Hit the North and back again…

It’s been a while since I’ve seen that early on a Sunday morning, but one hilariously hungover gal, two “not a morning person” people and the queen of roadtrips (thank you for the endless snacks and always having whatever the ‘does anyone have a….’ request was, Megan) managed to get themselves on the road to Newcastle.

It’s disgraceful, I know, but at the age of twenty four – and even with a best pal who’s Geordie – it was my first ever trip to the ‘Toon.’ First impressions? Confusing car parks. After the car was safely stored on the umpteenth level of a QPark? Lovely city.

Walt Disco

We found our way to the Boiler Shop to grab our wristbands – thanks Chris & Amazing Radio(!) – and headed off to the Bridge Hotel to catch our first band of the day (slightly later than anticipated because I don’t think we managed to drive past one service station the whole way down…), Glasgow’s own Walt Disco. The room started off relatively quiet – with everyone stood around the outskirts of the room, but by the time the band were on their third song, they’d brought a troop of people up from the bar downstairs, and I was having to peer over shoulders to get a glimpse of the band! They played a really strong set and it was the first time I’ve seen them live. I was getting serious ‘the Cure’ feels and I’m an instant fan.

We then bounced our way across to see Oddity Road play a blinder of a set in Brewdog (which happened to be one of the coolest bars I think I’ve experienced.) Their current single “Why Am I Like This” is one of my favourites at the moment, so I was buzzing that I got to see it live, before we had to hit a light jog across the city to the Academy 2 to catch Lauren Aquilina. I’m SO happy she’s decided to start performing again – her voice is a force to be reckoned with. She played a set mixed with old songs, newer songs and recent single “Psycho,” all acoustically, and she absolutely smashed the whole set. It was really nice to hear the songs stripped back and raw, and the entire crowd spent the whole set singing along to every word.

Lauren Aquilina
Oddity Road
HalfNoise (slightly blurry because I didn’t stop dancing long enough to take a decent one – sorry not sorry.)

Another wee power-walking episode down to ThinkTank to see Zac Farro of Paramore fame in his other band, HalfNoise. I’ve seen them before and as much as I love listening to the tracks ‘normally,’ seeing them live is a whole other experience. There’s so much energy transferred from the band on stage to the crowd and it’s impossible not to dance. Definitely the highlight of my day I think!

Catherine McGrath

Back to the Boiler Shop, a play in the photo booth, and some back pack drama later (shout out to the lovely security guard who let us empty John’s bag into mine and pretended like he hadn’t seen a thing…) we were front and centre for Catherine McGrath – who, we worked out, Lucinda and I had seen exactly a year ago on that day in King Tuts! I love that country artists are slowly but surely creeping their way into mainstream-y festivals. She played through a set of our favourite tracks from her album, “Talk of this Town” in the sparkliest trousers I’ve ever seen (aka need), and then we had to hit the ground running to get down to the next venue…

Seafret.

We did try to catch SOAK down at the Riverside venue, but the stage was running 45 minutes behind, which meant our meticulously planned schedule would’ve gone to pot if we’d waited any longer… so we turned on our heels and made the trek along the river Tyne, back up the hill and into the Underground ThinkTank venue for Seafret – we walked in just in time for them starting one of my favourite songs ever – “Oceans,” so the uphill running was all instantly worth it. They’re such a dreamy wee band, and I’ve loved them for years, so getting to see them in the midst of all the crazy was a wee half hour of calm and not panicking about what was next and we were totally in the moment. Other than John of course, who’d already bolted to the venue upstairs to secure our spots for She Drew The Gun.

She Drew The Gun.

They’re a band I’d never listened to before, but I actually really enjoyed their set. Mostly stood in awe of the heavily pregnant keyboard player who was giving it her all and looking insanely cool whilst doing so. I’ve had to add their tracks to a few of my playlists this week – I really recommend giving them a listen.

Finding ourselves with a spare five minutes, we managed to fit in some posing with the infamous ThinkTank neon sign, and were off again, back up to the Academy, for venue headliner – Jake Bugg.

Jake Bugg

The place was, understandably, packed out. There were little pockets of ‘calmer’ people dotted around the rowdy crowd and it just proved the variety of people that his music attracts. There were older songs from his first album, newer songs from his most recent, and everything in between – and the crowd lapped up every second. It was clear it had been a busy day in the Academy, if you stood still too long, your feet were superglued to the beer soaked, sticky floor; a sign of a good day.

Our last wee sprint across the city of the day was back to Brewdog to catch Lucia’s set. We had to literally squish our way through the door and stand on our tippy toes at the back. Highly popular headliners, and they certainly brought their ‘A game.’ Massive energy in such a small venue, and lead singer, Lucia Fairfull is the best front woman I’ve seen in a long time.

Lucia

Our wander back to the carpark (which I’m still amazed we found again..) was an interesting one. I know Newcastle’s well known for its clubbing scene and nights out, but my actual word. When you’re sober and seeing it all unfold on a bank holiday Sunday at 11pm it truly is wild. I’ve never felt like so much of a grandma in my life – ‘HOW are those wee gals not absolutely freezing?!’ ‘Where are their jackets?!’ ‘How is she walking in those heels????!’ But we made it back to the car in one piece. Another few coffee stops, a couple of Spice Girls singalongs and another dent in Megan’s stash of snacks and we made it home in time to have a couple of hours sleep before the reality of work hit on Monday morning.
I love sleep. I do not cope without sleep. I definitely was a zombie all day the next day, but Hit The North Festival was totally worth the there-and-back day trip to Newcastle. See ya next year!

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