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The Crack Magazine


Tons of Talent Gathering in Stockton

Now that live music is back, if you love festivals as much as me, you’ll literally be buzzing even about the things you used to hate. I want to play ‘beer or bodily fluid’ as an unknown liquid rains down on the crowd from a flying plastic cup. I’m 100% willing to float in a tent turned paddling pool if the weather isn’t quite feeling as summery as I am. I will no longer avoid eye contact with whatever monstrosities lurk in the gaping holes of the cubicles; I will instead look into the abyss and shout “I’m home!!!’

However, not everyone is into that kind of thing, so you’ll be pleased to learn you can still immerse yourself back into the festival atmosphere at The Gathering Sounds in some lovely venues that are clean, dry and have flushing toilets. Taking place in Stockton-on-Tees on the 25th September 2021, this will be the event’s third year, and it is bigger and better than ever. Offering an all-you-can-eat buffet of over 40 of the most exciting acts out there, the festival will span across 6 stages: ARC,  Ku, Georgian Theatre, ARC2, Ku2 and The Green Room. All of these local venues deserve our support more than ever after what they’ve recently had to face.

Fans of the festival will be aching to spill out onto the streets of Stockton once again. Originally planned for September 2020, the event has undergone three date changes due to COVID-19. Now that restrictions have been relaxed, it can be fully enjoyed in all its glory, as musicians return to the stages where they belong.

One headliner is Sheffield pop band, Sophie and the Giants (pictured), such firm favourites that they have played the festival every year since it began in 2018. With 3,814,328 monthly listeners on Spotify and their single ‘Hypnotized’ reaching triple platinum in Italy, platinum in Poland and gold in 7 European countries, it’s safe to say they have made quite the impact since they formed at music college in 2015. With influences such as Blondie, Alanis Morissette and Siouxsie and the Banshees, the band has already released four singles this year, so there’s plenty of new material for us to sing along to.

Also performing is Welsh rock group, Himalayas, who met at school in 2016 and bonded over their love of bands like The Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age and Muse. (Where were the people like this at my school?!) Their track ‘Thank God I’m Not You” has been streamed over 25 million times, named Radio X’s ‘This Feeling Track of the Week’ and BBC Cymru Wales presenter, Adam Walton, called the band for permission to play it on air within just a day of its release. Himalayas have been busy in the studio, recording all the songs they wrote in lockdown, so we might just get a preview of this new material during their set…

The festival will highlight fresh, up and coming talent such as Glaswegian post-punk band, Dead Pony. Frontwoman Anna Shields and guitarist Blair Crichton started playing music together around six years ago, with the group coming into fruition when the pair met bassist Liam Adams and drummer Aidan McAllister in 2018. You may have heard them under their previous name, Crystal, before the group announced they were tightening up their image to Dead Pony last year. Dead Pony have released an impressive string of singles over the past couple of years, which all hit like a Glasgow kiss, so hearing them live is not to be missed.

As well as plenty of first class bands, The Gathering Sounds will also showcase a range of top solo performers, such as Newcastle’s Andrew Cushin. The 21 year old has already made his mark on the music industry – Noel Gallagher is such a fan that he produced and performed on Cushin’s single, ‘Where’s My Family Gone’. Originally aspiring to be a goalkeeper, everything changed when Cushin’s father bought him a naff guitar from Ebay when he was 16. My parents also bought me a naff guitar for my 16th, so I’m feeling like a bit of a disappointment right now.

Gathering Sounds is not just a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for us starved festival goers, but for the live music industry in general. With many venues either closed or operating with significantly reduced capacity for months on end, events cancelled and a government that could only muster up a campaign recommending that arts employees should retrain, its safe to say that the industry has been decimated. The festival has the power to give live music, and us, a new lease of life.

Saturday 25th September, Stockton-on-Tees. Tickets are available on See Tickets for £20.90.