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Deer Shed Festival 2018: Saturday Roundup

 
By on Monday, 6th August 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Most years at Deer Shed, it’s possible to detect a secret theme influencing the band selection. We’ve had lady bands, we’ve had Celtic, and following on from Leeds’ Mush yesterday, this year we have a plethora of Northern English bands: Yorkshire’s North and West, Wearside, and Tyneside are all represented. From this fact, combined with the utter off-the-scale brilliance of how Saturday would pan out, we can deduce that that region of the UK is producing some of the country’s, if not the world’s, finest bands.

An embryonic SLUG were at Deer Shed 2015, but this year sees Ian Black’s outfit demonstrating how far we’ve all come since then. His backing band aren’t Field Music any more, for instance, but rather a bunch of chaps dressed up as a barbershop quartet for some odd reason. They’re promoting second album ‘Higgledypiggledy’, which continues in the same obscurantist funk vein as their first. Ian Black is wearing a nun’s habit, making him a rather unlikely spectacle, but there’s nothing sacred about the sinful Devil’s music they’re knocking out. Oldies like ‘Cockeyed Rabbit’ and ‘Greasy Mind’ are now familiar sing-alongs, and when it all crescendos with a young chap plucked from the crowd to knock out a casual solo on Black’s guitar there’s the realisation that, rather than just an offshoot from the Sunderland scene, SLUG are rapidly redefining it.

SLUG-Deer Shed 2018 Saturday

Boy Azooga are the first of today’s brace of Heavenly signings and play the majority of their début ‘1, 2, Kung Fu!’ Main man Davey Newington is on bass, gazing zen-like from the stage, as his band alternately knock out laid-back melodies on ‘Jerry’, urgent riffs on ‘Loner Boogie’, and psych-tinged mellotron lines on ‘Face Behind Her Cigarette’. Seemingly appearing from nowhere to be the band on everyone’s lips right this second, Welsh act Boy Azooga manage to be indefinable and familiar; retro yet of the zeitgeist; a melting pot, yet unique. Quite some achievement, and an astute booking.

Boy Azooga-Deer Shed 2018 Saturday

Remember that feeling you get when stuck in traffic? Even when there’s no particular deadline, the tension rises, tempers fray, radiators overheat. AK/DK arrive from Blue Dot Festival with literally no minutes to spare, and the ensuing breathtaking display of groove-led mentalism surely is thanks in no small part to the traffic-related adrenaline coursing through their systems.

AK/DK Deer Shed 2018 Saturday

‘Morphology’ is a song perfect for the moment: a driving synth line and keening, distorted samples, all pushed along by AK/DK’s double drum kit attack, creates a febrile atmosphere, the audience expressing their relief and release that the band finally made it. And they are repaid by banger after banger. There’s sweat everywhere, both on stage and off, the drums are whacked with ever increasing ferocity (there’s big chunks out of the edge of one of the cymbals), the analogue sequencer in the background ticks its clock-face LEDs in metronomic rhythm, an electronic heart propelling ecstatic human souls. Exhausting, exhilarating, exponential.

Let’s revisit 2013, shall we? A little corner of the internet (yes, it was us) was insistent that an obscure band of 15-year-olds from Halifax could well be the next big thing. How did we put it? “If they’re this good this young, how good will they be in a few years time?” Now we know the answer. The Orielles are extremely good indeed. There’s some shoegaze in their sound, maybe a bit of Sleeper in Esme Hand-Halford’s lazily-enunciated vocals, walls of chorused guitar, and little synthy details atop like hundreds and thousands. The songs are expertly arranged, the faux-naïve component parts slotting together to create weird yet accessible garage nuggets.

The Orielles-Deer Shed 2018 Saturday

‘Old Stuff, New Glass’ is enhanced with bongos and yelps all over the place, ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’ opens with a Beatles-esque contrapuntal dance between keys and bass, continues into a pogoing off-beat middle section, and goes properly berserk towards the end of its eight eventful minutes. Henry Wade is growing into a proper guitar anti-hero in the vein of Graham Coxon, his on-stage persona is a masterclass in deadpan humour. It bears saying again: “If they’re this good this young, how good will they be in a few years time?”

