Live Review: This is Tomorrow Festival 2018

By on Wednesday, 30th May 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Header photo by Dean Hindmarch via This is Tomorrow festival Facebook page

Starting in 2002 and for over a decade, Evolution Festival was a Tyneside event drawing music lovers to Newcastle and Gateshead during the lazy days of a May bank holiday. A few years passed with no appearance of Evolution’s return in sight. It’s unclear to me what the impetus was to create the inaugural This is Tomorrow Festival held last weekend Quayside in Newcastle. But I’d like to believe that following the last edition of Evolution in 2013 and the ensuing festival-less years that followed, festival organisers were simply chomping at the bit to provide another event to bring the music lovers of the North East together again. For 2018, This is Tomorrow was presented as a 2-day event, and I only attended on Friday the 25th. The lineup for Saturday the 26th included headliners Thirty Seconds to Mars, who were supported by locals and TGTF friends Boy Jumps Ship, Don Broco and Marmozets.

This was only my second time in Tyneside, so I made the mistake of taking the Quayside bus too far east. However, even though my trainers got soaked in the pouring rain in the afternoon, I’d argue that this music editor actually benefitted from this mistake, as I heard Everything Everything soundcheck ‘Can’t Do’ as I walked towards the box office. I’m not sure if Sam Fender was actually given a soundcheck, as I watched him dash through the rain, a guitar in each hand, onstage. Proceedings started on time shortly after 5:30 PM, with plenty of fellow locals excited to welcome the BBC Sound of 2018 nominated act and local boy done good to the stage. He began with the self-deprecating ‘Millennial’, then ran through a taut set of politically astute songs belying his relatively young age. I feel pretty lucky that I was able to see him in a club environment in March at SXSW 2018 and then got to see him play to a huge crowd in his hometown. Fender ended his all-too short set with ‘Play God’ and was rewarded with a rousing round of cheers.


Sam Fender This is Tomorrow 2018

For those not in the know, Little Comets were one of the first acts whose studio-recorded music I ever reviewed. For most of their career, they’ve been a three-piece, until relatively recently, when they expanded the core of brothers Rob and Mickey Coles and bassist Matt Hall with Matt Saxon on keyboards and Nathan Greene on drums for 2017 album ‘Worhead’, their fourth. With a pretty big back catalogue, I think it takes a lot of nerve to fill a set list with newer, probably less known tunes instead of relying on old, proven favourites. But if you know anything about Little Comets, they’ve never done anything predictable. Recent single ‘M62’ got an airing with gusto, as did the searing commentary of xenophobia in ‘The Punk is in the Detail’. But longtime Comets fans needn’t have worried: their dear ol’ girls ‘Jennifer’ and ‘Joanna’ were full of bounce as ever, and they closed their set with the ever joy-inducing ‘Dancing Song’. “This one’s for dancing!” That, indeed, it always is.


Little Comets This is Tomorrow 2018

Moving ever closer to the headline set Friday night at This is Tomorrow, the next band up were another TGTF favourite and another band with four studio albums under their belt, Everything Everything. The band originally having formed in Manchester may have lost two of their members to the big smoke, but this hasn’t negatively affected their unique sound one bit. Hard to believe that ‘A Fever Dream’ was released last summer, as its inventive songwriting has firmly been implanted in my mind. While at times I lament the loss of my favourite, earlier masterpieces of theirs like ‘QWERTY Finger’ and ‘Final Form’ to their live show, the inclusion of now perennial showpieces including ‘Kemosabe’ and ‘Regret’ alongside ‘A Fever Dream’ top tracks ‘Night of the Long Knives’ and ‘Desire’. While Sam Fender and Little Comets’ sets before them were enjoyable, Everything Everything’s set seemed to really rile up and excite the crowd right before the main event.


Everything Everything This is Tomorrow 2018

Catfish and the Bottlemen need no introduction, of course. The Welsh rockers, famous for their back-to-back hit-spawning LPs ‘The Balcony’ and ‘The Ride’ were, of course, the biggest draw for the inaugural This is Tomorrow event. The lion’s share of the shoving and pushing of the fans was all for them. While I’m not their target demographic and I consider their sound too rock by the numbers, I can appreciate that their feel good, anthemic sound resonates easily with the youth of today. The enthusiastic screams of delight rippling through the crowd were proof positive that Van McCann and co. came through with a job well done.

The festival wasn’t without its hiccups. Some fans complained they missed the performances they had being waiting for for weeks because the security queues took too long to negotiate. The rain led to widening ‘lakes’ on the festival site that were impossible to jump over, and frustration built as one such lake up front stage left prevented revelers from getting any closer to their heroes. Bottles of wine were being sold at an exorbitant £25, so naturally, I wondered how much a pint of lager or cider would have cost. Few down the front, many who had arrived to queue outside while it was still raining, were willing to brave the arduous expedition to leave the crowd to get an overpriced drink. The crush of bodies down the front eventually became too much for me, so a report about a young man having a panic attack in the midst of the festival was, unfortunately, not surprising to me. The youth of Newcastle have the infamous reputation of not dressing appropriately for cold weather, so it was not surprising to me to see kids in attendance in soaking wet clothes, shivering while the wind blew. My motherly instinct kicked in, and I felt terrible for them.

While no festival can prepare for every eventuality, it’s unfortunate that many will remember this festival for the problems they encountered. The rapid selling out of tickets to the Catfish and the Bottlemen-headlined first day is incredible validation that the music lovers of the North East are excited about an event like this and that future events will be well attended and successful. The This is Tomorrow festival organisers should be proud of this. Let’s hope that they heed all punters’ feedback, whether positive or negative, and use the feedback to make next year’s event even better.

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