Great Escape 2013: Mary’s Day 3 Evening Roundup

By on Tuesday, 4th June 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

I’ve now done SXSW, Sound City and the Great Escape all in the same year, in both 2012 and 2013. Each comes with its own perks and challenges, but I think the one underlying thing that ties all three of these events together is the mental exhaustion, on top of the physical you already put your body through. Admittedly, I knew John and I had to leave the flat at 7 in the morning on Sunday to catch our trains to go back north (Sheffield for me, Lincoln for John), so that terrible thought weighed heavily on my mind while I tried to sort just how exactly I was going to work my Saturday night. Before I’d left America, I had grand plans to crisscross Brighton up and down on the final evening, but by the time I’d actually reached day 3 (and over two weeks in Britain), my mind was saying no way to that.

After getting shut out of the Zanzibar a fortnight earlier in Liverpool during Sound City, I made the conscious choice and made good on my promise to Matthew Healy of the 1975 that we would cover them at one of the two festivals in May. Directly before them on the CMJ-sponsored showcase bill at the Paganini Ballroom at the Old Ship Hotel were China Rats, who I’d seen at SXSW 2013 at the PRS for Music / Kilimanjaro showcase on Friday night with the Ruen Brothers and the Crookes, and Young Kato, who I’d written a Bands to Watch piece on last summer but had not seen live yet.

It sounds a bit textbook and far too easy to decide to stay in one place for nearly an entire evening, but it turned out to be the right decision in the long run for me, because as John described in his Saturday report, the place was later oversubscribed and full up with people that probably should not have been let in. This was pretty annoying, since I as editor was the one to make sure John was on the press guestlist for the Paginini Ballroom and I know it wasn’t the press office’s fault either. To be honest, I still feel very bad about John missing the 1975, because I’d seen them twice before and John still hadn’t. I offered to give up my spot and told John to tell the bouncer I was coming down if it meant he could come back up, but like the professional he is, John said no and decided to head up to the Dome to catch the fuss surrounding Bastille instead.

China Rats Great Escape live

I don’t know if they were feeling especially confident, or because it wasn’t so hot, or it had to do with playing in England. But China Rats looked and sounded 100x better in Brighton than they did in Austin. It wasn’t even the crowd so much that lent to this atmosphere; as you can probably guess, most people who had arrived early were primarily there to stake their places for the 1975, who were to be followed closely behind with late night programming of Tribes. No, there was just something about them that when they played, you could tell they meant business. ‘Nip It in the Bud’ was loud, raucous and just pure fun. The “ai yi yi yis” of ‘To Be Like I’ reminded of the early Beatles, and in an entirely good way.

Young Kato Great Escape live

Cheltenham sextet Young Kato look primed for Radio 1 exposure. Talking to other punters, I’m pretty sure no-one there had any idea who they were, so I knew they had their work cut out for them. To be honest, I was a little worried; they are all so young, how are they going to take it if the audience doesn’t like them? I shouldn’t have worried. Their single from last summer, ‘Drink, Dance, Play’, has a tribal beat-themed second half; it’s like they took the best bits of Bastille and put it into an indie pop song, which can only be a good thing, and the crowd just ate it up.

The anthemic ‘Lights’ is another great singalong, I’m seriously wondering why they haven’t been picked up for more airplay. I thought for such a young band, they sound remarkably polished and it was nice validation after hearing them on recording and writing a feature on them to discover that they’re excellent live. After watching them, I silently thanked myself for choosing the Paganini Ballroom for that night.

And then came the piece de resistance for the night, who everyone was waiting for, the 1975. Oh my. I already knew I was going to enjoy this, but I didn’t know how much I was going to enjoy it. They only played seven songs, but they had so much energy and the crowd assembled was so ready for this, there was only one way this could go: all the way up. The crowd jumped up and down to the infectious beats and you could feel the room literally shifting from side to side from all the bodies bouncing. I didn’t expect him to but Matt Healy did see me down the front during ‘Girls’ and smiled widely at me. He knew this performance was huge and they were having the times of their lives playing this grand ballroom. I’m sure it’s a moment they will always remember, and I was glad that I’d made a special effort to be there.

