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 article, so we have split them up in date order. This article refers to artists that the team covered on Saturday 11th May, along with the venue and planned time of the performance. Parts 1 & 2 can be viewed HERE and HERE. So here goes, sit back and enjoy………………….
ONE CHURCH 12:20pm – 12:50pm
A pleasant start to my TGE day 3 was served by a young lady going by the name of Iris who hails from Bergen. She came dressed for the part as she was wearing a wedding dress (with a white overcoat on top) simply because she was performing in a church. One would assume that Iris is ‘A Sensitive Being’ as that’s the title of our Scandinavian friends new EP. Iris with her 4 friends treated us to several mellow pop sounding compositions from this release including ‘Giving In’ and ‘Hanging Around You/Crackers’.
The overall sound is unmistakably Norwegian and goes hand in hand with fellow countrymen Emilie Nicolas and Aurora, with a slight Grimes thrown in for added measure. The young band exquisitely unloaded their harmonious backing vocals. Iris clearly enjoyed herself as she posted “thank you so much, brighton💛 The Great Escape Festival was amazing and now my heart is breaking oooor”.
THE JUNGLE GIANTS (AUSTRALIA)
THE DEEP END – BEACH SITE 12.25pm – 12:50pm
The Jungle Giants are my first band of Saturday and the first band of the ‘Aussie BBQ’ which is going on at all three stages at the beach site today. The band features Sam Hales on vocals/guitar, Cesira Aitken on lead guitar, Andrew Dooris on bass guitar and Keelan Bijker on drums.
The Jungle Giants are loud, energetic indie/dance music and although it’s really not my scene, they play to a packed very appreciative crowd. It’s a very polished and pretty fun set. They are one of the hottest acts in Australia right now with over 100 million streams worldwide and regarded as Australian indie rock royalty.
PRESS CLUB (AUSTRALIA)
THE DIVE BAR – BEACH SITE 12:50pm – 1:15pm
Australian garage-punk outfit Press Club sure are a lot of fun, fronted by female vocalist Natalie Foster who just can’t keep still as she darts from one end of the stage to the other, hair thrashing side to side.
They’ve just released their debut album ‘Late Teens’ and we get a great sampler of it in the 30 minute set with tracks ‘Ignorance’, ‘Get Better’, ‘Crash’ title track ‘Late Teens’ and my favourite of the set ‘Suburbia’ with its catchy chorus of “I left my heart in the suburbs”. I will definitely be adding the album to my collection soon!
CABLE TIES (AUSTRALIA)
THE DEEP END – BEACH SITE 1:05pm – 1:30pm
Melbourne group Cable Ties are next on the Deep End stage continuing the Aussie BBQ and after a bit of a sluggish start they find their rhythm and bang out a few corkers from their self-titled debut album.
They’ve got a real post-punk sound with driving bass guitar very prominent in the mix and had me thinking of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre which is no bad thing in my book.
LE SUPERHOMARD (FRANCE)
ONE CHURCH 1:15pm – 1:45pm
Luckily for me there were two bands in a row on at the same venue that I particularly wanted to see, the second of which were Le Superhomard who were being put on by ‘Le Bureau Export: France’.
This Gallic 5-piece proudly convey wishful dreampop of the highest order. This band are France’s answer to St Etienne (the band!). Hailing from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, this quintet were rather well received by their parishioners, especially me. I enjoyed the vocal delivery which is in English, the Roland keys and the guys traditional French striped t-shirt. All the tunes were fab, but at a push I would pick ‘Springtime’ and final track ‘SDVB’ which are both found on their fab album ‘Meadow Lane Park’ which came out on 22nd February – Listen HERE. They are also set to release their new single ‘Domino’ which is out on 7th June. Le Superhomard enjoyed their TGE experience and posted “It was a blast !! Thank you @greatescapefest & everyone who came at our shows”.
A. SWAYZE AND THE GHOSTS (AUSTRALIA)
THE DIVE BAR – BEACH SITE 1:30pm – 1:55pm
A. Swayze & The Ghosts are a new garage-punk band from Hobart, the capital of Tasmania and I’ve got to admit they’re the first band I’ve ever seen from that corner of the world. Lead singer/guitarist Andrew Swayze is a joy to watch on stage with his quirky movements and facial expressions.
