Sunday 13 May 2012

The Great Escape 2012 - 10 More Things That We Learnt (Friday)

Day 2 of Great Escape. 10 more things we learnt in addition to the 10 we learnt yesterday.

1. Music festivals are always better when the sun is out

Concrete pavements, surface water drains, gulleys and indoor venues mean that the weather is never a major issue at Great Escape; no need for wellies here. However, once the sun does come out as it does today it lifts everyone’s spirits and brings a new vibrancy to the city and the town itself. The seafront bars, which quite literally spill out onto the beach are packed and unlike yesterday’s rather wet blanket of an atmosphere today Brighton is rich with positivity.

2. We didn’t see the new Adele today.

Back in 2007 we watched a new young singer called Adele play an XL Records showcase in front of about 100 people in the Red Roaster Coffee House as part of the Great Escape. She was second bottom on the bill of four which also included Elvis Perkins and Jack Penate. She sat and played her songs on an acoustic guitar. She also performed a duet with Penate. It’s easy to look back with hindsight and state that she was always bound for bigger and better things, with her stunning soulful voice she wasn’t going to be playing that size of venue for long. But to say that by 2012 she was going to have released one of the biggest selling albums in the UK of all time? At that stage it was inconceivable. However this year at Great Escape we’re pretty sure we didn’t see the next Adele. We saw a lot of good and some great artists, the Adele phenomena usually only happens once or twice a decade.

3. Foe isn’t as bad live as we had been led to believe (but she's not the new Adele either - not that anyone ever said she was.)

A number of different individuals had told us that the Foe live experience was mildly disappointing, lacking personality and presence. Her early evening set under the brick arches of Life was therefore welcomingly pleasing - all gnarly, dirty and trashy sounding. Dressed in a t-shirt that emblazoned with the words ‘Somebody Save Me’ Hannah Clark looked every part the seductive rock star with enough bite to keep the audience engaged.

4. To be a successful festival organiser it appears you need to constantly sport shorts.

Two of the UK’s most successful festival organisers Rob Da Bank (Bestival / Camp Bestival) and Michael Eavis (Glastonbury) took part in an interview / discussion on the UK festival scene at the Great Escape convention. The opening question to Eavis was what makes Glastonbury so successful?  His answer was that he didn’t know. We think we do. It’s the shorts Michael. Maybe they’re lucky. Maybe it explains why every time we see you you’re wearing them.

5. The cover version of the weekend was by Chet Faker

It was No Diggity by Blackstreet and it was quite a lot better than very good. Listen to another of his songs I’m Into You streaming below.

6. The best facial hair of the day was sported by Chet Faker

The man does good music and good beard. What’s not too like?

7. The spirit of punk lives on in a cocktail bar

The most fearless performance we saw all weekend was by one of Breaking More Waves favourites Curxes at a free entry fringe event. Up against a terrible sound system, a couldn’t care less audience of drunk Friday-night-on-the-town drunk clubbers (most of whom weren't Great Escape attendees) and a complete lack of stage and guarding which led to several near audience collisions with the bands equipment, Curxes couldn’t have had it any harder. Yet from the off lead singer Roberta – a tiny pale bomb of insolent electricity and artistry – took total command. Climbing the furniture and unnerving the drunks by dancing in amongst them to the spitting glitter-vamp industrial sounds of Haunted Gold and the metal pipe banging and synth riff glory of Creatures, Curxes were the closest thing we saw to the spirit of art punk all weekend. Despite the awful sound it was viscerally thrilling stuff.

8. The Psychosocial Basement is the hottest venue in the world ever.

A rammed Psychosocial Basement with no air conditioning and low ceilings meant sub-tropical temperatures for the likes of Haim, Foxes and St Lucia. In fact it got so hot that one member of Haim stripped down to her underwear to play. It was possibly the only practical and sensible solution and a lot cheaper than installing a new mechanical ventilation system. Hear Haim's Forever below. Dance to it in your underwear if you want.

9. Foxes is a pop star we like. Quite a lot.

Keep an ear out for as yet unreleased songs Echoes, Beauty Queen and Night Owls Early Birds (which you may remember we featured in demo form on the blog last year). In their live form they sounded pretty A.M.A.Z.I.N.G which is what you want pop music to be, is it not?

10. St Lucia had a saxophone player

And it wasn’t wanky, jazzy or cringe-worthy. It was blissful and yet euphoric - a fitting and uplifting end to an evening in a sweat box.

Haim - Forever

Chet Faker - I'm Into You

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