Evolution Festival 2012 – day one
Not long into his first song, headliner Dizzee Rascal halts proceedings to allow several paramedics to safely extract a particularly distressed child from the crowd. Security had spent at least fifteen minutes before he took the stage pulling crying children over the fence to safety, whilst commendably providing umpteen cups of water from a dustbin to those youngsters who had spent the interval awaiting his appearance, only to find themselves crushed hard against the barrier as stage time approached. The less mentally able members of the crowd took it upon themselves to throw the generously proffered drinks backwards over their heads, drenching those behind them, and wasting the potential succour that fresh water could have given those who were unprepared for the demands of such a populous event.
At all times the conduct of the security staff remained beyond reproach – they rescued all who were in need, and provided refreshment and comfort to those who decided they were prepared to remain and brave the onslaught. What remains questionable is the target demographic of the event itself. Live music events with large numbers of attendees are usually an adult affair. Allowing 14-year-olds to attend alone, guarantees that substantial numbers within the crowd are emotionally and physically unprepared for the climax of such a busy event.
Imagine grown adults being hoisted desperately crying from the barrier of the pyramid stage at Glastonbury, just as the headline act is about to appear – it simply doesn’t happen.
The most drunken and incapable members of the crowd were the youngest. Who on Earth consents to their teenage daughter leaving the house in her underwear with only a bottle of vodka for company is beyond me. Whoever they are, they should read this and hang their heads in shame, for they have knowingly exposed their children to grave risk of injury and distress. In future, this event may consider requiring under-18s to be chaperoned into the main arena. Since the dance-orientated Ballast Hills venue was full from early afternoon, your correspondent cannot comment on conditions there.
It may be that that venue was more appropriate for those of a more inexperienced and excitable temperament, being a wide, grassy space, rather than a long, narrow, fenced car park.
All that said, there were some fine musical perfomances. Miles Kane proved that if the promoters cannot afford the services of Paul Weller or the Arctic Monkeys, he can act as a reasonably adequate substitute. His plum tailored suit was a particular highlight. Maximo Park delivered a set greater than their tenuous grasp on relevance; Paul Smith remains an excellent frontman, despite his band lacking a killer dynamic. Newly-unveiled album title track The National Health was a particular highlight. But it falls to Dog Is Dead to be the unlikely winner from a very peculiar day of music. Their easygoing jangly guitar pop didn’t harm anyone, nor did it cause a crush, and perfectly served the clearing clouds. And damned with such faint praise is the first of the two days of Newcastle Evolution Festival 2012.