So here we go, Day 1 of Europe’s biggest new music event – The Great Escape. The Brighton & Hove Music Team brings you no less than 16 concert reports from this fab opening day, so sit back and enjoy…
Æ MAK (Republic of Ireland) – Bau Wow 12:15 – 12:45
I began my Great Escape adventure in the dark but impressive neon-lit bowels of Bau Wow nightclub, a new venue to the event this year. As the sun shone brightly outside, lighting up the stage inside were four-piece Æ MAK who hail from Dublin and had crossed the Irish sea to perform for us.
This was an enjoyable but short 20 minute set of electro-punk pop set against an impressive soundscape and visuals. Check out the excellent tracks ‘I Walk’ and ‘I Can Feel It In My Bones’. It was such a good start to this year’s music fest that I recommended my colleague to see them later that afternoon. This band are one to watch for sure. MF
RASCALTON (Scotland) – Horatio’s 1:00 – 1:30
One of the most happening sounds in Scotland right now are garage/punk rockers Rascalton, who formed whilst still at school. They sound straight out of 1970’s New York meets late 70’s Northern Ireland. I can hear The Undertones influence going on here, as well The Strokes, The Libertines and Q Tip. The band have moved up to support the likes of The View and brushing shoulders with Radiohead and Arctic Monkeys with their new booking agents 13 Artists. You should check out their awesome sub three minute track titled ‘Lust’ and then take it from there. NL
TEAM PICTURE (England) – Beach House 1:30 – 2:00
Team Picture are a six-piece outfit out of Leeds and they formed just a couple of years ago in 2016. The band were tonight sporting what is best described as a blue and white model toy soldier outfit meets ‘A Clockwork Orange’ Droog. This is obviously signifying that they are indeed one compact unit striving for the same musical success and goals.
Team Picture have already earned praise at BBC Introducing and Radio 1 and secured multiple spins at 6Music with support from Huw Stephens, Tom Robinson and Steve Lamacq, as well as ticking off support slots with the likes of Parquet Courts, Psychic Ills, The Orielles and Ulrika Spacek. The bands track ‘Strange Year’ is a highlight, being a mixture of The Beatles ‘I Am The Walrus’ meets The Editors. NL
THE ORIELLES (England) – Beach House 2:30 – 3:00
I was delighted to see this young, up-and-coming Halifax based band on the bill at The Great Escape as I had missed their appearance at Brighton’s Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar last year due to a prior engagement. I first became aware of them when their sublime and retro-sounding ‘I Only Bought It For The Bottle’ popped up on my Twitter feed last year. I was hooked from then.
The Orielles are Sisters Esmé Dee and Sidonie B Hand-Halford who met guitarist Henry Carlyle Wade at a house party, clicked, and formed a band the next day. It’s hard to comprehend that such a young band can produce an accomplished and polished performance as they did on this hot, sunny Thursday afternoon in the darkened Beach Club marquee.
Influenced by 80’s/90’s American alt rock/indie bands and with a love of all things Tarantino, The Orielles produce a distinctive, absorbing and retro sound. Set highlights included ‘Let Your Dogtooth Grow’ , ‘I Only Bought It For The Bottle’ and the heady and quite sublime ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’ which closed out the set.
Their debut album ‘Silver Dollar Moment’ is out now. Catch them on the way up while you can! MF
Æ MAK (Republic of Ireland) – Prince Albert 3:00 – 3:30
Æ MAK’s otherworldly soundscape refuses them to be pigeonholed, however, if I was going to have a decent stab at it, I would suggest the operatic tendencies and lush vocal harmonies of Kate Bush meets a Gaelic CHVRCHES on the synth and drums front.
Live at the Prince Albert, were three guys (Daniel McIntyre, Dylan Povey and Peter Kelly) and one truly magnetic girl (Aoife McCann). Now Aoife is not your normal run of the mill performer, she unfurls each composition with an accompanying movement, just as David Bowie used to in the late 1960’s. She comfortably sits on the outer edges of her homeland as well as musically and thus takes influences from her majestic surroundings. Remind you of anyone with the same thought process that hails from Iceland and was in The Sugarcubes? Having spoken with Aoife, I can vouch that despite her wild tribal persona, under it all is a very warm heart. The latest single is called ‘Glow’. Should go far! NL
HAIKU HANDS (Australia) – Komedia 3:30 – 3:55
Last year, The Great Escape delivered us the awesome Aussie band Confidence Man and this year they have delivered again in the form of Melbourne and Sydney ladies Mie Nakazawa, Claire Nakazawa and Beatrice Lewishave ie Haiku Hands. These ladies have exploded onto the scene with their irresistibly danceable choooooooooooon ‘Not About You’.
The unapologetic Australian trio have quickly earnt a fierce reputation for themselves from their formidable and rambunctious live performances that lead audience after audience into utter pandemonium. These girls aren’t just a one-hit wonder, oh no, there’s lots more where ‘Not About You’ came from. I can recall hearing another terrific track of theirs called ‘Fashion, Model, Art’ at their rave inspired Komedia gig, which should see the light of day before the year is out.
