The Brighton & Hove News music team were present at this years fabulous Great Escape new musical festival. We strived to cover as many new and up-and-coming artists as possible during the three day event, which took place right across the city of Brighton & Hove at numerous venues of varying sizes on Thursday 9th, Friday 10th and Saturday 11th May.
With a team of five on The Great Escape case, we were able to cover many acts from numerous different genres from right across the globe. It was hard work and we have the blisters to prove it from running all around the city, but was it worth it? Hell yeah! We collectively witnessed 100 performances!
There are far too many acts to cover in just one report, so we have split them up in date order. This article refers to artists that the team covered on Friday 10th May, along with the venue and planned time of the performance. View Part 1 of the acts performing on day 1 Thursday 9th May HERE and view Part 3 of the acts performing on Day 3 Saturday 11th May HERE. So here goes, sit back and enjoy………………….
THE WOOD BURNING SAVAGES (NORTHERN IRELAND)
QUEENS HOTEL 12:15pm – 12:45pm
Hot off their tour with Skinny Lister and revelling in the wake of being asked by no less than Billy Bragg to play Glastonbury, The Wood Burning Savages opened the ‘Oh Yeah Music Centre & Output Belfast’ showcase on Saturday lunchtime with a bang.
Having seen them a few times over recent months it’s true to say that their frenzied energy never fails to impress, with the band playing each gig like it really is their last…whether it’s to thousands or dozens.
THE SHIPWRIGHT’S YARD 12:50pm – 1:10pm
Thankfully I was invited to the Republic Of Music: The Shipwright Yard Sessions by the manager of Babii (stylized as BABii), as this was to be my only chance in witnessing her live during the TGE. She says of herself “iiM SMALL & ii MAKE ᗷᓰᘜ FiiNGS ☽ iiM A SWEET ANGEL” and that just about sums up this talented artist. Oh and that she loves her dog.
If you’re a fan of the sounds and vocals of Purity Ring or Grimes then BABii is totally for you. Check out her new track ‘CARNiiVORE’ that came out a week prior to TGE HERE. I’m a big fan of her happy modern synthpop sounds created with her pads and drums. Her final number which I believe was called ‘Forwards Backwards’ certainly gets the beat going towards the end.
LAZY DAY (LONDON)
THE SHIPWRIGHT’S YARD 1:30pm – 1:50pm Friday
London based quartet Lazy Day (Tilly, Beni, Liam and Kris) were certainly on the case at TGE as they were down to play no less than 5 times across the three days. I caught up with them at the third of the five, when they were playing a showcase set at the hidden Shipwright’s Yard located not far from the seafront.
They kindly provided a blissfully dreamy set. Catchy toe tapping tunes perfect for a sunny Friday afternoon. They clearly enjoyed themselves as they posted “We had the best time at The Great Escape Festival and were so excited to see so many people at the shows. Thanks for watching us play music! That rocked in a big way. I’ve just woken up from a 15 hour recovery sleep”.
ONE CHURCH 1:45pm – 2:15pm
‘Showcasing Scotland’ had thankfully put on a few choice acts during TGE, with my pick of the bunch going to Lucia, which is pronounced ‘LooSeeHa’. I have seen this artist which has morphed into a quartet twice before, with the previous encounter being up at the Green Door Store with Estrons. Read the review HERE.
My first Lucia gig was at last year’s TGE where we witnessed an energetic set from them at Patterns. In fact a Chinese delegate that we met, said that she had developed an instant girlie crush on Lucia. Today, I was impressed with the Rioja coloured trousers. Again an energetic set finishing off with their earworm track ‘Melted Ice Cream’, which to me has the same ‘whoo-oo-oo’ as heard on The Clash’s brilliant ‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’ single.
KOMEDIA 2:15pm – 2:45pm
Five piece EUT bring a fresh surge of energetic pop from Amsterdam to the TGE. Their sound is accessible, catchy and fun. Gaining a quickly expanding following these Dutch youngsters seem on track for bigger things. If you enjoy energetic 1990’s inspired tunes from bands such as the Pixies, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Blur, Weezer, Hole, Wilco and Beck, then EUT are worth checking out.
Missed their set, then worry not, as they will be returning to these shores in the Autumn when they will be calling into The Prince Albert on Monday 21st October – grab your tickets HERE.
