Live: Twisterella Festival 2019

H2N Live: HHHHH Unreal HHHH Excellent HHH Great HH Met Expectations Poor

Middlesbrough turns into an Indie haven for one day a year and that day is Twisterella.  Now in it’s 6th year the festival has gone from strength to strength and 11th October felt like Christmas Eve, as was my excitement ahead of the full day festival.  We began with melodic Teessiders Mt. Misery (HHH) which was perfect to ease us into a day which can get a bit full on when you start early.  They have a really easy going style that is reminiscent of early Real Estate, which is no bad thing at all.  The Westgarth was swaying and bobbing along as they went through songs from their recent EP which is definitely worth a listen. 

After Mt. Misery my allegiance to Darlington FC meant I had to drag myself away to see a hard won 2:1 victory over Boston in National League North (if Carlsberg did weekends).  I was back at the Westgarth to catch the end of Micah Erenberg (HHHH) being ably backed by those nice boys from Mt. Misery.  Micah was clearly living his best life and the crowd was packing the downstairs room and out into the corridor as he came to the end of his set.  He had a great alt. folk sound with beautiful melodies that couldn’t help but warm the heart and nourish the soul.  His LP is now on my wishlist and definitely needs investing in.  Then came a band that have quite a buzz locally, Sunderland’s newest punk rock darlings Roxy Girls (HHHH).  What is in the water up there that they produce so many great bands?  They are a hell of a band to see live blasting through their short songs with a swagger and fury that couldn’t help but energise.  The set was mostly from their recent outstanding EP ‘A Poverty of Attention’ which definitely clears the cobwebs on a morning and is produced by Field Music’s David Brewis.  These guys are the heir to Futureheads but do have their own sound and identity. 

Ears still ringing we went to check out Martha Hill (HHHH) in Teesside Uni’s Student Union.  I’d heard good things but hadn’t caught her live before.  I’ve been missing out.  Often at these day festivals, with sound check time tight vocals can get lost in the mix but Martha Hill’s voice was clear as you like.  This was a really powerful and emotive set backed by a strong band including a beautiful cello, which added depth to the sound.  No time to stop and bask in finding my new favourite artist had to try and catch a bit of Peanness (HHH).  The indie-pop three-piece from Chester played to a packed Upstairs room at the Westgarth.  Their bouncy ode to the nightmare that is Brexit on new single ‘Breakfast’ sounded great with the line ‘I’m not entirely sure exactly what they’re hoping for’ being pretty spot on. Then we were downstairs for Mush (HHHHH) from Leeds who were worth the entrance fee on their own.  They also came with added Roxy Girls as Tom from the band was on lead guitar.  Their sound is so current with lyrics that cut through some of the big political issues around now.  Their song Operation Vaken, a song about Theresa May’s disgraceful ‘Go home’ vans, has a funk to it that belies the subject matter.  They’re like a Yorkshire Parquet Courts, what’s not to like?  They also had a Jack Leach-esque moment as the lead singer pulled out his glasses to read his lyric sheet for a new tune.  They’re great.  I love them.  Everyone should check them out.

The great thing about a festival like Twisterella is you’re seeing bands before they really blow up.  Last year in the middle of the day one of the highlights was Vistas (HHHH) playing the smallish Townhouse.  They’ve gone on to now have a sold out headline tour and play at many larger festivals.  It was great to catch them headlining the SU bar this year.  Their sound has developed and the older songs are starting to sound like anthems.  At the end of the day the only thing any self-respecting Teessider could do is get a Parmo on the way home.  Head buzzing, ears ringing and a smile ear to ear that in our little town such a great day of live music happened.  Congratulations to the organisers as it was such a great day with every venue packed.  Any chance you could do it bi-annually or is that being greedy?


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