Chester-le-Street’s first Fake Festival is ready to turn up the volume. Alison Goulding finds out about the mother of all tribute festivals.
THEY look the same, rock the same and most important, sound the same – some of the world’s best tribute acts are heading to Wearside this August.
Following the sell-out success of the Tyneside Fake Festival, organiser Bec Cottrell is now bringing the event to a second North East venue.
On August 3, Coldplace, The Fillers, Kings of Lyon and five North East bands will take over Chester-le-Street’s Riverside Park for a one-day festival.
For Bec, who lives in Chester-le-Street, getting the festival to her doorstep has been a literal labour of love.
In the final hours before this year’s Tynemouth Fake Festival, she was in labour with her first baby, daughter Faye.
And now she is juggling the demands of a music event with motherhood.
Bec, 30, said: “It’s been a pretty interesting few months – I definitely know how to time things!
“I gave birth just before the Tynemouth Fake Festival began and while I was in labour I was still fielding calls about tickets.
“In the end I had to mention I was having a baby. Some of the girls I spoke to later wrote me a letter saying thank you and congratulations.
“I was in labour for 23 hours and when Faye arrived I had her in one arm and my phone in the other sorting everything out.
“I blew my own mind with that one.”
But the pay-off was worth it. Tynemouth was a sell-out success and entertained hundreds of people in unusually excellent bank holiday sunshine.
Now Bec is confident that the Chester-le-Street festival will be just as good, if not better.
She said: “It’s a really good local, community event. If it’s successful then it could become an annual event. At the moment there’s nothing else like it around here.
“Taking on the licence and running the first Tynemouth Fake Festival was definitely a gamble. But the fact it was a success again this year shows there’s an appetite for it. It also means that people in the North East now have two great events to go to each summer, and each has a totally different line-up.
“I think, potentially, this could be even more popular than Tynemouth. They are world-class professional tribute bands, it’s definitely not a pub karaoke thing. The Coldplay tribute act actually played a Brits after-party for Chris Martin. They are huge.”
Trevor Hurley, aka Brandon Flowers, is lead singer of headlining tribute The Fillers. He said: “We’ve recently been gigging around the UK and America and supported The Killers on New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas, their home town.
“For the 2013 Fake Festivals tour we’ll be mixing the old with the new, and throwing in a few other surprises along the way too.”
The event kicks off at 1pm with five local acts, Ambershift, Antonio Lulic, The Panic Report and Afterlife, headlined by The Longsands.
The bands and audience are protected by a marquee, so not even the British weather can spoil the day.
Guitarist and manager of The Longsands, Ian Barnes, is all ready to offer some friendly rivalry to the tribute bands.
He said: “Bec saw us at our album launch and knew we’d pull tickets so she booked us. If Tynemouth is anything to go by it’ll be a big success.
“We’ll be playing our own music from start to finish and then we’ll stick around to see the others and have a catch up with everyone.”
Bec added: “There’s something for everyone. We’ve found the best North East acts to play through the day and then, in the evening, the tribute bands take over.
“Not everyone can afford arena tickets or to travel miles and miles to see a band. This is a way of bringing the whole experience right to the doorstep. It’s affordable and family-orientated. No one is excluded.” Bec, who grew up in County Durham, got a taste for organising events when she lived in Australia for three years.
She said: “My friend ran a big club called SoHo out there and we were constantly organising expo events to encourage students and backpackers to come out and visit.
“It was three crazy years of flying all over the place. We’d go to Melbourne and take over the town hall and invite all the backpackers out to Queensland to try white water rafting and diving.”
Then, in 2011, her partner Paul Evans took her to her first Fake Festival in Hull.
Bec explained: “It’s slightly ironic I didn’t want to go at first. I like house music and I wasn’t convinced it would be any good but we went and I thought “This is awesome”.
“The bands were so quality we may as well have been watching the real thing. They looked the same, they sounded the same. The guy from Coldplace even had the same watch as Chris Martin. Every detail was perfect.
“I just felt we really needed something like that up here.”
Bec successfully applied to be the North East licensee for Fake Festival, which tours the country, and the rest is history. She said: “I feel that the event can breathe new life into the area.
“People come from all over for a Fake Festival so it’s a great way to pull people in to the area and use the venue as it was meant to be used.
“We’re already selling tickets to people who live on the other side of the country.
“I think people play around on Google and find something they fancy and just travel over.”
About Fake Festival
FAKE Festival will take over the Riverside Park on Saturday, August 3.
Throughout the afternoon, local acts will play for the crowds, before The Fillers, Coldplace and Kings of Lyon take over.
“Every year the tour just seems to go from strength to strength, and because of the huge success of the licensing system, more parts of the country are able to experience Fake Festivals, with festival goers wanting to put on their very own,” said Jez Lee, who founded the Fake Festivals seven years ago.
Families are welcome at the community-led event, with a secure outside area featuring food and entertainment stalls.
A traditional hog roast and a pop-up Asian cuisine stand will offer food while kids are promised plenty of fun with professional face painting, a bucking bronco, bungee run and a bouncy castle.
For tickets go to www.fakefestivals.co.uk. Local outlets are Riverside Sports Pavilion, Premier Newsagents in Chester-Le-Street town centre, Costcutter on Garden Farm Estate and Vigo Newsagents in Birtley.