Just when you think it’s safe to assume you’ve seen the performance of the day, along come Avalanche Party. Their own description is “feral garage-punk from the Yorkshire Moors”, which is a difficult description to disagree with, except inasmuch as it doesn’t really go far enough. If this is punk, it’s space-age, widescreen, conceptual, melodic punk. If it’s garage, this one is packed to the gills with cans of petrol with the lids off, a V8 motor rumbling in the corner, one discarded cigarette end away from catastrophe, the air heavy with the scent of fear.

Avalanche Party-Deer Shed 2018 Saturday

Recent single ‘I’m So Wet’ is a lazy, sexy groove, something Serge Gainsbourg might fantasise about, before running away in terror at the multi-layered screaming crescendo. ‘Solid Gold’ just kicks off and never lets up the pressure for a second. The climax of ‘Revolution’ is a triumph of four-to-the-floor heavy riffing, bare-chested Jordan Bell screaming as if his life depended on it. Like the ritual sacrifice of a lamb atop a heather-strewn heath, Avalanche Party are raw, visceral, glamorous, dangerous, sweaty, bloody and unforgettable.

Phew. Like the best underground scenester venue, Deer Shed has just treated us to a masterclass in superlative new music: five brilliant acts hot off the press, the world at their feet. Things have to calm down at some point, and it takes the folky, downtempo acoustica of This Is The Kit to do so. Warm Digits (below) are the second brilliant electronica band of the day, and with the appearance of Field Music’s Peter Brewis are a great example of what beauty happens when Newcastle and Sunderland put aside their rivalries for just a little while.

Warm Digits-Deer Shed 2018 Saturday

Gaz Coombes (below) is his usual superb self, retro and zeitgeist wrapped into one man, and Goldfrapp were the big name with the big show. Some controversial souls found themselves preferring another dose of Hyde Park Brass. Truth be told, for this reviewer the undercard had completely walloped the headliners into semi-irrelevance. What a Saturday.

SLUG-Deer Shed 2018 01 Saturday-2190

 

Deer Shed Festival 2018: Friday Roundup

 
By on Monday, 30th July 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

No sooner had we arrived on site at Deer Shed 9, son one, having attended a Deer Shed every one of his 7 years, declared he had his first wobbly tooth. And so we add another ‘first’ to the many that Deer Shed has provided over the years. Every parent will share the excitement tinged with a pang of sadness that this momentous moment brings. It represents the end of the first stage of childhood. With the arrival of the new denticulus, they will never again look the same. Yet no parent would wish their offspring to remain permanently young. To fulfill their potential, they must grow up. One’s only wish is that they retain what makes them truly themselves as they do so.

As it turned out, exactly the same sentiments could be held about Deer Shed’s growth in 2018. Instead of a new tooth, they have a new field: what luck that a second natural amphitheatre exists to the north of the site, and many an experienced Deer Shedder was to be found wandering around confusedly in the vicinity of where the main stage, big top and helter-skelter used to be, it slowly dawning that that silver edifice in the distance near the car park was, in fact, the newly-relocated main stage.

Sadly, that meant a number of dearly-held Deer Shed locales simply ceased to be. The Obelisk tent and its associated gate is no more, perhaps due to its rather exuberant dampness in the rain last year. Those of us who tend to camp on that side of the festival had a lot further to walk to get to the main stage. And there was no point in strolling alongside the lake, because there was no access to the festival that way, either. There was a lot more fencing directing people hither and yon, whereas previously the arena was just one big circle and you could pretty much go where you pleased. The reward for such palaver was a 25% increase in space for the same number of people.

So. We mourn the loss of Deer Shed’s baby teeth…. Done. Let’s see what their new gnashers are made of.

Hyde Park Brass are first up, and also almost the last. They’re intertwined around this year’s festival like ivy around a tree. Here they were in the tiny pallet stage, and slightly more subdued than they would be on latter days. Pop brass is becoming more of a thing these days, and HPB remind me a fair bit of the incredible Riot Jazz Brass Band of Kendal Calling fame. Every good brass ensemble needs a festival residency, and these guys are no exception.

If you close your eyes – and forget they’re from Leeds – Mush are Lou Reed fronting Pavement. Their 10-minute epic ‘Alternative Facts’ has a slacker undertow with punky icing, and when lead singer Dan’s not speaking in tongues, he’s all wry humour and casual delivery. Single ‘Comment Section Creeps’, of which a limited edition 7” is sadly sold out, is a cutting social commentary on the dehumanising liberty of posting on the internet anonymously. Probably.