They blend hip hop, pop, electronic, dance and disco and are a combination of the aforementioned Confidence Man, Britain’s very own Girli and the legendary Grimes (who I saw play a small venue at The Great Escape a few years ago and now she’s dating Elon Musk!). One of my Top 5 favourite performances at TGE. NL
SAY SUE ME (South Korea) – The Hope & Ruin 4:30 – 5:00 (Alternative Escape)
Thankfully South Korea has discovered surf-style fuzzy guitar indie pop and Busan’s Say Sue Me are well on the ball with it. Whilst watching friends Sumi Choi (vocals and guitar), Jae Young (Bass), Kim Byungkyu (guitar) and drummer Kang Semin during their set at the Hope & Ruin, I strangely recalled the swinging music band in an episode Gerry Anderson’s ‘Thunderbirds’. It was the way that Say Sue Me were rocking to their 1960’s surf tunes that did it. However, they are not afraid of embracing new technology as they had their phones on the floor with their setlist displayed on them.
The crowd were equally pleased with their self-penned compositions, especially ‘Old Town’ as well as their covers of The Ramones ‘Rockaway Beach’ and Blondie’s ‘Dreaming’. I would sit them musically right in the middle of The Primitives and The Darling Buds vs Amber Arcades, Fazerdaze and Brighton band The Chefs. I really enjoyed their whole set and prey that they return very soon! I also regret not buying one of their CD’s at the show. NL
.THE FIN (Japan) – Castle Snooker Club 6:20 – 6:20 (Alternative Escape)
A chance to revisit the scene of a misspent youth for the first time in over 20 years, drew me to The Castle Snooker Club, a very curious venue for a gig. However the massive space created upstairs by moving the tables, made for an excellent experience due to a decent view of the band and the fine acoustics. The day here had been put on by local label and promoter Small Pond, who are based a few doors away. They had assembled a good line-up for the day, but alas we could only stay for the sole performance.
Despite hailing from Japan, .The Fin (yes they do have a full stop at the beginning of their name) play very westernised music, but they do have a very unique and accomplished sound with lead singer Yuto’s distinctive high pitched style giving them a strong identity. The four-piece played a pleasant 20 minute set of catchy pop tunes featuring vocals, synth, drums and guitar. Check out the single ‘Night Time’ on YouTube which is superb. MF
SNAIL MAIL (USA) – Beach Club 6:30 – 7:00
Snail Mail, the moniker of 18-year-old American Lindsey Jordan (who hails from Baltimore), although at The Beach Club in Brighton she is backed by three guys. This year, Lindsey will release her debut album called ‘Lush’ on Matador Records which will hit the streets on 8th June, and she has already released an EP titled ‘Habit’. Snail Mail’s sound is best described as summer dream pop, especially her enjoyable track ‘Pristine’ and ‘Heat Wave’ is another decent forthcoming tune. NL
LUCIA (Scotland) – Patterns (Upstairs) – 7:15 – 7:45
On stage upstairs at Patterns were a quartet called LUCIA, one lady and three guys, who hail from Glasgow. On previous reviews on LUCIA, people have referred to it just being the lady, whereas tonight I am pretty sure she said that was in fact the band name, so I am sticking with that. The singer and one of the chaps have a great vampire look going on today. The band have supported The Undertones, Black Honey and The Big Moon and have come a long way from being discovered busking in Glasgow as legend has it.
The fuzzed vocal style and rock work rather well together and their by far and away best song was their final one titled ‘Melted Ice Cream’. This was an earworm as after the gig all three of us were going ‘whoo-oo-oo’ (as heard in the song). In fact, to me it’s the same ‘whoo-oo-oo’ as heard on The Clash’s brilliant ‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’ single. I wonder if they know? NL
TOUTS (Northern Ireland) – Patterns (Upstairs) 8:15 – 8:45
Love these three young lads (Matthew Crossan, Jason Feenan & Luke McLaughlin) from Derry. They state that they are “A singer that can’t sing , A mod that can’t play bass and a drummer that can’t see” – should go far then!
They are surely a by-product of where they have been brought up and thus inspired by dodgy politicians, rubbish school life and the sort of weekend politics that fries any teenage brain. It’s exactly like someone has turned the clock back to 1978 again and that these lads are hanging around with and sounding just like their mates who are signed to Good Vibrations Records. Their mates being The Undertones, Rudi, The Outcasts, Xdreamysts and Protex. In fact the Touts track ‘Mickey’ sounds like The Undertones and their live finale from their 10 song set at Patterns was ‘Bomb Scare’ which sounds just like Stiff Little Fingers and other tracks such as ‘Political People’ could be liked to very early The Jam. In my opinion, they should be added to the Rebellion Festival lineup in Blackpool in August! Easily sits in my Top 10 performances of TGE. NL
DREAM WIFE (England/Iceland) – Beach Club 8:45 – 9:30
Now here’s a band that are certainly well on the music press radar! Dream Wife are Rakel Mjöll (lead vocals), Bella Podpadec (bass/vocals) and Alice Go (guitar/vocals) and they formed right here in Brighton in 2015 as an art school project at Brighton University. Rakel (who was born in Iceland and raised in California) and Bella decided they needed to enlist hotshot guitarist Alice, so they Facebook messaged her and got an instant reply, thus the dayglo world of Dream Wife was born.