Unfortunately, there was no setlist available and as they don’t seem to have released an album yet and just a couple of tracks on the streaming sites. I can see this changing in the very near future as they were catchy as hell with a real post-punk feel.
THE DEEP END – BEACH SITE 1:45pm – 2:10pm
Keeping the Australian party flowing here at the Deep End come Stonefield, who are the four Findlay sisters Amy on drums and lead vocals, Hannah on lead guitar, Sarah on keyboards, and Holly on bass guitar laying down huge slabs of classic rock/psych with a distinctly 70’s feel.
The first few songs don’t really grab me, but they start to really catch fire as the set progresses with some fantastic riffs from Hannah and Ozzy-esque vocals from the very talented Amy. It’s clear to see why they’ve been supporting the like of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Any fans of Black Sabbath and even Black Label Society are sure to get a real Buzz from Stonefield.
KOMEDIA 2:00pm – 2:30pm
“That’s why I’m always in my zone!” Was the mantra Koder spat. The grime artist from Brockley, South London was always in his zone with his mellow tone. Poetic and creative about his environment. His producer/mixer DJ Sneaks was pumpin out the R&B like tunes mix in a bit of Koder you get a smooth delivery with a hard heavy bass.
He was joined later by Cecret Rowe, Renzo Starr and Kenjah which I am very sorry I missed. Gutted. Cause a text came through “A queue was forming for Black Midi”. Which I also missed, queue was too long! Gutted again.
All in all, Koder was smooth slick grime act with killer tunes.
THESE NEW SOUTH WHALES (AUSTRALIA)
DITTO STAGE – BEACH SITE 2:00pm – 2:25pm
Described, as the punk flight of the Conchords would have been better suited to a dark sweaty venue rather than the sunny Ditto Stage, located here on Brighton Beach. It’s tongue in cheek, likeable medley including punk, metal and new wave.
These New South Whales are energetic, play their music fast and don’t take themselves too seriously. They have stage presence and quickly pick out any camera that is in the vicinity for a quick pose. What was missing was the smoke, sweaty bodies and a healthy does of crowd surfers to compliment their sound.
TROPICAL F*CK STORM (AUSTRALIA)
THE DEEP END – BEACH SITE 2:25pm – 2:50pm
Melbourne based TFS, as they are abbreviated to, is the brainchild of Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin (from Australia’s art punk psych maniacs The Drones) with Lauren Hammel (High Tension) on drums, and Erica Dunn (Harmony / Palm Springs) playing guitars, keys and other gadgets. There seems to be quite a buzz about these guys at the moment and The Deep End tent bears witness to this.
I swear the volume has been turned up for this Aussie BBQ performance as it’s blooming loud. Their quirky rock rhythms from their 2018 album ‘A Laughing Death in Meatspace’ and beyond are going down a storm with the punters, but I think I’ve missed the point with this lot.
CONFIDENCE MAN (AUSTRALIA)
THE DEEP END – BEACH SITE 3:05pm – 3:30pm
A second helping of the mighty Brisbane based dance-pop group Confidence Man for our coverage team. I’d seen them perform twice at TGE in 2017 both at the now sadly defunct Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar and on the Palace Pier, so I knew what to expect. As anticipated, they didn’t disappoint! I was glad to have got here early to make my way to the front, as it was jam-packed.
As the heavens opened outside, dancer/singers ‘Janet Planet’ (sporting a conical light-up bra) and ‘Sugar Bones’ blasted out belters from their album ‘Confident Music For Confident People’, which is so good almost every song could be a single.Their energetic and humorous stage show had the crowd dancing frenetically throughout. There was even time for a costume change whilst group founders Clarence McGuffie and Reggie Goodchild (who dress as mysterious bee-keepers clad in black) played a high-tempo drum-based interlude. Everyone departed this one absolutely buzzing and with smiles on their faces. If you get a chance to see them – go! Check out the track ‘Try Your Luck’ which I’m sure will be released as a single sometime soon.