Mush Deer Shed 2018 01 Friday (landscape)-1597

whenyoung are a trio from Dublin whose uptempo 3-minute pop nuggets hint at the time just before Britpop became a dirty word, yet shot through with a slew of Edge-isms in the guitar work. ‘Heaven on Earth’ has a boxy, chorused tone evoking U2’s earliest, New-Wave influenced work, and ‘Pretty Pure’ has the classic tropes of dotted delay and infinitely sustaining guitar notes. There’s an innocence in Aoife Power’s sweet vocals, not to mention a generous helping of fellow countrywomen Sinead O’Connor and Dolores O’Riordan, so it’s only half a surprise when they launch into a note-perfect rendition of The Cranberries’ ‘Dreams’. Touching, appropriate, bittersweet.

whenyoung at Deer Shed 2018 01 Friday (landscape)-1700

It doesn’t take long to realise that if this weekend’s bands are anything like the quality of HMLTD, we’re in for a veritable treat indeed. Clad in all manner of leather, fishnet, tartan and makeup, their stage presence is off the scale, and the music not far behind. 2017 single ‘To The Door’ is like The Stooges covering one of Ennio Morricone’s more outré spaghetti western themes, but with a dubstep coda. Eh? ‘Satan, Luella, & I’ evokes a she-devil, a proposition, and gore but is lyrically optimistic and life-affirming. What?! For all their aesthetic outrageousness, which cribs heavily from theatrical Eighties’ glam like Adam Ant, there’s an underlying understanding of songwriting which gives the entire package credibility. Properly breathtaking.

HMLTD Deer Shed 2018 01 Friday (portrait)-1877

Drenge have matured nicely since I last saw them at Live at Leeds in 2014. Then just a brotherly two-piece, now they have both a bassist and a chap on ‘things’. They pull off a headline set with skill and good grace, and even have a laugh at wearing comedy air tanks consistent with Deer Shed’s ‘Making Waves’ theme. Material like ‘Bloodsports’ has lost none of its power through familiarity, and new single “Before the War Begins” reveals a simple, honest clarity of purpose reminiscent of the Manics at their best. Completely devoid of histrionics, clad plainly in comparison with the extravagance of an HMLTD, they nevertheless still pack a devastating punch.

Drenge Deer Shed 2018 01 Friday (landscape)-2076

And that’s it for Friday. There were DJs until half 2 next to the excellent bar, TGTF needed all possible energy to prepare for Saturday. More tomorrow.

 

Great Escape 2018: Day 3 Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Friday, 8th June 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

I slipped out of the Prince Albert, allowed another one of Rebecca Taylor’s fans to scoot in where I’d been, and returned to the Hope and Ruin for music far meatier at the This Feeling showcase. I didn’t plan it like this, but they would be the second of three acts I’d see from Sheffield Saturday night. If you’ve done any reading on Sheffield at all, you’ll know its name comes from the River Sheaf that runs through the city. So I had a hunch even before I opened the biography on hard rockers SHEAFS where they were from. Delivered with a sneer, minor key anthem ‘This is Not a Protest’ is a foot-stomper, while ‘Mind Pollution’, encouraging not a revolt but a bigger revolution, is another laced with ‘tude. Forget the Sherlocks, SHEAFS have just pushed them out of the way.

SHEAFS Saturday the Great Escape 2018

I returned to the Old Ship for Charles Watson gigging at the Moshi Moshi Records evening showcase. Like Rebecca Taylor, he’s trying to carve an identity for himself that’s separate from the one he held in Slow Club. On his debut ‘Now That I’m a River’, Watson’s sound is decidedly more similar to that of his songwriting in his previous band, sounding at times like a throwback to ‘70s Americana, complete with the echoes. Imagine Burt Bacharach going folk, or the Eagles with less rock. It seems like a lot of artists are reaching backwards in time for inspiration. It begs the question, has the singer/songwriter genre gone has far forward as it possibly can and the only option left to keep things somewhat interesting is to go backward?

Charles Watson Saturday the Great Escape 2018

To get some air and to see some more music, I walked a short distance down Ship Street to the Walrus to check out a band far from home. ShadowParty are a group that formed in Boston and includes members of New Order and Devo. I’m embarrassed to say I had no clue who they were. Perhaps the knowledge of their existence spread quickly across New Order and Devo’s respective fandoms, filling this basement venue? I wasn’t terribly impressed by the part of their performance I caught (equipment overload for one, but that might not have been their fault but the festival’s for putting them in such a small place), but I’m guessing from the news posts from early May that they’re still in very early days of performing live together. Feel good first single ‘Celebrate’ was unveiled on the 1st of May, the first taster ahead of the release of their debut album on the 27th of May on Mute Records.

