In the past, reviewing music festivals has taken me to some sunny, exotic, far-flung destinations. This was not one of those occasions.
On a cold and wet May Bank Holiday weekend in the Ouseburn area of Newcastle, just a 10 minute walk from my house, local house music promoters Shindig celebrated their 23rd birthday with its second outdoor festival on Spillars Wharf. Shindig’s By Day By Night festival is split into two parts: there is the daytime festival on the quayside which goes on from 12 noon until 11pm and the night-time shows spread across various venues in the city.
The location is fairly unglamorous - with all due respect to my wonderful hometown, Spillars Wharf isn’t Zrce Beach. Nor is the festival based almost entirely on selling you a commercial, Instagram-friendly experience like Wireless, for example. Instead, the main draw for Shindig’s By Day By Night festival is the strength and focus of its line-up.
Put simply, it’s a festival for purists and lovers of house music, and one which doesn’t rely on the sun coming out for its revellers to have a good time. With two stages spread across the Quayside, plus a section in the middle with a marquee stage, bars and food stalls, the festival is straightforward to navigate, and it’s easy to catch any acts you want to see with a quick dash between stages.
Early sets from *Riff Raff and Shindig resident Mark Lowry had the crowd warming up, despite the drenching they were receiving from the North East weather, and the stage was set for Hannah Wants to storm the East Stage with a heavy set. The self-taught Radio 1 DJ always smashes her sets, and despite being moved to a slightly earlier slot, today’s performance was no different.
Shortly after the sun had set on proceedings, Maya Jane Coles entertained the West Stage while Duke Dumont left the entire Ouseburn echoing with his loud, throbbing deep house, aided by the most spectacular light show of the weekend, meaning those misguided sunglasses we all vainly brought with us finally came in handy.
Radio 1’s Queen of Dance Music, Annie Mac, headlined the East Stage on the Saturday night and showed why she’s one of the best around, with a well-oiled crowd responding to every drop and mix in her genre-bending set. On Sunday we were treated to a few rare glimpses of the sun, and the East Stage was the place to be, with 3 of my personal highlights of the weekend all playing in consecutive order.
Dubfire’s forward-thinking and energetic techno set the tone nicely for Maceo Plex, before Richie Hawtin brought the weekend to a close with his brand of stomping electro house. Adam Beyer headlined Warehouse 34 on the Saturday night, with spine-shredding, organ-rearranging bass the order of the day, but I personally opted for the more intimate surroundings of Cosmic Ballroom, where Derrick Carter and Krysko saw us through the night with a classic house set.
Shindig Festival is very rapidly on its way to becoming a staple part of the Geordie summer, but has all the ingredients to become a big name nationally, including a line-up that boasts some huge names without the need for a long-haul flight.
Words: Paul Gibbins
Photo Credit: Jonny Wilson