Evolution Festival 2008
Photographer: Michael Gregory27 May 2008
A 5ft 4" slight and slighted lead singer stands with mascara running down her cheeks. The emotive vocalist in question is Alice Glass of Toronto based electro band Crystal Castles. By far the highlight of the Evolution festival is to be found in the depths of her electronically augmented voice. Backstage she sips her tea from a red mug as if she were at home, on stage her alter ego bears forth as she dives singing into the crowd. So why has she been found with tears running down her face after only a five song set?
The location and weather aren’t the problem with a beautiful backdrop in the form of Newcastle’s art house The Baltic lit up by the day’s energizing sun. Nor is it a lack of support, as both New Young Pony Club and Lightspeed Champion bop powerlessly to the pulse of the Atari based beats stage-side. Lightspeed Dev's performance only an hour before brings in the biggest crowd of the day, using the Star Wars Theme to introduce the aptly named Galaxy of The Lost. Dev’s gold Les Paul guitar compliments his all winter, hunting hat and lumber jack winter look, which seems not to warm him despite his fiery performance. The crowd of mainly under-18s throng to his every strum and are left energised when his half hour set comes to a close.
We meet Dev later backstage as security bundle a crowd surfer out of the area: “Surely it doesn’t take two massive blokes to forcefully remove that little kid.” His observation of super-safe-security is apt as the next person to be forcefully removed is Alice Glass, as she tries to hug the loving crowd. After being pulled away she pushes the bossy security Nazi while trying to sing on. Eventually she is forced off from the ground level without any organised end to her set, mascara running down her cheeks. The security claim she's “riling up the crowd”, a crowd energetically pulsing to her voice only moments before. Despite only a five song set Crystal Castles prove by far the best performers on the bill, combining robotically eerie vocals with progressive eight-bit console themes from multi-instrumentalist Ethan Kath. Despite the neu-rave scene employing these gaming sound-effects as seen by Hadouken!, Klaxons and Mindless Self Indulgence to name a few, it is only Crystal Castles who manage to encapsulate the '80s as their She-raa referencing name would suggest.
Reading’s electro rock combo Does It Offend You,Yeah? energise the audience with lead guitarist Morgan Quaintance bare-foot rubbing his guitar against the stage in suggestive rhythmic motion. A crowd full of angsty, sexually pent-up teens need little more to rile them up but more is to come. Brazil’s biggest theromone raising export since the thong arrives in the form of CSS, who headline the Baltic stage. The crowd, previously made up largely of teeny boppers is now filled with inebriated, swaying scenesters. Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS) meaning ‘tired of being sexy’ completely lay waste to their title as they fill the audience with an energy so base and animalistic it can only justifiable titled sexy. Their single Lovefoxxx creates mayhem as each member of the audience is filled to brimming point with so much excitement the barriers actually gave way, spilling the crowd out onto its path.
Despite a minor £3 entry charge for bands including The Streets, Kate Nash, The Whip, Duffy and local newcomer Kinevil, many choose to take advantage of the lack of volume limit found on the Quayside by sitting, armed with beers on the green hillside between both stages and enjoying the shows for free - if not from a distance. The Baltic stage encompasses all that is electronically awesome in the wonderful world of console revival sounds, highlighting bands which push the nu-rave/electro rock genre while being followed by a crowd of adoring addicts. Perhaps being on the forefront of new musical waves suits this young festival well, which is growing each year and fast becoming the best the north has to offer music hungry day-trippers.