Shadowparty Saturday the Great Escape 2018

It was back to the Old Ship for the piece de resistance in my Great Escape 2018. Going through my reports from past editions of this festival, I had completely forgotten, or possibly blocked out my getting shut out of Teleman’s set at the Green Door Store 5 years ago. I know at the moment was I was mad as a wet hen and probably wanting to cry. They’re unequivocally one of my favourite bands of all time. As that old chestnut goes, “Patience, grasshopper.” The following year, I got to see them play songs from ‘Breakfast’ at two shows, one in New York Midtown and one in Brooklyn (RIP, Glasslands). Now, 4 years on from there, I’d get to see them at the Paginini Ballroom. The only way their performance could have been any better: if they’d been allowed to play both ‘Breakfast’ and ‘Brilliant Sanity’ in their entirety.

On this trip, I had to fill in some of my less knowledgeable British musician friends that three-fourths of Teleman used to be in another amazing band called Pete and the Pirates. That conversion took place quite a long time ago now, and with two whole albums under their belt, I kind of expected more of those songs to be in their set. Fair do’s that they’d want to put older material to bed and play the songs they’re currently most excited about, but also massively courageous to fill their performance with songs unlikely to be firm favourites except to maybe their most ardent social media followers.

Teleman Saturday the Great Escape 2018 1

Single ‘Cactus’, which will appear on their upcoming third studio album ‘Family of Aliens’, is plenty catchy, but I think it’ll take some growing on me before it joins the heady ranks of my favourites from ‘Breakfast’ and ‘Brilliant Sanity’. For those of us who have memorised the latter, we were rewarded with ‘Fall in Time’ and ‘Dusseldorf’, the latter capping off a plenty bouncy and enjoyable set building anticipation towards the new album’s release and their upcoming tour to take place in the autumn. I’ve been invited to a curry dinner and to jump on a boat with them (long story for another time); we’ll see if I make it back to dear old blighty for that then. Cross your fingers and toes for me.

TGTF’s Great Escape 2018 coverage, that’s a wrap!

 

Great Escape 2018: Day 3 Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Thursday, 7th June 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Before I’d even set foot in the country, I had already received loads of band recommendations from friends and industry folk alike on who to see at The Great Escape 2018. Many of them named artists I’d already seen, in Australia at BIGSOUND 2017, past SXSWs or elsewhere. I reminded them that the whole point of me coming out all the way from America was music discovery and finding new talent to spread the word on. My Saturday at The Great Escape 2018 ended up being a mix of new and old favourites, in some cases showing me that something familiar to me in a previous form could be made new, or at least different to what I had been accustomed to. In case you’ve forgotten already, the 19th of May 2018 was also the day of Prince Harry’s wedding to American actress Meghan Markle. Being in Brighton to focus on music discovery while all that faff was going on at Windsor Castle was actually a godsend. (And no, cousins, I didn’t buy you a commemorative plate when I was in London, stop asking.)

Like Friday, I began my day again on Saturday at the decent hour of noon. Having studied classical piano at a young age, I can appreciate the value of a classical music education. Michael Aston was formerly the keyboardist of C Duncan’s live band; the two of them had met when they were studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. The Brighton-based Aston has his own solo project now, Knightstown, which Aston described to me is driven by his desire to create and to write songs.

Knightstown Saturday the Great Escape 2018 3

Live, Aston is joined by Matthew Hodson on beats and electronics, who looked awfully familiar to me. How’s this for spooky: 3 years ago when I was in Brighton last, I was sat in St. George’s Church for the Erased Tapes showcase and I struck up a geeky conversation about Rival Consoles with the bloke next to me. Yup, you guessed it, the guy was Hodson. Everything happens for a reason and when it’s supposed to. While the rest of the non-music-caring country were watching the wedding, Aston and Hodson were hard at work, opening the FatCat Records showcase at One Church. With Aston’s floaty falsetto and piano representing the old garde and synths and beats for the new, Knightstown is the beautiful symbiosis between the two. The music is equal parts reverential and inventive, exemplified by singles ‘First Cry’ and ‘Charlatan’. I’m looking forward to hearing a debut album in the future.