LEISURE (NEW ZEALAND)
HORATIOS 2:30pm – 3:00pm
Five-piece Leisure have come to TGE all the way from Auckland, New Zealand to perform a couple of sets. The first being last night at The Arch and today’s show is a more bright and breezy affair of groove, melody and vibe at the end of Brighton’s Palace Pier. Their sound is inoffensive modern pop and their latest single ‘On My Mind’ can be viewed HERE.
Their debut album was launched in 2016 and their second one entitled ‘Twister’ is set for release at the height of summer on 26th July in order to nicely go with their sound. The packed crowd appreciated their sound, although to be honest, it’s not something that I personally go for.CRSNAPPED ANKLES (LONDON)
HOPE & RUIN (DOWNSTAIRS) 2:30pm – 3:00pm
Everyone will remember if they have or haven’t been to a Snapped Ankles gig, even if they were somewhat intoxicated. There’s just no way of not noticing that these guys are dressed a tad like trees and are playing electronic branches accompanied with distorted vocals akin to AK/DK, see what I mean HERE.
One of the guys went on walkabout in amongst us punters whilst he measured the length and breadth of the room….as you do! There’s a Devo insanity about all this. Their final offering was a superb way to sign off and that’s an epic entitled ‘Jonny Guitar Calling Gosta Berlin’, which to me has the similar vocals to very early Gary Numan meets Sheep On Drugs and musically akin to Sextile and Moon Duo. Brilliant set and I’m certain many be bopping around at the front of The Haunt on Tuesday 8th October, when they return to Brighton – tickets HERE. NL
THORSTEINN EINARSSON (AUSTRIA)
PRINCE ALBERT 2:30pm – 3:00pm
23 years young singer-songwriter Thorsteinn Einarsson is one of the most promising newcomers in Austria. The musician, who is still influenced by the mystic flair of Iceland, released his debut album ‘1’ in 2016. After a lot of time spent on the road and songwriting in Nashville, Helsinki and Berlin, Einarsson released singles ‘Galaxy’ and ‘Genesis’ in 2018, both of them intimate and mature songs that reflect his own story. Latest Release in 2019 is his single ‘Two Hearts’.
This afternoon up at the well known Prince Albert pub, located close to Brighton Railway Station, Thorsteinn offers up an intimate and accomplished set, which is mature beyond his youthful years. Outstanding.
PETROL GIRLS (AUSTRIA)
PRINCE ALBERT 3:30pm – 4:00pm
Petrol Girls are a multi-national feminist punk band with members from as far afield as Austria, Lithuania and the UK. Politics is fundamentally ingrained in their psyche and their beliefs and is intrinsic to their sound. They wear their hearts firmly tattooed on their sleeves and deliver their message with a co-ordinated assault on the senses. It’s an emotional call to arms, exhilarating and hard hitting.
You’ll love this band, the sound is immense –creative, aggressive and most of all captivating – a must-see.
THE BETHS (NEW ZEALAND)
HORATIOS 3:30pm – 4:00pm
It’s no secret but I’m a huge fan of The Beths and so another chance to witness this exciting indie Kiwi quartet perform live in Brighton was a MUST, even if I had to RUN around town to get to the end of the pier in time. Thankfully I arrived in time and managed to get in as there was a sizeable queue outside.
Today they performed a seven song set, including a brand new composition entitled ‘Don’t Go Away’ and came along with a new drummer that had been recruited at the beginning of the year. I last saw them live in town in November, read the review HERE. They ended on my fave track of theirs ‘Little Death’ which I have played to death. See them live in Brighton on 29th August – tickets HERE.
PIP BLOM (NETHERLANDS)
HIDEOUT 4:45pm – 5:15pm
Thankfully I had a 45 minute window in order to stroll from the end of the pier to the nearby Hideout. But noooo, on arrival there was a queue and I know that the venue is rather compact and would be rammed inside and indeed it was. Thankfully we got in moments before this London based Dutch outfit kicked off. Essentially it’s Pip Blom on guitar and vocals, with assistance from Tender Blom (guitar/vocals), Darek Mercks (bass) and Gini Cameron (drums).
