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Preview: The Great Escape 2017

 
By on Thursday, 11th May 2017 at 11:00 am
 

Now May is upon us, and 2017’s festival season is beginning to rear its beautifully sunburnt and rain-soaked head. Before all the festival giants appear later in the summer, your Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds, etc., it’s the turn of the smaller gems, including The Great Escape. A festival noted for both its industry focus and incredible ability to highlight those new acts worth following, The Great Escape is now a rite of passage for those in, around or outside the industry. We’re sure you’re more than aware of The Great Escape and all it offers, but just in case, think SXSW just far less warmth and people: this isn’t Texas, after all. It’s filled with industry-based conferences, which may or may not be your thing, it appeals to movers and shakers as well as opportunists, all with a lovely seaside setting in Brighton.

For its twelfth outing, the 400 act-strong lineup is littered with the best and brightest from around the world, including Spotlight shows at the Dome with Brit-punk duo Slaves, current household name Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, as well one at the Old Market by grime forefather Kano. There’s a little something for everyone spread out over the 3 days and 30-odd venues, from hip-hop to indie, and everything in between.

It would be amiss for us to not give you a little help on deciding who to see, so here’s a few of our choice picks, starting with the ridiculously funky and impossible not to dance to Artificial Pleasure. With echoes of Bowie and Talking Heads – a winning combination if there ever was one – the foursome create true earworms and are definitely ones to watch. Getting things a bit punkier are Norway’s Sløtface. At the forefront of the new class of punk, they support equality and aren’t afraid to call out bullshit with ridiculously catchy melodies and choruses you’ll be singing for months after. Considering they’re four college students, they’ve already made waves bigger than the English Channel, including a successful trip over to SXSW. We also suggest nine-member Canadian jazz group Busty and the Bass. A fusion of jazz, hip-hop and electro-soul, this group will give you a guaranteed good time filled with beats and breaks that will have you reeling for days.

As with all events like this, you never know quite what could happen. Bands pop up all around the vicinity doing last-minute shows, collaborations between new and old friends. Like we mentioned in last year’s preview piece, Brighton is already a melting pot of creativity and arts: The Great Escape is just more fuel for the fire. So get yourself down to The Great Escape next weekend for a few days of sea, sun (hopefully) and music. Throughout this little festival, it’ll be impossible to not find an act you like. It’s a special, vibrant time that’ll guarantee you a good time.

Only 3-day festival passes are currently available. Passes for 18+ festival-goers are £65; a cheaper alternative giving 16- and 17-year olds access to the venues they can enter is available for £32. While Slaves and Rag ‘n’ Bone Man’s Spotlight shows at Brighton Dome are now sold out, you can register here to enter the giveaway for tickets to their shows and Kano’s show at the Old Market. Full delegate badges giving access to both the convention and the festival showcases are still available for £250; convention-only badges are sold out. Watch an early trailer for the festival below. To read more of our coverage of past editions of The Great Escape, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PyzNEeTjEw[/youtube]

 

Preview: The Great Escape 2016

 
By on Monday, 7th December 2015 at 9:00 am
 

Now in its eleventh year, The Great Escape (TGE) festival (19-21 May 2016) looks like it will be going from strength to strength in 2016. It’s the UK’s most industry focused festival, with its emphasis being on the new classes of bands coming through the ranks, as well as having the TGE convention where industry professionals can debate and discuss the future of our fabled industry. The fact it’s based in Brighton is a massive help in its successes: it’s a centrifuge of artistic and creative talent with the added bonus of being next to the seaside.

For those not in the know, it’s the equivalent of the American festival SXSW, which is essentially a mammoth music convention a la mecca. It’s the perfect destination for music lovers and workers, a melting pot of ideas and talent.

This year’s first round of acts has been announced, much sooner than we’d normally expect. With one of the coveted Spotlight Shows (formerly Dome shows) going to pop hit-writing duo Oh Wonder (pictured at top), who back in September 2015 released their self-titled debut record that consists of their promise to record and release one song a month for one year, starting in September 2014. Certainly a strong start for the festival. They will be supported by Shura and Masa Mura, a not to be missed show.

One of the more recognisable, bigger names on the released list of first acts to be revealed is Mystery Jets, who are no stranger having played back in 2009 and who have held our hearts ever since ‘Two Doors Down’ was released in 2008. They’ve returned with the announcement of a fifth album due out in January 2016, so we should expect to hear a mix of new material and old.