Of the many suggestions I received from BBC Scotland’s Vic Galloway that turned into a tip of my own, I still had Vistas left to see in Brighton. The big crowd at the Hope and Ruin was proof I wasn’t the only one eager to hear the group from Edinburgh play. The guys themselves were very excited, ready to launch their newest single ‘Tigerblood’ the following Friday. For some reason, I just couldn’t get into their music, their guitars sounding tinny and lacklustre. Maybe I was standing in the wrong place? I’ll give them another chance somewhere else in the future, hopefully in a place where I can actually breathe. I’d like to see if they sound better in Scotland…

Indoor Pets Saturday the Great Escape 2018 2

A last-minute addition to the Alternative Escape line-up were indie rockers Indoor Pets (formerly Get Inuit) at a teeny, boiling upstairs room. (Starting to notice a trend here?) They were special guests on the echochamp and DICE showcase at the Western pub. This was my first chance to see them after the announcement that they’d signed to Wichita Recordings. I haven’t gotten around to tagging all my old articles here on TGTF on them with their new name, so you’re going to have to bear with me a bit longer on that. With the triumphant confidence that comes with after signing with a label (maybe I just imagined that?), the band were in fine form, blasting out ‘Barbituates’ and ‘Pro Procrastinator’ with a fury I don’t think I’ve seen from them before. Is that the triumphant confidence that comes with after signing with a label, or did I just imagine that?

Indoor Pets Saturday the Great Escape 2018 3

I try to avoid the Prince Albert venue space like the plague because every time I’ve been there during The Great Escape, it’s been sardine city. The only real place I feel comfortable is by the entrance to the room, which turned out to be a good location. I’ve seen Slow Club a few times live and feeling like that act may have run its artistic course, I thought I’d see Rebecca Taylor as Self Esteem. Why not, right? Right before her set, she’s standing next to me by the door, moaning aloud that she’s worried about how she’s going to get back onstage. She’s a polite Northerner, after all. Bless. I told her to “get in there, honey” and push people out of the way if she has to if they don’t recognise her. Add “moral support to acts” under “guitar minder” in the festivals skills section of my CV.

Self Esteem Rebecca Taylor Saturday the Great Escape 2018

Taylor finally got back onstage with her female “staff”, all resplendent in their ‘squirt not pee’ red t-shirts. Her newer, electronically and rhythmically reliant music is so different than what I consider ‘classic’ Slow Club, it’s jarring. I guess it’s been too long since I’ve seen Slow Club, I totally forgot she was a drummer. Her debut single as Self Esteem, ‘Your Wife’, has been described as a I don’t enjoy the sound as much, but I will say that regardless of how you feel about Self Esteem’s songs, you can’t deny they provide a showcase for Rebecca Taylor’s voice, which has been and will always be beautiful. I might come around on her newest project yet.

 

Great Escape 2018: Day 2 Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Wednesday, 6th June 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

It was good to take a breather with my friends the Orielles because I was about to embark on the hardest walking period lined up in my Great Escape 2018 schedule. Thanks to Google Maps, the walks I took were more picturesque and slightly less bad than I had expected. Discovering a leafy, pedestrian-only lane on the way to the Green Door Store made walking up and back down down to the sea a total of four times made me forgot how much my feet were burning. Almost.

I was eager to see Declan Welsh and the Decadent West in action. While there’s been a proliferation of politically-minded punk bands in England, if the same thing is happening in Scotland, I’ve clearly missed it. Like my good friend Matt Abbott, East Kilbride’s Welsh is a poet at heart, having taken up the causes of socialism and supporting Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn. Just as one might expect, he began their set alone with a poem dripping with emotion and vitriol. Welsh later made the audience laugh with his best attempts in Spanish language delivered with a Scottish accent before he and his band launched into ‘No Pasaran’. Introducing the LGBT and sexual liberation anthem ‘Do What You Want’ as “a sex-positive song”, Welsh sent the audience into a bit of an amusing tizzy, the tune beginning slowly before becoming a wailing guitar number.