THE DIVE BAR – BEACH SITE 3:30pm – 3:55pm
Kingswood offer up classic hard rock form Australia and have in their time supported legendary Aussie punks The Saints and The Living End. Their debut album was entitled ‘Microscopic Wars’ and was followed by ‘After Hours, Close to Dawn’.
This afternoon in Brighton they offer up fine songs, power ballads and appalling blue black light. It’s accomplished, good at what it does, but sadly fails to hit the spot for this reviewer.
QUEENS HOTEL 4:00pm – 4:30pm
AWATE a Turkish rapper from Eritrea rhyming social politics and personal experiences in a sharp witty way. ‘Dcypha’s infectious’. All deep and thought provoking.
With 70’s cinematic funk weaving together psychedelic melodies, invoking film soundtracks like ‘Superfly’, ‘Shaft’ or a Russ Meyers film with the soft, gentle rhyming of hard hitting lyrics you get AWATE.
PRESUMING ED COFFEEHOUSE 4:00pm – 4:30pm
I simply couldn’t resist in sneaking off The Great Escape trail and picking up on one of the ‘Escape To Presuming Ed’ bands that were appearing at the Presuming Ed Coffeehouse in London Road. Thankfully I made it in time to witness the fabulous Fröst in action. I’m a big fan of theirs as Johanna Bramli knows. She is an artist in her own right and I witnessed her mesmerising performance at St Luke’s Church back in March – review HERE as well as seeing Fröst perform at The Prince Albert back in December – review HERE.
Today’s event was more of a family gathering with Johanna’s hubby and their two little poppets present. Incidentally her hubby is none other than Ed from the awesome AK/DK, who performed at TGE18. There were several other families present and all of the little kids behaved perfectly. It was wonderful, just like Fröst’s music, which is uplifting synthpop and as a live outfit Johanna and bandmate Steve Lewis draft in Megan from Bloom on keyboards and they perform several songs from their ‘Matters’ album as well as a cover version of Tears For Fears ‘Shout’. Right then, let’s get back onto The Great Escape trail, I’m off to the Sallis Benney Theatre.
DITTO STAGE – BEACH SITE 4:00pm – 4:25pm
With the sun shining down on The Great Escape music enthusiasts on Brighton Beach, Jeffe offers a bubblegum-popping and dreamily ephemeral early afternoon set. The vocals are soft and beguiling, the tunes catchy and poppy. Sublime…
Jeffe’s debut single ‘Whoever You Love’ ascends gently from the depths, whereas her follow up ‘Undecided’ is its flickering, moody sister, caught between spilling onto the dancefloor and shutting away in a bedroom.
SALLIS BENNEY THEATRE 5:15pm – 5:45am
Thankfully the busy gigs schedule has looked favourably down on me for the final day of The Great Escape as Simon Raymonde’s Bella Union record label has block-booked the wonderful Sallis Benney Theatre as a showcase for his eclectic mix of artists. I haven’t been to the venue for decades and have very fond memories of an SPK gig there – don’t mention the flamethrower!
First up this evening on the Bella Union stage are Norwegian quinet Broen, who had flown in at 4:30am to perform for us. You immediately notice the tuba that Heida is playing and the fab hippy style coloured liquid light backdrop which the guys at Innerstrings do so well. It surely brightens up the venue for the night. Broen are a mixture of varying styles that incorporate psych, pop, soul, swirly synths and jazzy tones. There’s a slight Grace Jones in the vocal style mixed with the occasional nod to Herbie Hancock in the music. They certainly enjoyed themselves as they posted “O M G thank you @greatescapefest, @bella_union and all you wonderful brightoners who came to listen to us 😘 we had a lovely time and can’t wait to be back”.
BLACKOUT PROBLEMS (GERMANY)
VOLKS 6:00pm – 6:30pm
Germany’s ‘Blackout Problems’ are crammed onto the tiny stage at the Volks Bar but that does not hinder them one bit from putting on one of the standout shows of the festival just missing out on my top three acts.