Owen Rabbit. will certainly be another artist to watch. The 24-year old Melbournian utilises what is essentially junk to create instrumentation that layers up to form a sculpture of electronica not easily found with the use of even the best equipment. He will definitely bring an intriguing and exciting performance, with the perk of being environmentally friendly.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMVHkdtQtJ0[/youtube]

Last year’s headliners Alabama Shakes previously played back in 2012, so the anticipation for the announcement of this next year’s top acts is high. The spread of talent is so wide, the festival isn’t known for one particular genre or favouritism to certain acts, past highlights have included everyone from Adele (2007) to Fat White Family (2014), Ed Sheeran (2011) to Charli XCX (2014), and absolutely everything in between.

Acts come from all over the planet be a part of one of the most exciting festivals, one that’s full of discovery and absolute wonder. This year is set to be better than ever, they’ve even reduced the age limit to some of the venues to 16+ so the range of music lovers can grow. We all know what it’s like to miss out on the coolest events because of age at some point in our lives, and this just shows the lengths they’re going through to approach almost absolutely every demographic.

TGE is one festival not to be missed, with over 30 different venues housing the plethora of bands and fans, you’re sure to find something worth watching, even if it’s a familiar name or a 24-year old Australian playing empty bottles, you’ll be hard pressed to not have a good time. If you really do find yourself at a loose end with no music to watch, there’s always the beach.

 

Live Gig Videos: Slaves play ‘The Hunter’ and ‘Hey’ at the VEVO UK stage at Great Escape 2015

 
By on Friday, 5th June 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

One of the biggest live gig and festival draws for a hard rock band, Slaves made three appearances at last month’s at the Great Escape 2015. Shows at Coalition down by the seafront Friday reviewed by me here and at the Corn Exchange early Saturday night were followed by the irrepressible duo closing out the proceedings Saturday night at the VEVO UK stage, hosted this year at Wagner Hall. In the videos below, you can feel like you were there to witness all the action, as VEVO UK have shared live footage of ‘The Hunter’ and ‘Hey’ with all of us. Watch and enjoy them below.

Slaves‘ debut album ‘Are You Satisfied?’ is out this week on Virgin EMI.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYjNatEyB3g[/youtube]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDF0rHVqDTg[/youtube]

 

Live Gig Video: The Cribs close out their VEVO UK stage appearance at Great Escape 2015 with ‘Pink Snow’

 
By on Thursday, 4th June 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

Some 9 odd years after their debut appearance at the emerging music festival in Brighton, the Cribs reappeared at the Great Escape 2015 to do some damage Friday night at the VEVO UK stage, hosted this year at Wagner Hall. Following on from the social consciousness of George the Poet and closing out the second night of the 10th anniversary of the event by the sea, the Jarman brothers did what they do best: tore through an hour-long set of old favourites and newer ones from their latest album ‘For All My Sisters’ (reviewed by Chris here). ‘Pink Snow’ has a bit of a sinister, wonky melody, and while it wouldn’t have been my choice for the song to end their set, along with all the other songs they played in Brighton that night, it was rapturously received by their fans. Watch the performance below.

For all TGTF’s past coverage on the Cribs, including the Wakefield brothers’ appearance at the VEVO UK stage as reviewed by me, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvFzBm3k5MY[/youtube]

 

Great Escape 2015: Day 3 Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Friday, 22nd May 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Part 1 of my coverage from the Great Escape 2015 on Saturday is this way.

Le Galaxie @ Patterns downstairs (Jack Daniel’s)

So after getting my brains beaten in by a band from Cardiff, I was expecting for something a bit different at Patterns downstairs with Landshapes. However, when I arrived at the venue, there was a brief lull, and then an epileptic fit of strobes accompanied with throbbing beats. Uhhh, I don’t think this is Landshapes? (I was informed later that due to another band pulling out of the lineup, all the acts were going on a half-hour early. If you’re keen on Landshapes, you’re in luck, the London band was on Marc Riley’s 6 Music show Thursday night.) I realised quickly that I was now watching Le Galaxie from Dublin, which was fine by me because I was in the mood for some real electronic after a so far real dance-less Saturday at the Great Escape 2015. While Carrie covered the band at the full Irish breakfast at SXSW 2015, I am pretty sure the stars aligned on purpose so I would be at Patterns at that very moment to catch them.

