-garde folk artist J.P. Riggall’s set. He looked very comfortable on the unique stage, sandwiched between containers with his talented back-up band belting out beautifully constructed songs.
I wanted to ensure I saw artists from a diverse range of genres and check out as many stages as physically possible, and my next visit was to The Cluny 2 Stage to check out solo musician Holly Rees.
Cluny 2 is a venue I’ve been to a few times over the years, and hope to for many years to come. The entrance is literally yards away from its sibling, Cluny 1, and down a few flights of stairs.
The dark, underground basement is ideal for intimate gigs, with plenty of room for standing or, if you prefer, some very comfy terraced seating at the back. I managed to have a quick chat with Holly Rees both before and after her set, and she was concerned that being one of the first acts of the day would mean that no-one would come down to see her play.
Her fears were soon blown away however and a continuous stream of people came through the door as she began her first song. Holly played songs from her back catalogue and even treated us to a few from her upcoming EP due out in August.
Her stage personality, songs, and voice reminded me of some legendary singer/songwriters from yesteryear, as she has the vocal range to sing almost any variation of song possible while also having something genuine to say in her songs.
In fact I think it was the penultimate song that contained one of the best lyrics I’ve ever heard; recalling an ex-partner, she sng “I use the smoke from my lungs to burn your name off my tongue”. Wow!
In my quick chat with Holly post-set, she was absolutely buzzing that so many people not only came but cheered and applauded loudly. Frankly, I think she would be equally at home playing a 10,000-seater stadium as she would be around a campfire on a beach.