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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.

 

Great Escape 2018: Day 1 Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Monday, 4th June 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Before I headed out to blighty, I joked to my blogger friends that I didn’t think I would be eating dinner any night at The Great Escape 2018. Why? Each night, I had bands on my schedule starting as early as 6 PM. I thought, hm, maybe everyone will be too busy drinking in a pub with their mates or on the beach that the 6 PM shows won’t be busy. WRONG! London via Limerick pop trio whenyoung were playing to a massive crowd at the Haunt, one of the lesser-known venues of The Great Escape. The closest I could get to the stage for this London in Stereo showcase was standing next to the soundboard in the back. Their female-fronted guitar pop was just the thing for many punters in Brighton to start their Thursday night with, many moving and grooving in the Haunt to the band’s infectious melodies. Check out whenyoung’s newest single ‘Heaven on Earth’, released 2 Fridays ago.


There wasn’t far for me to go for my next stop. I’d advise against visiting the gender neutral bathroom stalls at the Arch (like walking into a pitch-black room, seriously) but the venue was serviceable enough for the Clash magazine showcase. Don’t be confused that there are no actual females in the all-male Sea Girls. The Londoners are a band favourite of NME and Huw Stephens of Radio 1 and judging from their merch, they refuse to take themselves seriously (‘Indie Landfill’ is not a phrase from the end of the Noughties I’ve not heard bandied around these days). Like whenyoung before them, they’re firmly in the pop camp, but Sea Girls swing back and forth between anthemic pop and muscular pop/rock. I have to admit that because my musical taste has been going towards the more weird and unusual lately, I wasn’t wowed by their performance, but I can see that with a little luck and the great songs they’ve written so far, they have the potential to gain a massive following very quickly. Watch this space.

Sea Girls Thursday The Great Escape 2018

As I’ve probably mentioned in past Great Escape reports, Brighton is a hilly place. I don’t care how well you think you’ve organised your schedule. At some point, you’re going to have to walk from the lowest point of the seaside back up to the Brighton train station at the top of the hill. (Incidentally, I did this back and forth several times Friday night because, well, sometimes, needs must.) To make things easier on myself, I took it easy up the hill to arrive at the Green Door Store for the last few songs of New York’s Bodega at the Upset magazine showcase. As one might rightly expect, American bands are big draws at a festival like The Great Escape, and there were plenty of folks in the main room at the Green Door, plus those who spilled out into the bar area before it. Knowing that Austin Brown of Parquet Courts produced their upcoming debut album to be released this summer should give you some idea of Bodega’s punky, devil-may-care kind of music. Not my thing, but they might be yours.

Black Futures Thursday The Great Escape 2018
apologies for the quality of this photo; clearly, it’s not my best work, and it didn’t help that it was nearly pitch black during Black Futures’ performance

London duo Black Futures describe themselves on their Facebook as “A no-holds-barred aural assault of Anarchic Electro Psych Punk Noise that is something like Death From Above and the Chemical Brothers’ bastard offspring”. Their recorded sound was intriguing enough for this hard rock and electronic fan to tip them in a preview of Live at Leeds 2018 and The Great Escape. Synths and guitars aplenty arrived on stage, while their mask and hazmat suit-dressed non-musical companions stood guard down front. Naturally, the spectacle caused the audience’s anticipation for the band to build. Programmed beats came in first, then the wailing guitars. Then, a ferocious scream from one of the guys on stage. You didn’t know if you should shake a tail feather or headbang. Me? I opted for the latter.

]Mansionair Thursday The Great Escape 2018

The main problem with the Green Door Store, which has been true every time I’ve visited, is that the place is like being inside a pressure cooker: hot, sweaty and uncomfortable. The upstairs venue space of the nearby Prince Albert is probably the only place worse for someone with claustrophobia, while the Hope and Ruin (formerly the Hope) offers the same level of discomfort. In order to take a breath, I dove for the exit, able to take in the precious fresh air all the way on my walk to Komedia. I couldn’t help myself: I just had to pop in to see Mansionair at one of their many appearances in Britain over the last 6 months. Even though I only saw them play two songs during their set at the ATC Live showcase, it was crystal clear from their closing with single ‘Astronaut (Something About Your Love)’ that they were a huge hit with the Great Escape crowd, their arms to-ing and fro-ing in time to frontman Jack Froggatt’s directions from the stage. The sexiness and baby-making potential of Mansionair’s sound wasn’t lost on punters, as I uncomfortably stood amongst lip-locking couples.