Le Galaxie at the Great Escape 2015

Most dance music runs to one theme, love: how to get it, how to keep it and what to do when you lose it. With enough dB in the background to keep your heart pulsating. Having a charismatic frontman is paramount. In the case of Le Galaxie, Michael Pope knows how to shake what his momma gave him. It is not what you expect from a hulking Irishman with an epic beard; he looks more like he should be playing with Fleet Foxes, not fronting an electronic band. (I didn’t see the tattoos that are apparently also a trademark of his.) Watching him shake his arse and show off his fancy footwork in front of a Brighton crowd absolutely loving it was quite the sight to see. ‘Put the Chain On’ was a banger, the song that sticks out in my mind because the band was so on point. I think that was one of several where Pope took his microphone and went straight to the barrier to commune with the fans. Another big one was ‘Lucy is Here’, a darker, older but still goodie track. This is exactly the kind of band I expect would have an amazing – and deservedly so – draw at a festival like Ultra. It’s not just synths and buttons pushed. Pope and co. make sure everyone is included in their dance party, and it’s an unforgettable experience.

Young Kato @ Shooshh

Next on my hit parade for Saturday night was Young Kato, who I’ve been following since their early days. They’ve now released their debut album on Republic of Music this month, ‘Don’t Wait ’til Tomorrow’, which has been a long time coming, and I couldn’t be happier for the lads. Their show at Shooshh would be their crowning moment at the Great Escape 2015, where they would show off their new tunes and bring out the older ones for devoted fans. ‘Drink, Dance, Play’, which always ends up being a ridiculously fun exercise in jumping up and down, yelling and screaming the chorus, never disappoints, and it sure didn’t disappoint in Brighton. The vibrancy of the uber optimistic ‘Sunshine’, the title track of their autumn EP last year, closed their set out on a high note. Onward and upwards, lads!

Young Kato at the Great Escape 2015

Even though it was a little chilly to me, the dry weather was nice in Brighton, which means there were queues at most venues thanks to eager punters everywhere you went in the city. The Spiegelpub and Spiegeltent area around hub of transit activity The Old Steine was a new one to me, but I was very intrigued with the premise: being inside it was very much like being at an outdoor festival, which means if the weather is good, it’s fantastic, but if the weather’s crap, every man for himself.

Keston Cobblers’ Club @ Spiegeltent (Jazz Cafe Presents…)

After getting some cheesy fries with loads of mayonnaise and feeling like an idiot for eating them with a fork (hey, I still had to take photos, yo!), I entered a Moulin Rouge-themed area where Keston Cobblers’ Club would be playing. I have my favourite songs off their debut album ‘One, for Words’, and hoped I would hear them. One of the catchiest tunes off their debut, ‘Your Mother’ is a unique one, with horns and banjo joining the fray, the band’s lush harmonies sounded beautiful against the instrumentation. The group also showed off some new songs from their upcoming second album ‘Wildfire’, which will be released in June.

Keston Cobblers' Club at the Great Escape 2015

Sadly, I was drowned out for the request for a slower one by the rest of the crowd, which in the end is fine because I would have preferred them to gain new fans than to make one music editor happy. The crowd was in the mood to dance or to be more accurate, to stomp. While I was stood in the front of them, it quickly became a square-dancing hoedown, punters pleased with the up tempo gaiety their songs provided them on a mild night by the sea. At one point, I was sure I was going to be stamped to death, as everyone was so boisterously stomping their feet on the wood floor of the Spiegeltent. All’s well that ends well, though: after their set was over, new fans rushed like the dickens to the front to buy their CD. A job well done, then.

Blossoms @ Green Door Store (Dr. Marten’s)

I had been thinking for a long while how I wanted to end my Great Escape 2015 experience and after a friend had disappeared from me post-Keston Cobblers, I decided my original plan was best. I rushed quickly back up Brighton’s hilly streets to the Green Door Store, the site of my most epic fail at the Great Escape to date. Two years ago, at the same crowded venue, I got nowhere near the front so I could hear Teleman but could not actually see them. This time, I wasn’t about to be denied. I was a little pushy but was never rude and by the grace of god, I finally saw a clearing and was down the front for Stockport’s Blossoms, who I’d enjoyed at the BBC Introducing stage at SXSW 2015. I think it was a pleasant surprise for the band to see me, as they didn’t even know I was at the festival.

Blossoms at the Great Escape 2015

Watching a middle-aged man in sunglasses (remember, it was nearly midnight by this time, and dark) and a leopard print shirt, grooving to Blossoms, that image from this year’s event will definitely stay with me. He was clearly feeling and breathing in their psychedelic pop vibes, as were many down the front. Kitted out with their new shoes courtesy of stage sponsor Dr. Marten’s, the five-piece were on point. I still don’t know what ‘Blow’ means, it probably has some rude explanation that would make me blush, but for some reason I really connect with its sound, and I admit I have played the video for the song a few too many times on YouTube, Tom Ogden’s vocal line in the chorus is just about perfect, and bloody hell, you must be a stone if Josh Dewhurst’s guitar solo doesn’t bring you to near tears.

