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Great Escape 2012: Day 2 Afternoon Roundup – 11th May 2012

 
By on Monday, 28th May 2012 at 1:00 pm
 

On paper, my Friday had the most challenging schedule for the entire weekend, with 2 panel sessions (and a performance in between, all the way down on the seafront – eep!), and lots of and lots of band clashes. It had the potential to be the most frustrating day of all, but to be honest, it actually worked out fine, thanks to my planning and some accidental run-ins with some TGTF favourites. First, I’ll explain what happened in the afternoon…

After getting shut out of a morning session because “it’s full up” (I’d been to sessions the day before and people could stand on the sides if they’d arrived late; I can only guess I was refused entry b/c I was a mere 10 minutes tardy), I spent some time walking and window shopping round the North Laines area of Brighton, where there are lots of cutesy little independent shops. Forget cute shoes, there are cobblestones, my friends. Brighton, like DC, has colourful murals on the sides of buildings, except in Brighton, they’re on the sides of pubs. Take for example this unusual one of legendary soul singer James Brown:

I met up with my local PR friend Ed and we went to a charming little café. I’ve never seen mozzarella on a burger before but I ordered it and it really hit the spot. I should have photographed it, the chef lady put a massive slice on top of my beef. Totally epic. But good thing I was all sorted out with food, since we would be soaking up some drinks later on in the day. We headed down the hill and to the sea…but not for the sea. For bands, of course!

Like SXSW, the Great Escape has pretty good daytime programming, including a pretty active scene thanks to the Alternative Escape. At the seafront club LIFE, Euphonios, Killing Moon, the Recommender and Strongroom Alive were putting on a great showcase all afternoon. This was great, as the weather had finally turned the corner, the sun was shining, and I was able to check out Savoir Adore (who took the spot of an absent Saint Saviour) and I Dream in Colour in this unique performance space, akin to an attic or loft with a window.

Speaking of the word ‘later’ and time, I wish I had known about Savoir Adore so much earlier. I’m happy to say, though, that unlike most Americans who have stumbled onto them in the last couple weeks, I did not come to know them by the Tide laundry detergent telly advert featuring their song ‘Pop Goes the World’. (I think it’s highly possible to be their ‘5 Years’ Time’-style breakout, so if it gets them more fans, all the better.) The band from New York City had to do a stripped set in the cramped LIFE upstairs stage, but they sounded amazing. I’m rather glad they don’t live far from me; I’m hoping that means they’ll tour in DC again soon enough. Watch a clip of their song ‘Loveliest Creature’ below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxt9sKLr2UY[/youtube]

I had promised Shell Zenner I’d swing by the Queens Hotel to say hello while she did her on-site broadcast for Amazing Radio. When I arrived, I was kind of surprised their set up was literally in the middle of the lobby. What was to stop any streaking bands? Oh wait… I did however go downstairs to catch half of Sissy and the Blisters’ set on the Amazing Radio stage. Loud and balls to the wall, exactly what hung over festival goers needed to start day 2 at the Great Escape. Me? I headed up and back out to return to LIFE, wanting to save my ears for later.

I Dream in Colour’s fan base keeps growing by leaps and bounds, and the London via Essex band stuck this date at the Alternative Escape in before the following weekend’s ‘London’ single launch in, where else, London. (Read John’s review of their latest single here.) Singer Richard Judge looked particularly smart and respectable in a blindingly white dress shirt, which was deliciously at odds when he picked up his guitar and became Mr. Rock Star. And if you were wondering, yes, I love it when he’s on his guitar. Personally, I think it suits him more than when he’s behind the keys. But that’s just me…

Then it was back up the hill with Ed to attend Record of the Day’s discussion entitled, “What’s the point of music reviews in the digital age?” Obviously, this is something of interest to all music bloggers worth their salt, because we all want to be professional writers someday. Former Q editor-in-chief Paul Rees said something I truly applauded: he said labels shouldn’t penalise reviewers with annoying stream versions of albums and that more often than not, it’s someone inside the label that’s leaking albums, not the journalists. Well said.

