I am very sentimental about The Great Escape festival. See, four years ago, I attended the second edition, and it made me fall in love with Brighton. And you all know the rest.
A little bit of wikipedia-like explanation before we start :The Great Escape (TGE) is a 3-day music festival, running across the entire city, featuring the best new and exciting bands, from all over the world from alt-rock to pop music. Often described as “The European Answer to SXSW”, TGE features between 150 and 200 bands playing in 30 venues, curated by magazines, record labels or promoters. Add The Alternative Escape, a free/no wristband required event featuring awesome bands and record labels, to the equation, and you get the best festival in Europe. No less.
This year made no exception : between the must-see, the talented friends, and the “I never heard of before but totally won my over” bands, TGE 2013 was packed with awesomeness. And noise. And mayhem.
Want a slice?
Wednesday, may 15th : Warming up
(The Latest Music Bar) Justin Saltmeris
I have never heard of Justin Saltmeris before, I left the venue as a new fan. If you like whiskey-voices, delicate melodies and acoustic driven songs, you’re in for a treat.
Thursday, may 16th : Day 1
Dave Mc Phee (Hub)
Guitar skills and fascinating instrumental music, under the sun.
(St Bartholomew’s Church)
Two young brothers with a passion for rockabilly, surf rock and all things 50s. Their 30mn set was energetic and, although Henry Ruen’s (who is a Steven Ansell lookalike) voice was quite funny at time, the music made up for it. I guess they’re ones to watch!
My must-see this year. Saying I was excited to see Milo Greene was an understatement. The LA quintet and their harmonies were perfect in that church. ‘1957’ and ‘Perfectly Aligned’ were such beautiful moments.
A Finnish duo, dark electro-pop, and a home-made UFO (Ultrasonic Frequency Controller), for a hypnotic set in a community Centre Chapel.
How To Dress Well
Sometimes clashes can be a good thing. I was planning to see Dinosaur Pile-Up at The Hope (a few blocks away) but the queue was discouraging (and I don’t like queuing). Someone on Twitter recommended HTDW to me. I was pretty sure it would be post rock.
But G*d was it beautiful.
Tom Krell plays with passion, loss, frustration, fears, life and death. And there’s something so delicate in his Experimental/R&B music, something that could break any minute, but something strong enough to get you (and him) through this. And his voice…
If you like Bleubird or Telefon Tel Aviv, How To Dress Well is for you.
Friday, may 17th : Day 2, Mayhem
Also the night were we met three awesome people who loved Friday Night Lights as much as I do. Matt, Stevie (yeah, like Stevie Nicks) and Alex, if you read these lines…Clear eyes, Full hearts, Can’t Lose!
Three Trapped Tigers (secret show, One Inch Badge, Smack)
A rammed tiny bar near the seafront, and some delicious noise. A great appetizer for Saturday’s set.
(Pav Tav; Alt Great Escape)
Let’s talk real : Teams Alcopop & Big Scary Monsterss brought the most intense and crazy bill of the year on Friday night : Speakers falling on stage, bodies flying over, broken glass and epic sing a long = pretty punk rock.
My First Tooth
I love their mix of indie/pop/folk, and the fact that Sophie, their guitarist, also plays violin and mandolin perfectly. Feel good music at its best!
Freeze The Atlantic
Reuben + Hundred Reasons = noise. Or something.
With a much anticipated (10 years!) album under their belt, the fun indie army Stagecoach provided slams and smiles and don’t you just love it when band members crowdsurf endlessly :)
Crash Of Rhinos
Wow just wow of the night. Five guys, two guitars, two basses (!), I’d say post-hardcore will never die, but we all know it already. No wonder why these guys are signed on Topshelf Rds in the US!
We now enter the Mayhem zone.
Part 1 : Tellison. They’ve confessed it was their first gig in six months, and it seemed like the kids missed them a lot. A LOT.
Impressive sing-a longs, first bodies flying, crowd moving and most of all, first left speaker dangerously leaving gravity.
Fight Like Apes
Mayhem Part 2 : Irish troublemakers come on stage and the crowd goes wild. So wild in fact that the aforementioned speaker nearly fell on bassist Conor Garry, forcing MayKay (frontwoman extraordinaire) to warn “If you touch my bass player with that speaker, I fucking kill you”. She was serious, and sang with the same ferocity. At this point, I was really happy to stand near the stage and not in the crowd…I’m old. New songs sound a bit more electro-pop, even if that means nothing less violent in the FLA world. The new album should be a blast.
Mayhem part 3 : It’s nearly 3am when Punk-noise_alt_rock titans Johnny Foreigner start playing “Champagne Girls I Have Known”, but that doesn’t slow the kids down. I remember hearing broken glass while getting so scared by the speakers (left and right now). Meanwhile, the quartet plays new songs (they sound so good, THEY SOUND SO GOOD) and graces us with Hennings Favourite. Ballet of pedals and noisy guitars. Perfect. Salt Peppa & Spinderella ends the show. Time to bed.
Saturday, May 18th : Day 3, Mathcore Recovery
Yes, I was supposed to see Black Heart rebellion, but I fell asleep while packing. True Story.
(Pav Tav, Fools Paradise)
Our Lost Infantry
I’ve been meaning to see Our Lost Infantry for ages. And now I know why. Post-hardcore-rock, smart melodies and great voice. Check them out, they play everywhere.
Hold Your Horse Is
Brutal is the word.
Mutiny On The Bounty
Last I saw the Luxembourg combo, it was on a Parisian boat in 2009, supporting Fall of Troy. Now they’re on their second album, open for Tall Ships, and are easily one of the best bands from the scene. Great set, good crowd, well done.
Physics House Band
Technically perfect, but did nothing to me. Where’s the soul guys?
Hometown gig for the trio (now quartet, with James Elliot Field of Tubelord fame on keyboards), who delivered a perfect gig, combining noisy and more pop moments. Ric’s voice is still so moving (“Ode to Our Ancestors”, best moment of the show) and the guitars are still sharp. (unrelated, bassist Matt Parker has what I believe is an Alkaline Trio tattoo. Good taste here sir)
Three Trapped Tigers
Instrumental noise trio TTT (yeah) ends the festival on a high-note. Keyboards, guitars and one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen live (Adam Betts. He managed to play 2 hows in 1h30 on Friday. When you see how brutal he is on drums, that means something). It’s a journey. A dark, dancey, hallucinating one.
And that’s how TGE ended for me.
Same time next year?