Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Great Escape 2010 - Preview

Following on from our recent coverage of the 2010 Camden Crawl our attention now turns to the UK’s south coast and the Great Escape, another multi-venue, multi-gig, urban festival held in Brighton. The Great Escape is currently Breaking More Waves favourite event of this nature in the UK, for a number of reasons:
  • The event is three days long, rather than one or two like other similar festivals, enabling you to catch an even greater number of artists, many of whom perform twice at different venues and times.
  • There is a significant emphasis on new music. Even many of the headline acts are still in their relative infancy.
  • It is excellent value for money, particularly if you buy an early-bird ticket several months in advance, which this year was a snip at thirty-five pounds plus the obligatory booking fee for three days of musical frolics.
  • Besides the main gigs there’s a full programme of parties, conferences and fringe events, although some of these do require you to purchase the significantly more expensive delegates pass. (eighty pounds early bird or one hundred and fifty pounds now excluding booking fees)
  • The timetable is all published on line well in advance, giving punters the opportunity plenty of time to plan in advance, although remember that many venues are small and so capacity may be reached early, so make sure that if there is someone you particularly want to see you get there early, particularly if they are a more well known or 'buzz' act playing a smaller venue.
  • The event operates a text message service which gives updates on which venues are full plus updates on secret gigs that take place. In past years we've seen Ida Maria sing on the outside balcony of the Theatre Royal, Peggy Sue playing in a toy and model museum and We Are Scientists perform a blistering set on a flat roof outside Audio Bar with traffic racing by behind them, all by using the text alert service.
  • There are a variety of ticket options including day tickets and Friday / Saturday 2 day tickets. Our experience is that traditionally Thursday is a little quieter than the other two days in terms of numbers of punters.
  • It’s in Brighton, which means that besides the event itself you can spend time lazing on the beach (weather permitting); many of the venues being located on the seafront. There are also two great record shops (Resident and Rounder) that are worth a visit, a number of quirky specialist shops in the North Laines, and of course the pier for funfair fun combined with the Horatios venue which this year will see the likes of Cold Cave, Warpaint and Darwin Deez performing there. And if it's warm enough, and you’re drunk enough, after everything has finished for the night you can go skinnydipping to cool off ! Just make sure you can actually swim first though.
So once you’ve grabbed your wristband, which bands to see? With such a fantastic line up of new music it’s simply not going to be possible to catch everything. Below we recommend ten acts for your viewing and listening pleasure. We hope to catch at least some of these ourselves.

Click on the artists name to go to their Myspace page.

“If you took a big raft of overblown pompous rock and set it off through a computer, mashed in some dubstep beats, a layer of distortion and gave the whole thing a post-apocalyptic shove of electronica you would probably be lurking off the same shores as Kid Adrift,” we wrote back last August. Since then this Glaswegian boy wonder and his band have signed to Island records, recorded a Radio 1 session with Vic Galloway and had their song Red Green and Blue named as “Record of the Year 2009” by Record of the Day. A new EP is to follow this summer and Kid Adrift is currently recording an album. A must see.

A five piece from the North East of England, Let’s Buy Happiness have already created one of our favourite songs of the last twelve months with Works Better On Paper and have been signed up to play the John Peel Stage at this years Glastonbury Festival after they got through to the final round of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition. Fronted by the ethereal sounding Sarah Hall the band create beautiful dreamy indie guitar soundscapes that remind us of The Sundays and The Cocteau Twins. In February we suggested that “Let’s Buy Happiness are about to make you fall in love.” Go to the Great Escape, experience Let’s Buy Happiness and that statement may come true.

Twins Romi and Sari Lightman are two Canadian Twins who are Ghost Bees. Like an alt.folk version of Joanna Newsom, their unsettling ghostly songs are formed out of glockenspiel, viola, acoustic guitars and antique mandolins. With girlish creepily beautiful voices their songs cover tales of past great empires and Greek mythology.

So loud is the buzz surrounding Egyptian Hip Hop that we are sure that a wasps nest is just around the corner. It all started when the Manchester four piece released their debut single Rad Pitt last year and it hasn’t really stopped since. There seems to be so much talk about Egyptian Hip Hop and yet very few people are pinning their colours to the mast to fully define the bands sound. Much of this is because it is too early to do so, with only a handful of demos and songs available and the four members of the band only being in their mid to late teens. So for the record we say that the bands style is loose, occasionally groovy indie. But the only real way to find out if Egyptian Hip Hop can live up to the hype is to go see them yourself and form your own opinion.

With his knotted bee-hive, near death experiences and psychedelic folk riffs King Charles really is like nothing else. Expect pagan chanting, romping guitars and songs about Polar Bears and Crocodiles. King Charles has also stated that he’s going to get married by the end of the year, although he has yet to find the right girl, so if any ladies fancy becoming a queen, here’s your chance. His song Love Lust is soppy, philosophical and stupidly brilliant.

Along with the many national and international bands on the bill of the Great Escape there are also a significant number of local acts playing, and Brighton’s own Esben and the Witch are without doubt one of the best. Fresh off a tour with The Big Pink the group will be bringing their spectral transcendentally disturbed tunes and dark yet beautiful tales to the Great Escape. A three piece formed out of Rachel Davies (vocals), Daniel Copeman (electronics, guitars) and Thomas Fisher (guitars, keyboards) the band are known to decorate their stage with porcelain owls, Victorian lamposts, skulls and minimal lighting. Reminiscent of the edgier experimental side of Portishead, or Bat For Lashes they share a kindred spirit with bands such as The XX in terms of the darkness of their sound.

One of our Ones To Watch for 2010. The bleepy, 8 bit madness of Unicorn Kid has been a sound that Breaking More Waves has been celebrating since summer of 2009. For those who think his sound deserves arrest by the music police, well sorry but those very same music police are actually raving behind the bike sheds to the likes of Dream Catcher and Animal City; manic, frantic, bassy, games console dance tunes. He's also knocked out big remixes for Gorillaz and The Pet Shop Boys. Quite possibly the music of the future.

Another band we listed as one of our Ones To Watch for 2010, Stornoway are due to release their debut album Beachcomber's Windowsill at the end of this month. Our recent review called it “Quite simply an album of near perfect songs,” and in terms of live performance their humble intelligence charms and delights every time. Catch I Saw You Blink, Zorbing, The End Of The Movie and The Coldharbour Road as the bands status continues to grow.

“It’s as if Bon Iver left his acoustic guitar in his log cabin and created a new wave electronic suite of chamber-like beauty that lays somewhere between the sonic architecture of Ultravox’s Vienna and OMD’s Jean of Arc (Maid of Orleans),” is how we described the music of Active Child last year. We wouldn’t go back on that statement at all. Beautifully cool electronic pop symphonies with new-wave synth-drums and pads, heavenly vocals and bags of class are coming to Brighton this May courtesy of one Pat Grossi who is Active Child.

Marina and the Diamonds may be a rather obvious choice, but the reason is that this is probably your last chance to see Marina in a relatively small venue before she steps up the game later this year, returning to Brighton on November the 15th to play the Corn Exchange. By now you’ll probably be familiar with Hollywood, I Am Not A Robot and other tracks from her debut album. What you may not be familiar with if you haven’t seen her live yet is her theatrical stage presence combined with an underlying vulnerability that endears.

If you haven't got your ticket yet and want to come you can buy them by clicking here. We'll be bringing a day by day review of the event the week after it finishes, and if you sign up to our Twitter you'll also find us tweeting our way around the event.

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