The Brighton & Hove News Music Team were out in force at The 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 at many right across the city of Brighton and Hove at numerous venues of varying sizes on Thursday 12th, Friday 13th and Saturday 14th May.
With an extended team of a dozen people on The Great Escape case, we were able to witness many up-and-coming 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!
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 Brighton & Hove News team covered on Friday 13th May, along with the venue and planned time of the performance. View Part 1 on the acts performing on Thursday 12th May HERE and Part 3 on the acts performing on Saturday 14th May HERE.
So here goes, sit back and enjoy………………….
FRIDAY 13th MAY 2022
ANDREW CUSHIN (UK)
THE TEMPEST INN 11:45am – 12:15pm
Fast forward ten years and I predict there’ll be a few of us flexing about that time we saw Andrew Cushin performing in a tiny pub on the seafront. Following in the footsteps of Sam Fender, Cushin is another singer/guitarist hailing from the North East. Promising to tone down his Geordie accent for us, he launches into a tight set of songs that you can imagine being sung from arena stages. There’s real confidence here, with strong vocals backed up by some emotional songwriting, none more so than on ‘4.5%’ about a son and his alcoholic father. He thanks the audience for listening respectfully, and also praises himself for getting through the gig without “effing and jeffing”.
Cushin saves the best ‘til last; ‘Where’s My Family Gone’ which has already got an admirer in Noel Gallagher who produced the track. Following a string of festival dates this Summer Cushin is back on tour in Autumn with a full band and will play The Hope & Ruin on 8th October. Definitely one to catch before he becomes a household name.
FINNIAN JAMES (UK)
WATERBEAR 12:00pm – 12:30pm
Finnian James is a Brighton-based alt-rock singer/songwriter playing with a band bearing his name. In addition to Finnian, they comprise a guitarist, bassist and drummer. I must confess that before this festival I had never heard of Finnian James, but I shall be doing my best to hear more of him. Many people in the audience seem to know his music and I shall be following their example as soon as possible.
Particular stand-outs in the set include ‘I Don’t Wanna Go Blind’, which is a new song. At one point both guitarists and bassist riff in unison, which sounds a very simple exercise but is enormously effective. This is followed by a bass solo which is something of a tour de force. What a superb way to start the day!!! Another highlight is ‘Something About You’. This is apparently an older song and is quite funky, without losing any of its rock grit. Another new song is ‘Polly Says’, which is slower than most of the rest of the set, with wonderfully fluid guitar lines. I left the venue with a bit of a spring in my step. Anyone who thinks that rock has run out of ideas would do well to see Finnian James, who was possibly one of the most uplifting bands of the weekend.
NAKED LUNGS (REPUBLIC OF IRELAND)
JUBILEE SQUARE 12:00pm – 12:30pm
I’m starting Friday in the BBC Sounds tent on Jubilee Square with Naked Lungs, a noise punk outfit from Ireland. A four-piece, they feature three casually dressed hairy dudes who are Tom on vocals, Andrew on guitar, and Matthew on drums, whilst bassist Ryan has shorter hair and a punkier look, with big black boots. He launches opener ‘Wrecked Home’ with some haunting slide bass, overlaid with Tom’s heavy breathing, before it all properly kicks off and gets busy and raucous.
There’s plenty of contrast, with swelling guitars, rapid-fire thrash and a teasingly long stop, kept ticking over with the hi-hat, before resuming the frenzied freak-out. Recent single ‘Why Do People Change?’ starts with a nifty bit of string scratching, up near the bridge, and there’s a huge wash of heavily processed bass. Previous single ‘Database’ is a proper screamer, propelled along by an urgent floor tom. The Stand out track for me is set closer ‘Relentless’. There’s a beautifully poetic spoken intro, where Tom seems to be channelling Jim Morrison. It’s a statutory requirement for all Irish bands to do the sliding-fingers-up-the-strings ascending guitar line, as popularised by Fontaines D.C. When guitar and bass do it together, as here, it sounds sublimely epic. I like this band a lot, and would be keen to see them again.
THE ROYSTON CLUB (UK)
TGE BEACH STAGE 12:00pm – 12:20pm
Opening day two at the Beach Stage were The Royston Club who are a solid indie-rock quartet. They throw out bouncy, lively melodic vocals and clever guitar riffs and there’s a little early Arctic Monkeys lurking in there and I even hear a bit of a Dodgy influence…although these guys are from a very different generation.
It’s pleasant, but nothing ground breaking… although that said, having given them a second chance listening to their material back at home, they are a band who could grow on me. Some bands should be seen live first, but I think The Royston Club need a good listen before going out to see them in the flesh as you’ll probably appreciate the lyrics more having heard the clean studio version in advance.
THE MVT STAGE 12:15pm – 12:45pm
Duo Joe and Tash bring us a blend of baritone sax and drums. It’s the perfect band for this early afternoon slot on the MVT outdoor stage at the Beach, although looking at their gig history they are equally at home in darker and sweatier spaces.
It’s lively beats with familiar tunes meshed through, creating earworms that wriggle joyfully into your pleasure centre. There may only be two of them on stage, but they create one helluva sound…think New York brass band stripped down and souped up. In today’s ‘search it and see’ world their name may be their problem. Try looking them up. The last band who used ‘O’ burned brightly in San Francisco back in 2015… but where are they now?
TGE BEACH STAGE 12:40pm – 1:00pm
It’s a very early slot for the self-titled ‘masked drag monster’ pop poet. Complete chaos, but the audience have turned up on mass and the show is engaging and entertaining throughout. Resplendent in a full top-to-toe sequin bodysuit complete with horns, Lynks ups the tempo for a sunny day at the Beach. It’s lively, energetic and above all – fun!
Who else could write a whole song about Bechamel sauce and have the audience singing along within the first few bars? Fans of Kid Kapichi would definitely get this…it’s very different, but comes out of the same mental stable.
MEDICINE CABINET (UK)
ONE CHURCH 1:00pm – 1:30pm
One Church is hosting a selection of Scottish bands, and I head there to catch Medicine Cabinet, a five-piece feminist punk outfit from Edinburgh. It really is a church, complete with carved reredos and massive organ pipes behind the stage. The sound is pretty awful, and the first few numbers are plagued by feedback as echoes bounce crazily around the massive vaulted ceiling. It’s a tricky space, and I feel for the sound tech. The band look great though, and the many assembled photographers (including two of ours) are having fun in the pulpit getting shots from above the stage.
Vocalist Anna cuts a striking figure with a shock of spiky bleached hair and a silver mini-skirt. Eilidh and Josh are on guitars, Cal on bass and vocals and Tom on drums. It’s urgent and punky in parts, with the twin guitar attack, but there are dreamier elements too with an impressively soaring vocal. There’s a beautifully co-ordinated whole band jump on ‘Babes’ which makes me smile. Single ‘The Signs’ stands out as a cracking tune, and there’s a bit of swapping instruments for Cal to take the lead vocal on one number. I rather like the final song ‘Core 34’, whose lyrics apparently refer to a health screening questionnaire. Medicine Cabinet could be just the tonic, though it was a shame about the sound issues today.