Then I personally caused a moment of silence when I asked if the reason why most publications and even music Web sites now run 100-word album reviews (obviously not long enough to fully explain any part of an album) and if this was a symptom of the lack of attention span for most internet users. You could hear the crickets. I wasn’t sure if they wanted to punch me for being insolent, or they just refused to admit that what I’d described was exactly what was happening on the Internet.

Feeling like I needed to explain myself, I chatted with freelancer Will Hodgkinson of the Times and Mojo writing fame after the session to agree with what he’d replied with, that we should be giving our readers credit and not dumb content down for them. With that, I felt proud of what we do here at TGTF: there’s a reason why there are more words for all of our reviews you will see on this Web site: I’d rather you have a more complete picture of an album rather than the soundbite-y types that have become far too commonplace on the Web. If you can’t commit to read one of our reviews, you must not care enough about music, because we love what we do. And if our reviews aren’t what you want, then I’d rather you go somewhere else.

I huffed and wheezed my way back down to the Queens Hotel with every intention of seeing Mammal Club there. Unfortunately, I got conflicting reports about whether the band from Newcastle was performing by people I saw in the lobby. To be sure, I went downstairs to check out who was performing and whoever was on sounded nothing like Mammal Club, so either the times had changed or I didn’t recognise them. Either way, I missed them. I also missed them at Liverpool Sound City, because they were playing the same night and time as our stage. Boo.

Instead, I headed back to LIFE in the hopes of running into more bloggers at the Blog Up event that had started earlier in the afternoon. It was getting close to finished, and Shell Zenner was back at it, spinning tunes from her beloved iPad. Who should I run into but Breaking More Waves’ Robin? What an exceedingly nice and sweet chap! Seeing I’d never met him before, it was great to finally see him. To me as a blogger, this was what was so great about both the Great Escape and Sound City: being American, I rarely go to events where there are huge groupings of bloggers.

Besides Robin, I had also met Ollie of Memphis Industries (who always ReTweets our Dutch Uncles and Field Music-related Tweets – cheers Ollie!) and Matthew of Song, by Toad the day before as well, which was also very cool. My heart warmed every time I heard someone say to me, “oh yeah! I read There Goes the Fear all the time!” and “so it’s you who runs it! So wonderful you could come over to America for this, nice to meet you!” When I am at home, I am reminded by the personal difficulty to set up interviews and press passes in America that TGTF isn’t a household name in America…yet. We’re no Pitchfork or Stereogum; we don’t try to be either and I don’t want us to be like either too. We’re doing what we want to do, the way we want to…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Great Escape 2012: Day 1 Evening Roundup – 10th May 2012

 
By on Friday, 25th May 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

For some reason, my phone refused to let me subscribe to the Great Escape text service, and without adequate O2 coverage, I hadn’t had a chance in hell to load the official festival app. In hindsight, either of these may have informed me that the entire Island Records showcase at the Loft featuring Lower Than Atlantis, King Charles (my main interest in this stage, after Tom’s hilarious phone interview with the man) and Tribes had been cancelled. But as I learned over this weekend, it pays to have a plan B. And a plan C and D if you can manage it.

The next closest venue with a band I wanted to see was the Haunt, with Pixie Geldof’s band Violet. During my entire time in Brighton I had nothing but good encounters with punters, except for at this venue. It was supposed to be Avalanche City onstage when I arrived at the venue but seeing that I couldn’t see nor hear very well what was happening up front, I gingerly made my way forward in an attempt to get closer to take at least one photo.

Having been inconvenienced with light shoving and pats on the back indicating someone wanted to go past me in a club for nearly all of my adult life, I was taken aback by one punter’s admittedly semi-drunk but all the same nasty complaint, “are you going to stand there all night?” If you were wondering, there were large spaces in front and back of him (he was standing by the bar) and I had hoped that standing in front of him would encourage him to move back a bit to allow me to get a decent line of sight. Fat chance. What’s even stupider was he left right after the band finished. As the saying goes, “it takes a lot more effort to be nasty than to be nice”, and after having one preferred showcase cancelled that night, I was feeling a bit grumpy and I didn’t need further aggravation.