On 26th January this year, they unleashed their debut self-titled album to much critical acclaim and haven’t really looked back! Think of them as indie-rocks answer to Goldfrapp. Their energy-filled performance at the 2000 capacity beach site, surely now signifies where they are musically at the moment and the exact size venues that they will shortly be playing on a full time basis. Alice has come a long way from when I first saw her assisting friends on guitar at the Green Door Store. NL
IDLES (England) – Beach Club 10:00 – 10:45
My introduction to Idles was 23rd September 2016 at the Concorde 2 in Brighton, when they were bottom of the bill under Diiv and Blaenavon. My mate and I watched as they strolled on stage looking as though they had just grabbed a bloke off the street to be their singer and were going to launch into something akin to Hawkwind or ZZ Top. After an electrifying 30 minute set, we both turned to each other and said “What the f**k has just happened!”. It was a mind-blowing performance and to be honest the other bands didn’t stand a chance.
My second live encounter with Idles (Joe, Mark, Lee, Dev and Jon) was now as a headline act at the compact Prince Albert in Brighton on 13th March 2017 in support of their brilliant single ‘Well Done’. I started my gig review by saying “You know sometimes you get the feeling that you’re witnessing the start of something big, well that’s the feeling I have when watching a Bristol-based quintet, aptly named called Idles”. I wasn’t wrong was I?
Wind the clock forward and the boys have released their debut album ‘Brutalism’ which will be added into those ‘1001 albums you must hear before you die’ books, as it’s that good and the lads have matched it with their Beach Club performance. I would go as far as to say that this performance was legendary! Yes it really was! The energy mustered up by this lot is astounding. Crowd surfing whilst still playing guitar, throwing your axe up in the air etc etc. No more will they be supporting The Maccabees and The Dead Kennedys. The other acts playing Rebellion in Blackpool on Thursday 2nd August, might as well just give up now – Idles will steal the show! The boys are certainly living up to their band name and are one of the very best live bands I have EVER seen! One of my Top 2 favourite performances at TGE. NL
D.A.N (Japan) – Patterns (Downstairs) 11:30 – 12:00
After the Idles performance the D.A.N. set was a much more down to earth affair. D.A.N are a trio that hail from Tokyo, Japan and got together in 2014 and musically sit somewhere between the minimal alt-pop of The XX and the live dance music dynamic of Caribou. Their influences range from underground house and techno through to psychedelic and African music and judging by the Patterns audience are going down a treat in Japan. NL
EVES KARYDAS (Australia) – Bau Wow 12:15 – 12:45
Eves arrived in London as a 20 year old from her Australian homeland, Brisbane to be precise and has been camped in a Brixton recording studio for months on end and rising out of the sessions like a phoenix is her Dua Lipa-esque earworm track ‘There For You’. Warning, you will find yourself singing “No-ones gonna be there for you like I am, I am I am, I am I am” as it’s very catchy indeed. When she’s a bit more well known, this track will be re-released and chart bound. I note that she has already supported Dua in Australia in March, so the ball has already started rolling. NL
BRIGITTE LAVERNE (Spain) – Bau Wow 1:15 – 1:45
Surprisingly this lady actually comes from Barcelona and makes jolly decent Mediterranean sexy-synth-pop with a lo-fi essence, that you don’t really hear about anymore. If she was Greek she would be Marsheaux, if she was American she would be Kid Moxie and if she was Canadian she would be Lola Dutronic.
Brigitte has this year released her first LP, called ‘Wasted’, which is really a mini-LP with a running time of only around twenty-five and a half minutes, but it’s quality not quantity here. There’s not a dud track to be found, they are all fab.
Being our final gig of the night, starting at 1:15am, wasn’t really going to portray Brigitte’s set in the finest light and so I would very much hope that she returns here to Brighton very soon in order for us to give her another well deserved go. I did actually find her set at Bau Wow reasonably quiet, but this might have been a result of all those earlier gigs. Roll on tomorrow – pardon? NL
The Great Escape Festival 2019 super early bird tickets now on sale HERE.
Read our Great Escape success article HERE.
Read The Great Escape Beach Launch Party 16.5.18 article HERE.
Read our what happened on Day 2 of The Great Escape 18.5.18 article HERE.
Read our what happened on Day 3 of The Great Escape 19.5.18 article HERE.
Read our Great Escape news article HERE.