THE GARRYS (CANADA)
THE GREEN DOOR STORE 1:00pm – 1:30pm
The Garry’s are three sisters (Lenore Maier, Erica Maier and Julie Maier) plus their brother on guitar. They are from Saskatchewan in Canada and formed in the spring of 2015. They use layered 3-part blood harmonies, hazy sun-bleached melodies, classic lo-fi guitar tones, and syncopated surf beats to create a unique “doom-wop” sound, dripping with dark nostalgia and touched by psychedelic dread.
What a perfect way to start Day 2 of The Great Escape. Dreamy melodic indie guitar pop from the prairies. The crowd loved them. Throw in a bit of Dick Dale and surf pop, 60s girl group harmonies and you have the ingredients for a great band.
REVENGE 1:15pm – 1:45pm
Taking to the stage at Revenge directly after Zand – complete with shaved head, demon horns and wings – Alissic (aka Alissa Sals) has some big shoes to fill. Described as “Britney meets Tim Burton” her look and stylings remind me most of Melanie Martinez and she’s certain to appeal to that audience demographic who like quirky gothic looking girls with a candy-coloured pop sensibility.
This is actually her first ever live gig, but she doesn’t let the pressure show – she’s clearly loving it up on stage, especially with a handful of hardcore fans at the front who clearly know every word from the videos she’s posted on YouTube. ‘Superstition’ is the stand out track from her short set of original songs, with the singer admitting that she needs to write more, and she also includes a cover of Klaxons ‘It’s Not Over Yet’. Now based in Sheffield where she lives with her husband Oli Sykes (Bring Me The Horizon), I’m sure this will be the first of many gigs for Alissic and her bandmates.
BLEACH LAB (UK)
KOMEDIA BASEMENT 1:15pm – 1:45pm
A significant crowd had assembled for London-based indie dream-pop four-piece Bleach Lab, who are Jenna Kyle (vocals, guitar), Frank Wates (guitar), Josh Longman (bass), Shawn and Kieran Weston (drums). This is a band that have received extensive airplay on BBC Radio 6 Music and are gaining momentum with every release. Statuesque singer Jenna Kyle has real stage presence and a fabulous voice, contrasting between soft and powerful vocals which float across their music perfectly.
Their set was shoe-gazy, introspective and very atmospheric, with the stage bathed in a blue hue for the first few tracks. The compositions are written around personal themes and the stand out tracks for me were ‘Never Be’ and last year’s release ‘Real Thing’. Their latest song is called ‘If You Only Feel It Once’ and it sounds like a winner. Bleach Lab will be playing some festival stages this summer followed by an Autumn tour so if you like this genre, they’re definitely for you.
(Martin J Fuller)
ZAHARA 1:15pm – 1:45pm
Next up for me are the amusingly named Peaness. Never before have I known of a band named after having an affinity for peas. They formed at Chester University in 2015 and consist of Carleia “Balla” Balbenta on guitar and vocals, Jess Branney on bass and vocals and Rach Williams on drums. For some reason I was expecting them to be punky but they are absolutely not. They are certainly fast and tuneful. To an extent they remind me of the C86 bands, but more so they remind me of 4AD bands such as Throwing Muses and Belly. Their music has that little bit more muscle.
Their debut album ‘World Full Of Worry’ has recently been released, and much of today’s set comes from it. One of the songs from the album is about “wanting to quit your job and do band things”. Well, why would you not? Apparently they’d done some “schmoozing” the day before and “there were lots of white men everywhere”. They are pleased that today’s audience is more mixed. With a shout of “f*ck the Tories!!!” they’re gone. Should you wish to sample the live Peaness experience, they’re at several festivals this summer, and play Guildford Boileroom on 8th October.
NUHA RUBY RA (UK)
SHIPWRIGHT’S YARD (REPUBLIC OF MUSIC UNOFFICIAL ESCAPE) 1:50pm – 2:10pm
Those that know me, will comment that when I have my camera I’m never in one place for too long. I decided to buck a trend this afternoon when I actually stayed put in the same spot for two whole hours or more. I had decided to position myself in arguably the most hidden of all the Great Escape, Alternative Escape and Unofficial Escape venues, this being the Shipwright’s Yard, which is hidden off of Middle Street a stone’s throw away from the coast road. There were a number of varying acts participating in celebration of Republic of Music’s 15 year anniversary.
First up for me was Nuha Ruby Ra whose new single ‘My Voice’ followed on from last year’s ‘How To Move’ EP, which was released to critical acclaim and thus cementing her as one of the most exciting and provocative new pulsating and dark, avant-pop acts in the country. After TGE she will be heading out on tour with the likes of Yard Act, Warmduscher and Bambara as well as appearing at SXSW. It’s not a surprise therefore to learn that today Nuha was amazing and cut a striking figure in her red mac and cap. Sadly she was somewhat restrained from her usual performance forays into the crowd due to short mic leads and feedback. Otherwise she was great during this short 20 minute taster set.
DEAD PONY (UK)
ONE CHURCH 2:00pm – 2:30pm
Dead Pony are a punk band from Glasgow’s thriving punk and rock scene. A four-piece, they’re line up is Anna Shields (lead vocals, guitar), Blair Crichton (lead guitar, backing vocals), Liam Adams (bass) and Aidan McAllister (drums). Travelling down that morning, this was Dead Pony’s first-time playing Brighton.
There was no sign of travel fatigue, as their set exploded at breakneck speed and continued the high energy and tempo throughout the set. Front person Anna Shields has a great stage presence, not that she spent the whole set on stage. A couple of times she took herself and mic into the audience to perform. Highlights in their set, of which there were many, were the two recent singles ‘23, Never Me’ and ‘Bullet Farm’. A special mention to guitarist Blair Crichton, whose guitar string broke mid-set. He wasn’t stopping, and completed the set with a 5-string guitar. A very good set by Dead Pony, and one of the best of my day two at TGE.
GRETEL HÄNLYN (UK)
UNBARRED BREWERY JOY RSVP Event 2:00pm – 2:30pm
I took a break from the official TGE events to check out Gretel Hänlyn (real name Maddy Haenlein) at Joy’s RSVP event on the recommendation of a friend. Hailing from London, this is only the second gig that the 19 year old has played with her current band, the first show being in Bermondsey earlier in the week. Steve Lamacq is already a fan, having attended that show and now this one, with Hänlyn admitting she’d changed the setlist at his suggestion, calling him a “fussy fart” to his amusement.
Her songs are of the anthemic alternative rock/pop variety, delivered with powerful vocals reminiscent of Hannah Reid from London Grammar, and a confidence that belies her young age. ‘Apple Juice’ and ‘It’s The Future’ are stand out tracks for me, and I encourage her to get some of these songs pressed to vinyl at the earliest opportunity! With my friend to thank, Gretel Hänlyn is my Friday highlight and I trust that Joy were similarly impressed and will book her for more Brighton shows in the near future.
REVENGE 2.15pm – 2.45pm
With most of the Brighton & Hove News team congregating in One Church, I decided to head down to Revenge to broaden my horizons with some contemporary pop. It’s a proper nightclub, with an amusing cacophony of tearing noises as the soles of the audience members’ trainers attach to the sticky black rubber floor. Next up here is Pyra, a solo pop artist from Thailand. We’re a little late starting. Maybe the black box alternative to live musicians was dissatisfied with its rider and has decided to play up, although the main focus of the concerned techs seems to be the vocal mic.