The 1975 Great Escape live

The only blemish was towards the end, when I felt a sudden breeze behind me. That’s not right; the ballroom is rammed and there was a massive wall of people behind me. What’s going on? I looked back to see that a circle of people had parted and backed off while two blokes, probably heavily intoxicated, were going at it with each other. Bouncers quickly got involved and it was clear both men were hot-headed, one of them giving the bouncer that was holding him a murderous look. Whoa. My first experience with violence at the Great Escape, and luckily, it looked like no one was seriously injured. It was a good thing it was over soon after that, as the crowd dispersed quickly once their set was over and I think everyone in there needed some air.

The City
Head.Cars.Bending
Milk
Chocolate
Girls
Sex
You and I

My last port of call for the Great Escape 2013 was to be all the way up the hill back towards the train station. I knew there was no way in hell I’d be able to leg it quickly enough to catch Teleman‘s set, so I flagged down a taxi driver to take me. Unfortunately I must have wasted at least 10 minutes yelling at the taxi driver because at first he refused to take me (grrrr). There was a taxi van in front of him, but it was full of a band’s gear and with my patience being tried, as nicely as I could I explained that the van was currently not in service. Finally, he let me in and drove me to the Green Door Store.

Then began the most infuriating moment for me at this year’s festival. I was desperate to see Teleman so I’d requested guestlist for the venue, figuring I’d have a better shot at this venue than some of the others. I get to security and tell the bloke there I’m on the press guestlist, and he decides to give me lip, claiming there is no guestlist. I hadn’t come all that way up to the Green Door Store to be denied entry. I insisted that I was on the guest list, I was press, and that was legitimately supposed to be there. Finally, he decides to pull out a ripped piece of paper out of his pocket, looks my name up, and what do you know, I’m on there and suddenly I’m allowed in. ::facepalm::

Not that this really did much good. Through the arguing with the taxi driver and the bouncer, I’d missed the first half of the set, and there was so much pushing and shoving inside the venue, I couldn’t get any closer to the stage than the brick archway leading into the main room. A funny moment was hearing someone say to their girlfriend, “can we get any closer?” and to turn and see it was Stephen Black of Sweet Baboo saying it; he’d played that same stage earlier in the evening We had a brief moment to say hello, so that was unexpected and nice.

I wasn’t a fan of all the pushing, especially from the very tall men with pints in their hands, obviously not caring that the group of girls I was with, all much shorter and unable to see anything, would have appreciated some graciousness. Occasionally, when punters would leave the main room and come back out through the archway, I could see the outlines of Tommy Sanders and band briefly. I could hear the notes of ‘Cristina’ but couldn’t really enjoy it. I recalled 2 years ago when I’d seen Pete and the Pirates up close in Islington’s Buffalo Bar a week before my birthday. One day, Teleman, I’ll see you up close and personal too. Just you wait.

The next morning, somehow John and I got out of our respective beds. I remember fighting my suitcase to get it shut so we could leave Brighton on time and make our connections in London. I nearly forgot my purse on the kitchen table. (Thank god we hadn’t dropped the keys through the letter slot yet.) But the Great Escape and our time in Brighton was over, and for me, it was time to switch gears…to be reunited with friends in Sheffield.

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5 Responses

[…] I was disappointed that I couldn’t see nor hear Teleman very well at this year’s Great Escape, I’m pleased to announce they’ve got a new video for their new single ‘Steam […]

[…] My full coverage of the night can be read here. […]

[…] on their first trip to Austin. Fast forward 2 months to Brighton and the Great Escape 2013, where the band played to a rammed Old Ship Paginini Ballroom on Saturday night: the more jaded journalists might say that they were playing to a captive audience who arrived […]

[…] the fast forward button. On the closing night of the Great Escape 2013 back in mid-May, Young Kato played a rammed Old Ship Paganini Ballroom, just prior to the 1975. This was the first time I got to see the energetic sextet perform, and I […]

[…] glad I made the commitment to see them 2 months later at the Great Escape 2013, because what a difference 2 months made for them. Maybe it was the not suffering from jetlag and […]

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