Review: The Canny Fringe Festival (4th – 5th March)

On Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th March, Northumbria Gig Society, in collaboration with other music societies around Newcastle and Durham, hosted a three-stage music festival, packed full of acoustic, indie, rock and metal bands. Here’s a reflection of some of my favourite acts of the weekend:

The Pasolas

The Pasolas hit up the Alt/Indie stage on the Saturday. When they took to the stage – nailing the moody, brooding look – I was half expecting another indie-pop band. But I was pleasantly surprised to hear them play what they call “blues rock with beachy vibes”. The lead vocalist’s voice was incredible, and the power of it completely took me aback. I can best describe it as a hybrid of Jake Bugg and Paolo Nutini. They played a number of original songs, including ‘My Darling and Me’ – my favourite song of the set – which included some fantastic melodies that sounded like they were straight out of the 1950s. Overall it was a refreshing and enjoyable set. It’s clear that they are very talented.


The alternative/blues rock four-piece Crux kicked off the Rock & Metal stage on the Sunday. I walked in just as they were starting to play an original song, titled ‘The Norm’- it featured catchy blues-style guitar riffs and a growling bass-line. It culminated in some very impressive (and strangely captivating) high-pitched screaming, altogether creating a distinct Muse-esque vibe. The highlight of the set was ‘Positive Cognitive’: the song started off slowly – their front man joked “it’s not an Adele song” before launching into a beautiful keyboard intro. This was followed by the guitarist mimicking the keyboard melody. The tempo then picked up as the rest of the band joined in. An onslaught of guitar and bass solos followed, ultimately keeping the song diverse and entertaining.



Next up were Durham’s very own Gecko. I’ve seen Gecko play on several occasions now, and they never fail to deliver. Their sets are fun, entertaining and full of catchy tunes, not to mention their good crowd interaction. They played several original songs, including my personal favourite ‘Fragile Ego’: its infectious nature got the crowd singing along, as did some popular covers of bands like the Arctic Monkeys and Blink-182, helping to get everyone dancing. Gecko’s set was completed by some bad jokes, on-stage displays of affection, and­­ a particularly dodgy slut-drop – overall creating a fantastic atmosphere, and a thoroughly enjoyable experience.




Gecko. Photo credits: Ifza Tindall







Gecko. Photo credits: Ifza Tindall


Casual Threats

Gecko were followed by the post-punk three-piece Casual Threats, who took to the stage clad in black face paint, and kicked things up a notch or two as they produced the heaviest and most energetic of the day. The song of the set was ‘Stalking Awareness Month’: the loud, snarling bass filled the room, whilst the drummer thrashed the shit out of the drums, and the lead singer crooned in a manner that bore great resemblance to Morrissey. They weren’t afraid to get stuck in either, as they danced away at the front. Their set ended by tossing their guitars on the floor: energy and aggression. Casual Threats’ set was exciting and electric.



One of my favourite acts of the weekend was the alternative rock/indie group Deep.Sleep. They played a wide range of cheerful, upbeat originals, such as ‘Orange English Sun in West L. A.’ a song about home, and growing up around Newcastle, and ‘Slowdown’. I particularly loved the guitar’s tone during this song – the guitarist’s fantastic riffs got me in the mood for a bit of a dance along! They closed their set with ‘1994’ – this featured a particularly catchy chorus line which had the crowd singing. Deep.Sleep radiated energy – particularly their bassist, who was never stood still and was even found dancing in the crowd at one point. Their energy was reflected by the audience – everybody looked like they were having a great time. Elements of Deep.Sleep’s set bore similarities to bands such as Deaf Havana and The 1975 at points, but they still managed to retain their own unique sound.


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