It’s well worth the wait, as Pyra makes a spectacular entrance through the crowd, singing through a megaphone. She looks stunning, with long hair and elaborate eye makeup, in appropriately avant-garde tailoring of gold lamé and faux fur, with absolutely enormous puff sleeves. The music is poppy but interesting, the electronic accompaniment stabbing and juddering along with a playfully bouncy rap that sounds fun, although I suspect the lyrics have a more serious feminist message. ‘Yellow Fever’ gives the impression it’s addressing the appropriation of Asian bodies. Another number has a kitsch clap-clap-sing section with the audience encouraged to join in with the “shut the f*ck up” refrain. Nearer the end of the set, the singer dispenses with the giant puff sleeves and performs a couple of numbers perched atop a stepladder in the middle of the crowd. Serious but fun, and visually arresting. I’m glad I came down.
MILD ORANGE (NEW ZEALAND)
HORATIOS 2;30pm – 3:00pm
Hailing from Dunedin in the south of New Zealand this 4 piece band dropped their debut platter ‘Foreplay’ back in 2018. Things really took off for these guys via the internet and the album has since accumulated over 110 million streams. This therefore gave them an ability to sell out their powerful yet pensive live shows around the globe from Auckland to Paris to New York and beyond.
This afternoon at the end of Brighton Pier they were great! Their music naturally takes inspiration from the New Zealand landscapes. Thus, they played some majestic indie tunes featuring waves of lush guitar and great vocals that gave them a cinematic vibe that I really liked.
SHIPWRIGHT’S YARD (REPUBLIC OF MUSIC UNOFFICIAL ESCAPE) 2:30pm – 2:50pm
The Republic Of Music’s Unofficial Great Escape party is always one of the best afternoons during the festival, as everything rolls around on a swift 20 minute timetable, as in the selected band plays a 20 minute showcase set and then there’s a 20 minute turnaround for punters to purchase some impromptu liquid refreshment or chill out in the sun with the rays beaming down on your face, that is if you have selected the appropriate sun-drenched section of this historic open air courtyard.
After a thrilling set from Nuha Ruby Ra it was now the turn of Brooklyn-based Momma, who are led by singers/guitarists Allegra Weingarten and Etta Friedman. They have just dropped their anthemic new single ‘Rockstar’, which is a slice of infectiously poppy grunge that marks the band out as one of this year’s most undoubtedly exciting prospects. Today live in this relatively busy courtyard area the sounds that are pumped out to the punters at ground level and the surrounding neighbours at higher levels is best described as being like a female Nirvana. Momma’s official TGE set will follow this tonight at a quarter past eleven at Horatios on Brighton Pier.
PANIC SHACK (UK)
BRIGHTHELM CENTRE 2:30pm – 3:00pm
Romi, Sarah, Emily, and Meg formed Panic Shack back in 2018 in Wales and armed themselves with brash, witty lyrics and killer hooks. Some say that they crashed through the UK music scene with a tidal wave of ear-crunching noise. Immediately building up a reputation for their raw, unapologetic live shows and off-kilter songs.
The first impression of Panic Shack when they first took the stage at the Brighthelm Centre was one of a gang rather than a band. It was obvious that judging by the queue outside that many festival goers wanted to see this band. A huge cheer greeted them and they kicked in with sharp riot grrrl power pop with hooks a plenty. There was even time for a dance routine for the song ‘Mannequin Man’. Panic Shack are obviously making a name for themselves, so I would suggest catching them as soon as possible!
SHIPWRIGHT’S YARD (REPUBLIC OF MUSIC UNOFFICIAL ESCAPE) 3:10pm – 3:30pm
Surprisingly there are no actual Turkish artists taking part in this year’s TGE. There is at the unofficial Shipwright’s Yard Sessions though. I give you the male trio of Islandman, who evolved from the musical dreams of Istanbul based musician/producer Tolga Boyuk.
Islandman performs on stage as an electro-acoustic live trio format. Their music can be described as a unique mix of mellow electronic structures and dance beats with spacey live guitars, backed up by shamanic rhythms. The sound from their instrumental tracks floats out of the garage area where they are performing and flows around us like some holiday half-dream whilst falling asleep on a Mediterranean beach after a heavy night before. They are a product of where they live, where East meets West. Last month saw them having the lead track of a compilation 5-track EP with their ‘Magic Workout’ tune. This was swiftly followed a week before TGE by their own 4-track ‘Bahar’ EP. Music to enjoy with your eyes shut!
JULY JONES (USA)
REVENGE 3;15pm – 3:45pm
I’m in the sticky-floored nightclub environment of Revenge, checking out some pop acts to broaden my education. Our photographers, along with many others, are keen to shoot July Jones, and I can see why. July is a striking presence on stage, in a PVC bra, fishnet tights and a not-very-laced-up lace-up skirt. There’s a collaborator called Madge, who has a particularly eclectic fashion sense, teaming a headscarf, tartan mini-skirt and Moon boots. Madge is like a more glamorous version of the bloke from Sleaford Mods who turns the laptop on and off, although to be fair, Madge also adds dancing, extra vocals and general cheerleading.
A track called ‘Butterflies’ is particularly impressive, with a descending pattern and some deep bass from the speakers getting the air moving. The vocal style is quite distinctive, a sort of drawling rap. July works the crowd, getting everyone to crouch down and jump back up, a popular move at this festival. The overall message of the lyrics seems to be positive and empowering. For a number called ‘Loner’ July reveals that a company called Jackson have made her the “gayest guitar” possible. It’s one of those Explorer-shaped heavy metal types, in a rather nice rainbow paint job. It doesn’t actually seem to work when plugged in, though frankly that’s a minor detail. The laptop is doing the heavy graft. In between songs we learn that July is originally from The Balkans, and that a track called ‘Muse’ is due to drop on a new “mixtape”, though I don’t imagine any actual tape is involved. The highlight of the set is when Madge comes out front to sing and dance for the final number. The pair look cool together and it works really well. I don’t imagine I’m the intended demographic by a long way, but I’d suggest they do more of this.
NEWEN AFROBEAT (CHILE)
THE HOPE & RUIN 3:15pm – 4:00pm
After big queues at some venues around the city, it was a complete change with Newen Afrobeat, a 13-piece orchestra (yes 13, I’ve never seen the stage at The Hope & Ruin so full) from Chile. Newen Afrobeat make music inspired by the legacy of the Nigerian musician Fela Kuti. Combining South America with Africa, they bring a particular Latin stamp to the African rhythms.
The venue was full with people having to be turned away. Their infectious Latin sound had everybody at The Hope & Ruin dancing. It was Impossible to stand still to their music, which had a genuine sense of fun and party feel. What a set. I was only there by chance, but what a find. This highlights the diversity of acts performing at TGE and how a real gem can be surprisingly found among the festival’s line up.
OPUS KINK (UK)
THE MVT STAGE 3:15pm – 3:45pm
I’ve heard good things about this Brighton based band and they didn’t disappoint. The six-piece group – comprised of Angus Rogers, Sam Abbo, Fin Abbo, Jed Morgans, Jazz Pope and Jack Banjo Courtney – blend a dizzying array of influences to create a dark and thundering dish hitherto unknown to the unwitting public.
Playing to a packed crowd at THE MVT Stage on the beach, guitar’s joined by saxophonist and trumpet, they reminded me of a more melodic Black MIDI and they were the second band of the weekend to sing a song called ‘Tarantula’ (see my review of Gus Englehorn). The crowd loved this local band.