Back down closer to the seaside, I stopped in to the basement venue of the Walrus for another act I tipped ahead of Live at Leeds 2018. Who Zapatilla is remains a mystery, his identity cloaked both literally and figuratively. While listening to his music on Spotify made his music seem dancier, the few songs I witnessed live Thursday evening were more subdued and less engaging than I’d hoped.

Zapatilla Thursday The Great Escape 2018

Feeling less than energised from Zapatilla’s set, I thought I might change gears completely and end my night with a bit of singer/songwriter Blanco White. As Carrie wrote previously, Englishman Josh Edwards’ project is infused with Latin-American influences. By the time I figured out where the Unitarian Church was behind all the construction work, I sadly learned the intimate, all-seated venue where I’d previously seen a magical set by Marika Hackman was one in, one out. So much for planning. Feeling slightly defeated, I decided to call it a night.

 

Great Escape 2018: Day 1 Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Thursday, 31st May 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

It can’t be emphasised enough that the festival gods really smiled down on The Great Escape 2018 earlier this month. While in Washington, DC, my friends back home were suffering under torrential rains, I was by the sea in picture-perfect Brighton and never once did I have to break out the brolly. (Wasn’t so lucky the following Friday in Newcastle.) For anyone who has been soaked to the bone during The Great Escape in past years, you understand how this year’s impossibly good weather was incredible luck.

While the sunny skies did wonders for everyone’s mood and probably helped the sales of off-licence, takeaway liquor, friend and former writer Braden and I mused if the good weather could have adversely affected foot traffic and turnout to the both the official Great Escape and its sister event The Alternative Escape. As the weekend wore on, it seemed that with the long queues and huge crowds everywhere I went, there were plenty of music lovers in town to make this concern feel nonexistent. You’d have thought performances priot to the noon hour would be sparsely attended, but you would be wrong. Must be that early May sunrise in England!

Model Society Thursday The Great Escape The Alternative Escape 2018

London’s Model Society were already in full swing by the time I arrived at East Street Tap, host of the End of the Trail Records / Amazing Radio showcase. John and I knew this place in its previous incarnation as The Fishbowl. Their energy so early in the day was admirable, but I didn’t hear anything particularly exciting that would set their music apart from their indie peers. I was waiting for the act who would follow, Dan Lyons, who performed with a full band Saturday night at SXSW 2018.

Dan Lyons Thursday The Great Escape The Alternative Escape 2018

Lyons advertised it as a stripped back set, to be accompanied only by his guitar and his backing singer, bandmate and partner Freya. While his set in Austin came across as full-bodied blues, this barer version of Dan Lyons live was an entirely different experience. ‘Special People’ delivered in a deadpan makes you wonder how serious Lyons is being about people watching, or if he’s simply being cheeky. We were also treated to his upcoming single ‘Gargoyle’, which is currently only listenable if you happen to tune into a radio programme playing it. Everyone else, you’ll have to wait until it drops on the 22nd of June.

I thought I had gotten a good jumpstart on the acts following my in-person coverage of BIGSOUND 2017 in Australia last September and SXSW 2018 in March. But I can say now that I feel like there’s so much that I missed on at The Great Escape this year. There was the ever-present issue of clashes, of course, but the lack of separate lines for wristband and badge holders at many venues meant press could show up at a venue, only to be disappointed. Like at BIGSOUND 2017, I was thwarted again from seeing Hatchie properly on Thursday afternoon, but my personal setback could be viewed in a positive way: Sounds Australia’s Sound Gallery, taking up both the main Komedia venue space and its Studio Bar, were rammed all afternoon.

