Sunday 30th May 2010
It is fair to assert Newcastle and Gateshead’s Evolution Festival has become somewhat of a big deal over the past few years. Since its inception in 2005, its origins as a corporately funded, free-for-all experience have since matured into a two-day festival with an abundance of musical talent now being showcased over three stages enveloped across the picturesque banks of the river Tyne. Its aesthetics at least make up for the rather ominous clouds that are attempting to dishearten the widespread excitement currently advancing around the festival grounds prior to its midday opening. Yet as the gates open the predominantly youthful 30,000 attending hurdle towards the main stages situated on either side of the millennium bridge.
With the ‘mature’ population undoubtedly in attendance for an anticipated glimpse of a certain Scottish heart-throbs slur-infused, folk-based headline sing-alongs, I turned my attentions over to the Baltic Stage. Today’s agenda is very much emanated around the current UK club vibes of Drum & Bass, Dubstep and Electro, with up and coming house and techno acts People Get Real and Jaymo & Andy George warming the crowd up swiftly for what would be the afternoons eventual highlight. Coinciding with the release of his hugely anticipated debut album OMG!, Dubstep’s wild child Rusko takes to the stage for a slightly discrediting 3pm set, although I am later informed this is due to a further two sets he is obliged to later today. Showcasing largely new material, Rusko’s enthusiasm immediately enthrals the crowd, as he descends into current smash if slightly eerie wobbler ‘Woo Boost’. His collaborations with US star’s Lady Gaga, Gucci Mane and fellow ravers Nero are all showcased, before finalising a relentlessly spectacular set by announcing a September return, to a justifiably rapturous applause. This euphoria swiftly turns into amazement however as the infamous Beardyman takes to the stage, who after proclaiming last night to be his birthday with his voice still being ‘f****d’, forays into his unique manipulation of beats and lyrics all quite implausibly improvised from his own mouth. Away from the excitement and back to reality, acid/techno duo Eskimo Twins bring everyone back to party mode, although without the bulk of excitement the preceding acts had exuberated.
Over and across the tediously long walkway towards the Spillers Wharf Stage, Evolution originalists and Sunderland outfit The Futureheads arouse the crowd with “Come on Newcastle! Where are the bands? The Sunderland boys are embarrassing you”. As the quartet revert back to an assortment of songs that shot them to fame formerly, classics such as ‘Meantime’ and ‘Hounds of love’ send the largest crowd of the day into full party swing, with crowd surfers and moshers aplenty. By the time commercial grimestar Tinchy Stryder begins to emerge to hoards of young females, it was back towards the Baltic Stage for what’s guaranteed to be a DJ master class from legendary trio Scratch Perverts. If D&B, or indeed hip-hop, electro, funk or dubstep is your preference, these turntablists’ dare to infuse it all. With an endless list of old-skool and current bangers incorporated into an hours set, the highlight amounts to their use of three decks…at one time, with the trio all incorporating their individual sound, whoever said beatmatchingx3 wasn’t possible?
The seal of approval on the Perverts’ set was surely compounded by original dubstepper Benga’s insistence to jump on stage and unashamedly rave behind them, and clearly to the crowds delight. Assisted alongside his regular hypeman and MC ‘Youngman’, the enthusiasm and delight the Croydon producer so patently exuberates sets the crowd into a frenzy, although one unlucky fan who launches his sprite bottle hurtling towards his CD collection almost threatens to stop the show entirely, with the jovial character uncharacteristically turning on the crowd before questioning if they wanted “Benga to keep playing music for you?”. After delivering the rest of a mid-ranged, bass-drop infested display that dub purists and the crowd likewise seemed satisfied by, a quick meet-and-greet with the crowd is in order before the backpack-cladded producer interchanges with electro king Doorly, whose eminence results in the stages biggest crowd of the evening. Yet after the distinction comprised through earlier acts this rather monotonous techno affair feels more like a filler in anticipation for tonight’s headliner Fake Blood, whose recent international success can be comprehensively asserted by the furore he submerges the crowd into and ultimately, caps off a resoundingly memorable year for the Londoner.
With wobbles, drops, timbres and scratches summing up ‘rave’ day on the Baltic stage, the opportunity to extend this party over at superclub ‘Digital’ is there, yet with the contrasts of an equally captivating line-up of bands on tomorrows horizon, a well-deserved rest appears the best option.