Opening with the superb ‘How Are You Doing’ with its anthemic chorus “How the f**k are you doing?” wins over the crowd and me straight away. This is a band who far outshine their albums live, they’re far more gritty losing that studio polish and totally in your face stripped down rock. Musically they remind me of the Foo Fighters in a head-on collision with My Chemical Romance a perfect example is ‘Rome’ another absolutely stunning slice of hard rock with a chorus you just want to sing along to. Vocalist Mario Radetzky makes use of the space for most of the set positioning himself right in the centre of the crowd guitar and all! An interesting fact, they’re debut album ‘Holy’ features the old burnt down Brighton Pier!
BIG HEATH (CAMBRIDGE)
PATTERNS (DOWNSTAIRS) 6:15pm – 6:45pm
“I’ve been fat from the get go, yoiyo shout out Tesco”. BiG HEATH – an overweight kid from Cambridge (Christophe to his nan). This hip hop/grime artist is different in every way. He came on stage ina bright green puffer to a bustin heavy beat. His rhyming was infectious, catchy, obsessive with great humour. “Cause McKies my main bitch and subways my sidekick”.
Definitely a must-see with his high energy performance and ‘larger than life persona’.
“Why be anyone else when you can be yourself” he said. I have much love for this young man, he’s great, he’s funny, he’s talented and was really appreciated by the crowd who wanted morrrrrrr!
LIELA MOSS (LONDON)
SALLIS BENNEY THEATRE 6:15am – 6:45am
Next up on the Bella Union stage this evening was a woman who was limelighting away from her day-job as lead singer of The Duke Spirit, namely Liela Moss. She certainly doesn’t fail to impress.
Her delectable offering of expansive, seductive melodies, and smoky sultry eyes, leave the audience hypnotised. Serene and seductive, anyone who came here to the Sallis Benney Theatre be impressed and left truly satisfied.
LÉONIE PERNET (FRANCE)
MARINE ROOM (HARBOUR HOTEL) 6:20pm – 6:50pm
I knew nothing prior of 28-year-old Léonie Pernet, I selected this gig solely by genre as it was listed as ‘electronic’, the description on the TGE app gave nothing away. I took a punt and it worked out perfectly! A slight figure clad in black with her stage partner ably assisting, multi-instrumentalist Léonie proceeded to deliver a striking set of minimalist electronica which combined keyboard, synths and drums which were perfectly complimented by her powerful voice.
The best track for me was ‘Butterfly’ which is approaching a quarter of a million plays on Spotify, check it out HERE. I’d love to see her play Brighton again.
VOLKS 7:00pm – 7:30pm
PENGSHUi are Illaman on vocals, Fatty on bass and Pravvy Prav on drums. Promoted as a new raw live band from London (but OMG the list of credits to their names from Foreign Beggars, Goldie, Submotion Orchestra, to Gentleman’s Dub Club and Maverick Sabre).
They started as they finished, BOOOM!!! Riotous! Rowdy! Insanely intense mix of heavy punk, grime, metal, bass with slamming rhythm section. Live gnarly guitar and drums that get the sugar, honey, ice tea beaten out of them! On top of that, proper screaming, aggro spittin’ raps. It had the audience jumping, stomping and head banging till the end. Just writing this and I’m outta breath. Would love to see em again!
JOHNNY MAFIA (FRANCE)
MARINE ROOM (HARBOUR HOTEL) 7:15pm – 7:45am
French garage-punks ‘Johnny Mafia’ are next on my list and also my first visit to the Marine Room at the Harbour Hotel this festival. It’s a decent size stage which gives the various members room to strut, pose and pull funny faces (this does seem a trait of theirs).
Sonically they’re pure garage rock, with some of the slower tracks almost drifting into Supergrass territory. Check out their latest release ‘Princes de L’amour’ for a taster!
