The Great Escape 2011
May 16, 2011, 3:05 pm
Filed under: Festival Reviews

After a very long lie in following a very lovely weekend in Brighton, I can report back to you my experience of this year’s Great Escape Festival.

Before I went I was warned by a few people that there’s a lot of running around involved if you actually want to see anything and this proved itself on a Friday night that was disappointing on the band front!  However, through a little bit of pre-planning and recommendations from friends, I managed to see some really fantastic performances that are definitely worth a mention.

Thursday was my most organised night as I arrived in Brighton bright eyed and bushy tailed clutching my freshly printed and highlighted timetable in my hand.  Not in time for daytime gigs, my night kicked off in Horatio’s at the end of Brighton’s iconic pier.  With favourable drink prices, Horatio’s has a cosy “social club” feel.

First band on were Big Deal, a super-cute Anglo girl/American boy duo who in recent months have been tipped as the ones to watch by the likes of NME.  Both singers gave an effortlessly cool, laid-back performance with quaint catchy lyrics.  Their successfully simple and honest performance couldn’t be anymore stripped back as the only instruments they use are two guitars.  My favourite track was ‘Talk’ which you can listen to here.  And the good news is that they will be playing on the Saturday of this year’s Lounge on The Farm.  Don’t miss them!

Thankfully Audio isn’t far from the pier, so I managed to catch the last song from post-punk band The Soft Moon.  Clearly at the climax of their performance their music was loud, thumping and consumed my body from the centre!  Coming in at the last song was the optimum way of getting to the front of the next band and so I had a good view of Suuns, who were next!

Suuns gave an epic performance built upon a rich texture of layered and looped sounds.  It was evident that each musician was focused and passionate about their music but where the music was tight, they could have been slightly more engaged with the audience at times.  However with riffs that were reminiscient to the like of Muse in their heyday and Radiohead, that had been smashed up and pieced back together in a fresh and experimental context, I wasn’t really put off.  My pick of their tracks is ‘Armed for Peace’ but you can check out everything they have here.

Then it was back to Horatio’s for the band I mentioned in my last blog; Cults.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The New York five-piece had four members with the same hairstyle and enough musical gems up their sleeve to make them equally recognisable in the near-future I expect!  Although their performance wasn’t quite as tight as it could have been, mostly due to a few tech difficulties, the girl singer’s stunning vocals and charming dance moves were the highlight of the show.  Also, anyone who injects a fair share of Korg and xylophone well into their music gets a tick in my book.  Be sure to check out ‘Go Outside’ and ‘You Know What I Mean’ here.

Sadly the queues for Gang Gang Dance and Warpaint looked like they reached as far as Hove so we popped down to the Green Door Store for the rest of the night.  Nothing much to mention there except great venue!  It’s right by the station and they have a Facebook page if you’re interested!  Check out their upcoming gigs here.

Again on Friday I didn’t do anything in the daytime because I was at a Journalism taster day at Brighton Journalist Works.  I’ve already mentioned the lack of music on Friday night and this was due to peaking too early with ciders on the beach in the early evening.  Compared to Thursday, Friday was even more rammed with people and their were queues everywhere.  I had a great night, just not at the Festival.

So, it was important that on Saturday I would get my money’s worth.  I should have definitely done stuff during the day but turns out, I’m really good at sleeping.

Onto the eve: sadly there was a big queue for Horatio’s, so no chance of checking out Braids.  Thankfully Coalition offered an answer to this running around and queuing business; put two bands you would like to see on in a row!

New band Foster the People played before White Denim.  Their lively performance immediately engaged the audience and got them moving (no one seems to dance as much these days.)  The lead singer had a really unique voice and I was a big fan of their track ‘Houdini’.  Listen here.  Their album is out next week.

I was lucky enough the be right at the front for White Denim which meant I could see how much they enjoyed performing and really revel in their talented and extended live instrumentals.  Check out the track ‘Shake Shake Shake’ on Spotify.

Again, queues wiped out the chance of seeing The Naked and Famous (biggest disappointment but they are doing an extensive tour at the mo) and The Vaccines but hey ho they’ll be at Lounge on The Farm!  Instead it was the much smaller venue of The Prince Albert pub to watch King Charles, a small but interesting man in a small but interesting room.

King Charles’ stage presence was second to none.  He connected with the audience and was not put off by an annoying group of drunkards or a few problems with sound.  There was something very theatrical about the gig with balancing on chairs and his nest of hair which is like another instrument in the band, we’ll call it visual hair!  I loved his range of songs, his witty and engaging lyrics and his voice layered with the voices of his backing vocalists.  The gig had attitude which certainly thwacked its stamp on my Festival experience.  You can peruse his tracks here.  I love ‘Mr. Flick’, like others recommended here it has lots of ‘Ooohs’ which makes it easy to sing along!!

Alongside my Festival experience, my weekend in Brighton was filled with lots of other adventures but I’ll stick to what I’ve told you for now.

I recommend that if you go to The Great Escape next year; you plan which bands you want to see, don’t get too drunk, buy or blag a delegate’s pass which means you skip the queues and make sure you get your ass down to gigs during the day and make the most of the whole Festival.  Organisation is key!

For a briefer approach to a blog about The Great Escape; Check out 10 things we learnt @ The Great Escape here.


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[…] Big Deal earlier in the day (for a full review of them – check out my Great Escape blog here.)  They were followed by Tall Ships, a 4-piece energetic electro band, layering catchy and […]

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