Declan Welsh and the Decadent West Friday the Great Escape 2018 2

Coincidentally, the next act I would see was also Scottish. I noticed this year’s Great Escape Festival was largely devoid of electronic acts. If this trend continues, it makes me less likely to attend in the future. ONR. (pronounced “honour”), Robert Shields with this band, was on the top of my list of acts to see at SXSW 2018 (see preview here), so when he cancelled his band’s appearances last minute, disappointment doesn’t even begin to cover it. When I saw ONR. added to the BBC Introducing bill Friday night, it felt like a reprieve. Back down at the Old Ship Hotel, a mass exodus from its upstairs Paginini Ballroom followed the set by the showcase opener Leicestershire soul singer Mahalia, spilling out onto Ship Street. Yes, I arrived too early. No way was I going to miss this.

The disappointment of ONR.’s absence in Austin was wiped away, evaporated by the powerful spectacle of this very performance Friday night. Having seen The 1975 here in 2013, right before they hit it big, it’s an important venue to me, a place where British acts play before they become musical giants. You’re inside the Old Ship Hotel, a Grade II-listed building built in 1559, watching a band perform on what is probably a centuries-old stage but with 21st century equipment and lighting. For the bands, it must be like performing in an old church, history speaking from its walls and feeling history being made while onstage. Perhaps I’m being dramatic, but it does feel extraordinarily different to see a band here than any other place in Brighton.

ONR Friday the Great Escape 2018 2

Under a dizzying light display, Shields followed his bandmates out on stage to deliver a commanding performance worthy of the bombastic pop hits he’s written under the ONR. name. The power of the beats and synth-driven instrumentation matched Shields’ booming vocals. 2017 debut single ‘Jericho’ is a masterclass in how to write a pop song: slow burn them with a verse, then knock ‘em up over with the muscle of the chorus. The ONR. set closed out with ‘Five Years Time’, with its anthemic, thunderous choruses. BBC Introducing describes them playing their newest single ‘American Gods’ at the recent Biggest Weekend as “stadium-ready rock”: whatever you want to call it, this is massive stuff. ONR. are currently in America, due to play shows supporting Mondo Cozmo and their own headline shows on both of our coasts over the next fortnight: all the details are through here.

Sticking with the Scottish theme and buoyed by the energy of the ONR. set, your intrepid music editor went back up the hill and back to the Green Door Store for Rascalton, another one of my festival tips. Their style of high-octane, melodic guitar punk was just the ticket, ‘Lust’ being an example of a less than 3-minute long tour de force. Seeing three Scottish acts calling Glasgow (or close) home back to back, it’s heartening to see that there’s no Glasgow ‘scene’ or specific sound, but rather musicians who are committed to writing music their way and aren’t bound by what the often clueless pundits back down in London think is hip now. I’m going to guess one of the band member’s mams was down front, wailing, dancing and waving her arms about and, well, if you can’t get excited about your son’s band doing well, you’re clearly doing it wrong.

Rascalton Friday the Great Escape 2018 2

I didn’t have the luxury of pogoing on my sore feet like her, so it was time to go back down again to the Old Ship, finally getting to see Ten Tonnes. I’d run into him earlier and he’d remembered me earlier from when I interviewed him at the Twix showcase at SXSW 2017. His recent songwriting collaboration with ex-Kaiser Chiefs Nick J. Hodgson on single ‘Lay It On Me’ left me less than enthused on what looks like a more poppy direction.

However, after seeing it live, I think I’m having a change of heart. I watched his fans go absolutely mental, dancing to this very song at the Paginini Ballroom. What do I know, eh? As he and his band performed ‘Silver Heat’ at a frenetic pace, I was transported back to that outdoor stage at Lustre Pearl on the day before the single was released when he performed it alone. The set ended up with the winsome ‘Lucy’ and its “Luc-EE! Oh oh oh oh!”s ringing in my ears. I think I’ll always prefer the more bluesy, rockabilly version of Ethan Barnett, but I will take him and his music however it comes packaged to me,

Ten Tonnes Friday the Great Escape 2018 1

At this point, I’ve been reduced to crawling up the hills of Brighton, this time to make my way to the Hope and Ruin, previously known to me as the Hope. Following queueing outside and watching a belligerent smoker almost get into a fight with one of the bouncers, I’m finally let in. The downstairs area has been turned into a tropical-looking DJ room for the Great Escape, a partly dismantled piano greeting you presumably supposed to pass for high art. Upstairs, I arrived for the last few songs by South Wales post-hardcore (what does that even mean?) band Dream State.

