Since 2002 Evolution Festival, known locally as “Evo” has changed format several times starting as a multi venue event and moving locations around the Quayside.
Evolution is now a two stage event based around the Spillers Wharf area of the Quayside next to the River Tyne. This means everything is closer together and there is less walking time between the Spillers Wharf stage and the Ballast Hills stage which is great when there are so many acts to enjoy!
Arriving in Newcastle on Sunday, the festival location was easy to find as there were large groups of people wearing UV paint to follow! The weather set the scene for a beautiful and rare sunny Bank holiday Sunday in the UK and helped make a brilliant atmosphere even better!
After walking through the main entrance, the first thing I noticed was the lively atmosphere, the fun vibe and smiling faces. There were plenty of places to eat and drink, we headed straight for the pork and stuffing batches and then found an area amongst the revellers to enjoy our food and check out what was going on around us before deciding it was time for the bar. The main bar served a selection of wine, beer and cider and the Keglevich Cocktail tent was next door if you fancied a fruity alternative. The bar service was excellent and there were no large queues like you would normally experience, this remained the same whenever I went to get a drink during the two day festival.
Opposite these, was the Red Bull tent where DJ’s spinning some great sets in between bands stopped people in their tracks and created an impromptu dance floor!
We then made our way to the Ballast Hill stage to enjoy Loadstar, the atmosphere at this stage was really lively with dancing and moshing, everyone was there to enjoy themselves and make the most of the music. Other acts we enjoyed at the Ballast Hills stage on Sunday were Lethal Bizzle and Modestep who if possible, got the crowd going even more! I couldn’t help but smile being around all these people having such a good time.
As we moved to the Spillers Wharf stage, the crowd were slightly older and there was no moshing but still an amazing atmosphere. We enjoyed Rudimental who played all of the best songs from their album and surprised the crowd with a brilliant cover of the Fugees “Ready Or Not” halfway through their set.
Next up was Ellie Goulding who, playing at the festival for the second time opened her set with 'Figure 8' and sang her rendition of Elton John’s 'Your Song'. Ellie finished her set with some more of her well known songs: Lights, Starry Eyed and I Need Your Love accompanied by the majority of the crowd singing every word with her.
Headliners The Vaccines who recently performed to a sell-out crowd at Newcastle’s O2 Academy were extremely popular, it seemed as though the majority of people who sang along and danced throughout had come specifically to see them.
When we left the festival at around 11pm the atmosphere was still buzzing with everyone still wanting to dance, probably heading to Digital in Times Square where the official after party was held.
The weather not quite as sunny on the Monday but that didn’t dampen anyone’s sprits as we enjoyed a breakfast on the Quayside and watched the UV painted crowds of people heading towards the festival site.
We arrived in time to see Gorgon City on the Ballast Hills stage and the atmosphere today seemed to be even crazier than it was on Sunday!
We switched between the Spillers Wharf and Ballast Hills stages a lot on Monday as there were so many acts we wanted to see, this was made possible due to the great layout and organisation of the festival.
Considering I hadn’t heard of Lulu James, I thought she was one of the best acts at the festival. She enjoyed a great reception from the crowd and looked amazing in a legless black leather body suit and an enormous collar.
AlunaGeorge, made up of Aluna Francis on vocals and George Reid on the decs were probably less well known than other acts on the Spillers Wharf stage but they still played to a good sized crowd who really came to life when they performed White Noise, recognising their most well-known track.
Zinc and Mista Jam were both brilliant acts to have on the Ballast Hills stage as they played exactly what the crowd had come to enjoy with almost everyone singing along to all the tracks they played. Mista Jam filmed the crowd doing the Newcastle version of the Harlem Shake, even getting an eager young lad on stage to dance alone until the beat dropped. It was great to be part of the crowd for this one and I will be watching it back on You Tube.
Bastille drew a large crowd and finished their enjoyable set with a cover of 90s dance classic 'Rhythm is a Dancer'.
Jake Bugg followed, playing almost everything from his debut album. Jake really knew how to work the crowd alternating his slow and lively songs.
We just made it in to the Ballast Hills area for Sub Focus just before it reached capacity, their set was energetic and despite the fact most of this crowd had been dancing all day they still went crazy
Paloma Faith’s headline performance on the Spillers Wharf stage was a delight to watch and listen to. She had great stage presence and chatted easily between songs, at one point stopping for a cuppa, commenting on the cold and the amount of denim knicker wearers in the crowd! Also performing a cover, Paloma sang her version of INXS 'Never Tear us Apart'.
Overall, Evolution Festival was well organised with good security and police presence. Despite the festival attracting a slightly younger audience than others I’ve been to, it is still an enjoyable place to be with a friendly vibe, plenty of big names to watch and brilliant music to dance to!