James Stevenson

Evolution Emerging: “Playing live is crucial to an artist’s development and events like this can make a real difference.”

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It has been a disheartening year for music festivals in the North East with the cancellation of three of the region’s festivals in Split, Evolution and Stockton Weekender. While the region did gain the BBC Radio 6 Festival in Tyneside it was a bittersweet moment; it was a resounding success but it was always a one year deal before it moves along and the North East is soon forgotten again.

However there’s hope yet as while the region missed out on larger acts it has allowed local artists such as Lisbon, Hyde & Beast and Charlie Dancer to blossom. April saw Stockton Calling take place once again which has a focus on home grown talent and similarly this weekend on Saturday May 23 the fantastic Evolution Emerging will return bringing 40 of the region’s best upcoming talents over nine stages. We caught up with Bob Allan, manager of the artist development programme at festival organiser Generator, to chat about the rise of the North East and the upcoming Evolution Emerging.

“Evolution Emerging began in 2009 as an event that preceded the Evolution Festival on the Quayside, the idea was to give a platform to new talent from the North East as part of Generator’s artist development programme.”

Evolution Emerging has quickly established itself as one of the best, nationally, for bringing fresh talent to the forefront, yet has managed to keep its own identity.

“There are similar “city crawl” type festivals but Evolution Emerging has a regional core to its lineup and the setting of Ouseburn is quite unique so while you could draw comparisons to the like of The Great Escape or Tramlines it very much has it’s own feel. ”

Generator is understandably proud that they’ve managed to capture imaginations. “The style of the festival is different in that it offers a multi-venue event, I think that Evolution Emerging is an event you go to if you want to see new music from the North East and beyond.” Bob attributes the success to a core audience who “are extremely passionate about it and I hope they continue to support us as it grows.”

Hyde and Beast will be headlining this year's Evolution Emerging

Hyde and Beast will be headlining this year’s Evolution Emerging

Bob acknowledges the success the event has seen in recent years with rising ticket sales and a growing interest in the local music scene which has led to it becoming bigger and better year on year. “It’s been a good, yet simple, mix of the musical talent here, the supportive audience and Generator’s ability to programme the best new artists in our region, we’re really proud of the event.”

The hard work put into organising the event pays dividends. Organising the festival is a six month task with headliners being discussed in December and from there artists need to be selected, backdrops designed, sponsors to liaise and the ever complicated “dealing with left handed drummers.”

Unfortunately we’ve seen the last of Split festival and Stockton Weekender due to spiralling costs. Both brought well known talent to the region in the form of Public Enemy, Maximo Park and The Cribs among others but the silver lining is that the cancellations have allowed Evolution Emerging to step into the limelight and showcase the region’s best and brightest. “They all offered something slightly different and ended for slightly different reasons but it is a shame to see them go as they provided amazing live music on people’s doorsteps, it’s all the more reason to support events like Evolution Emerging.”

Festivals like Evolution Emerging are incredibly important for artists to showcase their skills and continue their development and that was always the intention; to provide a rich live event that benefits everyone.

“I think the North East has always had a rich pool of talent that punches above it’s weight, it flows with some artists breaking through nationally but there’s always interesting and varied stuff happening. I think it’s really important for Evolution Emerging to showcase this to the region itself but also to the rest of the country, playing live is crucial to an artist’s development and events like this can make a real difference. ”

Onwards to the future, Generator are looking for the festival to grow once again with potentially some outdoor stages and using more interesting spaces to “create an even more special event across the Ousebern Valley.”

Check out our essential guide to this year’s festival here.

Tickets for Evolution Emerging are available for £5 from MusicGlue.com – the event takes place on Saturday May 23 across the Ousebern Valley from 7pm until 1am.

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