Hollow Coves Thursday The Great Escape 2018

When I made it back up to the Laines from East Street, I was only able to get into the Studio Bar. But with some luck, I managed to get reasonably close up to Hollow Coves. They’re a folk duo whose members are from Brisbane and The Gold Coast. This is a case where looks can be deceiving: they kind of look like smiley, yet unassuming builders. One of them is actually a carpenter, so I wasn’t that far off. At their simplest, I’d describe them as ethereal folk but interestingly, they also use synths on some tracks, taking folk songcraft and pairing it with electronic beats for a more 21st century flavour. I can get behind that! Their gorgeous music, including songs ‘Coastline’ and ‘Home’, took me back to my visit to Brisbane last year, when I took in the city’s very California-like climate and beauty.

On the other side of the Old Steine Gardens and back down closer to the sea is the Latest Music Bar, which hosted the Horizons / Gorwelion showcases Thursday and Friday afternoon. Even with rushing after an interview with Hollow Coves, I couldn’t make it in time before hyped Welsh act Boy Azooga finished. Drat. Cutting any further losses, I headed down to Patterns, Fender UK’s venue for the entire Great Escape, for a unique afternoon.

Declan McKenna Thursday The Great Escape 2018

Young but politically astute singer/songwriter Declan McKenna had been announced as the stage’s opening special guest shortly before the start of the festival, and his fans filling the Marine Parade venue were super excited as he and a female guitarist live bandmate began with single ‘Humongous’. Despite McKenna’s relative live inexperience, he seemed entirely at ease, his stage patter between songs hilarious. “I can’t play ‘Brazil’ now!” he hissed to the punters shouting for his World Cup-themed hit. “Everyone would leave!” Collective laughter. He ran through several other songs from his debut ‘What Do You Think About the Car?’, including ‘Paracetamol’, ‘The Kids Don’t Want to Come Home’ and ‘Make Me Your Queen’, before launching into the inevitable set closer.

Some of the crowd dispersed after McKenna finished, their spots to replaced to, shall we say, a much older crowd for BBC 6 Music’s Shaun Keaveny’s interview with legendary Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. I knew this would be an opportunity for Marr to peddle the Fender Jaguar he helped design with the guitar company: at one point, Marr insisted to the crowd that you don’t need so many guitars, his guitar is so great, you only need the one. Hmm, right…I’ll get back to you on that.

Johnny Marr and Shaun Keaveny Thursday The Great Escape 2018

I was happily surprised that the conversation didn’t de-evolve into a boring, gear head kind of talk only accessible to real guitarists. Instead, Keaveny’s humour coupled with Marr’s down to earth nature made for a comfortable interview for both, Marr entertaining us with unexpected guitar interludes that any Smiths fan worth his salt would recognise, including the intro to ‘The Headmaster Ritual’ and the dreamy, yet mournful passes in ‘Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me’, the latter that he revealed was his favourite Smiths riff of all, written alone on a tour bus, missing his girlfriend.

He described writing melodies on a guitar as “It’s like chasing an angel”. What a beautiful, beautiful image to give us. I’d describe Johnny Marr as having a quiet peace around him: he’s obviously one of the 20th century’s greatest musical heroes, but he’s not throwing his weight around or feels the need to be showy. He’s content with where he is in life and he’s happy making music with “the best electronic machine” to write pop music on. Being that contented and happy: something we can all aspire to.

 

Gill Landry / May and June 2018 English Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 2nd May 2018 at 9:00 am
 

American singer/songwriter Gill Landry will cross the pond for a handful of live dates in England at the start of summer, following on his recent spring tour of the U.S. west coast. Landry is touring his excellent 2017 album ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’, but as I heard when I attended his show at San Francisco’s Hotel Utah on the 31st of March, he’s including a strong mix of older songs in his live set as well. You can check out a couple of photos from that show just below, and at the bottom of the page, you’ll find a live video performance of one of my favourite older Gill Landry tunes, ‘Dixie’, courtesy of Ditty TV.