MALIK DJOUDI (FRANCE)
THREE WISE CATS (CASABLANCA) 7:15pm – 7:45pm
A second helping of electronica in a row, Léonie Pernet even hot-footed it from her set at the Marine Room to see her fellow compatriot perform. Malik who hails from Poitiers, pairs beautifully crafted electronic arrangements set against seductive French vocals to produce perfect electro-pop delights. His single ‘Sous Garantie’ which was given an outing this evening has received almost 2 million plays on Spotify.
My only complaint about this performance were the drunken idiots who thought that talking loudly and laughing constantly amongst themselves throughout his set was acceptable, it sounded like they were on a combined stag and hen weekend. This is the only time I’ve seen this happen at The Great Escape and it was both disgraceful and disrespectful. Malik and his stage partner, thankfully, were true pros and carried on regardless with an excellent and well-received show so full credit to them for that. Check out the outstanding single ‘Tempérament’ from his new album of the same name, which closed out the set.
POM POKO (NORWAY)
SALLIS BENNEY THEATRE 7:15pm – 7:45pm
Next up on the Bella Union stage that is being professionally lit by those capable guys at Innerstrings with their hippy-style multicoloured liquid projections are Pom Poko.
How do you explain Pom Poko – punk-pop with art-school charm? Hailing from Norway, they offer up an infectiously adorable ball of pure energy. Catchy riffs and sweet vocals are in the ascendant. Elegantly reminiscent of bands like the Sugarcubes, they are quickly (and deservedly) building a growing and devoted following.
CHARLY BLISS (UNITED STATES)
THE DIVE BAR – BEACH SITE 8:00pm – 8:30pm
Charly Bliss is a four-piece power/bubblegum pop alt-rock band from New York with Eva Hendricks on lead vocals and guitar, Spencer Fox vocals and guitar, Sam Hendricks on drums, and Dan Shure on bass.
Kicking off their set with ‘Blown To Bits’ from the latest album ‘Young Enough’ which was released just the day before, Charly Bliss have already got me by the short and curlies! Eva, dressed in a pink baby-doll style dress and silver jacket with long trailing tassels down the sleeves sure looks the part. Title track ‘Young Enough’ is a slow starter which just grows and grows and really shows off her vocal talents. ‘Ruby’ is another superb slice of finely crafted pop/rock with nods to the Pixies and Throwing Muses.
My favourite of the set was ‘Hard To Believe’ which had a classic Bangles feel and a hugely catchy chorus that swims around the brain for days on end.
Charly Bliss has been one of my highlights from this year’s festival and really hoping they’re going to visit the UK again soon!
PENELOPE ISLES (BRIGHTON)
SALLIS BENNEY THEATRE 8:15pm – 8:45pm
Penelope Isles are a four-piece now based in Brighton, having upstix and moved away from the Isle Of Man. Their sound is unique, but at the same time immediately accessible. It’s at once a blend of equal measures of sensitivity, dramatics, complexity and beauty – but ironically its real measure lies in its simplicity. They’ve been compared to early Arcade Fire, but it’s impossible to pigeonhole this band into any particular genre. The sound is mesmerising and accomplished – truly a treat to immerse yourself in.
Discover more about Penelope Isles by reading one of our previous reviews on the band, with the most accessible one being THIS ONE.
SINK YA TEETH (NORWICH)
GREEN DOOR STORE 8:15pm – 8:45pm
When I was sorting through my list of ‘must see’ acts, this was the first on my list as they were scheduled to appear only once at The 2019 Great Escape. Even though I arrived early, I only just managed to squeeze into the main room at the Green Door Store to witness ‘Sink Ya Teeth’ a.k.a. Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullingford who hail from Norwich. I was rewarded with a masterclass in nostalgia-tinged post-punk retro-electro. There were many influences in their performance from the trademark New Order bass through to Grace Jones, Depeche Mode, LCD Soundsystem and Donna Summer (even including their own take of ‘I Feel Love’), all perfectly packaged into their unique and evocative brand of melodic synth electro-pop, deep bass grooves and post-punk funk which had the crowd dancing from the very first note to the last.