As the sea of festival-goers parted, I made my way to the front to situate myself in a good position to photograph. Good thing I did this early: who knows if it’s because she’s Bob Geldof’s daughter or people actually wanted to see if she was any good, but I witnessed the largest assemblage of photographers seeing Violet, so much it felt more like a flurry of paparazzi with the continual bursts of flash than a meet-up of run of the mill gig photographers. Whatever happened to, “first three songs, no flash”? Even I observe those rules. Grumble. Thank goodness most of them left after the first three songs; you can tell who’s there for merely professional and not actual music-loving reasons because they bolt even before the third song in is finished.

I suppose I’ve benefited from not having grown up with gossip about Geldof’s daughters and their lives, so I went into this with no personal opinion of her and the knowledge that Luke had seen her at a Guardian New Band of the Day show in April and said she was pretty good. If you were wondering, the girl’s got chops and has a spectacular voice. She opened her set with the single ‘Y.O.U.’, a slow-burning, sultry number, but it’s songs like ‘What You Gave Me’ (video below) that exhibit the soulfulness of Pixie’s voice. Given time and more experience, I think she could become one of the most compelling voices of her generation.

She exudes the sexiness of Marilyn Monroe, yet dressing demurely in a white top and an iridescent long (and not short – shocking!) skirt, indicating respect to both the festival and her audience. Like many of the random revelers I’d see over my time in Brighton, she could have worn a skimpy clubber’s type outfit – one that would have been spread round the internet like wildfire – and yet she didn’t’. It’s a shame in this case that most people will probably not bother to listen to her, thinking that she must only be getting the limelight because of her family. And if you are one of those types, you’re doing yourself a grave disservice. Forget who her father is and follow the talent. Good on her.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJCDjwNUUgg[/youtube]

One band that was on everyone’s lips all weekend was Niki and the Dove, who were scheduled to play at Horatio’s on Brighton Pier at a NME-sponsored showcase. (Note: they ended up cancelling their appearance at Liverpool Sound City due to illness, so I never got a chance to see them. Which is okay because I’m not really a fan of their sound based on the recordings I’ve heard.) Friends, an equally hot commodity but has always sounded to me too much like a Phenomenal Handclap Band imitator, were slated to perform before them. However, I’d been advised by long-time Great Escape gig-goers that if I planned to making the trip down the pier, I’d never get back up the hill in time for anything else. Seeing that it was still raining, and the wind had now picked up, the idea of standing on Brighton Pier, especially in a long delegates queue, wasn’t at all appealing. From debriefings from fellow bloggers, it sounds like I missed a great show. But you’ve got to make tough choices sometime…

Thanks to not being able to check my email, I completely missed the confirmation on Maximo Park press passes for their performance at the Dome, so I decided to switch gears again and head to Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar for New Look, followed by the guys I’d serendipitously seen earlier, Zulu Winter. New Look, not to be confused with the high street womens’ clothing shop, is a Toronto husband and wife team who make an engaging brand of electropop. In the currently crowded electronic market, they came up with their own genre, ‘futurepop’, which incorporates unashamed ‘80s synth stylings (can you say ‘keytar’?) with r&b and dubstep. Interestingly, I saw quite a few couples watching the couple onstage, dressed in matching outfits of white dress shirts and black trousers, grooving with their loved ones to the good beats. Verdict: while they sound pretty good, they risk being forgettable.

