With Mount Kimbie, Annie Mac, Plan B

And on the second day, Evolution had booked Plan B, Annie Mac, Detroit Social Club and more. And we saw that it was good. Even with the ever-prevailing wind, that managed to batter Newcastle for two days straight. Somehow, the sound still got through. It just needed someone to harness it.

Mount Kimbie were the first to take advantage of this, at the Baltic stage, with bass that rippled the very waters of the nearby River Tyne. The intentionally uncharismatic duo came on stage to the sight of a completely seated, socialising crowd, that made little reaction to their arrival. It took Mt Kimbie approximately two minutes to rectify this, as they pounded out booming breakbeat and industrial dubstep. The lack of any stage expression by the pair (natural shoegazers), resulted in a club-style mood in the onlookers. Very few looked at the stage, yet very few failed to dance their Northern hearts out. Confusingly, after ten minutes, Mt Kimbie waved goodbye and left. They returned soon after to play the longest encore ever witnessed (thank god), a steaming stew of atmospheric ambient beats that subtlety raised tempo, track by track. This culminated in a brooding, wonky banger, where the bass suddenly evaporated into a thriving guitar solo. Finally, Mt Kimbie did leave, and with three hundred converted fans to boot.

As much as I’d like to say the pubescent youth of Newcastle are so musically erudite, that their mass gathering was genuinely for Mt Kimbie, I had to realistically concede. Annie Mac was on next, and the kids were shaking with anticipation. BBC’s duchess of dubstep appeared thirty minutes late, apologised, and immediately unleashed wobblers. No respite, or build. Relentless wobblers. And it worked, as the crowd reciprocated the sounds by launching shoes and bottles of piss into the air, like some sort of perverted graduation hat toss. Annie cooled it down mid-set, as an isolated acapella of Katy B’s ‘Lights Out’ rang out through Newcastle’s Quayside. Then she got a bit too Annie Mac, as she screamed “who likes drum and bass?” and there forth addressed the crowd as her ‘junglist massive’. The cloud of d’n’b eventually dissipated, and we were treated to Daft Punk’s ‘One More Time’. Something to sing along to, even if it were just the repetition of three words.

As the afternoon rolled on, clashes began to arise on the line-up. They’re always good decisions to make, but decisions nevertheless. Rumours that morning, that Detroit Social Club’s performance would be their last ever, was a game breaker. Indeed, the huge Spillers Wharf had populated quickly for the North East five-piece. And they arrived in an emotional mood. “This will be the last time you see us” announced lead singer, David Byrne. They launched into the ravaging stomp-rock of their underrated debut album, with ‘Kiss The Sun’ and ‘Silver’ sounding grandiose on what was their final airings. An apt ending was served with the band’s biggest hit, ‘Northern Man’, a song that flirts wonderfully close to Ashcroft without ever becoming imitation.

Evolution used to cross the later end of the bank holiday. Sunday to Monday. Consequently, the second day used to be a restricted affair, as every mind in attendance would be wary of the return to work/school ahead. This year, Evolution ended on the Sunday. As a result, everyone was hammered. Totally hammered. The evening entertainment was, at times, uncomfortably chart-friendly, yet the crowd seemed unaware as they danced aimlessly to treacle-covered covers from urban cheese-monger; Tinie Tempah. Albeit, Sunday culminated in style, with the ever accessible showmanship of Plan B. A man reinvented through genre, to become an unflappable soul-singer with age-defying demographic.

The northern crowd, now showered in darkness had eyes drawn to the vibrant red-lit stage, and The Defamation of Strickland Banks commenced. ‘She Said’ drew a squealing sing-along as onlookers attempted to imitate the tones of someone paid to croon. Chris Rea once sang ‘Road To Hell’ about the polluted rivers of the North, during the 60s. As a result, it felt decidedly meaningful when, standing on stage about 100 yards from one of the North’s most infamous rivers (the Tyne), Plan B began ‘Welcome To Hell’, his gospel pastiche. With a renowned night life, massive acts and a world famous site framed by Newcastle’s six bridges, Evolution is rapidly establishing itself as the UK’s model city festival.

Words by Joe Zadeh
Photo by Idene Roozbayani

View an accompanying photo gallery from the Evolution Festival 2011 HERE.

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