The Brighton & Hove News Music Team were out in force at The Great Escape New Music Festival. We strived to cover as many new and up-and-coming artists as possible during the event, which took place right across the city of Brighton and Hove at numerous venues of varying sizes on Wednesday 10th to Saturday 13th May.
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 only on Friday 12th May, along with the venue and planned time of the performance. View Part 1 on the acts that performed on Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th May HERE and Part 3 on the acts that performed on Saturday 13th May HERE.
So here goes, sit back and enjoy………………….
FRIDAY 12th MAY 2023
THE GRAND CENTRAL 12:00pm – 12:30pm (Unofficial Escape ‘End of the Trail Creative / Fierce Panda’)
With all the train’s cancelled today Brighton’s Josh Luck boards the Grand Central platform and launches into the punk/thrash guitar licks of ‘Run The VT’ which gets the early crowd moving. ‘Panic Attack’ has a powerful driving beat similar to IDLES ’Crawler’. Josh commands the stage throughout the set and launches into a face off with the audience, but it’s all done for the dramatics. Rounding off the set with debut single ‘48’ which is about his crappy bus ride back to University. Summing up – an enjoyable and memorable set which got the day started like an espresso shot in the dark.
TGE BEACH STAGE 12:00pm – 12:20pm
Glasgow band Spyres were first up at the beach venues on the Friday of The Great Escape Festival. Spyres are led by Kiera McGuire and Emily Downie, two singers, guitarists and songwriters, with Jude Curran (bass) and Alex White (drums). With the rain on Friday morning, the band apologised for bringing the Scottish weather with them. From the quality of their performance, no other apologies were needed. Spyres had an exciting young energy about them, mixing feisty and fiery guitars with melodic riffs. There were hints of Elastica, while some sections of their songs had noisy guitars. (Well, Spyres have supported The Jesus and Mary Chain!). Kiera McGuire and Emily Downie shared the singing both together and echoing or replying to each other. Their sweet yet strong voices worked well with the starker music. Their singing became more aggressive when the later songs got rockier. We were treated to their next single ‘Money’ which had a more prominent bassline. Spyres announced their debut EP out later this year. The band started at midday, but people, other than delegates, weren’t allowed across the Volks Railway tracks to the TGE Beach Stage tent until 12. I may have missed the very start of their performance, but Spyres were still one of my highlights of The Great Escape.
LATEST MUSIC BAR 12:15pm – 12:45pm
My Friday Great Escape starts off in colourful fashion as I have opted to take in the delights of London based Queer-Punk outfit The Oozes, which consists of Tom Gilbert (lead vocals), Ciara Clarke (bass), Olly Chrich (drums) and Cherry Cicely (guitar). I say London based, but Tom sounds Australian to me, whether this is the case is irrelevant, but what is relevant is that the venue is almost full before the quartet have even played a note, which is very encouraging. The Oozes offer us a dozen fast punk compositions with a true likeable comedy tinge, they are in fancy dress which aids their portrayal. However their subject matter can be serious as well. We had ‘Cryin’ (Like A Baby)’, which was followed by the jerky ‘Ultrasound’, and ‘Wanker’, which had the most amusing line of the set “Are you a witch or a wanker”. ‘Swallow’ was up next which is about capitalism and was the best thus far and is their latest single. ‘Don’t Be Such A C*nt’ followed and it is here that it dawned on me that I had finally found the new Pussyliquor and Amyl & The Sniffers! To rubber stamp my conclusion, the quartet then offloaded ‘Eat Shit’ which began all mellow and then it exploded. ‘Strap’ was next and its subject matter being the joys of a silicone penis. Their finale was also “about kinky sex” in the form of ‘Bitchboy’, which was their fastest track. Tom is very likeable as are the rest of the band. They really should head out on tour across the country as a Queer-Punk double header with Noah And The Loners, as they are both must see bands!
SHORTT’S 12:25pm – 12:45pm ALTERNATIVE ESCAPE
I arrive at Shortt’s Bar on St. James Street precisely when Airports take over the stage. Blinding Talent has curated a stellar lineup of bands for the Alt-Escape, and Airports is a good start for early in the day. Singer/writer/producer Aaron Lee, hailing from Australia, fronts the band alongside a guitarist and drummer. Aaron seamlessly blends punk pop tunes with Drum n Bass that reverberate through the venue. Aaron fully embraces the limited space of the bar, making it his own playground and even leaps from the benches to the left of the stage, managing to grab some ‘air’ which I wasn’t expecting. A charismatic frontman with bags of energy and a handful of decent tunes. What more could you want this early in the day.
REVENGE 12:30pm – 1:00pm
It’s Friday lunchtime and I’m at Revenge where 18 year old London based singer-songwriter Lexie Carroll is kicking off the second day of live music festivities. Bounding onto the stage with her three female friends, the four-piece launch into a short but sweet set that really showcases Carroll’s delicate whispery vocals. All five tracks of current EP ‘It’s Difficult To Talk’ receive a live outing, mixing the melancholy (‘Annual Birthday Cry’) with the more uplifting (‘Central Line’). With Carroll also taking up guitar duties, it’s ‘Violet’ that is the stand out song of the half hour set, an uptempo number with a singalong chorus that is destined to be Carroll’s breakthrough into the mainstream. There’s a lot of potential on display here to suggest that she could easily follow in the footsteps of Maisie Peters and be back here headlining in a few years time.
ALPHABET 1:15pm – 1:45pm
THALA is a singer songwriter from Berlin. Her sound has been described as soothing and atmospheric and a mix between Mazzy Star and Beach House. THALA was joined by a drummer and a bassist, who also operated the laptop. After a lengthy and meticulous soundcheck, THALA started with an opening ethereal soundscape, which was to be a feature throughout their set. THALA combined the dreamy sound with thoughtful, and often sad lyrics. THALA apologetically announced some tracks as “sad songs”. For example, ‘You Had 2’ was about a friend with a life-threatening illness, but finding out from someone else, while ‘In Theory Depression’, her latest single, was about not being in the best state of mind. No wonder that THALA put a lot of emotion into her singing. At times her voice was very thoughtful and reflective, at other times she showed anger. Despite the melancholy subject matter, the quality of the music and vocals meant that the mood of the event was joyful. THALA’s combination of shoegaze soundscapes with deeply personal lyrics worked very well live.
BAG OF CANS
THE GRAND CENTRAL 1:20pm – 1:50pm (Unofficial Escape ‘End of the Trail Creative / Fierce Panda’)
Hailing from the flat earth county of Norwich, five-piece Bag Of Cans are a curious mix of trashy-indie jazz and surreal comedy. Main Vocalist George Baker enters the stage dressed in a patient’s gown with trumpet in-hand and delivers his brand of geeky/cheeky lyrics to the unsuspected crowd. The song ‘Houseproud’ kicks it off and I’m instantly reminded of the band ‘KEG’ musically. The banter between the guys brings a whole lot of warmth into the audience, it’s like sitting down with best friends over a beer. During ‘Spin Cycle’ George beckons us to join in with the chorus which we all submit too. Ending with his fake drunk ramblings of ‘Pub Money’ has the crowd shouting for more. An Excellent set that brought a smile to our faces.
KOMEDIA BASEMENT 1:26pm – 1:56pm
Coach Party have gone from strength to strength from realising their EP ‘Nothing Is Real’ back in 2022. Stemming from the Isle of Wight, the band produce witty, experimental pop and certainly heated up the crowd early on at the Komedia basement. The band have signed to the chess club record label who indecently also released early ‘Wolf Alice’ material. On the setlist today is their latest single ‘Micro Aggression’, performed passionately by lead singer Jess Eastwood and has a unique raw feel to it with some dark lyrics which has a feel to the 90’s alternative rock scene. The whole set is an explosion in a chaotic fashion with some big choruses to their songs and not to disappoint the packed out basement.
Horatios 1:30pm – 2:00pm
After our fast punk set, it was now time to slow things right down and we headed to ‘The Spanish Wave Stage’ at Horatios on Brighton Pier in order to see what’s cooking, tapas had been but we were too late! The setup looked rather promising with an MPK249 MIDI Keyboard Controller, a Nord Stage 3 (which benefits from three sound generating sections; Piano, Organ and Synthesizer, all of which can be used simultaneously), Roland drumpads, and finally a laptop laid out across the stage. Enter young Catalan artist Marina Herlop from Barcelona, who radiates mysticism and beauty in equal measures. She does not speak to us on entry, or throughout any of the set for that matter, not even after she has finished, she just gestures. I suspect that everyone believed that this was part of the act and that she couldn’t speak English. Marina’s music would be ideal if used in haunting and mysterious films, or as part of an art installation at the South Bank, it’s certainly out there! The many punters simply stood and absorbed what Marina was giving us, you could have heard a pin drop, such was the concentration during this unusual transfixing performance. Vocally it’s evident that she has had classical training, but there is intricate trickery afoot here as her voice is manipulated through the mic setup, it’s very unusual and clever stuff indeed, and is a technique inspired by Carnatic music of Southern India. We are ensconced in the realm of Björk, Gazelle Twin, Sigur Rós and Grimes and any of their fans could do no wrong in discovering the voice of an angel that is Marina! After her set we were at the bar ordering some refreshment and a lady came and stood next to us and ordered drinks in almost perfect English…the mysticism had slightly been broken!
WATERBEAR VENUE 1:30pm – 2:00pm
I’m starting the day at the ‘Dutch Music Export’ showcase at the Waterbear Venue, in an arch on the beach front. The music room is a sort of tunnel, giving it a Cavern Club vibe. Mazey Haze are playing a gorgeous dream pop, in a style vaguely reminiscent of the 1960s, but brought onward through time with the addition of synths. Out front is vocalist Nadine Appledorn, and it’s very much her project, with a backing band of guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. Everything about this is rather lovely. The floating melodies dance on the periphery of consciousness, and Nadine looks the part with blonde hair cascading over a striped jacket. I want to wrap the bass sound up and take it home with me: a warm retro tone with just the perfect amount of punch. Opener ‘Back To The Start’ has the 1960s feel with a descending progression. ‘The Weight Of The Weekend’ is bass driven, embellished with jangly guitar. ‘Kill Me I Got You’ is steadier paced, while ‘Sad Lonely Groove’ leans more towards synth pop. It has been an utterly delightful start to the day.