Things are certainly going in the right direction for Pip as she has this week made it to the BBC Radio 6 Music A-list for the 5th time. This time around it’s with ‘Ruby’ and when listening to their set I get the feeling of Weezer, but with female vocals.
THE SHIPWRIGHT’S YARD 5:00pm – 5:30pm
Very occasionally TGE throws up a few surprises and this years biggest for me was the honour of watching the recently reformed Sleeper perform at The Shipwright’s Yard on a stage the size of a garage! They were riding high in the charts from 1993-98 and scored three Top 10 albums and eight Top 40 singles during that period.
Today, lovely Louise and the five lads were back on form today and performed a 7 song set which consisted of a mixture of 3 new tracks from their March 2019 release ‘The Modern Age’ album (‘Paradise Waiting’, ‘Look At You Now’ and ‘The Sun Also Rises’) which was available in clear red vinyl, and 4 classics ‘What Do I Do Now?’, ‘Sale Of The Century’, the timeless (and my fave) ‘Inbetweener’ and ‘Delicious’ which as Louise reminded us was released exactly 25 years ago the exact same weekend. They are playing St Ann’s Wells Gardens in Hove on Saturday 18th May at 4pm – see ya down the front!
WORKING MENS CLUB (MANCHESTER)
HIDEOUT 5:30pm – 6:00pm
Hailing from the sleepy market town of Todmorden in West Yorkshire having met at college in Manchester, Working Mens Club lined up here as a five-piece and belted out a mighty set of eclectic sounds, mainly retro-sounding new wave and post-punk, all delivered with a real swagger. Lead singer Sydney Minsky Sargeant is a natural front man with a great stage presence who reminded me of a cross between the legendary Ian Curtis (there was more than a touch of Joy Division to their sound) and singer Max from Blackwaters who’ve played this festival previously.
Check out their first single ‘Bad Blood‘ which made the BBC 6 Music playlist. Signed to Heavenly Recordings, they are a young band with the potential to grace much bigger stages.
AVERAGE SEX (LONDON)
THE SHIPWRIGHT’S YARD 5:50pm – 6:10pm
I was now certainly camped at ‘Republic Of Music: The Shipwright Yard Sessions’, chilling out in the sun listening to fab sounds with a beer and the money from that going to charity, what more could you want?
Next up were a 5-piece indie band going by the name of Average Sex. The 3 guy (Sam, Finn, Jamie) and 2 girl (Laetitia and Louise) combo are purveyors of toe tapping indie pop-rock, which falls somewhere in the region of Blondie. Lead singer Laetitia certainly knows how to work the crowd, there’s nothing average about her, which is something that the next artist that I see has picked up on…..
INDOOR PETS (KENT)
HIDEOUT 6:15pm – 6:45pm
We certainly made sure that we stayed put in the rammed Hideout for the first of three TGE dirty pop performances from Indoor Pets. They played the Green Door Store only last month in support of their debut album ‘Be Content’ and were back again today with vengeance. With recent Radio 1 and Radio X AirPlay, there’s a growing buzz about this Kent foursome.
Their stage presence and charisma also seems to grow with each performance and the tightly packed audience at the Hideout lapped up every second. The music is punchy, captivating and – most of all – memorable!
TIM BURGESS (LONDON)
THE SHIPWRIGHT’S YARD 6:20pm – 6:40pm
My second surprise of TGE19 was the fact that The Charlatans frontman was back on the case and performing in this tiny space as had Sleeper earlier. He is still the baby-faced assassin, as you think he’s all lovely and cuddly and then pow….his music grabs you and you are hooked!
He performed 8 melodic indie pop ditties for us privileged punters, with some culled from his recent solo album ‘As I Was Now’, including ‘Another Version Of The Truth’, and both ‘Just One Kiss (One Last Kiss)’ and ‘Clutching Insignificance’ which featured guest vocals by Laetitia Bocquet of Average Sex. And yes we did have a Charlatans cover in the form of ‘White Shirt’. One of my fave performances of TGE19.
YESEO (SOUTH KOREA)
QUEENS HOTEL 6:30pm – 7:00pm
YESEO – this young 24 year old is “one of the most ambitious young guns in South Korea” especially as she won an award for her first full-length album in the 2019 Korea Music Awards Best Dance and Electronic Song category.