Zulu Winter followed shortly thereafter. I should probably mention here that Sticky Mike’s performance space is a basement with badly placed support poles and a low ceiling. Not only is it difficult to see if you’re standing in the wrong place, it’s quite claustrophobic and I can’t even imagine being down there if you’re very tall. The stage is also pretty small; Zulu Winter comprises five band members and keyboardist Dom and his many synths had to be placed off the stage because there wasn’t enough room for all of them. That said, if you’re up front like I was, there is no problem. I’m sure singer Will Daunt will never forget this performance, as a large Norwegian made his presence known by shouting, rather annoyingly I might add, for ‘Silver Tongue’ about 3 times between every song.

Considering they hadn’t even released their debut ‘Language’ yet (it was due to be out on PIAS the following Monday the 14th of May), they played a fun, energetic and well-received set that was not at all hampered by bassist Iain Lock’s foot injury, forcing him to get and off stage on crutches. What a trooper. Below is the opening song of their set, ‘Key to My Heart’. (If you’re wondering, the crazy Norwegian’s hooting can be heard at the end of the video.) Keep an eye on these guys; if the album does well, they could be the next big British indie pop band.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2qgHQRTk6Y[/youtube]

Part of the original plan was to see Mystery Jets at the Corn Exchange, so I trudged back up the hill with renewed purpose. When I inquired about the delegates queue, I was told sternly, “there’s only one line [for everyone, with wristbands or badges]. And it’s one in, one out.” I pressed further on why oh why there wasn’t a delegates queue, I was met with stony silence. I saw the queue going around the building and down the block past the Dome. Not getting in there then. I got into the queue for the Pavilion Theatre in an attempt to get in for Django Django and found myself directly in front of Mike Bradford of the Recommender (it’s amazing how many times you accidentally run into everyone at this festival!), who asked staff what the probability of us getting into the venue that night was. It wasn’t looking good. Instead of getting frustrated, Mike suggested we head down to Sticky Mike’s to round off our evening with some drinks, followed by a performance by White Arrows. If a fellow blogger recommends it, you can’t turn it down.

Oh, White Arrows. The lead guitarist looked stoned as he clicked his pair of claves together. I guess that’s okay, considering “the blackest ‘white’ band”, described by the Owl Mag as making a “psychostropical” sound, were throwing down very tropical yet electronic and funky beats. ‘Coming and Going’ is a good example as any of their jangly guitars paired with a danceable and powerful backbeat. Was it really past 1 AM? Didn’t feel like it.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK7UPhTj6D8[/youtube]

2 AM is probably a good time for bed but somehow I found myself at the very crowded Queens Hotel lobby, surrounded by loud and pissed delegates from all over. Having not eaten anything solid since the afternoon, I also was the proud holder of a large cone of fish and chips procured from the boardwalk, Despite getting frosty looks from hotel security for having brought outside food in, I shared my fish with a very hungry CMU rep who was grateful for some food. That was my attempt to solidify American and English relations for the evening. I said goodbye to my new friends and tucked myself into bed at about, oh, 4 AM? 4 hours of sleep ahead of me? Eep. Well, it’s like Blaine Harrison says in the Mystery Jets song ‘Dreaming of Another World’: “sleep is for the dead”. Right?

 

Great Escape 2012: Initial impressions, tips and bands from the first afternoon – 10th May 2012

 
By on Thursday, 24th May 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

I arrived to the Great Escape 2012 a day early to sort my delegates badge ahead of time – an indubitably good idea, as I could swan in the next day to the press centre and pass the delegates queue – but my introduction to Brighton on Wednesday the 9th was, unfortunately, a wet one. The National Express coach from Heathrow dropped me off at the very wet seafront, with no shelter whatsoever. Let me tell you, dragging a large suitcase while rain and wind is lashing about in every direction is not a fun time. But I was in town for the Great Escape, and you do what you must. Wednesday night was saved as I ‘accidentally’ ran into Mike Bradford, local blogger and of the Recommender fame, and we had a drink in the Prince Albert by the train station. Later on, I got a text from my friends Johnny and Larry from the AU Review (nice chaps I’d met at SXSW) and we had an exceedingly gorgeous Indian near the seafront. So not all was lost. I was just tired of being…damp. I’d left Washington in the middle of a storm. I was aching for sunshine. (Which I later got…)