THREE WISE CATS 2:15pm – 2:45pm
Three Wise Cats at Casablanca’s bursts at the seams as the Swedish punk rock band, Dull, takes the stage. The intimate venue is jam-packed, and only a metal barrier separates us from becoming part of the chaos on stage. With Canan Rosén on guitar and vocals, Max Lindén on bass, Louise Erdman on guitar and vocals, and Elias Jonsson on drums, Dull launches into their set with explosive force. Their Stockholm sound, infused with fast and frantic garage punk, grabs me from the first note of ‘The Problem’. I’m immediately hooked. ‘Sad Boys’ momentarily slows the tempo, but the adrenaline soon rushes back with the lyrically excellent ‘Taking Notes’. The set climaxes with ‘Headphones’, an assault of screaming guitars riding on a bed of post-punk beats that just blows me away. The frenzy of Dull’s performance is a high I can’t resist, prompting me to rearrange my festival schedule to catch them once more. This punked-up sonic journey is the best trip I’ve been on so far this Escape!
THE PRINCE ALBERT 2:30pm – 3:00pm
Real life lovers Adèle Trottier-Rivard and Nicolas Baque from Montreal, Canada delivered an outstanding performance as Bibi Club, completely immersing the room at The Prince Albert in their mesmeric alternative electro pop-rock creations. For a duo, they make a big sound. Using a Sequential synth keyboard allied to Nicolas’s sometimes raucous distorted guitar (Gary Moore style on occasion) contrasted with opalescent chimes and dreamy vocals mostly sung in French, if you’re a fan of Stereolab or perhaps Cocteau Twins, then Bibi Club’s music is for you. As an introduction, check out the tracks ‘Femme Lady’ and ‘Le Matin’ from their debut album ‘Le Soleil Et La Mer’ (meaning The Sun and the Sea) released in March of this year. Without a doubt, this duo are one of my favourite TGE take-aways of 2023.
(Martin J Fuller)
Horatios 2:30pm – 3:00pm
We stayed put in order to take in the delights of new Spanish project Shanghai Baby, which is fronted by none other than Ade Martin from Hinds, who are a band I have had a true soft-spot for a number of years, even when they were called Deers, and have purchased all of their vinyl’s. Despite the misleading name, Ade is female, as are the rest of Hinds, but today on Brighton Pier, Shanghai Baby are a live quartet with a 50/50 girl/boy split. The extended 7 track EP titled ‘EP01’ is already out there and we are served a handful of tunes from the release as well as a few other numbers which took us through the themes of young adult life in a vulnerable and striking way with a classic indie rock feeling. As you would expect Ade is on lead vocals as well as Fender Mustang guitar, there’s another girl who is on Fender Mustang bass and offers up backing vocals, plus there’s a guy on Airline guitar, and the other chap is sat behind the drums. Their opening number for their first ever UK show is ‘Horse’, which is also the opener from the EP, as compared to the upbeat sound of Hinds, this is a slower chugging number. This is followed by ‘Is This The Right Time’, which is a quirky jangly number. It’s during this tune that I spy Hinds drummer Amber Grimbergen standing not too far away from me and she was merrily singing away to every tune. It then dawned on me that maybe there was a possibility that the Hinds camp was in danger of reverting back to just the duo of Carlotta Cosials and Ana García Perrote, which would be a shame. The toe-tapping tunes flowed, including ‘Go Home’, ‘10 Minutes’, ‘Checkmate’, and ‘Dirty Paradise’, but neither vocals were loud enough. I pointed this out to Ade and she asked on the mic and suddenly it was cured! They had saved the best until last and the final three numbers were rather rocky and almost like Hinds tunes, if only they all had sounded like that, and also the sound engineer had checked the mics beforehand. Having said that, I was extremely pleased to have witnessed the debut UK gig.
WATERBEAR VENUE 2:30pm – 3:00pm
Next on at the ‘Dutch Music Export’ showcase at Waterbear are Rotterdam’s Tramhaus. They are a lively five-piece, and they look like they mean business. Lukas is on vocals, a tall, wiry figure with a striking mullet and ‘tash combo. Nadia on guitar wears a black boiler suit, and has a demeanour that brooks no argument. Julia on bass has a punky look with a tartan skirt, and Micha and Jim are on guitar and drums respectively. Opener ‘Marwan’ has an intense chug, overlaid with a Buzzcocks-style lead line. ‘Seduction Destruction’ has a slow and atmospheric introduction that somehow ends up in a screaming crescendo. Lukas is doing a manic wriggling dance. ‘The Goat’ lays chiming guitar over a bass throb, and I particularly like ‘Make It Happen’, with its “Welcome to the Wild West” lyrical motif, and some tasty plectrum slides down the strings. Lukas is getting a sort of Leslie speaker effect on his vocal by waving his SM57 mic in front of his mouth. ‘Beep Beep’ is urgent, and unsurprisingly performed with an imaginary steering wheel. This extremely enjoyable set concludes with the thrashy ‘Karen Is A Punk’. It’s the first time in the UK for Tramhaus, and I very much hope they come back soon.
KOMEDIA BASEMENT 2:31pm – 3:01pm
The Larkins were another indie band that didn’t fill me with much hope when I walked into a packed Komedia basement on a grey Friday lunchtime. But I was pleasantly surprised by this Manchester outfit. They have a singer, Josh Noble, with the front of Liam Gallagher and a voice to match. They had some serious indie anthems in their locker and the crowd loved them, and they have a bass player with green hair with no shirt on, Flea from Chilli Peppers anyone?. ‘Are We Having Any Fun Yet’ was an anthemic indie banger in a Bastille kind of way. Josh remarked during the set that bands often play The Great Escape twice, once on the way up and once on the way down, this was the band’s second appearance at the festival so who knows what will happen to them!
ARCOBALENO 3:00pm – 3:30pm (Unofficial Escape ‘Kick Out The Jams x The Songbird x Bubblebrain Records – The Brighton Mix Up Vol 3’)
The Arcobaleno is located at 120 St George’s Road, which is near the top end of St James’ Street in Brighton. This is where I find brothers Nick and Lee Meldrum – aka Sons – who’ve been tearing up the proverbial since birth, along with some heavy drums / thrashing guitars and DIY punk attitude. Launching the set on ‘Natural’ with its guitar feedback and memorable riff, shakes the afternoon cobwebs off the audience. ‘Marco’ a song about gun control rips the roof off the venue with Nick’s thumping beats and despite only being the two of them it’s decibel level belies the member numbers. ‘Rise’ makes use of Lee’s vocal energy alongside its drilling guitar sounds and screaming chorus, ‘Reptiles’ – the song that first brought them to my ears, with its Slaves (now Soft Play) like influence, still sounds as raw and incendiary as ever with Lee’s vocals distorted (1930s radio style) alongside loud drums and melodic guitar, drives it along to a crashing crescendo and they close the set on a high with my personal favourite that’s rarely ever played by the band. ‘Princess’ has Nick’s steady drum’s with Lee’s crashing guitars alongside its catchy chorus, shows me that I’m still in love with this band and luckily they are currently in the studio writing new music, so expect to hear more from them. Summary : Lots of energy with some Hardcore punk grooves.
SHIPWRIGHTS YARD 3:05pm – 3:25pm (Alternative Escape ‘Republic Of Music presents The Shipwrights Yard Session’)
I’ve made my way to Shipwrights Yard, an open space just off Middle Street for an Alternative Escape performance. The stage is under a canopy, and the people in the flats opposite have an excellent view from their balconies. Jessica Winter is singing along to some dreamy disco pop on her laptop. I’m not a great fan of this performance mode generally, but Jessica has got enough vibe to be worth watching. She certainly cuts a striking figure in a pinstripe suit and latex gloves, and can produce a big sustained vocal with gestures to match. For closing number ‘Sad Music’ she does a little robot dance to accompany the descending synth line. “When it hurts, it’s good to be reminded” is the insistent vocal hook. I can’t help but agree.
ALPHABET 3:15pm – 3:15pm
Another music venue in the making in Brighton and not quite ready, hosted with anticipation to ‘Another Sky’, a London based band. This is their first show in Brighton since they played The Hope and Ruin back in 2021 and also previously sold out London’s Village Underground show back before the pandemic. Lead singer Catrin Vincent’s vocals drew attention and were mind blowing and were in perfect harmony with the rest of the band’s striking riffs. The Quartet could have done with playing a bigger venue as fans were standing outside eager to get to see Another Sky perform live again.
KOMEDIA BASEMENT 3:25pm – 3:55pm
Brighton alt-rock band Arxx, who are guitarist/vocalist Hanni and drummer Clara, have recently enjoyed some much-deserved success, with the release of their album ‘Ride Or Die’, and also being championed by radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo. They first appear on stage to soundcheck, jokingly asking the audience to not take any notice of the song, so as not to spoil the main event! This gives us a taste of what’s to come, with humour a big feature in their in-between song banter. After a brief gap, they arrive on stage for their show, beaming with infectious joy. They start with the fantastic ‘Not Alone’, and I imagine for those not familiar with the band, Hanni’s vocals must have caught their attention – she has an incredible voice. Quite early on she asks the sound person for more vocals, which we are told is a common request from her and that she even has the phrase “more vocals please” tattooed on her arm! Her guitar playing is just as impressive, and this can especially be appreciated on ‘What Have You Done’, which features an amazing heavy riff that is accompanied by some equally remarkable heavy drumming from Clara – on this song she raises herself from her stool to hit the drums with pure power, really demonstrating her skills. A stand out track from this gig. As well as songs from their album, we’re also treated to a cover of ‘Believe’ by Cher! I’m certain Cher would be very impressed with their version – the audience certainly were. Wonderful songs combined with hilarious banter made this show a truly uplifting experience and, for me, a festival highlight.