Afterwards, I went to go thank the lads for a hell of a set. We all hugged and they asked me, “when will we see you again?” Ha. I couldn’t cry then. It’d be too embarrassing. But I hated knowing I was going home the next day. But hopefully that reunion with them and everyone else I met up with in Brighton will be sooner than later. Fingers crossed.

 

Great Escape 2015: Day 3 Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Friday, 22nd May 2015 at 11:00 am
 

Saturday at the Great Escape 2015, and the final homestretch is in sight. If you haven’t felt broken already, you probably will have woken up the last day with a sore head and wondering why you have put your body through this again for another year. This year at both stages of the Komedia, the festival offered up something new called Great Day Out, for which you could buy tickets for the two matinee lineups outside of the actual Great Escape. I guess it was an option for those only coming into Brighton for the day and wanting a slice (a very small one) just to get a taste of what the festival had to offer.

As laudable this idea was, it was a small nightmare for the door staff to cope with. The kind bouncer I chatted with actually apologised for the situation, explaining that because tickets were being sold for the event taking place in the two performance spaces, they had to limit the count of people inside more than they might normally do. He had the unenviable task of asking everyone in the badge queue who they had intended to see inside. Unfortunately for one very hung over person in our queue, he had no idea what he was queueing for, grabbing his programme from his back pocket and frantically checking who was actually on inside. Oops. When it came my turn, I was prepared. My answer was short and sweet. “Get Inuit.” After promising I was only going to stay in there for them, I was finally let in, albeit mid-set, after stepping into the main room for a bit to see how 2011 Great Escape TGTF stage alum K. Flay was getting on. The crowd were loving her. Good.

Get Inuit @ Komedia Studio Bar (Great Day Out)

Apparently the Pav Tav has a bad reputation among bands for their not so great soundsystem. So after seeing Get Inuit there the night before, I wanted to give them another try in a supposedly aurally better location. Interestingly, I didn’t hear much difference between the two shows, except maybe that the band felt even less inhibited by the situation than they had playing in a pub, the Komedia Studio Bar being a more intimate, lower-ceilinged place.

Get Inuit at the Great Escape 2015

Diving headfirst into a series of tunes that seem incredibly tight for a band that as only just released their first EP this year, their confidence shone through, and compared to the night before at the Pav Tav, it was the music that was front and centre and wildly, crazily enjoyable and not necessarily frontman Jamie Glass’ sometimes groan-worthy stage patter (sorry, Jamie). The punishing rock of ‘I Would’ was peerless, and despite its verbose, ominous title, ‘Coping with Death in a Nutshell’ has an awesomely melodic guitar I still have in my head to this day. Amusingly, a middle-aged American man came up to the band after, exclaiming, “you’re like the love child of Nirvana and Weezer!” I just stepped back and laughed. Huh, really? I don’t hear that at all. But if it leads to a record deal (as I assume it will) then I am all for it.

SLUG @ Dome Studio Theatre (Generator)

Our North East friends at the incredibly supportive to the UK music industry Generator were putting on an afternoon showcase at the Brighton Dome Theatre, and I for one was not going to miss it. Jagaara, whose set I’d seen the tail end of at Live at Leeds 2015, went over extremely well with the punters. But I was here for something…a bit off-kilter. I have always been amazed by the inventiveness and indeed the heart of the music coming out of Sunderland, especially anything touched by brothers David and Peter Brewis, whether it be Field Music, either of their solo projects, and anything in between. Both brothers and other local musicians Andrew Lowther and Rhys Patterson are part of the live backing band of gastropod-named SLUG, aka the project of Sunderland’s Ian Black.

SLUG at the Great Escape 2015

You know you’re in for something special when the frontman of a band appears onstage looking all formal in a suit and a white bowtie, as if he should be performing in front of a philharmonic, not in a venue at the Great Escape 2015. He’s also ginger, so the look goes a long way of softening any thoughts that you’re in for a hard rock onslaught by a real live Viking. That would be boring though. And entirely inappropriate for creative Mackems. A quick read down the tracklisting for Black’s debut album with Memphis Industries released in mid-April, ‘RIPE’, makes it clear this is music that couldn’t be further from the mainstream (‘Grimacing Mask’, ‘Kill Your Darlings’ and ‘Shake Your Loose Teeth’ are especially of note).

