Darlington’s newest festival, Last Train Home, was definitely something truly special for the town.
Ran by music organisation Tracks, the music and comedy festival took place in various venues (many of them rarely used for events) across the town centre with the aim to be finished in time for gig-goers to make the last train home (hence the name).
Sonder Minds were the first act I had the chance to see. Performing at the Hullabaloo stage, Darlington’s very own lo-fi indie quartet played to a tentative crowd. Paul Piper’s vocals were on point as usual as they played classic tracks including first release, ‘Back In The Day’, and fan-favourite, ‘All I Meant’.
I stayed at the Hullabaloo to watch Manchester/Darlington six-piece, Ronald Raygun. Trying out their new six-man lineup for the first time, the band were truly at their best. Their psych-groove-electro sounds combined with Sam Kennedy’s vocals were delightful – and it was clear the audience also felt that way.
Catching Courtyards’ set at Hogans was one of my highlights of the day. The indie-rock band from Yorkshire played catchy choruses and euphoric guitar riffs that wowed the crowd in the sprawled out upstairs bar.
As a woman, it’s exhilarating and inspirational to see so many female-fronted acts doing amazing things. Last Train Home, as a whole, hosted a plethora of incredible women, with The Van T’s being a perfect example of female-fronted excellence. Their set at the Hullabaloo was nothing short of marvellous – everything I would expect from a Van T’s gig. It was similarly as exhilarating watching Manchester-based band PINS close the stage, keeping the audience on their toes throughout and even inviting everyone on stage for a dance.
One of my favourite things about this festival was the variety of unusual venues used. As a Darlington resident, seeing these locations as venues for a festival was intriguing. Over the years, local festivals have taken place in bars such as Hole In The Wall and Avalon, but never did I think I would be heading to a local festival at St John The Evangelist Church.
Venturing over to the church, once inside, the still and silent atmosphere hit like a train (no pun intended). The only sounds were the acoustic melodies coming from The Futureheads’ Barry Hyde as fans sat in pews to watch.
With an eclectic line-up, fantastic usage of venues, and a smoothly-run event, I can’t wait to see what the team at Tracks have in store for us for next year’s festival!