FABRICA 3:30pm – 4:00pm
English Teacher formed in Leeds in 2020, with the band consisting of Lily Fontaine (vocals, guitar, synth), Nick Eden (bass), Douglas Frost (drums, vocals) and Lewis Whiting (lead guitar). The queue for English Teacher stretched back from Fabrica almost as far as North Street. Jamz Supernova, from Selector Radio, introduced English Teacher to those who got in as “taking everyday subjects and turning them into poetry”. This was evident in the first song ‘Albatross’, and later on ‘A55’ where Lily Fontaine’s singing was more like a poetry reading. Lily showed off a wide range of vocal styles throughout the set. On the second track, ‘Crying’ her singing was more like haunting chants, on another she shouted out the lyrics. English Teacher have evolved their live sound since appearing at last year’s Great Escape, with a harder edge. This was most noticeable on their closing song ‘R&B’, which was played much louder and faster. The music did more than simply support Lily’s singing and spoken word delivery. The band had a better all-round sound, while still fitting perfectly with the subject matter around everyday observations and clever wordplay. English Teacher took the opportunity to play several unreleased new songs, which were very good and fitted well alongside the older material. It was a very special performance by English Teacher.
REVENGE 3:30pm – 4:00pm
Nieve Ella is a singer/songwriter backed by a three piece band (she herself plays rhythm guitar). Her intro music is ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman!’ by Shania Twain. Thankfully her own music is punchy indie with some guitar lines very much influenced by Andy Bell of Ride. There is a lot of stop-start in the first two songs which fools the audience somewhat. Apparently this is the band’s fifteenth show ever, but they are so well-drilled that you wouldn’t know it. Most of Ella’s songs seem to be about relationships. The guitar solos and vocals are often in unison, which is quite unusual. They play ‘It’s Over’, which is coming out as a single three weeks from today. The guitar line is either too loud or just plain wrong. Whichever it is, it makes Ella look puzzled, and then crack up! Closing song ‘Girlfriend’ starts off with just the guitars, then the rhythm section comes in and it really rocks. It’s the best display of the band’s collective capabilities that we hear today. It’s a very rocktastic finale!
THE PRINCE ALBERT 3:30pm – 4:00pm
With a staggering 165 MILLION Spotify plays of her 2022 single ‘Fall In Love Alone’, it was no wonder the small gig room at The Prince Albert was full to capacity long before the start, word had clearly got around about Montreal based Stacey Ryan’s immense vocal capabilities. Having been on my friend’s ‘to see’ list, I thought I’d take up the recommendation and I’m so glad that I did! This charismatic and likeable 21 year old from Montreal has an astonishing vocal range, her opening track ‘Deep End’ being the perfect way to demonstrate it to us from the off. Her music sounds polished and has a soulful edge, moreover it’s her ability to change chord and pitch, almost using her voice as an extra instrument which drew cheers from the assembled audience. Stacey told us she loved the intimate venue as it was the smallest that she has played for a while and enjoyed seeing everyone’s happy faces. We were asked to ‘snap along’ to her track ‘Somebody Good’ to which everyone obliged. Accompanied by Jacob on guitar (who got himself a tattoo in Brighton as a souvenir) and occasionally hitting the keyboard herself, this was a seriously accomplished performance from a young musician who we will be hearing a lot more about.
(Martin J Fuller)
PALE BLUE EYES
SHIPWRIGHTS YARD 3:45pm – 4:05pm (Alternative Escape ‘Republic Of Music presents The Shipwrights Yard Session’)
Next on in Shipwrights Yard are Pale Blue Eyes, a four-piece from Totnes in Devon, playing a particularly atmospheric sort of indie rock. I’m interested to catch them live as they are booked for the ‘Seaview Festival’ at The De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill later in the summer. I think I’m going to like them, and I’m not disappointed. They set off at a brisk pace with ‘Globe’, overlaid with a supremely catchy guitar hook that has a tiny hint of ‘She Sells Sanctuary’. Matthew Board is on lead vocals and guitar, with Aubrey Simpson on bass, Lucy Board on drums, and John Gooding pouring a wash of synth over proceedings. The swirling intro of ‘TV Flicker’ gives way to a bass driven chug overlaid with a haunting keyboard hook. This is a great band, and the audience seem to be loving the performance. It just gets better too, with an utterly mesmeric Krautrock-style groove for ‘Motionless’. The numbers are satisfyingly long, so we don’t have time for too many. They conclude with ‘Dr Pong’, another wonderful piece featuring juddering synth. Matthew is really lost in the music, digging into his guitar with an ecstatic look on his face. There’s a discernible psych feel to the chorus and an utterly gorgeous section of synth arpeggios. This brief set was an absolute joy.
THE MVT STAGE 4:30pm – 5:00pm
Modern Love are a four piece indie band from Drogheda in Ireland. Initially their music seems a bit standard, prompting me to comment in my notes: “a resounding OK”. However, they soon hit their stride and demonstrate that they are far better than that. Vocalist Barry Lally has a very powerful and expressive voice. ‘Ruin Your Life’ is deceptively danceable, in fact I would go as far as saying it was possibly boppy! The audience certainly seems to enjoy it. Some middle-aged guys appear to be line dancing. Honestly – at their age!!! ‘Islands’ is “the one sad song in the set”. There is something of a contrast to the rest of the set. Barry tells us that ‘Take Me Far Away’ is loud. It could be louder to be honest, but it’s fast and tuneful, and is the best of the set so far. It’s followed by ‘Only Ever Only You’, which is also a banger. They tour the UK in October, visiting Kings Cross Scala on the 25th, and Brighton Komedia on the 26th.
THE MESMERIST 4:40pm – 5:00pm (Unofficial Escape ‘Smithereen Takeover’)
Having arrived early to ensure I got in for the Sleeper performance that followed, I enjoyed watching Bognor Regis foursome Woodruff, who offered up a pleasant set of funky original indie pop compositions with harmonic vocals. If that sounds like your bag, check out their 2023 singles ‘Friends’, ‘Four Letter Word’ and ‘Gimme Your Love’ on Spotify.
(Martin J Fuller)
SHIPWRIGHTS YARD 4:35pm – 4:55pm (Alternative Escape ‘Republic Of Music presents The Shipwrights Yard Session’)
It’s been a busy week of packing out venues for punk trio Snayx. You’d think a gig at 4:35pm on a weekday down a random delivery courtyard might give the fast-rising locals a bit of reprieve, but the Republic of Music stage in Shipwrights Yard was utterly rammed in anticipation. One of the great things about Snayx is their ability to draw out all sorts of fans; age and subculture don’t divide their audience – if you’re down to have a wee dance for live favourites like ‘Body Language’, you’re sure to have company. After warming up the audience with their most fiery singles released to date, they unveiled their next two releases for any new listeners in the crowd. Both ‘Boys In Blue’ and ‘Hang’ took on a much more overtly political tone than their prior songs, using their signature in-your-face stagecraft to emphasise their lyrics confronting police brutality and wage inequality. It was great to see their most pointed tracks share the support given to their set closer ‘Fayx’, a song I’ve heard countless times and never been able to resist moshing to.
AMAZON NEW MUSIC STAGE 5:15pm – 5:45pm
The Amazon Beach Stage, purpose-built for the festival, becomes the vibrant playground for Caity Baser, the spirited British singer-songwriter. Hailing from Southampton but now calling Brighton home, Caity bursts onto the stage with infectious energy, a smile stretching from ear to ear. Her set is a rollercoaster ride of pure summer pop hits, instantly captivating the crowd. From the opener, ‘Friendly Sex’, I already spot the front rows singing along. Caity’s rap-infused vocal style and sugar-coated choruses elevate her performance, making each track an irresistible pop gem. The standout moment arrives with ‘Feel More Okay’, a catchy pop banger boasting a massive chorus reminiscent of Lily Allen’s finest work, perfectly blending pop and R&B vibes. Caity Baser’s show is a bouncy, fun-filled pop extravaganza tailor-made for the soundtrack of your summer vacation.
SHIPWRIGHTS YARD 5:15pm – 5:45pm (Alternative Escape ‘Republic Of Music presents The Shipwrights Yard Session’)
Taking the stage at Shipwrights Yard are Flat Party, originally from Bath and now based in London. The project of vocalist Jack Lawther and guitarist Rory O’Rourke, today they’re playing as a six-piece, supplemented with keyboards, second guitar, bass and drums. It’s a big post-punk sound, with rhythms that shuffle and stab. Lead vocalist Jack is certainly a charismatic and engaging presence. Recent single ‘Dig Up Concrete With A Plastic Shovel’ has a particular urgency that contrasts with a more languid middle section, while ’Shotgun’ has more of an angular, art-rock feel. ‘Fish’ has a slightly funky staccato rhythm, with tumbling drum breaks. It’s an interesting and varied set.
THE MVT STAGE 5:25pm – 5:55pm
Modern Woman are one of my absolute highlights of the festival. They started life as the songwriting project of Sophie Harris. The band grew organically as she was gradually joined by David Denyer on percussion, synth, bass, violin and guitar. They were then joined by bassist (and occasional saxophonist) Juan Brint Gutierrez who brought drummer Alan Blackhurst into the fold. Sophie has a speak-singing style of vocalising together with a pleasingly aggressive guitar style. David Denyer introduces a degree of eccentricity to proceedings by using a pair of colanders as percussion instruments. On Juniper Denyer plays a violin line which harmonises very effectively with the vocal line. They play a new song which as yet doesn’t have a title. The guitar intro has something of a Byrdsian feel, but quickly develops a post-punk quality. One song has the feel of the quieter section of ‘Creep’ by Radiohead sung by Kate Bush. They play ‘Offerings’, their first single which was released last year. Sophie plays cowbell. The song features some interesting tempo changes, not to mention Sophie and Juan trying to push each other over! All in all Modern Woman are one of the most interesting acts of the festival. They play the Visions Festival in Hackney on 22nd July. Worth a trip up to London methinks.
