Over the past two decades, the UK has developed a cultural understanding that great cities have great inner city music festivals. Cases in point would include London with the Notting Hill carnival, Liverpool with Sound City and Leeds with Live at Leeds. You’d not find it too challenging to find further examples for most other fine UK cities (Glasgow, Manchester, Edinburgh, Dublin, etc.).
Successful inner-city festivals serve a number of different purposes to it’s hosts; attracting the best musical talent to a city, bringing in culture tourists and showcasing a number of music venues on the same day.
Perhaps most importantly, a successful festival provides evidence of the city having the infrastructure and climate to host large music events. The success of, say, Sheffield’s Tramlines festival may well be the reason for the growth in the number of the cities music venues, not to mention it’s increase in gig attendees (83% in the past decade) and the opportunity to host world-class acts. When Green Day and U2 have toured the UK in the past decade they’ve both visited Sheffield, making Sheffield one of only 8 UK cities to have hosted both acts. It’s a moot point, but who would have predicted that before the success of Tramlines?
As residents of the North East, and music lovers, if we wish to draw the world’s largest acts to our region then we also need to prove that we have the audience, the infrastructure and the desire to host them. We have the venues, we have the audience, but perhaps we don’t always have the reputation.
Promoters of bands like Gun’s N’ Roses and Ac/Dc should have the North East as one of their prime locations when they plan a world tour; safe in the knowledge that the event will sell out, there will be little crowd-trouble and that the region has the skills/ systems/ processes to execute an event professionally.
Perhaps one way to promote the North East’s status as a great venue for live music, and to host the world’s finest, would be to follow the example of the city of Sheffield and the success of Tramlines.
If the North East really aspires to be at the top of the UK’s cultural map, and a centre for world-class music events, then we need well publicised, successful, world-class, inner-city festivals.
Running since 2014, Middlesbrough’s inner city festival ‘Twisterella’ has spent four years developing a reputation as an outstanding, inner-city, end of the summer, celebration of music. It may also be one of the North East festivals with the largest potential to be labelled as one of the ‘great’ UK, inner city, festivals.
Running since 2014, and finalists at the AIF festival awards for ‘New festival on the block’, Twisterella has regularly received praise for its organisation, line-up and showcasing of some of the finest national emerging music talent. Critical praise has also been given for the festivals focus on developing regional talent (a platform is used by the promoters to ensure that a select number of local acts appear on the line-up) and it’s desire to host events which are additional to music performances (the well respected, and attended (in)conference event provides an opportunity to hear from key music figures who share their insight into the music industry and the future of music).
With, potentially, their strongest line-up in it’s history (acts include Neon Waltz, Dream Wife, Avalanche Party and Skinny girl diet), as being spread out over four venues, this year may be the year for Twisterella crosses over to become recognised nationally as one of the great inner city festivals.
To reach our goal of helping the North East host the finest musical events, we all must contribute to the shared responsibility of actively being part of our music scene. It’s a responsibility which includes us working with the promoters and organisers of our inner city festivals, helping them to both develop and promote music events that could shape the landscape of the North East. If Twisterella is going to become one of the festivals which can make a difference to all of us, it will need our help and support. Let’s do all we can.
Twisterella returns on Saturday 7th October. Tickets are available through see tickets.