She is such a petite figure behind her laptop and mixing desk at the plush Queens Hotel. Yeseo is not so much K-Pop but more K-R&B, electronica with a soulful touch. The whole ensemble from the production, mixing and writing is hers. On top of the tunes come a very light soulful almost ghostly voice which adds to a late night easy listening mood.
SHOOSHH 7:15pm – 7:45pm
Formerly known as just BEA, the enigmatic, eccentric and creative free spirit that is BEA1991 combines experimental electronica with a great voice that made for an enjoyable half-hour. Rather than remain on stage, she elected to walk around the crowd for a couple of tracks, even light-heartedly berating a fan for talking during her set. For her final track, she sat on the floor in the audience and invited them to do the same as she sang.
If you wish to find out more from BEA1991, then you can do no wrong in checking out her latest single ‘My Own Heaven’ HERE.
BODY TYPE (AUSTRALIA)
KOMEDIA 7:15pm – 7:45pm
I had to seriously check out Body Type as they are signed to Partisan Records, which is the home to two of my most favourite acts, namely Fontaines D.C and IDLES. However compared to those ten guys, Sophie McComish (guitar + vox), Annabel Blackman (guitar + vox), Georgia Wilkinson-Derums (bass + vox) and Cecil Coleman (drums) have a more sedate feel about them.
Live, the girls offer up a sound akin to the fabulous Madrid quartet Hinds, but I would suggest a tad more dreamy. Vocal duty is split from each song in their set by Annabel and Sophie. Clearly there’s some warrantied interest in this quartet as they recorded a BBC Radio 1 Session with Jack Saunders from Maida Vale just a week prior to tonight’s Komedia gig. Would see live again.
LATEST MUSIC BAR 7.15pm – 7.45pm
On stage at The Latest Music Bar was a guy with a hood and rope over his head and neck, guitar in hand. What…
It was silent, a minute or two went by filled with suspense. Suddenly someone entered, electric guitar in hand started playing and singing so sweetly Nancy Sinatra’s – ‘Bang Bang’. OMG what a beautiful rendition of a great track. The guy singing was Ren (Ren Gill), the hooded guy was still there in the background.
‘Blame, Blame, Blame’ was the next track, spitting his rhyme and accompanied by the hooded guy on guitar who eventually took it off (bet he was hot) and joined by two more musicians playing saxophone and bongo. What they played had a very ska undertone, eventually joined by a female singer (am really sorry I didn’t catch their names) to put a more reggae dub bass to it.
Ren did a solo singing/rhyming about a girl who was stabbed last year, which brought a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat. Very sad.
He was then joined by Sam Tompkins (another great artist with such vocals!) There’s videos of them busking on YouTube, check it out HERE. Brilliant, and this all happened in half an hour!. Dub reggae guitar base with singing spitting and rhyming. Music with a social conscience so so good, loved it. Billy Bragg meets Public Enemy.
SNAPPED ANKLES (LONDON)
THE DEEP END – BEACH SITE 7:15pm – 7:45pm
BBC 6 music’s favourite woodland creatures stepped up to a packed purpose built Deep End stage located on Brighton Beach on Friday evening and owned the space for the duration of their set. Formed back in 2011, they’ve taken their time to build a solid fan-base…which may prove the foundation stone to future glories.
Homemade log synths (yes it does mean to say log synths and not analog synths), enticing foot tapping rhythms and feral vocals set the dancefloor party mood for the evening. This outfit are set to return to Brighton later in the year, when they will be setting up camp at The Haunt in Pool Valley on 8th October. Tickets HERE.
THE DEEP END – BEACH SITE 8:15pm – 8:45pm
THE surprise package of TGE for me was Londoner Georgia Barnes, who was introduced on the mic to the packed crowd down at The Deep End Beach Site by John Kennedy, who Georgia had met many years ago. She initially started out as a session drummer, then released her debut 12 tune self-titled album in 2015 and now writes, produces and mixes all of her music. She informed us this evening that her follow-up release will be coming out shortly on Domino Music and I for one will absolutely definitely be purchasing it. The reason for this is that she was for me the most enjoyable artist during the whole of the three days – her music gave me goosebumps.
