Battle of the Bands winners secure spot at Sunniside Live music festival

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A band will be kicking off a new festival in style after winning a slot on the bill.

Alternative indie rockers Social Room will open Sunniside Live on Saturday, an event which hopes to breathe new life into the area, while also promoting local musicians.

The six-piece, who hail from Seaham, won their place on the bill after a Battle of the Bands contest held at Bar Justice, organisers of the festival.

They beat stiff competition from Afterglow and Badlove at the contest, where judges included Ken Dunbar, chief executive of Experience It Here! Sunderland’s Business Improvement District; Frankie Francis, lead singer of Sunniside Live’s headline act Frankie & The Heartstrings and Harry Collinson from Dave Stewart Entertainment.

Saturday’s set will be the biggest yet for the band, who formed just over a year ago. Since then, they have honed their sound at studio space in Sunniside and have just released the video for single SR7. Guitarist Adam Potts said: “As soon as we heard about Sunniside Live we wanted to play it, so the Battle of the Bands contest was an ideal route for us.

“We got some great feedback from the judges and Bar Justice was packed.”

Launching Sunniside Live Michael McKnight and Olivia Lawson, with Bar Justice's Helen Davies

Launching Sunniside Live Michael McKnight and Olivia Lawson, with Bar Justice's Helen Davies

The band – made up of Matty Smith on lead vocals, guitarist Adam, guitarist Simon Bewick, bass player Alex Gunn, drummer Adam Jefferson and Chris Leonard on keys – has garnered a strong local following with slots at Independent, supporting Hyde & Beast, and The Point.

They are also gearing up for their own headline show at Newcastle’s O2 Academy, which takes place on September 26.

Adam says the festival, which takes place in the year it was announced that Split was coming to a close, is great for the city.

“Everything is normally generated towards Newcastle,” he said. “But I think this will definitely take off. It’s a great way of giving local bands a platform.”

As soon as we heard about Sunniside Live we wanted to play it, so the Battle of the Bands contest was an ideal route for us.

Adam Potts, Social Room guitarist

As well as fostering emerging talent, the festival will feature Hyde & Beast, soul and Motown singer Joe Harriett, Olivia Lawson from BBC One show The Voice, Yellowstone, The Source Unplugged and DJ Craig Hope from Northern Soul.

Social Room lead singer Matty said: “People can expect a lively set from us with some lively tunes. We’re expecting a great crowd. The festival is a great idea.”

Matty, who like the rest of the band juggles a full- time job with gigging, said: “We’re funding everything ourselves at the minute, but we’ve had some great support from people, a lot of it is word of mouth.”

The festival, which is expected to attract around 2,500 people to Sunniside Gardens, will also feature food and drink stalls.

Free wristbands for Sunniside Live are now available for collection from Bar Justice, West Sunniside, every day until Friday between 4pm and 6pm.

Any uncollected wristbands will then be given out on a first come, first served basis at the festival entrance on the day.

l To learn more about Social Room, search “Social Room Band” on Facebook.