Live Review: A Stone’s Throw Festival 2024

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The Saturday of the bank holiday weekend in Newcastle carried a certain buzz in the air which was only amped up by the electric presence of A Stone’s Throw Festival, back for the second time after their 2022 debut. Dotted around venues across North Shields and Tynemouth, there was an unmissable taste of sea-salt crossed with excitement.

My aim during the daytime was to take A Stone’s Throw as it comes, before unleashing into the endless back-to-back bedlam with the continuous evening acts. A plan that proved to be flawless in terms of the more lax atmosphere that the festival had, especially whilst the sun was shining (ish).

The first act I had the pleasure of seeing was Scrannabis at Barca El Globo, Tynemouth. Admittedly, I’d never listened to Scrannabis before, but after seeing his name on the timetable, my interest was piqued. The bar felt shy, as festival-goers were easing into the day, however, Scrannabis’ set offered a liminal summer-toned soundtrack that possessed a dreamy, Easy Life quality, which was definitely notable when performing his latest single ‘The Tides’, a lighter tune, accompanied by an acoustic guitar. His lyricism comes naturally to him, as he makes every word count in his mix of rap and more lyrical song, despite admitting he isn’t much of a singer, asking the audience earnestly “was that alright?”.

Following Scrannabis, I headed across the road to the Tynemouth Social Club, which instantly took me back in time. Passing the crowd of bald heads clamoured around the screens to watch the football and entering the function room transported me to what felt like a post-Thatcher dance hall celebration, accompanied by spinning disco lights. The crowd (now not composed of bald heads, but a selection of moustaches and patchwork tattoos) awaited L’Objectif who, despite a couple of technical tuning issues, erupted the social club with their indie-rock sound, tinged with explosive drum breaks and upbeat guitar riffs. The Leeds quartet’s 80s magazine cover boy look gave a calm and collected moodiness in their stage presence, which shone through in their showstopper ‘The Dance You Sell’ which can be heard in their latest EP release The Left Side.

After an intermission to take in the Tynemouth coast, I went to North Shields where I caught Carsick at the King Street Social Club. The four-piece, hailing from Salisbury, possess a somewhat grittier tone in comparison to the two acts I’d already seen, blending rap with indie, which naturally draws in a bloke-centric crowd. A niche which sounds ridiculous when written down, but can be clearly heard in their track ‘Put It Down’ which is undeniably laddish, yet outrageously fun. They were charismatic, and at some points it felt like a mix of a comedy gig, with their quick quips and jokes, but the oomph in their energy and set was what highlighted them as an act to watch out for.

The festival was nearing its last few hours, and the relaxed seaside day shifted into a fast-paced unruly sprint between multiple venues across North Shields, starting with Bilk at Salt Market Social, who imparted their Essex charm onto the North East, with their rap punk sound that hones in on their Rat Boy influences. They performed a lot of new material for their sizeable crowd, possessing an eclectic variety that catered to the more vulgar of the audience, especially with their unreleased single ‘Skid Mark’, a more acoustic based song tinted with comedic themes. Their music is often based on true stories, as explained by lead singer Sol Abrahams, ahead of the tunes which stuck with me for the rest of the night, ‘Daydreamer’ and ‘Be Someone’, which both relate to the working class struggle, staying true to their genre.

Next, was my return to King Street for Opus Kink’s set. They were the group I was most excited to see, after having been an avid listener for a couple of years, but always missing the opportunity to see them live, like “ships in the night” as I described it to Angus Rogers, the frontman of the band, after their set. There’s no way of describing the exhilarating presence that Opus Kink brought to the social club, like some form of legendary beast that crept across Newcastle. The salsa rock zeal that they brought contrasted heavily with the dim quietness of the social club, creating an intimate feel to their performance. Opus Kink are notorious for the jazz overtones in their music, which really showed through their entire performance thanks to the swelling saxophone and trumpet solos. The entire sextet was explosive, and each song showcased the group’s vivacity, ‘This Train’ being an explosive addition to the evening with its overwhelming cacophony.

It is not a UK festival without Sundara Karma as a headline, being the ultimate pinnacle of the indie music scene. As expected, they were brilliant, captivating the audience with their more nostalgic ‘Greenhands’, summarising their feel as a reflection of simpler times from ten years ago, still adored by fans now grown from grungy phases. A more relaxed performance, the band knows they are still cool and that they simply won’t budge from our doting hearts, as proven in their performance of the classic ‘Flame’, where lead vocalist Oscar Pollock’s enthusiasm was perfectly matched by the crowd singing along full throttle, ‘Hold my flame and set alight’ emanating across the Newcastle coastline. 

Fringe-esque festivals never seem to fail. A Stone’s Throw is an asset to the North East and the rich culture of its smaller dwellings, having highlighted the numerous venues across Tynemouth and North Shields. The energetic, and wide spectrum of talents electrified an impalpable energy across the two towns that will certainly not die down anytime soon.

Words by Victoria Ruck


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