KOMEDIA STUDIO 3:30pm – 4:00pm
Reportedly one of the most streamed musicians in her homeland, Swiss singer/songwriter Ilira (full name Ilira Gashi) is now ready to take on the rest of the world with her brand of sophisticated dance pop.
Arriving at the Komedia Studio with her band (guitar, keyboard and drums) this TGE showcase marks her first performance on UK soil. An energetic presence, there’s plenty of hair-tossing as Ilira prowls the stage with her microphone. Her songs are danceable if a little formulaic, but her vocal range is impressive – sounding like Miley Cyrus on some songs, and Marina when she hits the high notes. She actually namechecks Marina as an influence before closing her set with a cover of ‘Man’s World’, slowing Marina’s anthem down to a husky Lana Del Rey styled ballad. Recently signed to Virgin Records, Ilira has arrived and the pop world has another star in waiting.
THE BUG CLUB (UK)
BRIGHTHELM CENTRE 3:30pm – 4:00pm
The Bug Club from Wales are something of a breath of fresh air. They are very rock’n’roll in a traditional way. This may make them sound old-fashioned but their approach is currently so unusual that it really makes them stand out. This is the first time that I’ve seen a young band with songs based on the blues scale for a very long time. It’s also the first time in aeons that I’ve seen a guitarist with NO effects pedals. That’s right – none!!! He adjusts his guitar sound on his amp just like in the olden days. That lack of pedals doesn’t stop him from ripping out some scintillating guitar solos though.
Live, The Bug Club are very powerful and energetic. So powerful in fact that the drummer manages to break his snare drum skin. There is some really impressive musicianship here all round. During ‘My Mother Thinks I’m Happy’ the bassist unleashes a superb solo, whilst headbanging and gurning like Angus Young. Essentially, this band are a tuneful energetic hybrid of the best of traditional rock’n’roll, and The Velvet Underground. Their approach works very well, and they are my best band of the weekend by a country mile.
THE RILLS (UK)
QUEENS HOTEL 3:30pm – 4:00pm
The Rills were definitely buzzing as not only were they taking part at TGE, but they were also interviewed by the NME whilst here, in order to discuss all manner of subjects including their love of The Libertines, their new EP ‘Do It Differently’, the impact of TikTok which has built them a sizeable following and the Lincoln music scene.
Lead singer Mitch Spencer, who sings with an American twang, informed the almost full lower level allocated area of the Queens Hotel that they are Lincolnshire and Essex based. The trio of guys offer up the standard indie Fender Mustang bass – which had a lovely twang throughout their set – Fender guitar, and drums format. They were an energetic indie rock band and during their set, my mind kept on thinking of The Jam, but these guys have got a very long way to go to reach their standards.
SHIPWRIGHT’S YARD (REPUBLIC OF MUSIC UNOFFICIAL ESCAPE) 3:50pm – 4:10pm
Hot footing it from Zahara in East Street, where their official TGE performance had concluded earlier today at 1:45pm, are the rather jolly Peaness trio. They were most certainly full of the beans during their Shipwright’s Session. It’s not every day that you get to release an eleven track LP on blue vinyl is it? Well today was that day…..the day they dropped their ‘World Full Of Worry’ album. Eager punters were rather fortunate to be able to purchase copies directly from Carlea Balbenta (‘Balla’) (guitar, vocals), Jessica Branley (‘Jess’) (bass guitar, vocals) and Rachel Williams (‘Rach’) (drums) after their 20 minute showcase set.
Are you sure that it’s been a whole 5 years since the release of their debut platter, titled…..’Are You Sure?.’ The girls formed the band late 2014 in Chester university digs and have been playing together since summer 2015. They write catchy, fuzzy, harmony driven indie-pop songs about love, friendship, frustrations, Brexit and food waste. Not surprisingly the courtyard was rammed for this performance, many of whom were donning Peaness t-shirts. No wonder the band were joking with the crowd. They were amazing. If you haven’t seen them yet, you really must go to their Resident Brighton instore and signing on Sunday 5th June in Kensington Gardens at 6:30pm.
BAD WAITRESS (CANADA)
GREEN DOOR STORE 4:00pm – 4:30pm
Toronto Art Punks Bad Waitress dropped their rousing debut ten track ‘No Waste’ long player last September and the option of choice was certainly the limited edition 12″ transparent ruby vinyl disc. This followed on from their two 2021 singles ‘Too Many Bad Habits’ and ‘Pre Post-Period Blues’, neither of which were regurgitated for the album.
This afternoon they took to the Green Door Store stage to a rousing reception. Punters were obviously familiar with the debut album and wanted to experience the songs live. They were not disappointed. The band were tight with guitar riffs bouncing off the characteristic former horse stable walls. Each member of the band really did captivate the audience and one felt as if they had gone twelve rounds in a boxing ring after seeing this hell-raising raucous band.
THE BACKSEAT LOVERS (USA)
AMAZON NEW MUSIC STAGE 4:15pm – 4:45pm
There’s a lot going on at the beach and I find myself at the Amazon New Music Stage in a tent that’s big enough for the sponsor to use as an overflow warehouse should the need arise. On stage are The Backstreet Lovers, a four-piece from Salt Lake City, Utah, playing a languidly poppy rock. I haven’t come across them before, though I’m very much in the minority here, and with 3.8 million other monthly listeners on Spotify the band won’t be too worried. With the exception of bequiffed drummer Juice, long hair with some kind of moustache or cap seems to be the order of the day. KJ is on bass (Breton cap and ‘tash) and Jonas on lead guitar (cap only). Frontman and guitarist Joshua is moustachioed and hatless. He bears enough of a passing resemblance to Russell, Billy Crudup’s character in ‘Almost Famous’ for me to wonder if he might yell “I am a golden god” and dive into the crowd. He doesn’t.
We’re unlikely to see a mosh pit here, but there’s some great riffing and interplay between the guitars, super-infectious grooves, and dreamily soaring instrumental sections. Okay, I’m converted. Final song ‘Sinking Ship’ utilises a very effective contrast between a sotto introduction and the ensuing country-tinged stomp. Nice.
THUMPER (REPUBLIC OF IRELAND)
THE MVT STAGE 4:15pm – 4:45pm
Today it finally got to happen! I have been nagging Thumper to take part in TGE since 27th September 2019. That was the day that I witnessed their awesome set in Brighton at the Richmond (RIP). My report headline from that night exclaimed “Thumper are the new IDLES” and I still honestly believe that. Sadly their sole appearance at this year’s TGE is at The MVT Stage from the side of an airstream caravan which was open to all the elements. Would their sound simply dissipate into the air and get lost or would it be held in by all of the bodies standing on the beach stones in front of them? There was an air of anticipation prior to the Irish sextet taking to the stage, this wasn’t just from me but all of the 8 photographers lined up to get ‘that shot’! Clearly, finally word is out on this band!