Gill Landry internal 1

Gill Landry internal 2

In addition to the following headline shows, Landry will also appear at the Red Rooster Festival in Suffolk on Friday the first of June. Tickets for the following shows are available now. You can read TGTF’s previous coverage of Gill Landry back through here.

Thursday 31st May 2018 – York Crescent Community Venue
Sunday 3rd June 2018 – Middlesborough Westgarth Social Club
Monday 4th June 2018 – London Old Queens Head
Tuesday 5th June 2018 – Brighton Brunswick Pub

 

Will Varley / October and November 2018 UK Tour

 
By on Friday, 27th April 2018 at 8:00 am
 

Kent singer/songwriter Will Varley has announced a lengthy UK tour for this autumn, on the strength of his recent LP release ‘Spirit of Minnie’, which is out now on Xtra Mile Recordings. Varley only just wrapped up his last UK tour in February, ahead of North American dates with Skinny Lister and his stop in Austin, Texas for SXSW 2018. Just below, check out a pair of photos from Varley’s opening set at Phoenix’s Valley Bar on the 23rd of February.

Will Varley internal 1

Will Varley internal 2

Tickets for the following shows go on sale today, Friday, the 27th of April at 10 AM. Below the tour date listing, you can take a listen to ‘Spirit of Minnie’ album track ‘All Those Stars’. TGTF’s collected past coverage of Will Varley is right back here.

Wednesday 10th October 2018 – Norwich Epic Studios
Thursday 11th October 2018 – Cambridge Junction 2
Friday 12th October 2018 – Derby Venue
Saturday 13th October 2018 – Plymouth Red House Theatre
Tuesday 16th October 2018 – York NCEM
Wednesday 17th October 2018 – Newcastle Cluny
Thursday 18th October 2018 – Manchester Ritz
Friday 19th October 2018 – Glasgow Stereo
Saturday 20th October 2018 – Sheffield Leadmill
Sunday 21st October 2018 – Deal Astor Theatre
Tuesday 23rd October 2018 – Bath Komedia
Wednesday 24th October 2018 – Brighton Haunt
Thursday 25th October 2018 – Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
Friday 26th October 2018 – Stroud Brunel Goods Shed
Saturday 27th October 2018 – Llandrindod Wells Pavilion Mid Wales
Saturday 3rd November 2018 – London Round Chapel

 

Preview: The Great Escape 2018

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd April 2018 at 10:00 am
 

We’re into April now, which means the first wave of the big three May city festivals are just weeks away. I have already previewed the 2018 editions of Live at Leeds and Liverpool Sound City, the latter seeing a move away from docklands this year. The final of the trifecta, The Great Escape in Brighton, will be making changes of their own.

The festival will be premiering ‘The Beach’, promised to be a 2,000 capacity festival site of its own separate from the rest of the festival. It’s expected to house an 30 individual venues. This could be amazing or could go horribly wrong. Sound bleed from the Main Stage at the docklands version of Sound City adversely affected smaller acts on the smaller stage, so we’ll have to see how this first year of the added ‘Beach’ goes. As the format of The Great Escape really hasn’t changed since I first started going in 2012, it was definitely time for them to try something new and I’m going to be positive that the South’s emerging music festival has already sussed out the potential issues.

So what countries outside the UK will have significant presence at The Great Escape? As usual, America, Australia (bringing their famous Aussie BBQ) and Canada will have plenty of artists in Brighton. But it’s also worth noting France, Ireland (yes, both sides of the border) and The Netherlands are sending a critical mass of artists. So there, Brexit!

As in past years, there will be a rap-focussed Spotlight Show at Brighton Dome on the 19th of May. This year’s edition will star Mist and MoStack, Steel Banglez, Fredo and Ebenezer. Access to this special show Saturday night can be through the purchase of a standalone ticket or a successful application for the lucky draw following purchase of a 3-day weekend or 1-day festival ticket.

Tickets to the Great Escape 2018 are still available in 3-day saver, team (buy 6 for the price of 5) and single day formats. Young adults have the option to buy a 3-day ticket or a Saturday day ticket. For more information on tickets and to buy your own, go here.

 
 
 

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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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