This would be a time when having the knowledge of by either former TGTF rock writers John Fernandez (now at the BBC) or Luke Morton (now at Metal Hammer) would have come in handy. I was reminded reading one time on TWLOHA about how despite the aggro look of the bands and their fans, the hard rock community is, surprisingly, one of inclusion and support. Packed in the room like sardines, you could feel the crowd shift, everyone craning their necks to watch female lead singer CJ roam across the long stage, engaging with fans. While I sincerely wondered how CJ wasn’t ripping her vocal cords as she screamed, her emotion, backed by her bandmantes’ blistering rock was palpable, fans shouting for more. I fully admit screamo and emo et al. aren’t specialties of mine, but any good music critic worth his/her salt knows when they’ve witnessed heart and passion.

Braden and I were reunited when he joined up with me to watch Cassia (see my tip on them prior to Live at Leeds 2018 through here). As mentioned previously, there were PA issues at the Killing Moon and LAB Records showcase at the Hub that day. The Macclesfield band with huge hype already behind them were due to open that showcase. As you might expect, this show at the Hope and Ruin, their only other appearance they had scheduled in Brighton during the Great Escape, was rammed with their fans disappointed in the earlier set.

Cassia Friday the Great Escape 2018

I’m going to guess that if you’ve heard of Macclesfield, it’s probably because of Joy Division or Peter Crouch. Cassia seem poised to change that. I don’t think anyone would associate the North of England with tropical music, so their brand of trop-pop sets them apart from virtually everyone else, save perhaps London’s Kawala, who were also in town for the Great Escape. With no windows to prove we were actually in Brighton, Cassia’s sunny, guitar-driven tunes brought us to an island paradise we didn’t know we needed. Easy to consume light fare ‘Out of Her Mind’ was perfect to end a long day of walking and bands.

For more of my photos from Friday at the Great Escape 2018, go here.

 

Great Escape 2018: Day 2 Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Tuesday, 5th June 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Despite a disappointing end to my Thursday at the Great Escape 2018, at least I got a full night’s rest before launching into Friday in Brighton. My first stop was to the second of two afternoon lineups organised by Horizons / Gorwelion at Latest Music Bar. In the past, you could count on London industry types not making it down to the Great Escape until midday on the Friday and so Thursday and Friday afternoon showcases wouldn’t be so rammed. I think the sun helped out quite a bit both afternoons to get festivalgoers already in town up and at ‘em early, as by the time I got to the venue, a queue had already begun to form down Manchester Street. The queue would further extend all the way down the street and around the corner after I’d left.

My host in Brighton had told me his friends had gotten married in this venue, pretty cool knowledge that this place has seen both celebrations of love and music. Luckily, I made it in just before electronic and dance singer, musician and producer Rachel K. Collier started her set. Remember, she had what I thought was the unenviable task of playing before half past noon on day 2. Instead, to my delight, the crowd was massive and eager for a look-in at the performance by the triple threat from Swansea.

Rachel K Collier Friday the Great Escape 2018 2

Despite the early time, Collier and her long-time percussionist Rhii brought a party atmosphere to Latest with their big beats and tropical outfits, making it feel more like we were in Ibiza than in Brighton. Their energy was infectious, with Collier even getting the audience to sing along with her. ‘Paper Tiger’, which was chosen for an FA Wales advert earlier in the spring, went down a treat, as did catchy new single ‘Darkshade’, both of them showing off Collier’s brilliant vocals. By the end of the performance, it wasn’t even 1 yet and I was already sweaty! I got to chat with the lovely Rachel at SXSW 2018 and you can read my two-part interview feature through here.

Rachel K Collier Friday the Great Escape 2018 4

The Swiss Music Export party was being held at Bau Wow, and while loads of foreign languages were being spoken (fun fact: Switzerland has four official languages) and there was nice spread of food and drink for delegates, I was there for the music. I had stopped into Bau Wow to see another one of my Great Escape-tipped acts, CRIMER. Sound problems my blogger friends reported the previous night had thankfully been resolved. Judging from his sound, the artist from Zurich is well informed on British New Wave, and it’s not hard to hear his influences of Depeche Mode and even ‘90s boy bands.

CRIMER Friday the Great Escape 2018 2

It was a surreal moment as CRIMER performed his biggest hit (300K streams on Spotify) ‘Brotherlove’, the entire crowd singing along and dancing. If you closed your eyes, you would have thought you’d been transported back to the ‘80s. His live bandmate had a keytar, seriously. The indefatigable artist sang jumped around the stage in a white turtleneck and smart trousers, while imploring to the audience to go wild between songs. In this small room in the early afternoon filled with perspiration and good vibes, you realised you were witnessing something special.