Thumper are the leading lights of the booming guitar scene in Ireland and TGE website states “THUMPER have cornered the noise-pop market with a maximalist approach, stuffing every corner of their sound with blown-out melody and psych-drenched noise. Their penchant for unabashed hooks and saccharine melody, set against their signature wall of sound, sets them apart”. Here! Here! I say. With a lineup of two drums, three guitars (Gretsch, Les Paul, Fender), and Fender bass, it’s no wonder that Thumper hit your senses for 6. My whole body was tingling during the set and at the end I was so emotional that I had to wipe the tears away from my eyes. We had two photographers shooting the gig and afterwards they both ran up to me and they both said “Best performance of 2022 TGE”. It was mine too and thus all 3 of us rated it as THE best concert of TGE until Kid Kapichi dissuaded one of them otherwise. Our 12 team members covering TGE voted for our faves and this performance came out on top! It was an incendiary performance that featured climbing on speakers, joining the crowd, lying on the beach still playing your instrument and even a Nirvana style cover of ‘Unwritten’ by Natasha Bedingfield, which was topped by final number ‘(You’re Bringing Me) Down’.
PRYZM (Unofficial Alternative Great Escape) 5:00pm – 5:30pm
Playing as part of the extended (Unofficial) ‘Totally Wired, Proper Music Group & Nordoff Robbins’ Alternative Escape, local band Hanya played the cavernous Pryzm nightclub.
I love this indie dream pop band, they have been evolving naturally over time and are getting better by the month. Vocalist Heather Sheret’s infectious enthusiasm works its way into the audience, and you can’t help but have a smile on your face listening to their dream pop indie anthems. But this afternoon’s venue was in my opinion way too big and any atmosphere was lost. The gig at Presuming Ed’s coffee shop the night before from 8:45pm suited them much better.
PRIMA QUEEN (UK)
UNBARRED BREWERY JOY RSVP event 5:00pm – 5:30pm
Prima Queen are a trans-Atlantic and all-female indie/alternative rock band fronted by song writing duo Louise Macphail and Kristin McFadden. They were joined by a bassist and drummer for their set at JOY RSVP event. There’s a strong country influence in Prima Queen’s sound. Their vulnerable and nostalgic storytelling combines with their bitter-sweet and gritty style. There are hints of artists such as First Aid Kit, Alvvays, Julia Jacklin, and Phoebe Bridgers.
The set had to be restarted because of a few technical issues. A few minutes later, once these gremlins were sorted, the band started by saying “Thank you for listening to our sound check”. The vocals between Louise and Kristin harmonised well. The introduction of the violin mid-set added something extra to their sound. Somewhat understated, but in a good way, against numerous louder and in your face bands at TGE, it was another good set from Prima Queen, having seen supporting Lime Garden and Sunflower Bean, earlier in the year.
POLICE CAR COLLECTIVE (UK)
AMAZON NEW MUSIC STAGE 5.15pm – 5.45pm
I’ve stayed in the big tent of the Amazon New Music Stage for Police Car Collective, a Liverpool-based duo. The name suggests a rap act, but the festival app blurb mischievously describes them as being influenced by The Smiths and The Velvet Underground. A recorded introduction of the “Ezekiel 25:17” speech from ‘Pulp Fiction’, and vocalist Frankie coming on wearing a balaclava confirms my initial suspicion was correct. Laptop operator Simon also plays bass, and has a rock look with bandana and dark shades. It’s visually impressive, with Frankie getting serious air under some spectacular leaps for the scrum of photographers to try and capture. He rolls about on the stage and removes the balaclava to reveal cropped hair dyed in a two-tone pattern.
It’s a great start, but all goes downhill when the vocalist makes a vociferous claim that his act are “the best band in the world”. The audience, many of whom are probably expecting something more jangly and Smiths influenced, are disinclined to agree. From that point Frankie seems to have a downer on the crowd, who begin to vote with their feet as the huge tent slowly starts to empty. He wants a mosh pit, and a wide circle opens up in the less-than-densely-packed space for the dozen or so interested parties. “This is dull and boring. You guys are annoying,” raps Frankie, and now he’s definitely lost the crowd. The next song, for which he plays guitar, is a slower number that turns out to be the last as the set appears to be cut short. “Bye bye,” he says in a petulant tone of voice, and walks off stage. It’s a shame since it all began so well, but I guess there’s a bit more to stagecraft than just gymnastic prowess.
BEEN STELLAR (USA)
TGE BACH STAGE 6:15pm – 6:45 pm
Coming together from around the globe to reside in Brooklyn, the 5 piece share their honest account of a city hyper-saturated with commercialism, consumerism, and ageing cultural touchstones. For this afternoon’s teatime slot at the Beach Stage, Been Stellar deliver moody indie rock with a serious punk edge. The influences from past decades of shoegaze grunge include Nirvana, The Strokes … and most notably the chord progressions of Dinosaur Jr.
Vocals are nicely varied – from soft and tender, to stark punk, and this keeps interest levels just where they need to be. It will be interesting to see how they develop beyond their one big current song – ‘Fear Of Heights’.
BONNIE KEMPLAY (UK)
CHALK 6:15pm – 6:45pm
In April 2021 Edinburgh based singer-songwriter Bonnie Kemplay won the chance to perform in BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge at the then tender age of 19. She claimed the top spot ahead of over 10,000 other entries from some of the UK’s very best undiscovered and under the radar musicians. She later went on to play live at Reading Festival on 28th August last year on the BBC Music Introducing Stage. She began nurturing her love of performing aged just 11 when she joined a community music club who supported her to explore different instruments and build her confidence. Her musical inspirations are Soccer Mommy, Julien Baker and Clairo.
Now she has made her way to Brighton to play the sizable Chalk venue located in Pool Valley. Tonight she is the opening act ahead of Stella Donnelly, Wu-Lu, Gustaf, Yard Act, Nukuluk, Working Men’s Club and Lynks. She has brought some friends along to assist her. There’s a keyboard player sitting behind the Nord Electro 6D, a guitarist and drummer behind the kit. During this performance Bonnie came across very shy and reserved, and never really moved far from the microphone. But I guess that she really didn’t need to as we weren’t at rave levels yet, that would be coming much later in the evening. Clearly Bonnie is work in progress, but should go really far.
COALITION 6:15pm – 6:45pm
If anyone’s energy levels were dipping this evening, this performance from the Bristol-based four piece quite literally recharged the batteries of everyone present. A tour de force of dark electronic techo, samples and serious bass was set against psychedelic strobing visuals, the sound literally reverberating from every single surface and into the ears and minds of every soul present at the capacity Coalition. No vocals required, this was easily the most powerful and certainly loudest gig I witnessed at this year’s TGE and definitely one of the most enjoyable.
Scalping’s compositions are written almost exclusively with live shows in mind and if you like heavy, hard-core electonica, they are a must see! Check out the track ‘Monolith’ from their EP ‘Flood’ and turn it up for a taste of what to expect.
(Martin J Fuller)
THE HOPE & RUIN DOWNSTAIRS (UNOFFICIAL ALTERNATIVE ESCAPE) 6:30pm – 7:00pm
Nottingham based Divorce are a stunning new indie four piece outfit formed from singer songwriters Tiger Cohen-Towell and Felix Mackenzie-Barrow’s project ‘Megatrain’ and Kasper Sandstrom of ‘Do Nothing’ plus Adam Peter Smith.
The band were back again at The Hope & Ruin only having recently performed here on 29th March courtesy of local promoters Love Thy Neighbour. Today they took to the stage for an early evening slot downstairs. It strikes home that this band is very talented and self assured exuding strong stage presence and confidence. The vocals from singer and bassist Tiger Cohen-Towell were exceptional. After the strong thirty minute set the general vibe was very positive with mentions of ‘must see them again” being heard.
