Pilgrim Street was the kind of place you could go on a Sunday if it was sunny and you wanted to flick through zines at the NewBridge Project instead of sleeping in. At night, Alphabetti Theatre hosted plays and bands in their basement; the tickets were affordable and I even discovered local electronic duo Cooking With Faye at an experimental music event. However, with news that both of these venues will be closing as a result of rising rent prices making it near-impossible to ‘sustain a 50-seater venue in the heart of the city centre’, the future of local performance spaces is on the minds of a lot of us. It’s not entirely the end things though, as they will be re-locating from March 11th – but for those with an attachment to the unassuming stretch of road that is Pilgrim Street, it is the end of something. But with every end comes a new beginning, etc. Think Tank Underground is a recently refurbished live music space at The Head of Steam, and their upcoming bookings are a reassuring nod to emerging and seasoned artists based in Newcastle. There won’t be a shortage of live music while we wait for our old favourites to figure out their new homes by any means.
"the future of local performance spaces is on the minds of a lot of us"
You need to listen to: ‘Sworn to Secrecy Part II’ by Helena Hauff
Discreet Desires is Helena Hauff’s first full-length album, released by Werkdiscs in 2015. A lot of the synth and drum machines she used while recording are more than thirty years old, and you can tell by the modulated sounds carried throughout. It doesn’t feel dated, though – more soundtrack to a sci-fi film set in a future that only slightly looks like now. After watching a few clips where she introduces the machines, I could tell that Hauff’s preference lies in analogue; Roland and Juno gear the chosen tools to create her dark soundscapes. Helena is also known for her DJ sets, where the tracks can go from (the acid side of) techno to sped-up post-punk. It’s this eclectic taste that leaks into her own compositions, and by the quality of Discreet Desires it’s obvious that DJing isn’t her only form of musical expression. ‘Sworn to Secrecy Part II’ begins with a grainy synth pattern that only really changes by going up an octave. In the background are indecipherable vocals, whispers and Grimes-like harmonies. The album definitely tells some kind of story, and if you listen from the beginning you start to notice that the drum machines are swapped for layered, arpeggiated synths with the final track ‘Dreams in Colour’ easing you out of it.
TJ Hertz aka Objekt is known for being one of the more experimental techno DJs right now. His recent Resident Advisor feature titled ‘The Art of DJing’ gives insight to an approach that favours gut instinct over pre-meditated track lists. The club night will be hosted by Backdrop in their new base, Cosmic Ballroom. Supporting DJs will include Blasha & Allatt of Manchester-based collective Meat Free and Backdrop resident Dr. Joseph. The keys of room two will be given to local DJs from Ctrl Newcastle as part of Backdrop organisers’ conscious efforts to balance local DJs ‘who understand our scene and your dancing needs’ with international selectors.