THE MESMERIST 5:30pm – 6:00pm (Unofficial Escape ‘Smithereen Takeover’)
One of my favourite ‘Britpop’ bands of the 90’s were Sleeper, whose seminal album ‘The It Girl’ I purchased the week of its release. I was massively into 90’s Indie bands and these were definitely up there with the very best of them, fronted by singer Louise Wener with her uber-cool almost boyish good looks. Then as quickly as they appeared on the scene – they vanished, for 21 years in fact, until they ended their hiatus at the St Ann’s Well Gardens Spring Festival in May 2019 and released a comeback album ‘The Modern Age’. Louise Wener has lived locally for a number of years and great music never ages, so when our team got wind of their low-key appearance at The Alternative Escape, a number of us made our way to The Mesmerist to witness a set comprising half a dozen songs given an acoustic treatment prior to a larger stripped-down ‘Sleeper Unplugged’ gig at the imaginatively named ‘The Venue’ in Worthing on Tuesday June 13th. After this, there are some festival appearances and MVT tour dates later this summer into early autumn.
Lining up as a three-piece, Louise and the ‘Sleeperblokes’ (fans understand) replete with bass and acoustic guitars kicked off the set with ‘Lie Detector’, written about “every journalist ever” we were informed. From the first few lines, I knew that this format would be a success. The acoustic makeover picked out parts of the songs that I hadn’t noticed before, making them less reliant on heavier basslines and accentuating their more subtle elements. Louise wanted to record the second song ‘We Should Be Together’ with the late Terry Hall but sadly never got the chance. Top 10 hit ‘Nice Guy Eddie’ is still a classic and ‘Car Into The Sea’ was written for their comeback, the band pondering if there would still be any fans around (there are – plenty)! My favourite song of the set was unsurprisingly ‘Inbetweener’, released in January 1995 and hitting No.16 in the UK charts, which provided an introduction to their music for many people. The final song was not one of their own, but a cover of seminal US band Pixies track ‘Wave Of Mutilation’ who were Sleeper’s early inspiration. They made it sound like one of their own, which is a compliment as covering an iconic band’s work requires great care. Humorous anecdotes interspersed the songs giving the set a really intimate feel (the John Lennon piano anyone)? The performance was very well received by the assembled audience and set us up nicely for the rest of the evening’s entertainment that lay ahead.
(Martin J Fuller)
SHIPWRIGHTS YARD 5:55pm – 6:15pm (Alternative Escape ‘Republic Of Music presents The Shipwrights Yard Session’)
Amazing as this sounds, but Brighton’s Great Escape festival and Canada’s M for Montreal (M pour Montréal) were both founded by the same person, musical maestro, Martin Elbourne. He co-founded The Great Escape back in 2005, and then M for Montreal in 2006, and was also behind the ‘Music Cities’ movement – which is also still going strong. Elbourne has had a laudable career, which has included being the founder of WOMAD (alongside Peter Gabriel), agent for bands such as The Smiths and New Order, and booker for Glastonbury Festival’s main stages. Therefore it should come as no surprise that some acts have flown over from Montreal to play Brighton. One such act are Bibi Club, which two of our team saw live in snowbound Montreal last November. Thankfully it’s a sunny day here for real-life lovers Adèle Trottier-Rivard and Nicolas Basque, who make up Bibi Club. On offer in the compact garage-like space of The Shipwrights Yard is room for the duo to play their equipment, consisting of a Sequential Prophet 6 Synth keyboard, some chimes, a cymbal, guitar, and a trio of sample units. Their set romped along rather nicely with some enthusiastic guitar playing from Nicolas. Musically, it’s electronic indie material with several nods to New Order and even sneaking into Suicide territory. My colleague who witnessed their Prince Albert set less than 3 hours ago informed me that I would really enjoy them….he was correct and I would love to see them play live again!
INN ON THE SQUARE 6:00pm – 6:30pm (Unofficial Escape ‘End Of The Trail Creative’)
Situated right next to Churchill Square’s shopping mall the Inn on the Square provides the location for Enjoyable Listens vocalist Luke Duffet to show off his eccentricity to the busy venue. Dressed in a smart jacket and ringer-tee and the tightest moustache this side of Brighton, the set starts off with ‘That’s Where The Blood Is’ an 80’s synth-pop ballad which is when it all comes to life, while he swoons and swaggers around the room like English baroque gentry. Luke is accompanied by his bassist, Jimbo Savage, and tape machine. ‘A Laugh And A Half’ is a tale to his audience about being as honest to yourself and others, you then begin to realise his talent as a wordsmith and vocals reminiscent of Neil Hannon (Divine Comedy). ‘Drowning In The Reef’ has Luke mounting a swivel chair, but manages to spin 360 throughout the song without a pause or stumble. After the tune there’s a plea for his fixed PCN notices to be paid and offered out a lucky dip prize for an unsuspecting punter (ME !) – my prize ? One 1/2 inch galvanised Screw! Similar to the flamboyance of singer Hamish Hawk on stage, Luke has the ability to carry on these movements during the quieter moments which adheres him to the crowds hearts. ‘Tear Up The Picture Of My Kids’ has the singer in full fight mode, jacket off and guns out, squaring off against an unsuspecting lad. I’m mentioning a lot about his stage antics, but Luke’s voice transcends these quirks, soft/haunting yet melodic against a well crafted 80s kitsch music backbone. Ending the set with ‘Summer Hit’ ensures his status as a master of his craft and has the audience begging for more, till it’s bittersweet end. Overall : Entertaining performance, great voice and definitely worth revisiting as I still need the other screws for the shed.
AMAZON NEW MUSIC STAGE 6:15pm – 6:45pm
One of the most promising indie rock bands hailing from Liverpool were Indie Rockers ‘Stone’ and they have already supported the likes of ‘Sam Fender’ and ‘Yungblud’ on previous tours. They played high tempo bangers and got the crowd closest to the barrier in a frenzied state. The rough and tumble with raw energy is provided with frontman Fin Power and some occasional female vocals by the very calm bassist Sarah Surrage and you can see the band winning over larger audiences in the near future.
PATTERNS UPSTAIRS 6:30pm – 7:00pm
One minute before this performance was due to start, I noted that the Patterns stage was devoid of instruments – or anything else for that matter. Suddenly, through the crowd burst 21 year-old UK singer-songwriter Bellah May who bounded on to the stage replete with radio mic and launched energetically into catchy 2023 single ‘Drama King’ which has already racked up 3.5 million plays on Spotify. Bellah comes from a musical family and there are hints of Miley Cyrus and Carly Rae Jepsen in her performance, however, she has her own infectious confidence and stage personality with a cool gen-z vocal to match. Many of her song lyrics are written about personal experiences. A fabulous cover of Katy Perry’s 2008 single ‘Hot And Cold’ with Bellah on acoustic guitar went down well and her debut single ‘Boyfriend Of The Year’ which closed out the set had the crowd bouncing along. This is a talented young lady who has made waves with her music on social media and it’s not difficult to understand why. One to note.
(Martin J Fuller)
CHALK 6:30pm – 7:00pm
This is my first experience of Snayx playing live, and it is long overdue. This is drum and bass in the true sense of the term, aka one of the best rhythm sections in the business. There are synth chords and backing vocals on the backing track, but that’s it. The bass and drums do everything else. The lads Charlie Herridge (vocals) and Ollie Horner (bass) have been a duo from the beginning, but now after this performance, have officially invited drummer Lainey (who is also repping for Lambrini Girls) to join the party, she accepted, thus they are now a trio. Occasionally bassist Ollie has the dirtiest bass sound since John Entwistle and Lemmy. They play ‘Boys In Blue’, which is set for imminent release as a single. They are a real breath of fresh air. This is just pure excitement. The Snayx live experience can be sampled when they tour the UK in October. They play Brighton Patterns on 19th October.
TGE BEACH STAGE 6:30pm – 7:00pm
Hailing from South London, Teeth Machine are Gray (lead vocals and guitar), Ciara (vocals, effects and synth), Arthur (lead guitar, synth and saxophone), Ant (bass) and Elliot (drums). Teeth Machine’s sound was built around complex soundscapes with a harsh edge setting them apart from dreamy shoegaze. Teeth Machine’s rich instrumentals built into intense crescendos. Their second song, and latest single ‘Penny’ started with more dreamily allowing the beautiful sweet assured vocals of Gray and Ciara to take centre stage. The pace and noise picked up before the song faded out with sax and drums. Noticeable on this song, as others in the set, was Ant playing the bass with a violin bow. He produced some very striking basslines, some of which were quite funky. Teeth Machine closed their set with a louder more rock-like number which built and ended with an instrumental frenzy. There was a lot going on in each of Teeth Machine’s songs. For me it worked flawlessly, and wasn’t just for show. However, while others saw the band’s undoubted potential, some thought their sounds may need to be more channelled. I saw Teeth Machine support Sorry on tour last year, and their performance at The Great Escape further confirmed to me why they are rightly in NME’s 100 to watch in 2023.
ALPHABET 7:00pm – 7:30pm
There’s a considerable queue outside Alphabet in anticipation of Gurriers, a lively five-piece from Dublin who have generated quite a buzz. If you can think of another band from that city who have had mainstream success with noisy effects-laden post-punk, you’ll have the general idea. Vocalist Dan is an engaging performer, and is looking to stir things up a bit. It’s a high stage, and he tries standing on a monitor to get a bit closer to the audience. The supporting flight case proves a rather wobbly platform, and he almost finds himself doing an impromptu crowd surf. The music is intense and passionate, embellished with a sonic storm of swooshing and wailing guitar effects. The moustachioed Mark and Ben are on guitars, with Emmet grinding the bass and the bearded Pierce thumping the kit. There is some variety, with quieter moments for contrast. Former single ‘Top Of The Bill’ proceeds with a jangly guitar riff punctuated by an effective motif of stops, with the looming howl of intensity making a brief re-appearance towards the end. ‘Sign Of The Times’ is introduced as the new single, and moves along nicely over a bass thrum and tumbling drum fills, with a shouty chanted vocal. Mark is right up the neck of his guitar, fretting the flurries of clipped notes with the heel of his hand. Set closer ‘Approachable’ is another previous single, and has an impetuous urgency. I’ve sensed that Dan has been itching to get in amongst the crowd, and his time has finally come. It’s been an impressively passionate performance, suggesting that this band may well be going places.