Thursday proved to be another difficult day weather-wise, as the rain gods appeared unwilling to cooperate. Still, I was determined to make the best of it, even if I kept getting lost in the rambling streets with dead ends all over Brighton. I missed a morning panel session but I think it was fate that I happened to walk by the front of the Corn Exchange just as Zulu Winter, my new band friends from SXSW, pulled up in their van, and they all took turns giving me a hug and asked how things were going. There’s something to be said for being recognised months after you’ve met a group of guys who no doubt meet hundreds of people at gigs every night, and that something is a very nice feeling of validation.

Still, I had yet to get my feet wet (no pun intended) at the Great Escape, so first on my colour-coded schedule was Francois and the Atlas Mountains at the Prince Albert. Thanks to yesterday’s drink with Mike, I knew where I needed to go. I thought okay, it’s Thursday, and it’s early. If I show up 15 minutes ahead of schedule, I’ll be fine, right? I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I made my way up the staircase to the main performance area to find people already jam-packed in front of the stage. I doubt the man who was supposed to be keeping tabs on the number of people allowed up was actually counting, as he kept encouraging women such as myself to squeeze in further. As someone who gets extremely claustrophobic (even on airplanes), this made for a very worrisome situation. Worse, their roadie kept coming through the crowd with the final pieces of their gear (of which they had quite a lot), pushing himself and the gear rather (in)conveniently past me, so I had no choice but to practically squish myself into another woman who’d come upstairs around the same time as I did. This happens all the time to me in airports, train stations, really anywhere there is a massive crowd: I think people must decide, “over there, there’s a small, slight Oriental girl, go round her, she’ll be no problem, that’s the plan!” and trust me, it is not a good feeling. Still looking for that tall, strong English bodyguard boyfriend type if anyone’s offering…

With punters sardined into the small place, the band said hello and started in the 6music-playlisted ‘Les Plus Beaux’, which sounded great. The band even had choreographed arm and hand movements when they weren’t playing their instruments. Bless. It was one of the most adorable moments of my Great Escape. I got through one more song with the Frenchies before deciding I had leave to get some air. Also, I figured it was better to let some desperate music lovers hanging out on the stairs a chance to see some of the action before it was all over. But I would like to see them again sometime. Just without less bodies pushed up against me.

It was time to go back down the hill and head for a venue near the seafront. However, on my way down, I stopped for a time to see Slow Down, Molasses, a Canadian band that by all accounts went down very well with the folks assembled at the Hub, the one large outdoor venue at the Great Escape, sitting squarely in the middle of Jubilee Square. This would be the place where the wristbandless and young parents would bring their sprogs all weekend, and to me embodied the true spirit of the Great Escape: even though I had a badge, I found generally speaking the places where wristband punters and badge holders stood together in harmony were a better experience. Because you shouldn’t have to put a price on music.

The rain continued when I headed down to Volks on Madeira Drive, making an egregious mistake. The showcase had been moved not cancelled, but stupidly the staff at Volks weren’t aware of the change so I just assumed I would not be seeing Savoir Adore or be doing the previously arranged interview with them. (It had moved to the Loft, which in hindsight I probably could have made if I’d organised myself better, but I was too wiped, my phone was giving me trouble, and I was just frustrated with myself and the weather.) By then, jetlag and exhaustion was kicking in and thanks to a jammed O2 network and no service near the water, my mobile battery was dying.

Time to get a mango slushie, eat a salad I’d purchased the day before, rest for a moment and recharge myself and my phone. My phone is the wrong word for the time, as our Gateshead writer Martin had loaned me a spare iPhone of his and never working with one before, there was a steep learning curve, including how to turn off an nonexistent cafe wifi connection. At one point the phone wasn’t responding to any network and I was texting both him and fellow Great Escape fest-goer Braden with a nervous tic because I thought I’d broken it! (The phone eventually righted itself and over the weekend, I became a passable iPhone user, thank goodness.) Note: if you’re supposed to meet anyone in Brighton for the Great Escape, get mobile numbers. You might not be able to check your email at all, depending on where you are. I would have Tweeted far more if my phone didn’t keep doing that circle-y thing in the corner as it tried to reach the Twitter Web site.