Maria mentioned that they had stuffed themselves full of food and beer prior to the performance and felt bloated – who’d have known as the set was ‘all-killers with no fillers’ for the full half hour! The track ‘Complicated’ is a nod to colleagues who over-complicate things – “complicated jobs are sh*t” said Maria. I agree – this pair are talented enough to be making music full time! The duo recently recorded a fabulous performance in Rennes for the famous Seattle-based station KEXP and you can watch the whole performance HERE – you lucky people. They mentioned they had played Brighton 6 months previously at the same venue. Now that ‘Sink Ya Teeth’ are on my radar, I’ll be one of the first in the queue when they return.
BIG JOANIE (LONDON)
GREEN DOOR STORE 9:15pm – 9:45pm
I have to be honest here, I couldn’t actually get into the main room for Big Joanie’s set, so had to be content with listening from the adjacent room and taking a (rather poor) distant photograph. There is no ‘Big Joanie’ as such, the self-described ‘black feminist punk’ trio who formed in 2013 comprise singer-guitarist Steph Phillips, drummer Chardine Taylor-Stone and bassist Estella Adeyeri. Their sound is a DIY indie post-punk fusion and from what I could hear, they sounded great!
Check out their excellent track ‘Fall Asleep’ HERE.
SALLIS BENNEY THEATRE 9:15pm – 9:45pm
A Supergroup emerging from the heady heights of Lush (Miki Berenyi), Elastica (Justin Welsh), KJ McKillpop (Moose) and Mick Conroy (Modern English). You know you are seeing masters at work. Impressive, masterful and beautiful.
Piroshka came together as a project after all stepping in for Lush’s final show in Manchester in 2016. Taking their name from the Hungarian word for “missile,” the group quickly put together a collection of demos which Bella Union boss Simon Raymonde was rather taken aback by. Piroshka’s weighty shoegaze-pop draws from the shared knowledge of it’s four members previous bands.
SAINT AGNES (LONDON)
PRINCE ALBERT 10:30pm – 11:00pm
A definite must-see: Saint Agnes are a superb blend of straightforward and accessible garage-punk-rock with just enough dark and brutal vitality to keep you captivated from start to finish and wanting more.
Frenetic stage performances honed through furious gigging and with a slew of great shows under their belts, this London based four-piece should, if the wind blows fare for them, be set for great things.
DJ RAFF (CHILE) THE WALRUS 11:00pm – 11.30pm
DJ Raff was truly a breath of fresh air. He was my last act to see @TGE. Been on my feet all day running around venue to venue. His choice of tunes to mix n play was enlightening, from Santiago, Chile. He was certainly ‘chilean’ the heck outta me.
Creative sampling, keyboard arrangements, scratching blending hypnotic electronic beats with traditional Chilean and Latin sounds. DJ Raff obviously highly regarded in Latin America with his talent. From hip-hop to producing electronic music is spreading his love globally. And boyeee I’m in luvvv.
What a great event! Thanks to The Great Escape and the venues, not been to some places before but would definitely again. And a great BIG thank you Nick, for making it all possible. Cheers dude.
FABRICA 11:00pm – 11:30pm
I rounded off my Great Escape 2019 with Pixx (a.k.a. 23 year-old Londoner Hannah Rodgers) who I had previously witnessed play The Komedia Studio as part of this event two years ago. Tonight we saw her line up alongside her three band members at the atmospheric Fabrica, a converted church which is now a gallery and performance space on the corner of Duke Street and Ship Street.
What a difference 2 years makes! Her sound has matured from a more stripped back electro into a much more polished, expansive and confident brand of electronic pop-rock. I’m not sure if it was a cool art-student type vibe Hannah was trying to portray at the Komedia, however she seemed to be much happier performing tonight with her band, smiling constantly and dancing energetically throughout her set. To date, my favourite Pixx track has been ‘I Bow Down’ from her accomplished debut album ‘The Age Of Anxiety’. Tonight, however, the stand-out for me was her superb catchy new single ‘Andean Condor’ which you can listen to HERE. Pixx’s much-anticipated second album ‘Small Mercies’ will be released by 4AD records next month on the 7th June and is definitely one to look forward to if tonight was anything to go by.
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 2 (Friday 10th May) of The Great Escape HERE.
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