While it’s easy to be sucked into Ouseburn and the joys of Think Tank it is unfair to forget the rest of the North East. While Newcastle has a lot to offer musically it’s definitely worth lacing up your docs and hopping on a metro to explore some of the other sights the region has to offer.
Surf Café – Tynemouth
Newcastle has the privileged position of being a fine city a mere hop away from the coast. If Brighton is the bohemian coastal getaway to London, then Tynemouth is the seaside shangri-la to Newcastle and the Surf Cafe is the perfect venue to catch Tyne and Wear's top talent. With friendly Aussie bar staff (of course there would be in a Surf bar) and a decent food menu, this is the perfect venue to escape the city and catch some of the regions top musical talent in a relaxed and friendly venue.
Independent/Holmeside Coffee - Sunderland
Being from Sunderland myself, I've spent many an hour drinking, dancing and catching bands and DJs at this versatile venue. On the weekend the greater club Independent has hosted bands such as The Subways and recently had Thomas Turgoose of This Is England fame DJing their Saturday nightclub event. During the day a small section of it's open as a coffee shop, owned and ran by the lads from Lilliput, where you can sample artisan coffee and a divine peanut butter hot chocolate. On a weeknight it hosts monthly film clubs, a reading circle and a writers group which provides a fertile creative space in a city that is always living in the shadow of their black and white neighbours. FUCK THE MAGS.
Sound It Out Records - Stockton Upon Tees
It's not often you hear about a record shop having a documentary made about them, no less in Teesside, but Sound It Out Records was the subject of Jeanie Finlay's 2011 film profiling the last independent vinyl-selling store in the region. Surprisingly, this documentary even got airspace at South By South West Festival that year, which is pretty damn surprising considering Teesside's greatest export is the chicken parmo. The shop itself is a treasure trove of goods where you can get classic punk LPs alongside recently pressed vinyl by artists such as Mercury Rev. Also stocking clothes and vintage editions of the NME this store is worth catching the rickety train from Central Station across the region. If you're pressed for time or a bit too hungover for the trek, than it's also worthwhile to check out Sound It Out's online store, which lists most of the stock, they also have in the shop front.
Twisted Lip - Middlesbrough
While Empire is the main draw for bands and DJs to Middlesbrough, it is Twisted Lip that offers a more laid back and relaxed venue to listen to good music and drink tasty beers. On Saturday night's they host Funkbox, unsurprisingly a funk and disco night, that's free in and invites you to "Come to dance and bring a smile". As well as club night's, they frequently host acoustic nights showcasing local talent, but also they've recently had more established artists such as Paul Heaton of Beautiful South and Housemartins fame. The management deliberately set themselves apart from the rest of the bars in Boro' by decorating it with reclaimed furniture from an abandoned church giving the bar a truly unique ambience in the heart of smoggy land.