CHARLES STREET TAP 7:00pm – 7:30pm
Vlure, or “V f*cking Lure” as they referred to themselves onstage, are a five piece band from Glasgow playing tunes that combine the techno rave sounds of acts like Pendulum with the synth driven post punk of the Skids. Their Scottish heritage is emphasised by classically trained keyboardist Alex Pearson being a dead ringer for Rezillos singer Fay Fife back in the late 1970’s (a band coincidentally playing at Lewes Con Club that next day). Although vocalist Hamish Hutcheson is a dynamic frontman he is rivalled in stage presence by guitarist Conor Goldie with both men bare chested and wild eyed stage front. Tonight the band benefit from a clearer sound than the slightly muffled set they performed at Komedia back in February, with vox and synth soaring above the pounding bass and drums, there were no slow tunes in this set with each new song featuring Hutcheson imploring the crowd to greater movement in an impenetrable Glaswegian accent – we may not have grasped what he was saying but we knew what he meant! Then 30 minutes were up and both they and the crowd had to wind down from the crescendo of energy that had built up. Nice touch was the band stayed around to chat with fans after.
AMAZON NEW MUSIC STAGE 7:15pm – 7:45pm
86TVs was formed by The Maccabees‘ Felix and Hugo White with their brother Will. The new band’s line up is completed by Jamie Morrison of Stereophonics and Noisettes on drums. 86TVs are an indie rock band with country creeping into their sound. Their appearance at The Great Escape was 86TVs first show in Brighton. They were visibly excited about playing, with a shout of “Let’s Go” to start some songs. All three brothers were enthusiastically running across and around the stage playing guitar, when not singing at their mics. The quality of their guitar work, whether on acoustic or electric guitar, was very tight. The brothers shared lead vocals between them, as well as singing together. This was all backed by substantial drumming from Jamie Morrison. TV86s were the slickest, most professional band I saw over the weekend. Unlike most bands at The Great Escape the 86TVs band members have several years of experience from their time in The Maccabees and Stereophonics. It was a very polished performance and appreciated by most in the Amazon New Music Stage. But I admit I found many of the other bands over the weekend more exciting, but maybe decide for yourself as they will be playing The Prince Albert on Monday 11th September.
KOMEDIA BASEMENT 7:15pm – 7:45pm
Hailing from Hampshire, this 5 piece indie band were a revelation, sounding a little like Radiohead with a touch more shoegaze. The outfit grew up together and became friends over their common love of Pink Floyd, Spiritualized and AIR. They started playing music together and in 2018 they put a name to it. Junodream was born. They play space rock and write about alienation in the 21st century. They certainly wowed the crowd with their songs. Singer Ed Vyvyan has a great voice and the band have been championed by Radio X and BBC Introducing and the single ‘Nobody Wants You’ has had over 6 million hits on Spotify. Their early evening half hour set at Komedia basement went way too quickly and I for one will be at their next Brighton gig.
CHALK 7:30pm – 8:00pm
I’m going to confess to you all that the artist I was most excited about TGE’23 was Chalk. When their name came up on the listings, I amused to myself “wouldn’t it be funny if Chalk were to play live in the Chalk venue”. It seems the Great Escape planners thought so too, as that’s exactly where the Irish three piece post-punk/electronic outfit Chalk are tonight. I had witnessed the Belfast based band playing live yesterday in the Queens Hotel and was blown away. I had to have a second dose, in fact Chalk were the only act I saw twice during the festival. Ross Cullen, Ben Goddard and Luke Niblock met as film students back in 2019 and their debut release ‘Them’ dropped in March 2022 and won Steve Lamacq’s 6 Music Roundtable Record of the Week. Three singles and an EP later and the trio are most definitely up for entertaining the massive crowd in the packed (Chalk) venue. The first thing I notice is that the white lighting and patches of dark act almost as spotlights hunting escapees over the Berlin Wall. This heightens the senses in those present that something special is going to occur. Throughout the half-hour set, there was much use of the Fender Stratocaster, Akai Professional pre-sets, drums with drum pads. The vocal delivery is similar to that of Cal from DITZ and the music is as though they are the new Prodigy! So it’s not surprising that the crowd around me at the front were very enthusiastic indeed…cue mosh! The set was loud, clear and consistent, and for the penultimate number vocalist Ross jumped off the stage to lean over the crowd barrier and deliver his message that way. Chalk had whetted appetites at the Queens Hotel, but tonight they had well and truly arrived. No wonder the venue was so full. Chalk…..a must see band for fans of VLURE, DITZ, The Prodigy and Working Mens Club.
LATEST MUSIC BAR 7:30pm – 8:00pm
Seb Lowe is a singer/songwriter from Saddleworth, which was formerly in Lancashire, but is now in Greater Manchester. From the off, Seb’s music is heavier than I was expecting it to be, but I guess that the Les Paul guitar sitting on its stand should have provided a clue! Apparently Seb doesn’t usually play electric guitar. If that’s the case it’s something that he should do far more often, as the sound of the Les Paul fits the songs beautifully. He has a violinist in the band who is effectively fulfilling the role of a lead guitarist. The lines she plays are often not what you would expect to hear from a violin. In ‘Kill Him’ Seb and the violinist trade solos very effectively. In ‘London Song’ Seb’s vocal delivery is very much rap influenced. ‘Cavalry Man’ is a new single. Seb breaks a string on the Les Paul and switches to acoustic guitar mid-song, whilst the violinist seemingly effortlessly covers the guitar change with an ad-hoc solo. ‘Terms And Conditions’ has a gorgeous descending chord sequence. There’s some wonderful material on display here, with witty and ironic lyrics throughout. Seb plays London’s Courtyard Theatre on 28th September.
REVENGE 7:43pm – 8:13pm
Having seen Jessica Winter wow with her stunning performance at local promoter Love Thy Neighbour’s ‘Ruinfest’ at The Hope & Ruin in September last year, this was one of the first shows on my ‘must see’ list. I wasn’t disappointed. Jessica Winter writes and performs brilliantly original synthpop dance songs with a retro feel, deep basslines and lyrics inspired by personal life experiences. With a lively and humorous stage persona (at one point removing two jackets during the performance to reveal some strategically placed tape), she delivered a thoroughly entertaining set in the surroundings of the Club Revenge where the acoustics were absolutely spot-on this year. The crowd fed off her energy and were dancing from start to finish. One of my absolute favourite sets of TGE2023. You MUST check out her 2022 single ‘Funk This Up’ which is an absolute banger and her deliciously retro sounding 2020 release ‘Sad Music’, the bassline running through the song bearing a passing resemblance to ‘Killer’ by Adamski. Find her music on Spotify and Bandcamp and If you like what you hear, she’s back at The Concorde2 on Thursday 1st June (supporting Jake Shears) – we’ll see you at the front!
(Martin J Fuller)
TOM LUMLEY & THE BRAVE LIAISON
SHORTT’S BAR (ALTERNATIVE ESCAPE) 7:50pm – 8:10pm
I’ve made my way to Shortt’s Bar, where Blinding Talent have put together a promising looking lineup for the Alternative Escape. It’s a small venue, and things are running well behind schedule, so I get to see an extra band who should have finished playing by the time I arrive. Tom Lumley & The Brave Liaison are a four-piece alt rock act from Cambridgeshire. You won’t be surprised to learn that Tom is the frontman, on vocals and guitar, and he’s joined by Jake on lead, Billy on bass, and Jonny on drums. The music is atmospherically moody but with a sense of urgency. I’m reminded a little of Muse, with a hint of Ride. New single ‘Dead’ has picked up some radio play, and gets an airing here as the second number in the set. It has an impressive hook, with guitars chiming over some excellent bass riffing. ‘Better Off’ is introduced as new and unreleased, and moves very nicely indeed, punctuated with some well-placed drum fills, and lively enough for the singer to make a foray into the audience. Final track ‘No Trust’ is livelier still, with delay-drenched lead guitar over some properly grinding bass. I wasn’t expecting to see this band, but I’m glad I did.
VOLKS 8:00pm – 8:30pm
Returning to Volks Bar just twelve months after my first encounter with Alienblaze during last year’s Great Escape Festival, I’m again treated to an intimate and totally satisfying show. Alienblaze, the UK’s 19-year-old singer/songwriter and lead guitarist, is a force to be reckoned with. Her empowering lyrics, gritty and distorted instrumentation and fierce delivery, infuse her sound with a rebellious energy. The stage is dimly lit, occasionally pierced by bursts of red and white lights, adding to the atmospheric allure. Alienblaze stands alone on stage, with digital backing tracks accompanying her, except for the raw vocals and live guitar parts. Seamlessly blending goth, grunge, emo, rock, and electronic elements in tracks like the fantastic ‘Not Yours Never Was’ and irresistible ‘Lovesick’ get the crowd behind her, drawing them into Alienblaze’s world of unapologetic expression. Seeing her command the stage with such confidence and passion at such a young age is truly awe-inspiring. I’m sure this year will be a big one for Alienblaze.
GREEN DOOR STORE 8:15pm – 8:45pm
Spanish band Shanghai Baby were another of the acts playing at this year’s Great Escape new music festival that I knew nothing about. That was until I saw them at the Green Door Store as when they took to the stage I immediately recognised their guitarist as Diego Garcia from The Parrots, a band I’ve seen a few times over the years at TGE and always enjoyed seeing live. The singer in Shanghai Baby is Ade Martin from Hinds, so you could call this a Spanish supergroup of sorts. Their DIY indie sound got the crowd moving and I really enjoyed their set.
