Posts Tagged ‘Great Escape’

great escape

A final day building up the step count trudging between venues. This time choosing to start at a free all day gig at Bleach which was not an official GE event, and was nearly 3,000 steps away, but worth it all the same for Nots and Nap Eyes.

The former, a blistering all-female foursome from Tennessee, peeled what paint was left from the walls and the latter playing downstairs in the main bar offered some delightful slacker-indie pop with appropriately obtuse and literate lyrics. Both in their own way thoroughly entertaining.

After a break, I was back later for a set of spaced out, ambient tinged krautrock from Ulrika Spacek before Traams stormed the stage with their belligerent, brooding post-punk. A stunning Succulent Thunder Anthem appeared early in the set whilst closer Klaus was as good as anything we’ve heard live for a long, long time.

I hopped over the road (negligible steps) to The Joker to see a charming if somewhat inoffensively bland set of mild folk rock from Leif Erikson before retracing those 3,000 steps back to the seafront to squeeze in for the blazing, full on psychedelia of The Cult Of Dom Keller.

Ears suitably ringing, I did the last 1,000 steps or so back to the hotel and the end of three pretty fine days at the Great Escape.







great escape

I travelled down to sunny Brighton in the company of Test Match Special for a second visit to The Great Escape – sadly this time without the company of Chris T Popper, or anyone else for that matter.

After parking in a dingy basement NCP, which could easily have been the setting for a murder in a gritty crime drama, I arrived at my (admittedly budget) hotel to discover the en-suite room I had booked consisted of a 3×1.5m space with a sink, one chair, a bed and a rickety table on which stood the world’s second oldest portable TV (Mr’s Mackerel’s Nanny had the oldest, and it took two people to lift it). I found myself gazing longingly at the Strawberry Fields hotel opposite where we stayed before and although the room was the same size had somehow managed to fit in a shower. Luxury.

As I squeezed out my room and headed off to exchange my ticket for a wristband I then discovered I hadn’t bought a coat, but instead a particularly unpleasant, shiny football training top (purchased in a fit of momentary blindness), and which was hopelessly inadequate for the winds that come off the Brighton beach, and about as waterproof as a sponge.

So one wristband, one coat and one skinny cappuccino later, I was ready for my first show and passing the queues at many other venues it was off to the Brighthelm to see Night Beats whose excellent 60s inflected psych has featured a few times on MM. They didn’t disappoint either, kicking off my festival with a fine set of er 60s inflected psych amid a hypnotic rumble of percussion and swirling, circular guitars. I’d just scribbled “like Bo Diddley on acid” in my notebook when lo and behold they played a cover by the very same which along with Power Child and No Cops were particular highlights.

Then it was off to the Green Door Store by the station, and after a short queue in the drizzle (good job I had a coat) I was inside just in time to catch a energetic set of fitful, grungey, noise-pop from London’s up and coming Skinny Girl Diet which owed as much to the Runaways as it did to Hole, and to risk taking the weather analogy a step too far, had many good moments of brightness amongst some squally, truculent dissonance.

Chastity Belt

Next up, all girl four piece Chastity Belt were the highlight of the evening. A simmering pot of layered, insouciant indie where guitars twist and weave and feminist lyrics cut like a knife. Opening with the thumping bass of the brilliant Drone (“He was just another man, trying to teach me something“) we were treated to a nonchalantly impressive set with high points being the outstanding swagger of Time To Go Home, and  the captivating guitar duels and dancy, swirling ambience of Joke.

Dolores Haze

Dolores Haze (named after Nobokovs´s Lolita) also consist of four girls – Groovy Nickz, Groovy Fuck, Lucky Lollo and Foxy Sagz and over the past year has been one of the most talked about bands to come out of Sweden. A blend of punk, riffs, beats and irreverence they blast through a set of noisy riot grrl punk with highlights being recent single I Got My Gun and a very appropriate cover of Peaches’ Fuck The Pain Away.

Then it was back out into the rain, heavier now, and the late night revellers, many with green faces from the street lamps, or the drink, or both. En route, two young lads were vomiting in touching harmony, either side of a lamp-post, arms resting on each others shoulders, both simultaneously muttering “fuck“.

Time to go home for the night…








The Great Escape - A PlaylistA long drive, rain, a Prisoner Cell Block H style hotel room, discovering the camera was still at home… the initial omens for The Great Escape were not great.

Thankfully first impressions can be deceptive as Brighton is a sparky town full of quirky shops and streets, trendy young things and youthful counter-culture swagger (“I smoked 35 bongs once” being my favourite bit of eavesdropping of the night), and of course the smell of the sea.

The festival itself welcomed us with an opening set from anthemic folkies Port Isla who delivered a satisfyingly crunchy set with the driving Sinking Ship and new single Steamroller standing out for an appreciative early evening crowd.

It was on to the NME/Radar introducing showcase at the Haunt, an old-school sticky beer venue that revealed the charms of Neon Waltz’s hypnotic blend of psych-rock and subdued shoegaze that recalled Bobby Gillespie on downers, and an occasionally overly self-indulgent set of indie rock from The Districts that was distinguished by standout tracks Funeral Beds and Long Distance.

IMG_1014By now the venue was at capacity for Courtney Barnett who showed exactly why her star has been rising with a rapturously received set that mixed Dylan like lyrical stream of consciousness with a deadpan style and an intoxicating mix of grungey guitars, garage rock and slacker indie. From the glam-rock stomp of David to the brilliant Are You Looking After Yourself, a thrilling Avant Gardener and rollicking set closer History Eraser she fully deserved the protestations of love that came from the swaying, heaving mass at the front.

A packed Hope pub and long queue meant no chance of catching the Traams, and it was a case by now of finding a venue to get into. It turned out that was the nearby Dome Studio to join Chris T Popper and catch the end of an earnest set of traditional folk-rock from The Rails that was polished, if lacking a little in vitality, and a set of gently fragile torch songs from Alice Boman.

Finally the venue’s headliners (and Barry-Sean favourites) The Hold Steady delivered a bombastic set of blue collar rock with frontman Craig Finn coming across like a slightly demented Science teacher with a bad case of histrionics. To be honest, for those of us not overly familiar with the band, it all seemed a bit one-paced (as in frenetic), but the crowd were thoroughly enjoying it, mouthing lyrics and indulging in some half-hearted moshing.

Set over, we headed home to our hotel cells, sharing the neon streets with a mix of frazzled festival goers, drunks, celebrating Derby County fans, and weary musicians lugging their equipment into vans…roll on Friday.