Stockton Calling 2024

  • Mark Cartwright posted
  • Reviews

Stockton Calling 2024

Stockton On Tees - 30th March 2024

A year has passed so quickly, Stockton Calling is once more upon us, this is an annual event for established and up and coming artists, with multiple genres covered, that’s hosted by a passionate team of promoters and staff that always put the music and fans first. Here at the Punk Site we pride ourselves in enjoying, of course Punk music, but we also like to stretch our tentacles far and wide, anything that has an edge, a slice of punk attitude, lyrical awareness, or just music that’s really exciting, is fair game and can be welcomed into the fold. Being that there are another two pretty straight up Punk festivals going on in Scarborough and Manchester on the same weekend (with reviews of Manchester Punk Festival already up on the site with Phinky covering his local festival). I hope this gives you an idea as to how much we also love to support our local scenes. Being from this area, it a no brainer for myself to do the right thing here. 

Stockton calling

So it’s a sunny March afternoon (yes sunny) in Stockton-On-Tees (the “shit hole of a place” according to an arsehole Tory) and this multi venue festival has attracted an almost sell out crowd of music worshipers. Being that I’ve covered this event on several occasion, yes I know exactly how it works, but I’m always so impressed on just how ridiculously well organised it always is. How all the venues which include The Arc Art Centre (2 stages), The Georgian Theatre, The Green Room, KU Bar, The Social Room, Sticky’s, NE Volume, Story Tellers and The Link come together and work at making this a collaboration of epic proportions. This year, myself and a few friends decided we were going to explore the edgier punk/indie/rock side of the festival and make sure we catch pretty much full sets, so I’ll start here by way of apologising to all the artist we didn’t see or cover (it is impossible to do them all anyway).

First up on our journey through, for want of a better word, darker/heavier side of the day, was Dossers in the KU Bar, a local band that I have come across before, and boy are they a memorable act. Can we define their music, not really, but Punk/Rock/Indie with a touch of jazzy pop might just about cut it. A stage full of power and energy that lit the fuse for the day was just what we all needed, getting to see them headline in a month or so has now just become even more of an exciting prospect.

Next on the list was Wingz Of The Monkey in the Georgian Theatre, this was a bit of a wild card band, or at least that’s what we thought. Hitting the stage looking like they had just stepped out of their bedroom at home (no disrespect intended here, just trying to give you our impression), nervous, maybe, but boy did that soon fly away with a vocal that grew and stamped its authority, musically they were right on point. We were a little worried that the taking off of clothes might tip over the edge at one point, but this just showed how comfortable they became as the show went on, the audience most definitely warmed to them too. A Fugazi cover near the end, gave so much to describing this bands genre slot.  

After a short hop over to the mothership venue The Arc, to realise that the next band we wanted to see would be on late (an issue that will alway dog the larger events, but the team at this one, was working very hard to get back on track), we realised that we had to, as at all festivals, have to forgo this band and make our way back to the Georgian Theatre for End Credits. If you were/are are a fan of Kula Shaker or psychedelic rock in general, this would have been right up your street, energy, melody and a pretty full venue made to give the audience a moment of clarity in musical loveliness. 

Jumping right next door to The Green Room, we were about ready for some even heavier sounds, and All Before were just the ticket, the festivals only outright heavy metal band, a blend of, Linkin Park and Faith No More would be an easy comparison, but thats just the obvious. This is a band that will, I think make their own sound as times goes on. Fully deafened and happy, it was just what we needed.

A number of bands, pints and a lot of joy later, we need something in the way of food, lucky enough Stockton is a hive of eateries of all kinds. Shawarma is the choice for today. After a pit stop at NE Volume to catch the end of Jen Dixon’s wonderful singer songwriter set, we hot foot it up to Arc 2 and catch Sun King, a band that have a modern 70’s vibe going on. This was Rock ‘n Roll that bangs on the door and then breaks it down.

Where to next?, with so many great bands and venues it’s difficult but necessary to make choices, so off back to one of the many leading venues Stockton Calling had to offer for TV Death and NE Volume was full to the rafters for this one. I said we were going for the edgier side of the festival and trying to keep our Punk Rock credentials that are close to our hearts fully fed, so this was a chance to see the Garage/Punk/Indie/Psych band up close and personal. Pure electric energy is what we got, hints of Horror Pop poked through here and there, but the social and political side to their lyrics also gave for a reality check of a show.

I’d like to say we managed to slow down a little after the last band, but truth is, this is a festival that never relents with it’s menu of great music. Sounds Mint were next up in The Social Room, this is a band the peeked my interest massively when listening to the Stockton Calling playlist, that is an amazing source of research before the event starts, mainly due to their punk attitude and lyrics, a sound that strikes of Bob Vylan and Kid Kapichi, this live show was to be one of my favourite of such a big day. They gave us all a melodic yet conscious set, a look at how living in the real world can be filled with its challenges, a rail against the establishment, and pureness of heart that felt so right. I was left feeling so good, yet also made aware too. 

Staying put, Safe At Any Speed were next to take to the same stage, another on my list of best of the day, this young band are 100% destined for something more I’d say, a vocal that reminded me of Mark E Smith in places, but an energy that also took you back to the early Jam. This was a moment to savour for sure, if you like your music exciting and cutting edge, this is a band for you, the audience definitely thought so too.

Oh hang on a minute, did we ever want to leave this venue?, not in a hurry, because to follow we were then mesmerised by the beautiful and cutting sound of Girlband, a trio that have grown so much since the last time I saw them at the Gathering Sounds Festival in Stockton last year, a set that moved and enthralled all at the same time.

And somehow we have managed to last for a good nine hours and have been entertained by so many amazing artists, but it’s not quite over yet. I dropped in to catch a few songs for the social minstrel Seb Lowe. A a man who fills the gap between Frank Turner and Joe Solo (I know thats a leap, but hey that’s my truth), songs that never miss the point and stab at the heart of the establishment. 

Then to our other slice of heaven, Gemma Rogers was a huge surprise to myself, but what a joy to be in the company of such an infectious soul. Songs that take in drinking Rum (now that’s my thing!), minor political slants and to just enjoy the amazing things life can conjure up. It felt like being part of her family, music that made you wanna dance and be happy, a presence on stage that oozed inspiration, all wrapped up in electronic beats and electric energy.

Now comes the apologies, sorry to any of the venues and artists we didn’t get to visit or see. The whole festival was so big and varied, everyone’s tastes were pretty much catered for. If you got to see 75% of the acts on show, you need a medal, but we wanted to make this year a fuller experience and give the artists we did see the respect they deserved. Thank you so much to all the sound engineers, door staff, lighting engineers, bar staff and a huge thank you to the organisers for making this the biggest yet!! 

For all photos, and there are many, check out this link and visit Stockton Calling here