SHE DREW THE GUN (UK)
SHIPWRIGHT’S YARD (Alternative Escape) 6:45pm – 7:00pm
She Drew the Gun hail from the Wirral, and are fronted by singer/songwriter Louisa Roach. She was initially a solo artist and things have expanded from there. The band won the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent competition in 2016. Their music is described as psych pop and is known for its often political lyrics.
This was a real bonus for me, as I really love this band, having seen them at Chalk a few weeks back. Today’s offering was a short 6 song set that delivered on every level. ‘Resistor’ their opening song had the crowd singing along and lead singer and guitarist Louisa Roach is a real tour de force.
THE TEMPEST INN 7:00pm – 7:30pm
The evening session on day two for me started with a local favourite of mine, PROJECTOR. The Brighton 3-piece are Lucy Sheehan (bass/vocals), Edward Ensbury (guitar/vocals), Callum Marinho (drums). They were joined on stage for a few tracks by Ben Hampson on keyboards. Reminiscent of Sonic Youth, PROJECTOR combine abrasive tendencies with lush alt-pop of the 90’s and infectious melodies. If you think of somewhere in-between the wall-of-sound nature of My Bloody Valentine and the stabbing urgency of Pixies, you won’t be far off.
There was a tightly packed crowd at The Tempest Inn, which the band had to almost force their way through to get onto the performance area. As usual the energy and speed of PROJECTOR’s performance were at the top level. Their harsh, unforgiving guitar style was at the core of their set. Somehow, Lucy managed to find space in the packed audience to perform among the crowd. (This seemed to be a theme of day 2.) A brilliant set from a band that always gives it their all.
WITCH FEVER (UK)
VOLKS 7.00pm – 7.30pm
I’m in Volks nightclub on Madeira Drive to catch Witch Fever, a doom punk four-piece. They’ve certainly drawn a crowd, and the room is jam packed and rather warm. I’m feeling slightly drowsy having just eaten my evening meal, but the raucous thrash of opener ‘Blessed Be Thy’ shakes me out of that. Lead vocalist Amy, who wears a distinctive mullet and bangs hairstyle, is physically small but has a room filling presence, and is soon making energetic forays into the densely packed crowd. The band are playing hard, with Alex on bass, Alisha on guitar, and Anna on drums. As the band name suggests, there’s a pagan element to the lyrics, which also have a powerful feminist message, the misogyny of the witch trials of history extrapolated as a parallel to present-day oppression.
‘Beauty And Grace’ roars by with an insistent riff, a tasty solo and a big playout. ‘I Saw You Dancing’ is particularly heavy. The band looks good, though it’s not that easy to see as we’re in nightclub lighting, with the moving blue lasers only really serving to light up the haze of stage fog. “We’re from Manchester,” says Amy, in an accent that confirms her claim. “We really love Oasis.” This raises a chuckle. If there was ever any doubt about the feminist message, a loud exhortation to “F*ck the patriarchy!” should clarify matters. The impressive set concludes with ‘Reincarnate’, a lively number during which Amy manages to work her way right through the crowd to the very back of the room. I would definitely want to see this band again.
ENOLA GAY (UK)
TGE BEACH STAGE 7:15pm – 7:45pm
Enola Gay are a Belfast-based Irish noise-punk 4-piece formed in late 2019. The lads are Fionn Reilly on vocals, Joe McVeigh on guitar, Adam Cooper on Bass and Stevie Curtis on Drums. They are purveyors of venomous hip-hop-inspired vocals that are as uncompromising as the guitars are unforgiving, layered on a rhythm section that draws as much from left-field electronica and techno as it does from post-punk heroes of the late 70s.
Having opened up my Enola Gay account last month in the nicely compact Prince Albert pub near Brighton Station, this evening’s performance on the vast TGE Beach Stage was an altogether different atmosphere, although having said that this tent was full from the off. Prior to the guys hitting the stage, they had their humorously edited newsreel stories intro tape on the go. Once on stage, I spied that they are still operating the vocals, guitar, Fender bass, and drums format. These are simply a quartet of ordinary looking blokes performing shouty Rap Punk of the highest order. If early Joy Division ie Warsaw had amalgamated shouty Rap into their repertoire, then the outcome would be Enola Gay. As per their Prince Albert gig, this set was littered with top string bass laden powerful tunes. At one point Joe put his guitar on the floor and climbed over the crowd barrier and started a mosh. I was stationed right at the front and heard singer Fionn state off mic to his bandmates “this might be the best one yet”. I certainly hope that it was as their barrage of noise was most welcomed by all of the punters. Here is yet another Irish band on the way up!
PAGANINI BALLROOM 7:30pm – 8:00pm
Just in case you are wondering, it’s pronounced ‘She-Elle’. The Brighton & Hove News Music Team have been with this band from their very first band concert on 19th December 2018, and in fact was Dutch born founder member Michelle Hindriks very first performance in the UK. With a few line-up changes here and there along the way, they are now settled as a trio as Hindriks joined forces with Spanish guitarist Jorge Bela Jimenez (who is also in Hanya) and drummer Tim Spencer.
BBC 6Music took over the Paganini Ballroom tonight for a showcase event curated and introduced by Steve Lamacq. First on the bill were local Brighton based shoegaze indie favourites CIEL. This is a band I’ve seen many times live and always enjoy. They delivered a fine set to a joyous crowd. Their new single ‘Fine Everything’ sounding particularly good.
NORTH LAINE BREWHOUSE (ALTERNATIVE ESCAPE) 8.00pm – 8.30pm
Photographer Cris and I are in the North Laine Brewhouse, which is hosting a programme of bands for the Alternative Escape. We’re here to see BEX, a punky young singer-songwriter who is backed up by Josh on bass and Evie on drums. It’s lively stuff and good fun to watch, though there’s clearly a serious feminist message in the lyrics. Opener ‘Stamp’ has a lilting low grind on bass and drums, with BEX just on the mic, punctuating her semi-rapped vocal with some appropriate kicks. She has a strong punk-inspired look, with dyed hair matching a bright red string vest.
There’s plenty of shrieking and jumping on the amusingly titled ‘Fart’, and for ‘Freak Out’ the singer straps on a bass. The alternating lines of the twin bass guitars make for an intriguing and expansive sound. The instrument is back off briefly for ‘Bite My Tongue’, with BEX out into the audience, and drummer Evie getting busy with big rolls around the toms. The bass is back on for the briskly urgent ‘Hazmat Suit’. Set closer ‘Tiptoe’ is the standout track for me, and it’s also the current single. Bouncy verses alternative with grungier sections, and the vocal is angry and strident. “You can’t take advantage now I hold the upper hand,” the singer snarls, before launching another charge into the audience, this time with bass in hand. It’s good stuff, and goes down a storm.
TGE BEACH STAGE 8:15pm – 8:45pm
South London based Honeyglaze consists of vocalist and guitarist Anouska Sokolow, bassist Tim Curtis and drummer Yuri Shibuichi. I’ve seen them a few times as a support band and have never failed to be impressed. They seem to be increasingly tight and professional without losing any of their edge or artistry. They recently headlined London’s Lexington and their self-titled debut album has just been released.
