Due to the increasing popularity of Stockton Weekender, this year’s day ticket price had risen to £40 on the door, and £60 for the weekend (with 20% discounts for locals). This isn’t surprising, considering last year’s huge success, and the quality of music offered consistently.
Similar to last year, the festival composed of a two-day main event, and a pre-weekender the night before (which was free for Stockton Weekender ticket holders, and was £5 on the door to those without). Unfortunately, the Georgian Theatre didn’t generate much of a crowd compared to last year. The night kicked off with Mouses, a lo-fi alternative rock duo, whose energetic performance failed to enthuse the small crowd. They did, however, hand out free CDs after the performance, which gathered a decent amount of attention. With a bit of polishing, this experimental new group could really make something of themselves. Next was General Sherman, an alternative-folk, indie-rock band with a fantastic set consisting of a number of distinct songs and styles. The only setback was the constant murmurings of the crowd, which - through no fault of the band - sometimes masked the music. The headliners of the night were Lanterns on the Lake, a five-piece indie-rock band who definitely deserved to play on the Thirteen Stage at least. With a professional appearance and fantastic talent - they all ended up playing each other’s instruments - this band really made the night. The lead singer, Hazel Wilde, did make a small comment about the endless talking - which was deserved, considering the impolite behaviour of the crowd.
On the Saturday, we arrived just in time to see Abel Raise The Cain, who were playing in the Main Stage - having been promoted from the Thirteen Stage since last year. Despite being a relatively new band, they started our day off nicely, managing to entertain the small pack of hard-core Weekender goers. All in all, the set was fun, regardless of the technical difficulties and the last minute substitute drummer. Goy Boy McIlroy, a four-piece alt-blues band from Hartlepool, managed to gather a decent audience with the frontman’s (David Saunders) raw, insane display of theatre. Next up was Laurel, a young up-and-coming artist from Southampton, inspired by Laura Marling, and with a voice reminiscent of Lana Del Rey. With a passionate performance and an incredible voice, it’s inarguable to say that Laurel should have been higher billed, and there’s a lot to expect from this talented singer in the future.
The Purnells, Stockton Weekender regulars, were up on the Thirteen stage next. Stu, the frontman, had an astonishing stage presence, and a quirk for the unusual that may have been better received at a later point in the day, when the crowd had improved. Still, it didn’t stop a group of dedicated fans from bouncing down at the front. Following on from that were another group of regulars, Collectors Club. With a distinctive look, and a great sound, this band is sorely underrated. They fit right into the indie-pop scene, and challenge bands like Vampire Weekend. Deservingly, they’re becoming progressively popular.
We checked out the food stalls after discovering Weird Shapes had to pull out of the Weekender due to personal issues. The food was basic and bland, ran by the same company, with a pitifully small meal being around £6 (whether you wanted a cheeseburger and chips, or a pulled pork sandwich). Unsurprisingly, some people decided to go down to Stockton high street to find something to eat instead. We arrived back to hear the last of Hyde & Beast, a band with no real charisma, and songs that blur into one. However, they did have a collection of fans down at the front, but the majority of people were chilling further back to the easy-to-listen to tunes.
Lilliput, a pop-rock five-piece from Sunderland were also disappointing, with nothing to distinguish them from other bands of that genre, and flat songs. Fortunately, the crowd was building in anticipation for Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, who stole the show with an appeal of unbelievable magnitude. Reeves had a control over the crowd that was almost divine, and had everyone singing along to ‘Nowhere to Run’, a hit made famous by films such as Good Morning Vietnam and The Warriors. The performance was well received, with people dancing even as far back as the food stalls, and should have been the headline act.
We missed Chris Helme to check out the stalls, which were stocked up with festival gear such as flower crowns, neon body crayons, and glow sticks. These were all reasonably priced and created a summery atmosphere. We returned back just in time for Shed Seven, who delivered a great performance owed to frontman Rick Witter, who had everlasting vigour, and a welcoming rapport with the crowd. They mainly stuck to greatest hits, but this went down just fine, and seemed to hype up the audience into 90s mania for Happy Mondays. By 10pm, the festival had filled up, and of course Happy Mondays were keen to entertain. They played a mix of old and new, and everyone was thoroughly impressed by the quality of music, and the enthusiastic show. After the encore, the crowd was left wanting more, and the day was a huge success.
latest on this festival
festival home page
organisers announce thanks and farewell to fans
Stockton Weekender 2014 review
Stockton Weekender 2014 review