'Erimus' is the Latin motto used by the town of Middlesbrough. For the uninitiated, it means: "We shall be". Twisterella, in its inaugural year applied new meaning to the phrase by bringing over forty up-and-coming to five venues in the centre of the town with a view to recreating a north-eastern event comparable to Brighton's Great Escape and Liverpool's Sound City festivals.
Organised by two local promoters, The Kids Are Solid Gold and Pay For The Piano have a track record for bringing the best in new bands to the area.
Starting at 11am in the Student Union building, the 'Unconference' was a music industry workshop that enabled local bands to pick the brains of a panel of industry experts including deejays, promoters and band managers. A range of topics were covered in various sessions over three hours and concluded with critical appraisal of songs submitted by the bands. An interesting and informative event covering marketing, image and radio play with lot of guidance to help bands make that next step.
The five venues of the festival were all within a few minutes walk of each other, enabling attendees to pick and choose the bands they wanted to see with a minimum amount of effort.
Proceedings start in the homely Westgarth Social Club (a venue with a track record for being supportive and accommodating of live music in the town – locals go downstairs and the live music is in the function room upstairs). The walls of the venue pay testament to previous gigs with with framed, signed posters behind the bar. Avalanche Party are from a small, picturesque village on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. They play dirty, snarly, strutting garage rock n' roll that only the boredom of the countryside could inspire. Either that, or they've been bitten by werewolves. A wonderful start to the festival that augured good omens for the rest of the day.
Over the road in the Student Union building, Scottish indie-rockers Fatherson had an expectant crowd awaiting their entrance. As lead singer, Ross Leighton leads into 'I am an Island', the lights flare and the band kick into a half hour set full of the kind of twinkly verse / soaring chorus anthems that would have lesser reviewers gushing about having chills up their spines etc. I'm rock hard and from the north, but my back was definitely feeling a bit cooler than usual. Playing early in the day due to a headlining show in Leeds in the evening, their was a buzz about Fatherson before they played and they certainly lived up to the hype. Definitely worth keeping an eye out for as they are destined to be festival darlings next year. Quite brilliant.
Approaching the Westgarth again, people could be overheard enthusing over the performance of Spanish math-rockers, IEPI who had just finished. Their tour-mates, That Fucking Tank, followed them onto the stage and shredded themselves to glory in a rapidly filling room. Anyone bored of guitar/drum duos should definitely give this band a viewing. Bass heavy baritone guitar and constant, feverish drumming made for a wall of noise and buzzing ears.
Suddenly, it was back to the 90s with Humberside's Night Flowers who play an upbeat guitar pop that sounds like...shhhh...say it quietly...Britpop's finest hour. Girl/boy vocals, flowery melodies and stage banter that seemed to embarrass the guys down the front. Did that girl on stage just talk to us? Yeah, she did and you need to be grateful. This band are like the soundtrack to your first kiss. Those butterflies in your tummy just recorded an album and they're selling it by the door.
Up the road in the next venue, American pop-grunge trio, Heyrocco are summoning up the spirits of Pavement and Weezer (come on, they've been clinically dead since Pinkerton) on an illuminated flashing dancefloor. Lovingly-crafted college radio foot-tappers are dished out by three charismatic guys with awful hair. As it should be. They're on tour at the moment. Go and see them.
As a youngster, you might have the odd glass of wine with your parents. Then you maybe have a couple of beers at Christmas. Then one day, you go mental down the park on a bottle of white cider, the world spins out of control, you vomit and you get taken home by the police. The next band up are that first teenage boozy headfuck. This is Bad Breeding and they're quite, quite wonderful. They clear the venue with an absolute maelstrom of thrashed, scuzzy punk with the lead singer on his knees, on the barrier and screaming in your face. Obviously a lot of people hated it and those people were wrong. Bad Breeding are off on tour round Europe with Royal Blood soon. I'd love to see it.
London's Brontide had a gang of teenage boys waiting right at the front of the stage before they even started. What makes teenage boys so eager these days then? Turns out it is amazingly polished and technically proficient instrumental post-rock. 65Daysofstatic and Don Caballero laid down the gauntlet and Brontide have picked it up. Loop effects, funny looking black plastic pedals and tight, tight percussion. Great stuff.
Back in the Student Union, the bar was filling up with the regular Saturday night undergrad revellers. They were dressed to the nines and completely oblivious to the happenings on the other side of the room. Behind the curtain were Glaswegian hip-hop outfit, Stanley Odd. Hip-Hop is always at its best when it has a message and with backing singers, crowd participation and guitar and bass led grooves, Stanley Odd didn't disappoint. Heavily politicised but with an accessibility that meant that the party never got bogged down by the polemics.
Prides end the day in Westgarth with their catchy electro-synth pop. Already accomplished for such a new band, big things are predicted for this three-piece who already have the 2014 Commonwealth Games closing ceremony and drinks commercials under their belts. Recently signed to a major label; could this be one of the last small gigs they perform?
You could forgive a music event in its first year to maybe be a little sloppy. Well-meaning, you'd think. Good effort, you'd say. You can't say that about Twisterella. It was far, far better than that. Polished, seamless and full of quality for a meagre entrance fee of £15.
We shall be? Twisterella already is.
latest on this festival
line-ups & rumours
festival home page