SHORTT’S BAR (ALTERNATIVE ESCAPE) 8:20pm – 8:50pm
We’re still well behind schedule for the Blinding Talent showcase at Shortt’s Bar. It’s a pub, and the stage occupies a narrow area between the bar and the beer garden. It has suddenly become very crowded, with people standing on the bench seating to get a better view. Honeybadger, a high-energy grungy rock three-piece from the Brighton area, clearly have their own following, who have followed them here. Eddy is on vocals and guitar, Luca on bass, and Joe on drums, and together they make a noise as ferocious as the notoriously fearless mammal with the same name. The manically fast opening number unleashes a good natured but frankly quite alarming mosh storm, the impact zone seriously constrained by the limited space available. The band crack on with the recent single ‘Cold Wind’, and the chaos continues. Eddy has a hint of the late Kurt Cobain about him, with blonde locks flailing. ‘Change Your Mind’ has a stabbing rhythm and a similarly ludicrous level of intensity. You have to admire the band’s energy. Joe is shirtless behind the kit and Luca is grinding an Explorer-style bass, shaking a shock of curly hair. I’m half expecting some sort of hiatus for a medical emergency, especially when a punter dives off a table into the fray, but fortunately the young people here are as hardy as they are foolhardy. A set in the company of Honeybadger and their friends is certainly a lively experience.
TGE BEACH STAGE 8:30pm – 9:00pm
A few artists (such as Katy J Pearson) are bringing country influences into modern new styles. Nottingham band Divorce combine distinctly country-sounding melodies with fuzzy indie rock. Divorce consists of Tiger Cohen-Towell (vocals and bass) and Felix Mackenzie-Barrow (vocals and guitar), Kasper Sandstrøm (drums) and Adam Peter Smith (guitar). Tiger Cohen-Towell’s soaring vocals contrasted and worked perfectly with searing scuzzy guitar riffs. She also harmonised well with fellow songwriter Felix Mackenzie-Barrow. There was plenty of variety within Divorce’s set. The first song had a stark edge with Tiger shouting out the lyrics, while the second song was relatively softer. During the more up-tempo almost pop numbers towards the end of the set, several people in the audience were bopping along to the music. Appropriately for a band playing on Brighton beach, Divorce dedicated their third song ‘Birds’ to the woman who had her kebab snatched by a seagull earlier that day. There was also a discussion about favourite jacket potato toppings. Singer Tiger cut this chat short with a friendly reminder that they only had a 30-minute set. It’s cheese, beans and more cheese apparently. Divorces’s refreshing unique sound, which cannot (and should not) be lazily labelled, has me as a new fan.
CHALK 8:30pm – 9:00pm
The Lambrini Girls are one of the most exciting and uncompromising live bands around at the moment. They start each gig by immediately demolishing the invisible barrier between band and audience. Tonight is no exception, with vocalist/guitarist Phoebe Lunny throwing her drink over the audience followed by the glass (which is probably actually plastic, but still….). With a couple of deft moves she jumps through the photographers’ pit, planting herself and her mic stand in the audience, therefore claiming her territory for most of the gig. Bassist Lilly Macieira follows Phoebe into the pit but returns to the stage. The rhythm section has to keep things together after all. Meanwhile, Phoebe is nothing if not mobile. At one point she is on the bar. The next she is standing on the hands of the crowd, and hanging from the lighting rig. This is all very well, but the Lambrini Girls have some absolutely killer songs, each of which carries an important message, which needs to be heard. ‘Lads Lads Lads’ for example focuses on toxic masculinity. This presents something of a conundrum: the Lambrini Girls live act is such that they are impossible to ignore, which means that it is easier to get the message of their songs across. However, when they have a short half hour set as they do tonight, the live act can distract attention from those songs. This is perhaps a minor quibble, but the Lambrini Girls need to decide whether they are going to let their live act eclipse their songs, which on occasion it is in danger of doing. Go and see them and make up your own mind. They play at The Lexington in London on the 31st.
VOLKS 9:00pm – 9:30pm
Inspired by pure unadulterated satanic hedonism, you’ve never seen anyone like non-binary Bambie Thug, their demonic look possibly being the most striking of the whole TGE festival. What was presented before us was a full-on set of powerful alternative goth hardcore techno-rock with aggressive-yet-cathartic lyrics and brilliant deep basslines, the large speakers at the Volks pulsating with unfettered energy and rage projected by this performance. The crowd joined in with alacrity on 2021 single ‘P.M.P. (Pussy Money Power)’ and there was much headbanging and moshing throughout the set. Bambie’s latest single ‘Egregore’ was released last month, can be found on Spotify and Bandcamp and provides a great introduction to their music. This artist has previously performed ‘Merry Christmas Baby’ and ‘Necromancy’ on 24th December 2022 live at the BBC Maida Vale studios which demonstrates their versatility, but it could not have been in greater contrast to tonight’s blistering set. Catch her at Download next month!
(Martin J Fuller)
BRIGHTON DOME 9:00pm – 10:10pm
This year’s first spotlight show sees Steyning born Maisie Peters perform a homecoming show at a sold out Brighton Dome. Since her TGE appearance at the Komedia Basement back in 2018, Peters has released one top ten album (‘You Signed Up For This’) and toured the world, with her biggest headline show at Wembley Arena due later this year. Prowling the stage in her oversized bovver boots, Peters is a bundle of energy, pausing only to arch her back in the style of her pop idol, Taylor Swift. The sixteen song set showcases her ear for a good melody – ‘Brooklyn’ is a particular highlight and ‘Psycho’ (co-written with Ed Sheeran) really gets the crowd dancing and singing along. There’s also a handful of tracks from forthcoming second album ‘The Good Witch’ which sees Peters in more reflective mood as she discusses her exes and the ups and downs of her love life. It’s a confident performance which the audience of mainly teenage girls applaud and cheer wildly.
SHORTT’S BAR (ALTERNATIVE ESCAPE) 9:10pm – 9:40pm
I’ve stayed in Shortt’s Bar to see the remaining acts of the Blinding Talent showcase. Next up, later than advertised, are Public Body. Here as a five-piece led by vocalist and guitarist Seb, they produce punky art rock, played at full tilt. The opening number, with the repeated refrain “a present to myself” has such a mesmeric groove it could almost be space rock, with big swoops of synth, but things quickly become more arty and angular. The obvious comparison would be Devo, or the more manic elements of early XTC. I like it, and I’m particularly taken with current single ‘Way, No Way’, its rhythm guitar urgency interrupted by sudden stops and whistle blasts. I get the impression that much of the material is from the forthcoming album ‘Big Mess’, due for release in June. ‘Driven By Data’ certainly is, with synths bubbling over a brisk beat. I’d be interested to hear a longer set by Public Body, and they’ll be at The Hope & Ruin on 13th July.
THE DREAM MACHINE
GREEN DOOR STORE 9:15pm – 9:45pm
One of the hyped bands of The Great Escape festival were Wirral based The Dream Machine, who had the Green Door Store crowd rocking from the very beginning. This 5-piece Merseyside based band looked like they were straight out of Laurel Canyon rather than the north of England. The haircuts and the Hammond Organ gave the band a retro yet modern sound. If you like The Coral or The La’s, then you will probably love this band. I have to say that the sound was way too loud in the venue and the vocals by singer Zak McDonnell were drowned out by the rest of instruments, but still overall I enjoyed the band’s set.
THE LUKA STATE
AMAZON NEW MUSIC STAGE 9:15pm – 9:45pm
The Luka State are fast, tight, punky and tuneful. They are from Winsford, which is between Liverpool and Manchester, and have a logo that declares them to be “the salt of the earth”. Fair enough. Bassist Sam Bell supplies some remarkable powerful backing vocals – he sounds like more than one person! Frontman Conrad Ellis shares lead guitar duties with Lewis Pusey, until Ellis ditches his guitar halfway through the set. Pusey plays with his guitar around his knees. How? It doesn’t look easy. Jimmy Page used to do that too. The band’s material is cut through with a righteous anger. Ellis gets the crowd chanting “f*ck the Tories”, which is possibly quite a brave thing to do at a festival in south-east England. One or two people vocally disagree, but more are chanting. This is a band who mean it maaan. Worth watching out for in the future.
CHALK 9:30pm – 10:00pm
Sheffield’s Adrian Flanagan (aka Acid Klaus) knows that he has a “dour Northern brutalist sense of humour” and for those that can’t grasp this, he comes across as a gobby f*cker! If that’s your conclusion, then he doesn’t really give a toss! So anyone present at an Acid Klaus gig (especially southern softies) will need to take this on board. Historically, Adrian has endured a variety of gruesome dances with the grim reaper, including a smash on the motorway that left him concussed for six months, but that still didn’t stop him taking to the stage as a new born person mere days after coming off life support. Adrian is a songwriter, wordsmith, musician, producer, remixer and DJ and Acid Klaus is his latest baby. The uniquely titled debut album ‘Step On My Travelator: The Imagined Career Trajectory Of Superstar DJ & Dance Pop Producer, Melvin Harris’ could almost be a slab of AK greatest hits! Tonight’s set solely consisted of tracks from this. The live quartet took to the Chalk stage and Adrian immediately cut to the chase “We’re called Acid Klaus and you’re gonna dance if not I will come and plaster ya”. We danced! They then launched straight into ‘Party Sized Away Day’ and ‘Bethlehem Or Bust’ featuring live vocals from Cat Rin, the latter sung in Cat’s native tongue, Welsh. Adrian then tells us that they played The Royal Albert Hall last night and just in case it didn’t sink in, we were told again later in the 30 minute…ish set. Track three (which is an eight on the Richter scale according to Adrian) was the Herbie Hancock vocoder-esque ‘Blow Your Speakers’ which sees Adrian take up the “singing”, but soon hands the duties back to Cat for the funky disco slab titled ‘Crashing Cars In Ibiza’. Adrian returns for ‘Bad Club Bad Drugs’, which provided a comedy moment, as I was very front centre of the audience making gig notes on my phone and Adrain leaps off the stage and runs his hand through my (thankfully newly washed) hair and he sings about paying attention and not being on mobile phones. At the time, he was unaware of what I was up to, he knows now! He then hands over vocals to the other female on stage (Philly Piper) for ‘Elevate’. The amusingly titled ‘I Used To Be A DJ In A Club (But Now I’m Just A DJ In My Bedroom)’ was dropped next, and that was it as far as the sound tec’s were concerned, but Adrian was having none of it and on to the stage ran Lieselot Elzinga dressed as a larger than like Marilyn Munroe for ‘Nightclub Marilyn’. This was an absolutely brilliant performance and Acid Klaus are a “must have” on any decent festival bookers wishlist.