They are an exemplary and exciting live band and Yuri Shibuichi appears to be competing with the late Keith Moon for the title of “the ACME exploding drummer” (Moon had this painted on his highly decorated Premier drumkit during the late 1960s). A particular highlight of their set is ‘Childish Things’ which features lots of augmented and minor chords and is very powerful – both sonically and lyrically. They are playing several festivals during this coming summer. If you’re unfortunate enough to miss those they’re at Camden Jazz Cafe on 20th October.
CHALK 8:15pm – 8:45pm
Wu-Lu is a talented vocalist and multi-instrumentalist that can’t easily be put into any one genre. He is as important to London’s soundscape as the venues he plays in. His undisputed roots in the city’s scene are highlighted through affiliations with musical movement Touching Bass, and co-signs from fellow stalwarts Black Midi, Sorry and Show Me The Body to name a few. It’s the live stage where the impact of Wu-Lu’s passionate retellings really come into their own. No matter where he plays, Wu-Lu continues to deliver his unique point of view through an ever-evolving and always refreshing sound.
The music produced this evening at the Chalk music venue in Pool Valley takes a bit of jazz heritage, throws in aggressive rap beats, and blends the whole thing with a rich sauce of soul. When it’s all meshed together it’s a very interesting proposition indeed!
BC CAMPLIGHT (USA)
THE OLD MARKET 9:00pm – 9:45pm
Tonight at The Old Market in Hove was a Bella Union records showcase event that served up a fine evening of entertainment. I, and many others, were here to witness Brian Christinzio aka BC Camplight in the flesh and not surprisingly his set certainly delivered and was just brilliant.
He was funny and self-deprecating as always and was in fine form. Swigging from a bottle of wine and telling stories of deportation and broken relationships. He and his 6 piece band were great. ‘Back To Work’ and ‘I Only Drink When I’m Drunk’ , a tune which Brian describes as “Hank Williams on cough medicine being awoken by ferocious guitars”, sounded as good as ever and a new album was promised soon.
DG SOLARIS (UK)
SHORTT’S BAR (ALTERNATIVE ESCAPE) 9:00pm – 9:30pm
We had been invited off-piste by the alter ego of Danny Green aka DG Solaris, to take in the sounds from the Alternative Escape, and that we dutifully did. It wasn’t too far to stroll in a zig-zag line from the Beach Site up to Shortt’s Bar located on St James’ Street. After the previous set (by Enola Gay), we were to be honest starting to wane a bit and thus the seating in this Kemptown hostelry was rather more appealing than usual.
The very first concert report that the Brighton & Hove News Music Team published was of a performance at The Prince Albert by Laish, Laish being Danny’s band. We then had another live encounter at Greys Freehouse on Southover Street in Brighton and so having been invited to see what Danny was now up to, it was most certainly time. Up until about 8 years ago Danny was based in Brighton, but his life has moved on and he now has a lovely wife, son and another on the way. Life is good for him right now. This was most certainly reflected in his distinctive voice tonight. You can always tell one of his songs by his voice, like you can with Richard Hawley. Danny’s are often filled with summer breeze of wanton love and that of times gone by. Tonight it’s just him and his guitar. The sound was crisp, although those at the other end of the bar did continue to talk, which was a tad annoying. But after a while Danny won the day. The highlight was Laish tune ‘Learning To Love The Bomb’. This was a fantastic way to open up my Shortt’s Bar account. It was an uplifting set that brought a constant smile to my face and my battery was recharged. It needed to be as we were going to finish at 1:30am
CHALK 9.15pm – 9.45pm
I’m in Chalk to check out Brooklyn art punks Gustaf. The five-piece has that classic new wave bouncing bass groove of bands like The Raincoats, with a dash of the general artiness of Talking Heads. I like them straight away and can’t help but dance. On lead vocals is Lydia, with a cheekily conspiratorial vocal delivery and a rather heavy looking leather coat. Guitarist Vram might be heading for a 1970s disco in a fancy satin shirt, whilst bassist Tine and drummer Melissa appear to have come straight from the office in smart fitted suit jackets. Tarra, on backing vocals and an array of percussion, is bounding around doing her best freaky dancing. For ‘Liquid Frown’ singer Lydia whips out a flute for the intro, and Tarra’s vocal has a weird pitch-shifting effect that sends it down an octave or two.
Big drum rolls introduce ‘Book’, whose groove is built around an insistent combination of bubbling bass and staccato guitar downstrokes. Tarra is running on the spot, spinning around and punching the air. I’m really loving the way the bass drives each number, and it simmers nicely through ‘The Motions’, interrupted only by the occasional piercing scream and instrumental freak out. There’s another cracking riff accompanied by some guitar grind on ‘Dog’, and Tarra is blowing whistles and rattling percussion shaped like a rubber chicken. Whilst the focus is obviously on the main vocal, she provides a pretty mesmeric sideshow house right. ‘Dream’ has a juddering riff and a refrain of “We love you” repeated incessantly until it becomes mildly sinister. With each chant, Tarra is making eye contact with a member of the audience and pointing a drumstick at them. The flute is out again for set closer ‘Happy’, and the busy backing vocalist has donned some groovy looking round sunglasses. “I hope you’re happy. I hope you’re singing along?” goes the refrain. Oh yes, we really are.
THE GARRYS (CANADA)
JUBILEE SQUARE 9:15pm – 9:45pm
After a day of spectating at most venues it was a chance to watch the sun go down at Jubilee Square for some dreamy surf rock courtesy of The Garrys, who hail from Canada. They formed in 2015 in a town called Saskatoon and features three sisters, Julia, Erica and Lenore Maiers.
They spin their lo-fi guitars with ease to a sound reminiscent to the 1970’s pop with layered 3-part blood harmonies, hazy sun-bleached melodies, and a catchy bass line and tight drumming. Their latest album release is titled ‘Get Thee To A Nunnery’. The stand out single, ‘It’s Over’, showed off their talents with a pop focused groove and catchy harmonies and the set was a worthy end of an evening showcase to wind down and daydream too!
TGE BEACH STAGE 9:15pm – 9:45pm
Brighton based art-punk band Keg look as if they could almost be a collective, being a seven-piece. However, they do have a settled line-up, this being: Jules Gibbons on guitar, Albert Haddenham on vocals, Joel Whitaker on bass, Frank Lindsay, also on guitar, Charlie Keen on trombone, Johnny Pike on drums and Will Wiffen on keyboards. They remind me of Fat White Family, Idles and Cabbage. They could also be the spiritual heirs to Hawkwind. They’re anarchic. They’re great fun. They also display a very high level of musicianship.
They’re pleasingly off the wall. At one point the trombonist plays a conch. They have some wonderful song titles: ’I Missed My Wife’s Wedding’ for example. Much of their material is angular and unpredictable. In fact, pretty much their whole performance is unpredictable. Love at first shock. I think that they may be my new favourite band…..
Paganini Ballroom (The Old Ship) 9:30pm – 10:00pm
DEADLETTER are a post-punk band, hailing from Yorkshire, now relocated to South London. They are fronted by vocalist Zac Woolle, who has Mick Jagger mannerisms about his stage performance.
Their sound has been compared to the post-punk giants of The Fall and Gang of Four. I found them similar in a way to The Fall, if The Fall had a baseline to dance to, and a saxophone. That description may sound odd, but it worked. John Cooper Clarke is an early influence on the band and this comes across in their lyrics and spiky social commentary. A good set by DEADLETTER, who could be one to watch.
