Live review: Stockton Calling

Easter weekend looked bleak when I realised it’s no longer socially accepted to hide and search for eggs when you are nearing the end of your twenties, luckily we found the antidote to the gloom of this children’s holiday; Stockton Calling! It’s a beautiful and sunny day and we set of early to catch the first bands of the day in Stockton’s town centre.

The day could not have started better than with punk rock trio Snayx. I entered ARC2 with zero expectations and got completely blown away by the untouchable energy and sound of Snayx. Their energy is off the charts from the get-go, and it took them about ten minutes to build a solid and unbreakable relationship with their audience, including me. The venue bounced and nearly burst at the seams from the bands’ eclectic and politically-charged rock. Jack-fucking-pot!

Next up is local alt rock trio Ten Eighty Trees who performed their feral tunes in a fully packed Georgian Theatre, after which we had to The Social Room for a slightly more relaxed set by psych indie outfit The Silver Lines. They made themselves stand out from the others on the line-up with catchy, upbeat and thumping rock tracks and a wildly swaying singer! The music then slowed right down with emerging local artist India Arkin who performed at Stockton’s Green Room, a venue potentially too small for her romantic psychedelic pop songs. The stage certainly was too small for her and her band, yet that didn’t take away from their ever-wandering sound that was hard not to dance along to. It was an almost humbling experience watching India living her best life on stage, clearly the place she belongs.

After this breather it’s time for some energy again, which I received from Newcastle four-piece bigfatbig. I am still singing along to bigfatbig’s infectious tunes in my head, and I can’t seem to stop bouncing, which my already aching neck does not appreciate… Their set was filled with dances, jumps and banging songs from start till finish, exactly what I was looking for! Any other band I was going to see after bigfatbig was going to struggle getting me excited again, so even though I would have loved the warm and nicely written pop songs of Cosial any other day, I felt myself soon longing for more riffs.

Good news; I found more riffs. The Queen’s Head nearly blew my Stockton Calling-favourites Snayx out of the water with their incredible synth rock sound and loud, intrusive-thought-deafening tracks! The Queen’s Head made me forget all I had worried about before they started playing, and turned me into a fan from the very first tone they played. My decision to randomly pick a name on the line-up and give a band I had not yet heard of a chance had once again paid off. That is a subtle compliment to the team behind Stockton Calling, who seem to know exactly what I like to hear, year after year. The Queen’s Head were a bit insane and a bit fucking crazy, in all the best possible ways. Theirs is an addicting sound I am already completely hooked on.

After The Queen’s Head it was hard to focus on anything else that was going on, but I did get to enjoy Second Thoughts fun and easy-listening pop songs, caught indie greats and headliners Circa Waves at a rammed ARC, and ended the day with magnificent and overwhelmingly noisy punk outfit Panic Shack! Stockton Calling 2024; already looking forward to it.

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