Clearly Georgia understands the business having been in bands before, but as John put it, that she is now stepping out into the limelight and deservedly so. On stage it was just her and her kit of meaty sounding synths and drum pads. The deep bass sound produced at times went right through my body. Her sound is similar to Purity Ring and The Knife but a tad more mainstream. She wins the award for the highest cymbal I’ve ever seen too. Must see live again! In the meantime enjoy THIS.
PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS (NEWCASTLE)
THE OLD MARKET 8:15pm – 8:45pm
The Old Market hides an absolutely fantastic venue behind its doors with a really wide stage and with Fender taking over for the festival, the stage lighting is also superb, one of my favourite venues in town for live music.
Pigs x 7 eagerly awaited appearance at this years TGE is finally here and they don’t disappoint. They’re heavy, Black Sabbath heavy, all down-tuned guitars, pounding rhythms and huge riffs, sludge/doom rock at it’s finest.
Matt Baty is an impressive frontman and it’s hard to avert your eyes from his on-stage presence dressed in black shorts and a floral shirt which soon gives way to just shorts. They’ve some excellent material to fall back on as well from their debut ‘Feed The Rats’ and last years ‘King Of Cowards’. I can now see why they are selling out so many venues and really look forward to catching them again.
FARAJ SULEIMAN (PALESTINE)
ST MARY’S CHURCH 8:45pm – 9:15pm
St. Mary’s Church in Kemptown was nice, cool (as in temp.) and atmospheric. I came here from the Latest Music Bar in order to see Faraj Suleiman a composer and pianist from the village of Ramy, Upper Galilee.
Gaining a rep as a world leading composer is now developing his style. “I’m trying to find the meaning or the sound of the Eastern piano”. And wow, does it translate seamlessly. Joined by a bass player and drummer, the music was mesmerising and hypnotic as he introduces Arabic scales into his more Western-inspired jazz, classical chords.
Beautiful contradictions which had a standing ovation.
BLACK PEAKS (BRIGHTON)
THE OLD MARKET 9:15pm – 9:45pm
Brighton’s own Black Peaks get a huge welcome home from the packed like sardines crowd at The Old Market. It’s a real tight squeeze to get down to the front tonight, but totally worth it as BPs brand of alternative metal sends the lucky ones who got in, into a frenzy.
Their second album ‘All That Divides’ got extremely positive reviews from the music press when it came out last year and the tracks are even more potent live! Do check out ‘Can’t Sleep’, ‘Glass Built Castles’ and the anthemic ‘Home’ for a taster.
PLASTIC MERMAIDS (ISLE OF WIGHT)
JUBILEE SQUARE 9:30pm – 10:00pm
Thankfully I knew how entertaining the best act to currently come from the Isle Of Wight were, as I witnessed the inspiring set from Plastic Mermaids in March at The Prince Albert read the review HERE.
There’s no-one around at the moment that I know of that sound like this act, who this evening were up to an octet, as they had three girl backing singers and all members were all donning gold tinsel outfits, which looked rather striking. Clearly they know a thing or two about technology as they have built their own analog studio which caters for their varying moods and styles that includes hypnotic psychedelic elements akin to the 1970’s meets Sigur Rós and Owl City.
PATTERNS (DOWNSTAIRS) 9:45pm – 10:15pm
Hot footing it back down the hill from the spacious St. Mary’s Church to the more compact Patterns in order to witness a half hour set by 18 year old Rapper/Songwriter Aitch, who hails from New Moston, north Manchester.
“I’m not trying to be a grime artist or a rap artist, I’m just trying to be Aitch.” which is quite poignant as he seems to blend, jump genres with a skippy, thick, rapid flow crafty “scattergun lyrics” and rhymes all poured over icy beats, with a sense of humour. Bars with attitude well good and catchy.
FRANK CARTER AND THE RATTLESNAKES (HEMEL HEMPSTEAD) THE OLD MARKET 10:15pm – 11:00pm
So this is the gig I’ve been waiting for, my banker of the festival the one band for me worth the ticket money alone. I’ve never seen Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes live before but I’ve seen the videos, I’ve drowned myself in the latest album and I’m more than up for tonight’s show.
You can see how popular this band are just by how jam-packed the photo pit is, all clamouring to get that perfect shot.
