SHAM 69 (pictured) and STIFF LITTLE FINGERS are among headliners at Stone Valley North Festival in beautiful (and hopefully sunny) Durham this coming weekend. Joe Whyte gives us the lowdown on what to expect...
One of the Stone Valley family of festivals, this cracking, friendly and accessible event has been going now for some time and celebrates its tenth anniversary next year which is helluva good going in the current climate of cancellations and postponements. If you’ve ever enjoyed the long-lamented Wickerman Festival or the boutique goodness of Belladrum, this one is most definitely for you. Starting out as a festival celebrating the scooter scene here in the UK, it’s quickly grown to become one of the North’s best-kept secrets and attracts discerning music fans from all over the world.
The words you most often hear around the festival site are 'friendly', 'laid-back', 'chilled atmosphere' and that about sums the weekend up. Vive Le Rock was at the 2022 event and can unequivocally say that it’s one of the best festival experiences we’ve enjoyed in decades. It coincided with the Rebellion weekend last year and there was a bit of crossover of bands which is no bad thing - this year there’s no clash of weekends but the line-up is probably even more stellar than last time out.
The bands tend to be a mixture of the old and the new; this year they have Sham 69 and SLF headlining the opening two nights with new groups like the excellent IDestroy and VLR favourites Millie Manders and The Shutup waving the flag for up-and-coming cover stars in the making.
There’s always a bunch of good quality locals and hopefuls on in the early parts of the day and some of the early evening acts are a delight to discover. Watching a frail Geno Washington destroy the marquee stage to an utterly bursting-at-the-seams tent last year with a voice that defies the ages was one of the most incredible live sets I’ve ever seen and the bold Hugh Cornwell held the same stage enraptured prior to his old band owning the main stage the following night.
Ones to look out for this year are the always evergreen Undertones (Saturday), the hugely entertaining Barstool Preachers (Sunday), Bow Wow Wow (Sunday), Crashed Out (Friday) and of course The Skids, Stiff Little Fingers, The Beat and From The Jam. If you’re in need of some lighter relief, Bad Manners, Elvana (The Nirvana/Elvis crossover) and the always excellent Dirtbox Disco are on across the weekend.
With bar and food prices that won’t kill you a la Glasto and the like, a park-your-car-next-to-the-tent-pitch policy and lovely, friendly security staff, I defy you not to enjoy Stone Valley. There’s stalls selling rare vinyl, too, if you fancy some collectibles. You’ll see the artists mingling with the crowds, too, in the main arena which is always good for the soul.
Vive Le Rock will be covering the festival in the pages of a forthcoming issue so keep your eyes peeled for that. Stone Valley North tickets are available up to and on the day. Day tickets are also available tickets