Another problem with the sunshine, if you want to call it a problem, was that there were so many people out and about in Brighton, it was like playing a game of urban Frogger trying to get where you needed to go. On my way back up from the seaside, I’d intended to make it to Jubilee Square to see Jealous of the Birds. I previously saw Naomi Campbell and her self-described ‘grandma-chic’-dressed solo set when she supported The Divine Comedy last November in Birmingham. This was my opportunity to see her again with a full band since their appearance at Dublin Tengu at Hard Working Class Heroes 2016. (Carrie had seen them several times 6 months later at SXSW 2017.) It was not meant to be, as just as like Boy Azooga the day before, I arrived too late.

I wish to note here that as mentioned in my first previous of The Great Escape 2018, there were several venues by the seaside new to this edition of the event. This year, oddly or not, famed seaside rock venue Concorde 2 was not utilised, but The Beach venues were not far off from it. Many friends who ventured down to the Beach said that unless you planned a significant amount of time to see bands there to make it worth it (translation: at least two acts and/or 2 hours), it wasn’t worth the walk down, only to have to walk back up. Another band who were on my list of tipped bands for both Live at Leeds 2018 and the Great Escape were Kent’s Lady Bird, whose both appearances in Brighton clashed with other acts on my schedule. While I was disappointed to have missed them, their signing to Slaves’ own Girl Fight Records suggests they’ll be seeing American shores soon enough.

As mentioned in my Friday evening roundup, it’s often hard to find time to get a bite to eat at The Great Escape. Early morning breakfast fortification is key, but when you can stop long enough for table food service, you stop. This was the thinking behind hosting the first ever TGTF Free Clinic for Artists and Writers at the Earth and Stars, a gastropub that caters to coeliacs, vegetarians, vegans and carnivores alike. London booker and former TGTF contributor Braden Fletcher and I hosted the event, giving advice to and answering questions from the artists who stopped by. We also partaked on the gluten-free fish and chips, which were delicious. Although turnout wasn’t as high as we’d hoped (we were up against both the PRS Foundation and Killing Moon mixers), I was happy to make some new contacts and friends.

Now, Now Friday the Great Escape 2018

Our bellies satiated, it was time to pick up some more music. At Braden’s recommendation, we headed back down to the seaside to the aforementioned Killing Moon and LAB Records free Alternative Escape showcase at the Hub. Plagued by PA issues, it wasn’t surprising to see when we arrived that Minneapolis synthpop band Now, Now decided to leave the venue entirely to do an acoustic set on the beach. Band and a large group of onlookers cross-legged on the pebbles of the Brighton seaside were quite a sight to behold. Despite going without amplification and keys and interruption from revelers’ peripheral noise, massive keyboard-driven hit ‘Yours’ sounded like a completely different animal than what’s on record. Isolated, the gentle voice of neon pink-haired KC Dalager sounded magical and made for an only-at-The-Great-Escape experience.

My plan to knock out both Brisbane’s Hatchie and SXSW 2017 alum Ten Tonnes off my list meant actually getting into both the Arch and Coalition for their Clash magazine and Music Week showcase-opening sets there, respectively, that night. I found that I faced the same soundboard placement at Hatchie’s show that I encountered at whenyoung Thursday night. Yeah, not getting in…


We hosted our own stage at Coalition at The Great Escape 2011, so I know it’s not that big of a place. The queue went all the way down the block. Groan. Crestfallen, I walked away from the door trying to decide my next move when I spied an all-too happy sunglassed young man in denim. Couldn’t be… No, it was indeed Henry Wade of The Orielles, who we’ve supported for many years at TGTF. I hadn’t seen their crew play since CMW 2016 and in case you’ve been living under a rock, you should know that they released their debut album ‘Silver Dollar Moment’ in February on Heavenly Recordings. Sitting on the beach, drinking beer with dear friends, was priceless.

British bands and music industry folks talk about how much fun they have at SXSW, but I seem to have much more fun at UK events like The Great Escape. I run into and catch up with old friends who live over here as if no time has passed at all. Due to clashes, I didn’t get to see The Orielles play live in Brighton, but judging from the reception they’ve been receiving everywhere following the release of their debut, my presence at their shows is no longer really needed. With Heavenly behind them, they’re well on their way.

For more of my photos from Friday at the Great Escape 2018, go here.

 
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About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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