“After this you are not going to be normal,” announce Jaakko and Jay as the third and final day of the Great Escape 2010 gets underway under the brick arches of the Life nightclub. Hangovers, sleep deprivation and sunstroke for at least some here could very well mean they are right. The Finnish duo thrash out disorientating blasts of d-i-y acoustic punk reminiscent of an insane Frank Turner with hand bandaged speed drumming of the fastest order. With off the wall songs about parents, thinking outside the box and fingers, yes fingers, they also bring peculiar in between song banter. “The next song is about lighters and flags and how combining them you create more free space. Remember that,” is one such quote. They also talk about cover versions of songs and ask “Can you cover a painting or a book?” It must be the lack of winter daylight in their home country that turns them out that way.
In direct contrast to the Nordic shouters, brother and sister Muchuu play fairytale candyfloss-twee electro-pop with occasional auto-tune. It’s fluffy, starry and so squeaky clean cute that it wouldn’t surprise if the audience was made up of dancing teddy bears and other toys from the nursery. It’s not all infinitely sweet though – a blast of unwanted feedback manages to displace dust from the ventilation ductwork, something that Jaakko and Jay, despite their pummelling sound, couldn’t manage. As the dust falls it wouldn’t be a shock if Muchuu’s sound made it turn into fairy dust, but this is saved for Somebody Tell Me when singer Milky throws a handful of glitter into the air.
The musical diversity continues in Life with Grovesnor, also known as Rob Smoughton, drummer for Hot Chip. The unturned stone of Donald Fagen, Hall and Oates, Billy Joel and Christopher Cross are just some of the references that Grovesnor appear to have discovered, with a sense of joy that seems to lack any knowing irony in cutting slices from the cheeseboard. Grovesnor like the boogie, Eric Clapton styled guitar riffs, cowbells and even the leaning back sax solo. The new millennium Baker Street anyone? It’s hard to throw off musical prejudices, but in doing so the admission is that Grovesnor are the best funky soft rock groove machine we’ve ever heard since our dad stuck on his Lionel Ritchie album.
In the busy streets of the North Laines the Komedia plays host to four bands that all incorporate some element of acoustic or folk base. Australian Sarah Blasko (pictured) draws a large crowd for an opening act. “I miss you Sarah,” shouts one of them. “Sounds like my Aunty,” jokes Sarah. A kooky choirgirl in a white and black smock Sarah runs on the spot and skips light-footed to her pure simple songs. We Won’t Run is punctuated by heavy loose drumming, whilst All I Want has a new age mysticism about it. “This is my first time in Brighton - I like it so far. Don’t spoil it,” she jests and with the crowd on her side by the time she reaches the jazzy elephant stomp of No Turning Back there’s no chance of that.
Erland and the Carnival have had some favourable reviews, but this isn’t one of them. There’s something very old fashioned about their blend of worn fuzzy folk-tinged rock which is played with exceptional competence, but there’s no sense of adventure, charisma or the soul being stirred by their live performance. Admirable but not intriguing.
It takes some balls to have had two of your songs nominated for Ivor Novello awards but only play one of them. Save It For Someone Who Cares is a gleeful twittering and gliding beauty of a song though, so The Leisure Society could be forgiven if they only played that one and nothing else. In their live form The Leisure Society (who incorporate members of The Miserable Rich seen yesterday) have an additional robustness that their eloquent recorded music sometimes loses; strings, harmonies, guitars and keyboards providing an illustrious sweeping romanticism.
Tunng finish the evening at the Komedia with their rhythmic experimental folk, their lead singers warm voice wrapping itself over the audience like a soft blanket, with subtle grooves slowly charming until they wig out at the end and announce “I’m going to do the Motley Crue tour in 2011.” We’re not quite sure what ‘The Crue’ would make about that.
From the traditionalist bearded folk at the Komedia, The Concorde holds a significantly younger, vibrantly enthusiastic crowd, many of whom have probably never even heard of Jean Michel Jarre. Which is just as well as the lush repetitive spacey synth tunes of Chateau Marmont seem like direct descendants of their pioneering French cousin. Bathed in blue light and dry ice the band themselves focus on instrumentation rather than any stage heroics, the audience enjoying the trip to galaxies far away where a space rave is just commencing.
It’s left to the much blogged Sleigh Bells to finish the crowd off and that’s exactly what they do. A riot of hardcore post-industrial guitar noise and beats combined with charged cocky nursery rhyme female vocals, any cynical concerns about over-hyped next big thing status is kicked way into touch with the Brooklyn duo’s live performance that is full of energy, passion and savage momentum. Visually comparisons with Crystal Castles are the order of the day, but their music is from a different place - the likening of an extreme noise-hop version of M.I.A being a good one. Managing to invoke a mini stage invasion during Crown On The Ground, Sleigh Bells create a little bit of havoc and get the pulses racing for a final time before The Great Escape festival 2010 is over.