KATHRYN JOSEPH (UK)
FABRICA 10:15pm – 10:45pm
Next up was the option to go for a more intimate and mesmerising performance at Fabrica which is located in Duke Street and is a contemporary art gallery with an educational mission. Glasgow based Kathryn Joseph was in attendance, whose highly individual expression was first heard on 2015’s ‘Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I’ve Spilled’ which addressed failed relationships and the death of her infant son. This gave her the Scottish Album of the Year award.
Her songs are very personal with the added drama of her synth sounds telling stories of loss and relationships! For the duration of the set the audience sat dawn on the floor to listen to her voice echoing in the beams of the church and were truly captivated, a different kind of experience to some of the other offerings during the day!
LETS EAT GRANDMA (UK)
AMAZON NEW MUSIC STAGE 10:15pm to 11:00pm
I mean what is a Great Escape without Let’s Eat Grandma eh? This is their third outing and quite rightly I say too. I can’t grasp that next year it would have been a whole 10 years since Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth formed the group. Where has all that time gone? I remember waiting about a year for their debut studio album ’I, Gemini’ to hit the streets in 2016 and eagerly waiting in 2018 for their follow-up ‘I’m All Ears’.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since those heady days. The girls are ‘all growed up’ now and have morphed into a live quartet with two lovely Novation synths dying to be tinkered with, along with a Moog, saxophone, two guitars, bass and drums with drum pads. Vocal duty is still shared by the girls who, being best friends, still have a wonderful empathy between themselves, which is a joy to see. This new 2022 incarnation of the band has unfortunately lost a good deal of their original quirkiness, which was so endearing, but it is thankfully still there bubbling underneath and waiting to explode for their final epic lengthy number ‘Donnie Darko’. Hence, this set has been allotted a 45 minute time slot instead of the others which are virtually all 30 minutes in length. Despite this performance just missing out on being in my Top 5 TGE gigs of 2022, I must say that if I was asked what was the best tune I heard during the 3 days, then ‘Donnie Darko’ would be it. It was EPIC!
YARD ACT (UK)
CHALK 10:15pm – 11:00pm
Yard Act need little introduction, and this is deservedly their second headline slot at The Great Escape this year. We first heard of them as a recommendation from the guitarist of Leeds indie-demi-Gods, CUD, and he knows a thing of two, so we immediately opened our ears to them and found ourselves immersed in a quizzical musical world that has its roots in Half Man Half Biscuit and Dr John Cooper Clarke. That aside, Yard Act are completely ‘of the now’ and we’re happy to see them going from strength to strength.
The venue is rammed to the rafters with most of the audience arriving early (to the benefit of earlier acts) to secure their space to see Yard Act. Many couldn’t get into Komedia on the previous night as it was full long before Yard Act took to the stage and the queue was gigantic. There’s an air of anticipation that those lucky enough to have a place are about to see something very special – and the crowd erupts and mayhem ensues as Yard Act take to the stage. James Smith’s distinctive vocals and witty social observation are delivered with high energy but also somehow in an understated way that is totally immersive. As well as the HMHB and Cooper Clarke influences we also think James may be mates with Mik Artistik… although thinking about it… have they ever been seen in the same room at the same time?
PIRI & TOMMY (UK)
THE ARCH 11:30pm – 12:00am
This was my first of two top Great Escape performances from Manchester-based drum and bass dance duo Piri (Sophie McBurnie) and her real-life partner Tommy (Villiers) who met on Instagram whilst students and exploded on Tik Tok with their DIY dance offerings after they started writing and making music together at the start of the lockdown. Their audience hitherto has been mainly GenZ as you’d expect, but there is a much wider appeal to their music as this GenX’er can confirm. I can certainly see them taking the live and festival scene by storm if this performance (and tomorrow’s one at the Concorde 2) are anything to go by as their music translates really well to a live audience.
The Arch performance saw a very long queue to get in, so we were extremely lucky we arrived early but it was a club-type vibe and the set went down a storm notably their break out final track ‘Soft Spot’ , the steam visibly rising from the audience who were dancing themselves into a frenzy.
(Martin J Fuller)
HORATIOS 11:15pm – 11:45pm
Momma were the last band of the evening at Horatio’s and there was no better way to spend the time watching with the backdrop of brightly lit pier rides on one side and the dark sea on the other!
The duo Etta Friedma and Allegra Weingarten joined by a further bassist and drummer soon rock out the crowd, confidently strolling onto the stage and launching straight into heavy guitar riffs. The result of this was the formation of a mosh pit at the front. Stemming from Brooklyn they recently completed a tour with Wet Leg in the USA. Tonight’s set is very much focused, and as the songs progress, there are loud cheers from the audience. The pair duel with guitars on stage and the vocals become loud. Momma are definitely a band to watch out for in the future with their addictive 90’s style alt rock sounds!
LAUNDRY DAY (USA)
THE HOPE & RUIN 1:00am – 1:30am
Laundry Day consist of Sawyer Nunes (vocals), Jude Ciulla (vocals), Henry Weingartner (guitar), Etai Abramovich (probably no relation – drums) and Henry Pearl (drums). The band are from New York and have the attitude to match. They are very clearly legends in their own minds, but this high level of self-belief gives them the swagger to be legends in other people’s minds as well. They remind me of a heavy rock Strokes.
This is a really marketable band, and I can see them being really big, although possibly not quite as big as Greta Van Fleet. Henry Weingartner does a more than passable Jimmy Page impression, and there’s some impressive dual lead playing with Sawyer Nunes. I think we’ll be hearing more of them somehow.
WORKING MEN’S CLUB (UK)
CHALK 1:00am – 1:30am
Well here we are at 1am and still going strong on TGE gigs. Last one of Day 2 for us was Working Men’s Club who some of the Brighton & Hove News Music Team witnessed performing live at the last actual TGE three years ago. Others had gone off to see an almost secret gig by Sleeper in a garage and missed Working Men’s Club, but they made up for missing them by catching them live on two other occasions! One of these was at tonight’s venue (Chalk) last November and then shortly afterwards at a hometown sold out gig at Manchester Ritz. Yes OK it was me…guilty! Over the past few years my Working Men’s Club vinyl, tape and CD collection has been ticking along rather nicely. I was also tipped off on 1st February by WMC’s newest member, Hannah Cobb, that she would be joining the band and tonight here she is up on stage and in charge of a number of their keyboards.
WMC have this year thus far undergone a transformation and are now even more synth laden than before. Is that possible I hear you say? Well tonight on stage there is a Sequential PRO3 and Sequential Prophet-6 (being looked after by Hannah), there’s Korg Prologue (comically labelled as ‘Orgy’), plus other keys including a Behringer. Also on offer is a Fender Mustang bass, and a Fender guitar. The trio of other members being Sydney Minsky-Sargeant (vocals/guitar/drum machine/synth), Liam Ogburn (bass) and Mairead O’Connor (guitar/keyboards/vocals). Sydney was even more deadpanned than normal this morning and even sat down on the stage a few times instead of heading off into the crowd and being carried aloft by the punters, like previous meetings. Yes WMC certainly do it for me, especially the final number ‘Teeth’, but of my three meetings with them, this was the least enjoyable. Time for bed said Dougal………….
The Great Escape will be returning to Brighton on Thursday 11th to Saturday 13th May 2023. Purchase your tickets HERE.
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