‘Why A Butterfly Can’t Love A Spider’ is the perfect opener, it’s a slow build up which escalates as the guitar riff kicks in and all hell breaks loose! During ‘Tyrant Lizard King’ Carter enters the crowd, creating an all-female moshpit, with himself at the helm. He is an imposing frontman, armed with a voice that just penetrates the soul it’s pretty easy to see why they are riding high at number 4 in the album charts with ‘End Of Suffering’, their third and most powerful release to date, forget everything that has gone before FCATR have upped the game with this one!
Stand out tracks ‘Why A Butterfly Can’t Love A Spider’, ‘Tyrant Lizard King’ and the wonderful ‘Angel Wings’.
Without a doubt my number one show of the festival and of the year so far!
MYSTIC PEACH (SOUTHAMPTON)
JUBILEE SQUARE 10:30pm – 11:00pm
Back on 28th March the TGE hosted a sampler gig at the Hope & Ruin with a couple of showcase acts. One of those was Southampton based trio Mystic Peach – review HERE. I enjoyed their emotive set and made a point of seeing them during the TGE proper.
Their Jubilee Square gig was even better than the first. It was filled with buckets full of raw energy from their vocalist who gave us his heart and soul and had to rest between trax because of this. They are like a three man version of Brighton’s finest DITZ, which is praise indeed.
PATTERNS (DOWNSTAIRS) 11:00pm – 12:00am
It seemed to be the correct thing to do in staying put at Patterns, as there is always a queue outside for clubbing events. The next 4 acts are producers, mixers and DJs under the banner ‘Klub Kiwi’ which is run and promoted by Conducta as a clubnite. Klub Kiwi nite known for Bassline, Grime and UK Garage was hosted by Patterns.
First up was L U C Y who according to the TGE app was due to play between 3:00am – 4:00am. The app was showing that it was a DJ called Movement, so I asked due to the confusion. This is not easy in a club venue when people behind the DJ booth think you are a drunk punter. It was indeed L U C Y, which is stylized with the spacing. She is a talented young DJ from Bristol who wore a surgical mask which looked ninja-ish. Her set was fused 140 BPM, grime, dubstep and UK garage vibes. Right up my street! Happy days!
THE NINTH WAVE (SCOTLAND)
THE WALRUS 11:15pm – 11:45pm
The final act of day 2 TGE for myself was the Glasgow based duo The Ninth Wave who is made up of the striking duo of Amelia Kidd and Haydn Park-Patterson. They are accompanied by a couple of mates (drums and mini keyboards) for their live work to create their modern sound. They have a new single ‘Used To Be Yours’ which is from the first part of their debut album ‘Infancy’, which you can buy on red vinyl and the second part, which will come out on blue vinyl will be with us at the end of May – details HERE.
Their set was full of energy and the crowd enjoyed them, especially our photographer Sara, but I was waning a tad, so possibly couldn’t give them my full attention. Time for bed said Dougal.
MIND OF A DRAGON (RUISLIP)
PATTERNS (DOWNSTAIRS) 12:00am – 1:00am
The clocks had rolled over to Saturday morning and it was time for Grant Dragon aka M.O.A.D to take to the decks and play his choice kutz from the world of hard n dark garage techno and reggae dub. Mind Of A Dragon has been building a name for himself for several years now, releasing a succession of well-received singles alongside his self-released Vibes & That collections, and gathering support from both garage elders (DJ EZ, Matt Jam Lamont, MJ Cole) and contemporary artists (TQD, Murlo) alike.
His sound has all the hallmarks of someone who’s put in their hours in both the studio and the club, with twists on classic garage production and UK soundsystem signifiers that feel both studied and instinctive. Aware of what’s come before him without ever sounding in thrall to it, Mind Of A Dragon is that rarest of things – a producer whose sound pays tribute to the most totemic aspects of UK dance history while still feeling fresh and innovative, and he’s as adept turning his hands to grime, UK funky and more as he is UK garage.
The Great Escape will be coming back to Brighton from 14th to 16th May 2020. Tickets and passes are already available for sale. You can order your Great Escape 2020 delegate passes HERE and your festival tickets HERE.
View Day 1 (Thursday 9th May) of The Great Escape HERE.
View Day 3 (Saturday 11th May) of The Great Escape HERE.
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