I got a frantic text from Johnny of the AU Review, reporting that the rain was chucking it down at the Sounds of Australia stage at the Hub, and that I should probably take my time getting there to see Husky. I’d fallen in love with ‘Forever So’, their debut album on Sub Pop, that I’d organised an interview with them post-gig as well. Eventually I had to leave my dry haven at the café and head up the hill.

Yeah, that hill. No-one tells you how bad this hill can be, if you’re trying to run back and forth between venues. In a way, it’s similar to Roskilde in the sense that you should expect to queue for your favourite – and the more hotly-tipped – acts, and you should never assume there will be room for you. In that respect, the Hub and this Australian showcase – the rain notwithstanding – was a great place to see bands all weekend. Halfway into their set, the rain gods relented, leading to the band to end their set with the truly lovely and evocative ‘The Woods’ (video clip below), followed by ‘History’s Door’ (the latter of which you can download from the widget at the end of this post). Their sound is a thoroughly palatable blend of harmonies ala Fleet Foxes and the nonbluegrassy, too happy, peppy, indie folk elements of Mumford and Sons, you know, before they became megastars.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkWzDt3Wbws[/youtube]

Afterwards, Gideon and Husky himself were kind enough to take time out of their afternoon here in Brighton – which turned out to be the same day they arrived in England! – for a brief chat we had in Jubilee Library about their music and the Melbourne music scene, which you can view here. But by then it was time for a snack, a change of clothes (remember, I’d gotten thoroughly soaked!), and time to refocus for my first night at the Great Escape.

 

Live Gig Video: Niki and the Dove perform ‘The Drummer’ for Bands in Transit at the Great Escape 2012 in Brighton

 
By on Tuesday, 22nd May 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

Stockholm band Niki and the Dove was one of the hottest commodities at the Great Escape this year and I’ll admit, I didn’t bother with the queue at Horatio’s on the pier on Thursday night because I figured I’d never get in. (Bad luck, as they ended up cancelling their appearance at Sound City due to illness.) But for me and anyone else who couldn’t be there at the Great Escape this year, we’ve got you covered.

The fine folks at Bands in Transit got the band to perform ‘The Drummer’ on the seafront. You can tell from the wet sidewalk that it was raining quite a bit in Brighton this year, but thankfully the rain held off for this taping. Enjoy it below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWUjV-V0cMQ[/youtube]

 

Great Escape 2012 Video Interview: The Crookes at Brighton Komedia

 
By on Tuesday, 22nd May 2012 at 11:00 am
 

The Crookes were a last minute addition to this year’s Great Escape playing shortly after 12 noon at the Hope on the Saturday (12 May) as part of a showcase put on by the Orchard. I was able to corner the band shortly after their set for a candid chat in the coffee bar at Brighton Komedia to ask them about the inspiration for new single ‘American Girls’ (come now, being American and a girl, I had to ask!), their PledgeMusic campaign for upcoming sophomore album ‘Hold Fast’ and various other bits and bobs. Watch the interview below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hy79JyuMixw[/youtube]

 

Great Escape 2012 Video Interview: Husky Gawenda and Gideon Preiss of Husky at Brighton Jubilee Library

 
By on Monday, 21st May 2012 at 11:00 am
 

We’re sure you’ll be hearing more about Melbourne band Husky a lot in the coming months and years, and it was my good luck that I was able to chat with frontman Husky Gawenda and keyboardist Gideon Preiss. We did the interview in the lobby of the Jubilee Library right off Jubilee Square, just steps from where the band had performed as part of the Sounds of Australia afternoon showcase on Thursday 10 May. Many thanks to the library for letting us film this!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DH_nhot5egk[/youtube]

 
 
 

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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. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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