The percussive funk of LP standout track ‘Greasy Mind’ is inescapably catchy, while the almost down and dirty ‘Cockeyed Rabbit Wrapped in Plastic’, with the falsettos by Black and his onstage compadres is another earworm that won’t be denied. The live performance, with tambourine, bongos, melodica and empty beer bottles (to be hit, naturally) augmenting the more usual rock band elements, was also hugely entertaining, with Black’s backing band all dressed in black turtlenecks and jeans, like they were a bunch of bohemians flown in from France. My guess that there were either large numbers of exiled North Easters and/or massive fans of SLUG in attendance at the Generator showcase, as the applause and whoops of delight at 3 in the afternoon for the band were as enthusiastic as one might expect for a dance band at midnight at the Great Escape. In any event, the SLUG performance was stunningly brilliant.

Orla Gartland @ Brighthelm Centre (Amazon Student UK)

Having seen Slaves in a sweaty, hilarious show at Coalition Friday night, I needed not to queue up with everyone else for the NME evening showcase at the Corn Exchange for the Kent punks but was now free to do as I pleased. And what would please me more than see one of the brightest stars of young Ireland I had the pleasure of seeing twice at SXSW 2015. Orla Gartland opened the Amazon Student UK show as the Brighthelm Centre, wearing what I think must be her lucky dress, a cute black and white number I recognised from Austin. I can’t imagine this spunky young lady ever being mad or angry. All three times I’ve seen her play now, she’s been this irrepressible ball of energy, like a ginger bolt of sunshine in human form and exactly the boost I needed after what felt like a very long Saturday that was making feel like I was going to cry.

Orla Gartland at the Great Escape 2015

Several punters down the front had trained their cameras on the young Gartland. For the entire show. Then they grabbed her set lists off the stage before I could even blink. Your time has come, Orla. Fanboys are a sure sign of success. Me, I was content snapping a couple of photos but I really just wanted to enjoy the show. Beginning with ‘Souvenirs’, Gartland breezed through an all too short set of her pop gems and as in Austin, she peppered the time with her audience with short stories that made her laugh and indeed, reminded us that she’s a normal young woman…except she leaves her friends’ house parties early when she’s come up with an idea for a new song. Needs must, eh? To close our her set, she played ‘Lonely People’, which has gone massive on Hype Machine, having over 300K plays on Spotify since it was released earlier this year. Positivity begets positivity. And Orla Gartland has nowhere to go but up.

Houdini Dax @ Mesmerist (Alternative Escape / This is Now Agency)

Houdini Dax are a Welsh band I have seen on many a festival list we’ve attended but somehow I never managed to fit them into a schedule (I recall one Liverpool Sound City where I had them written down, but I ended up missing them, not able to arrive in time at the venue). Saturday night in Brighton, I finally got my chance at the This is Now Agency showcase at the Mesmerist, familiar to me as being the locale for past Blog Up get-togethers. I don’t know if the place has been gentrified or what, but I don’t remember people being in line to get bespoke cocktails. The mojito doesn’t sound like something that should be native to Brighton.

After I had settled in at the bar with a Kiwi cider, Houdini Dax started up with their assault on our ears. I totally get now why I was never able to see this band before. I wasn’t ready. Until now. I don’t think I would have appreciated them 2, 3 years ago. You can tell the Cardiff trio’s roots are based in classic guitar bands like the Beatles, which is always a good start, because a good handle on the basics and being able to write a song that is catchy and being memorable are important keys to being successful in this business. But when you listen to them, as the guitar squeals and the bass and drums thump on a track like ‘Good Old Fashioned Maniac’, there it is, the heart and soul of a band who are in it for the right reasons. It is bands like Houdini Dax that make me want to keep going with what I’m doing. Older song ‘Our Boy Billy’ shows the group’s darker, bluesier side and their adeptness for playing in spades.

Houdini Dax at the Great Escape 2015

I’ve read that they’ve been playing together since they were in school, and that tightness as a unit shows when they play live. Even though I didn’t know the songs before I came into the room, I left with the definite feeling that I want to keep an eye on these lads because they’re entertaining live and they’re good songwriters. The band suffered a major setback back in March when their parked van was broken into in Manchester and all their gear was stolen. (Thanks to a grant by the Arts Council of Wales and Horizons / Gorwelion, they were given money to buy a new van. Yay, art councils!) But you’d never have even known anything had happened by the way they attacked their instruments Saturday night. If you have a heart and want to support a band worth supporting, donate what you can to their stolen gear fund here on GoFundMe.

Hold your horses, part 2 of my Saturday coverage of the Great Escape 2015 follows this afternoon.

 
 
 

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. 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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