CONCORDE 2 9:30pm – 10:00pm
With a fully packed audience at Concorde 2 fiercely anticipating Unknown T’s arrival, his right hand man and DJ warmed up the crowd in no time at all. After ten or so minutes of beats, audience interaction and excited chatter from the crowd, Unknown T was finally introduced and made his appearance on stage. The London-born rapper cruised through his opening tracks, only veering from the lyrics to tease the crowd with the hook to his most famous song to date, 2018 drill anthem ‘Homerton B’ with over 58,000,000 streams on Spotify. The fierce passion of both Unknown T and his fan base was palpable in the room that night, both demonstrating and celebrating a true bond between the artist and the listener.
WILL AND THE PEOPLE
THE MESMERIST 9:30pm – 10:00pm (Unofficial Escape ‘Smithereen Takeover’)
Worthing’s own Will And The People formed over 15 years ago and is the ever-shifting brainchild of Will Rendle. Their music stems from a unique blend of the sounds of reggae and ska music, as well as the infectious pop and rock melodies of 2000’s bands like The Libertines. Their last album ‘Past The Point Of No Return’ was released back in November of 2021. This group see themselves third-to-last amidst a 12-band line-up in The Alternative Escape. Unfortunately missing drummer Charlie Harman in this show, 3/4’s of the band are still here, with Jamie Rendle and Jim Ralphs joining Will on guitar and keys respectively. WATP’s set proved to win over the crowd whether they were die-hard fans like myself, Great Escape attendees or those simply out for a drink. Recent additions to Will’s catalogue like ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Somebody Else’s Baby’ garnered some truly memorable sing-a-longs for the crowd, not to mention the half-drunk Will reaching out into the sardine-packed audience. The true highlight of the night lies in their all-time classic ‘Lion In The Morning Sun’, with a strong reggae influence and shifting rhythm grooves. Interspersed with melodies from ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ (how fitting…!), Will spends most of his time on this song dancing atop the speakers and jumping into the crowd! This show proves above everything else that after so many years spearheading this band, Will continues to be an absolute powerhouse of a musician, persistently winning over new fans!
(Christian Le Surf)
REVENGE 9:45pm – 10:30pm
Massively undersold by their billing notes, 20 year old London based non-binary Jazmin Bean (Jasmine Adams) and their two bandmates gave a scintillating performance of original electro pop-rock and harder edged alt rock/metal which the crowd lapped up from start to finish. For sure they have the striking make-up looks as described on the app bio which is clearly influenced by Japanese pop culture amongst other things, with the drummer and guitarist both looking striking in long dolls dresses too, but the music was the undoubted star of the show. The tracks vary in tempo, some starting off slowly then literally burst into life, switching up and down in the blink of an eye. My two pals who had a day ticket said it was their favourite show and it was definitely right up there for me too. Available across all online platforms, their single ‘Hello Kitty’ has racked up over 33 million Spotify plays and the YouTube video for ‘Saccharine’ has received a jaw-dropping 62 million plays. Jazmin Bean have a huge online and social following so they are not difficult to track down and will grace a far bigger stage next month at the Download Festival, Castle Donington on the way to much greater things.
(Martin J Fuller)
CHARLES STREET TAP 10:00pm – 10:30pm
I must declare an interest straightaway, following an awesome performance at the Green Door Store back in March, Heartworms are my current favourite new band (along with Panic Shack). Heartworms is the creation of singer Jojo Orme, but expands to a full band for live performances. Post Punk is now an overused term but perfectly describes Heartworms musical indebtedness to first album Banshees, Bauhaus and Joy Division. A more recent comparison would be the sorely missed Savages, a band on a seemingly permanent hiatus. Back to Heartworms, tonight’s performance was hampered by a guitar amp with a loose connection that eventually required a sound technician to stand on stage holding the power cable in. Despite this the band showed grace under pressure with Jojo’s vocals switching between breathy intensity to fiery bursts of screaming. A packed house lapped it up and would have had an encore had it been allowed. Ending the review on a fashion tip, kudos to Jojo for wearing a 1977 Seditionaries Westwood/McLaren parachute top – another thing on top of the music that took me back to my long lost youth!
RISKEE & THE RIDICULE
SHORTT’S BAR (ALTERNATIVE ESCAPE) 10:00pm -10:30pm
We’ve stayed at the Blinding Talent showcase in Shortt’s Bar, and I can’t quite believe that I’m about to see Riskee & The Ridicule in a small pub. The Ashford grime-punk five-piece are proud adherents to the DIY route, and have produced four well-received albums and a slew of killer singles. The relatively gentle introduction of ‘Our Time’ is soon pierced by thunderous stabs, and charismatic frontman Scott is spitting out a stream of rapidly rapped lyrics. Matt on drums and Max on bass provide the low end grunt, while Jimbo and Jordan on guitars pitch in with screamed backing vocals. Scott’s Fred Perry jacket is quickly discarded, revealing a white vest and an impressive gallery of body art, and urgent rhythm guitar launches the awesome ‘Banger’. The whole place is bouncing. New single ‘My Name’ holds its own amongst the back catalogue favourites with a big chanted refrain, but things really move up a gear with ‘Kaboom!’ I’m standing on a bench punching the air, doubtless with an insane grin on my face. There’s a change of pace and mood with ‘In The Dark’, which seems to give the audience a pause for reflection. “You’re quiet because you’re listening,” Scott concludes. “You’re listening to real f*cking punk music!” Things quickly liven up again with the punchy ‘Accelerate’, but time is not on our side and there’s only time for one more song. A quick poll of the crowd, using a variation on the “Opportunity Knocks” clapometer, selects the snarling ballad ‘Molotov Cocktails’ to wrap up one of my personal highlights of the Alternative Escape.
GREEN DOOR STORE 10:15pm – 10:45pm
This is the first time I’ve seen Brighton band Slant live and probably the last as I bumped into joint lead vocalist of the band, Katy Smith, the next evening and she told me that the band had split. This is a real shame as I had enjoyed their synth heavy set. The strangest part of the performance was a guy in the audience holding up a sign saying, “Katy Please Be In My Band”, he was invited on stage where he continued to hold the sign above his head while swaying gently to the music. Perhaps he caused the band to split, who knows, but it was quite surreal. I did enjoy their music and they reminded me in parts of a beefed up B52s.
THE MURDER CAPITAL
AMAZON NEW MUSIC STAGE 10:15pm – 11:00pm
The Murder Capital are arguably the de facto headliners of this weekend’s festival. They begin as they mean to go on with a positively explosive opening with For Everything. By the second song ‘More Is Less’ vocalist James McGovern is already on the barrier. The songs from the new album Gigi’s Recovery are noticeably more complex than their older songs, but the band’s collective musicianship is more than sufficient to cope with that. In performance they are tight and energetic. They give the impression of being on a quest together. They appear combative onstage, especially bassist Gabriel Blake, but having met them at their in-store show at Brighton’s Resident Records, I can confirm that they are absolutely not like that. A mosh pit develops towards the end of the set, and vocalist McGovern is in the crowd. The Murder Capital are one of the best live bands around at the moment, by a country mile.
THE OLD MARKET 10:15pm – 11:00pm
I’m not sure when the last time rock music Royalty descended upon The Great Escape but tonight they certainly did! Getting in the lengthy queue nice and early meant we could see Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders up close and personal at The Old Market in Hove. Chrissie arrived on stage at The Old Market at 22:15 wearing trademark black eyeliner, a black t-shirt, waistcoat and blue jeans with her Fender Telecaster strapped over her shoulder, and the crowd went wild. She was joined on stage by James Walbourne (guitar), Kris Sonne (drums) and Dave Page (bass). They ran through a bunch of new numbers launching the album ‘Relentless’, which will be The Pretenders’ fourteenth studio album. It will be released via Parlophone on 1st September. Tonight’s performance marks the start of a very special run of exclusive club dates across some of the UK and Ireland’s most intimate venues, that certainly will thrill their fans including those devotees in attendance this evening! The band then ramped up the noise by delivering some old favourites: ‘Back On The Chain Gang’, ‘Stop Your Sobbing’, ‘Cuban Slide’ and finally ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’ to the delight of her fans. As Chrissie left the stage she thanked fans saying: “Thank you very much. We don’t wanna go!”. The Pretenders will be playing in Hyde Park later this year so to see them here in a crowd of 500 was an honour indeed.
TGE BEACH STAGE 10:30pm – 11.00pm
The Brighton & Hove News meticulously plan which artists to check out at The Great Escape each year and when each new batch of unknown and up-and-coming acts are announced, we dig deeper and find out about each of them. Fat Dog could so easily have been omitted off of our list and never found their way onto our radar, if we had just read their biog on TGE website, which was probably the shortest of the lot, it simply read “Music to grow your hairline back to” which could have meant anything. I dug deeper and noted the strange German Shepherd dog mask, which still didn’t endear them to me. But then I heard some of their material and the decision was immediately made, a “must see act”!. So here I am on Brighton Beach and the relatively high stage is awash with a Vintage bass guitar, Korg keys, Novation keys, laptop, drums, sax and a guitar. A countdown begins over the PA…30 seconds…15 seconds…10 seconds…5 seconds and then bang, they are off with a drumroll. I can see that the drummer is wearing the dog mask, so that’s where that’s come from and the combined vibes of reggae, ska, punk and rave are heard by my ears. The sax becomes prominent on the second number and I finally give in and put my earplugs in as it’s so loud. Things are hotting up and each tune is getting faster and more frenetic and moshpits appear and then the singer leaps off the stage and joins us and stays put, much to the security guards dismay, who has orders to look after him, he doesn’t want the guard there, but he stays anyway. There was no need for him to be there as everyone was having a fab time to the music. The set had morphed into hardcore techno territory, but to me it was full on old school Dutch Gabba, like the legendary ‘I Wanna Be A Hippy’ tune. My poor tired body had a mind of its own and I merrily bopped away at 100mph! This was simply euphoric! No wonder they have been selected to play the Reading and Leeds Festivals. They were truly BRILLIANT!. “Music to grow your hairline back to.”
