TUSK in 2018 took some notable steps towards a more expansive festival experience, slowly spreading our tendrils through the whole wonderful Sage building for our 3rd edition there. So we had minimal master Terry Riley and his son Gyan in the hallowed Hall One, the room suitably warmed by Bradford’s great Hameed Brothers, and Lea Bertucci’s earthquaking multi-speaker bass piece all over the concourse, with the main programme switching between Hall 2 and Northern Rock Foundation Hall. And so many great highlights to the weekend – Otomo Yoshihide playing turntables and guitar like only he can, Robert Ridley-Shackleton splitting our sides, Sarah Davachi seeming to cause the earth to pause in its rotation, and a whole shedload more magic. We tried to subtly step things up a bit this year and it felt like it worked, which is nice..
Year 2 at Sage and it feels like we’ve made it our home now. Brainbombs’ first UK show and Nurse With Wound grabbed the headlines and we had Klein, Beatrice Dillon, Staraya Derevnya, Hans Grusel’s Krankenkabinet, Duncan Harrison and much more, including the implosion of Midwich and a transcendent performance from United Bible Studies. The Old Police House had its final blowout, CIRCA Projects opened the weekend with Festival Is Sudden at Shipley Art Gallery and we produced the Club Ponderosa exhibition in collaboration with Workplace Gallery.
For the first time we re-locate to the South banks of the Tyne and Sage Gateshead. A solid bill featuring artists from Mexico, Argentina, Indonesia, Japan, Germany and elsewhere. Rubber O Cement confound, Los Siquicos Litoraleños bewilder, Fovea Hex charm, Ashtray Navigations amaze, Guttersnipe tear beautiful holes in our faces and Senyawa are beyond description. Cast iron programming at Sage (also featuring Wolfgang Voigt accompanied by Rachel Lancaster’s visuals, VA AA LR’s roaming electrical performance, Sam Grant’s Prime Rhythm’s installation and Matching Head and Sir Richard Bishop exhibitions and much more) is matched by a wealth of action at the growing TUSK Fringe, with major blowouts at both the Soundroom and the Old Police House.
2015 sees TUSK change location to Gateshead Old Town Hall, the added additions of BALTIC’s monster sound system and Sage’s top lighting tech meaning we soon settle in and make it feel like home. Another killer line-up helps, of course, plus Ali Robertson and Malcy Duff’s japes in the venue’s old cells and fringe events at the neighbouring Old Police House plus the Adam Bohman Exhibtion at New Bridge Books. Hard to choose stand-outs from an ace bill but Aaron Dilloway blew a lot of people away, Rob Millis’ film presentation was totally transporting and Baba Commandant & The Mandingo Band tattooed ecstatic grins to our faces that are only now fading.
2014 was the 4th and most expansive TUSK Festival yet, with the usual intense rollercoaster of 3 days live music, films and more at the Star & Shadow complemented by Mark Fell’s Time As Articulated Space installation in Newcastle’s historic Victoria Tunnel, the Andrew Chalk/Jad Fair exhibition at the Holy Biscuit and Aine O’Dwyer’s church organ concert at St John the Baptist church.
The live line-up was more diverse than ever too, with artists from the US, Georgia, Egypt, India, Japan, Australia, Switzerland and the UK. Too many highlights to mention but the incredible reception for Asiq Nargile, E.E.K. sending everyone into total frenzy, Hijokaidan’s blistering performance, the irresistible joy of Irshad Ali Qawwali Party and the weekend climaxing with a Borbetomagus/Norbert Moslang/Hijokidan explosion are all up there with a pile of great memories.
We streamed the whole live programme too, gathering many more hours audiovisual gold for our archive section. This festival is going to be a hard one to follow..
2014 TUSK Mini
A one-day version of TUSK and our first foray into live streaming. All the challenging aural pleasures and filmic genius of the usual 3-dayer, with a truly ear-bleeding set from Annihilating Light, first UK shows for Torturing Nurse and No Balls, Richard Pinhas in conversation and live (first UK show for 30 years), and much more, not least the relentlessly insane genius of the infamous Bongoleeros.
They say 3 is the magic number and it all came together pretty magically for the 3rd TUSK. Incredible trio performance from Ambarchi/Campbell/Flower that led to our second album release, devastating rock action from Endless Boogie, an amazing multi-drummer performance of Mike Pride’s Drummer’s Corpse, a Noize Choir workshop leading to a live performance, 4 fantastic exhibitions, more mind-melting film programming and much more.
TUSK lovers again showed their adoration of anything Japanese and excruciatingly loud as ENDON and Blackphone666 were received ecstatically (to put it mildly), The Wire Talks featured Neil Campbell and Hacker Farm and a surprise Richard Dawson set was the icing on the cake.
Year Zero for TUSK Festival and we start as we mean to go on, concentrating on people whose music we love but who don’t play in these parts nearly enough. Spread across two venues, so many highlights its hard to choose, but Rhys Chatham’s ecstatic face during the performance of his Guitar Trio with 9 guitars, drums and bass is definitely up there along with the devastating debut of secret supergroup BOC (Alan Bishop, Bill Orcutt, Chris Corsano). So great to expose the world to the North East’s musical treasures too.
And the BOC set taught us a very valuable lesson for all future TUSK Festivals – record everything!
TUSK Festival returns for round 2, this time all housed at the wonderful Star & Shadow. Another murderous line-up and we upped the ante on other elements too – a film programme produced by Has Gaylani and Joe Murray, a Sacred Harp session courtesy of Cath & Phil Tyler and Vicky Langan, a synth-building workshop with Tom Bugs, art and installations by Fritz Welch.
It’s those little things that bring the most satisfaction though – like bringing in unknowns Hild Sofie Tafjord and Stian Skagen & Erikk McKenzie and seeing them blow the audience away. Wall-to-wall great music all weekend – a face-meltingly good festival, if we do say so ourselves..