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.
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 (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…