CHALK 10:30pm – 11:15pm
Brighton’s own Yonaka consists of Theresa Jarvis – vocals, George Edwards – guitar, Alex Crosby – bass and Robert Mason – drums. Not new to the scene, Yonaka have been on the circuit for nigh on 10 years and have built a solid fan-base – regulars on the festival scene and securing some great support slots. But it’s really since their lockdown release of ‘Seize The Power’ that they appear to have come into their own. Yonaka have always been difficult to pigeonhole into a genre and that’s even more evident now, with musical influences almost overflowing from song to song. It’s predominantly rock, but with punk, hip-hop and electronica all meshed together – definitely no bad thing. Driving guitar riffs and diverse vocals top off a truly exciting offering. They are a tight-knit band who know how to put on a show – it’s confident, edgy and slick. Tonight’s performance definitely lifts both the band and audience into a high gear.
THE PRINCE ALBERT 11:30pm – 12:00am
Militarie Gun is an American punk band from Los Angeles formed in 2020 by vocalist Ian Shelton as a solo project during COVID. After a favourable public response to early releases Shelton expanded the project to include Nick Cogan (on loan from Drug Church) and William Acuña on guitar, Max Epstein on bass, and Vince Nguyen on drums. Whilst Shelton’s previous bands played straight up hardcore punk, Militarie Gun call to mind early Faith No More (‘We Care A Lot’ era) and an American take on the Madchester indie sound – both bass driven funk rock styles. The Albert had a (very) full house for tonight’s performance with an excited air of expectancy hanging heavily. As soon as the band started their set a moshpit appeared, with limbs flying and the odd crowd surfer cropping up. The band did not disappoint, rattling through their set at breakneck speed with no room for chat between songs. During moments without lyrics, Shelton utters a husky “oof oof” grunt somewhere between a monkey and a dog barking at an intruder. After what seemed a very short 30 minutes the band were gone with no goodbyes said but great memories of a brilliant set.
PALE BLUE EYES
HORATIOS 11:30pm – 12:00am
Pale Blue Eyes hail partially from Sheffield, and partially from Totnes in Devon. So they embody an entente cordiale against any perceived north-south divide. Their music is very post-punk. There are extremely strong hints of both Joy Division and New Order, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Many of the songs have a fabulous motorik groove, and all four of the band are completely in the moment when they hit that groove. It’s wonderful to see a band who clearly love what they do so much! Singer and guitarist Matt is clearly at least a little bit influenced by Kevin Shields, but doesn’t threaten his audience’s hearing quite so much. This is the second time that I’ve seen Pale Blue Eyes since I saw them supporting Goat in London last month, and if anything they’re better than before, and they were good then! There are plenty of opportunities to see them coming up: they play the ‘Seaview Festival’ in Bexhill-on-Sea on 8th July, the ‘Visions Festival’ in Hackney on 22nd July, and Shoreditch Village Underground on 16th November. Come on – you just have to love a band named after a Velvet Underground song!
CHALK 12:00am – 12:30am (Saturday morning)
Some of our team have made our way into Chalk for the later acts of Friday’s schedule. First up are Dream Wife, who formed whilst at college in Brighton. The story goes that they created a made-up band for an art project, but it was so good they carried it on for real. They certainly are a formidable live unit, and I’m totally hooked before the end of bouncy opener ‘Hey Heartbreaker!’ There’s a strong feminist message to the lyrics, and their delivery is equally robust. Lead vocalist Rakel, originally from Iceland likes to get in the face of fellow players Alice on guitar and Bella on bass. Both are supremely adept musicians, and Bella, who is non-binary, exhibits a breathtaking athleticism to maintain a solid groove whilst firing off high leg-kicks and pirouetting on the other foot. Behind the kit, drummer Alex provides a brisk and powerful beat. Rakel elaborates on the band’s message between numbers, asserting that gender is a construct that needs to be torn apart. “To be a bad bitch, all you need to do is support your fellow bad bitches.” This introduces ‘Somebody’, with its insistent chant of “I am not my body, I am somebody.”. Best of all is final number ‘F.U.U.’, with guitarist Alice making a foray into the crowd during an extended intro, showboating with super-fast double-handed tapping. The song builds to a huge crescendo, and I think I’ve probably just witnessed one of the standout performances of the festival.
LATEST MUSIC BAR 12:30am – 1:00am (Saturday morning)
A bit of a lucky dip for me and two members of our music team as we sought to find a post-midnight act to keep the entertainment going, so we headed to the Latest Music Bar which was the nearest venue. It was a stroke of good fortune as we happened upon talented 20 year old singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Cam Kahin and his three bandmates who had come all the way from Montreal in Canada for this one show at the festival. Surprisingly the venue was only a third full, so clearly word hadn’t got around about how good these guys actually are. We were treated to a half hour of well written and energetically performed alt rock compositions that tackle thorny subjects such as mental health and addiction. Pick of the set were the tracks ‘What Are You Waiting For’ with its slightly distorted guitar riffs and ‘Nicotine’ which was heavy, almost borderline metal with great breaks and tempo changes. The set closed out with ‘Skeleton Song’ a slower tempo more reflective track which is the last song of his EP ‘Birds’ released in March of this year. A genuine TGE discovery who we wouldn’t hesitate to see again.
(Martin J Fuller)
CHALK 1:00am – 1:30am (Saturday morning)
It’s been a long and tiring day, but there’s no way I’m going to miss Hastings’ own HotWax playing to a packed house in Chalk. Fêted by the music press whilst still of relatively tender years, you’d think this level of show might be a daunting prospect, but the band rightly have confidence in their own abilities and artistic vision, and approach the task with the insouciance of veteran performers. Their grungy guitar sound defies easy categorisation, and opener ‘High Tea’ is a stunningly creative piece that moves through various phases, from vocalist and guitarist Tallulah’s screaming thrash, to more delicate sections floating on Lola’s lilting basslines, to an explosive break from drummer Alfie. The strongly riffed ‘When We’re Dead’ similarity alternates power and beauty, the transitions underlined by stunningly fast triplet rolls, and there’s a roar of approval from the appreciative audience. Recent single ‘Treasure’ motors along at a fair lick too. The band members look and sound right at home on a big stage, as somehow we always knew they would. They are absolutely smashing it, and getting a great reception from the packed crowd. There’s newer material and some familiar favourites as the set progresses. I love the waltzy feel of ‘A Thousand Times’ and the gorgeous bass on the garagey ‘Barbie (Not Your)’. Final number ‘Rip It Out’ is awesomely powerful, and there’s a cheeky false ending to top off what has been supremely assured performance of quality material.
CHARLES STREET TAP 1:00am – 1:30am (Saturday morning)
Three of our intrepid team, myself included, headed for our final performance of Friday (technically Saturday) upstairs at the Charles Street Tap, a venue I hadn’t set foot in since it was ‘The Hungry Years’ which was synonymous with heavy metal years ago. It now has a clubby vibe with raised DJ stage, mirrored walls and glass bricks so it provided the perfect setting for Walthamstow native and techno diva Rose Gray to blow us away with a pulsating set of hi-energy dance bangers with the added enhancement of some samples, live drums and electric guitar. Standout tracks included ‘Ecstasy’ and ‘Prettier Than You’ which both have a distinctly 90’s feel and come from Rose’s latest EP which was released on February 1st entitled ‘Higher Than The Sun’. Other tunes were palpably inspired by the underground scene. Bold enough to cover Donna Summer and Dee-Lite, this is a girl who exudes party vibes from her every pore. Dry ice shrouded the stage completely on a couple of occasions but it only added to the atmosphere in the sweltering club with Rose throwing some great shapes and the crowd reciprocating. I loved the uplifting nature of this performance, the world definitely needs more dancefloor fillers. Appearances on large festival stages beckon this summer.
(Martin J Fuller)
CHALK 2:00am – 2:30am (Saturday morning)
There’s a warm reception from the Chalk crowd as Deadletter take the stage at the very rock’n’roll hour of 2am. They are a six-piece originally from Yorkshire, and I very much enjoyed their set on the MVT Stage on Thursday afternoon. Inhabiting the more angular and agit-pop end of the post-punk spectrum, they are clearly on the way up. ‘Hero’ provides a vibey opening, with throbbing bass from George, accompanied by oscillating tremolo and wailing lead from guitarists Will and James. Drummer Alfie lays down an infectiously shuffling beat for the bass-led groove of new single ‘The Snitching Hour’, which has picked up a lot of radio play. Poppy is on sax and charismatic frontman Zac is dancing manically. Band and crowd all join in for the chanted “Love thy neighbour” refrain. “Good morning Brighton!” quips Zac, addressing the audience. “Brighton early!” His linen jacket with no shirt gives him the look of a younger Iggy Pop, an impression cemented as the jacket is discarded. There’s some new material to introduce, with the jolting rhythm of ‘Time Flies’ emphasised by sax honks. “It’s story time, gather round,” invites Zac, who’s down on the barrier for ‘Deus Ex’, another newer number that alternates moody atmospherics with manic intensity. There isn’t quite the mass take-up of the ‘Fit For Work’ chant that I expected, but I suspect many of the crowd might be hearing it for the first time. It picks up as everyone gets the idea. ‘Binge’ is an astonishingly catchy previous single, and of course there’s Zac’s trademark foray into the crowd for the sublimely foreboding set closer ‘Zeitgeist’, which is a magnificent conclusion to an impressive set and an enjoyable day. Time for bed.
The Great Escape will be returning to Brighton on Thursday 16th to Saturday 18th May 2024. Purchase your tickets HERE.
Nick Linazasoro, Martin J Fuller, Richie Nice, John Bownas, Sara-Louise Bowrey, Cris Watkins, Mark Kelly, Peter Greenfield, Richard Warran, Phil Newton, Stephen Willcox, Emma Austin, Teddy Webb, David McLean, David McMaster, Cherie Elody, Christian Le Surf, Michael Hundertmark, Moe Noble, Mike Burnell