And so begins the first of three posts on the 2012 Great Escape Festival, Europe’s leading festival for new music.
Thursday’s proceedings got off to a bit of a damp squib with grey skies and looming wetness, but thankfully as the Great Escape is a multi-venue multi-gig affair located around Brighton centre the weather is not nearly as significant as an outdoor camping festival. No wellies required.
Here are the ten most important facts that we learnt during the day. (Disclaimer – facts may actually be opinions)
1. Everyone loves a buzz band
The Great Escape being a new music festival means that the hottest and buzziest bands draw big crowds. Friends in Horatio’s bar on the tacky seafront pier drew huge numbers and unless you got there very early and watched Brum indie boys Peace and sexy-synthy-surfy French men (and girl) La Femme the chances are you weren’t getting in. Even priority access delegate badge holders found themselves left out in the cold. It goes back to the advice we’ve given both earlier this year and last year; to get the best out of Great Escape it’s all about planning. You simply can’t hope to turn up ten minutes before a popular band are due to play and necessarily expect to get in. Work out a schedule that leaves plenty of space or for busier popular evening shows stick to one venue for a number of acts. In five years of going to Great Escape we’ve never missed an artist we wanted to see, and have never been left outside in a queue because the venue is at capacity, but we have to be organised in order to ensure this.
2. Friends is all about Samantha Urbani
Sporting weird bunny ears, a vest with the word ‘SHAM’ on it, giving hugs to the audience and grooving with confidence across the stage, Friends is undoubtedly Samantha Urbani’s band. The other members give off a nonchalant cool, but all eyes are focussed on the front woman who apologies for the low stage and barrier at the front; it feels like she wants to fully immerse the audience in her band’s shows.
3. Facial Hair Report Number 1 - Canadian bands had the best today.
Slow Down, Molasses sported the best moustache of the day and provided some slow-burning indie rock to accompany it. The nations are ready to fight it out for the best facial hair over the next 2 days. Canada won't have it all its own way.
4. Drunk people really only want Mystery Jets to play ‘the hits’
They were probably right and thankfully the band obliged with some.
5. You can’t beat a bit of accordion drum and bass to put a smile on your face.
Yes, you read that right. Giovanna’s poorly attended mid-afternoon set at The Loft featured accordion drum and bass, bum wiggling, running on the spot dancing and huge cavernous vocals performed in what appeared to be her pyjamas. They were very nice pyjamas though. Probably the most amazing thing we saw all day.
6. Nina Nesbitt is an acoustic-folk-pop rising star
She’s pretty, she’s confident and she’s super talented. Mixing songs on acoustic guitar and piano she could be the female Ed Sheeran, the pop Laura Marling, the Birdy who doesn’t do covers or Kate Nash circa Birds but with a Scottish accent. For this reason we hate her and love her in equal measure, but love her enough to stream one of her songs below.
7. Venues need posters for line-up changes.
Although we’d suspected Ren Harvieu’s show at The Loft was going to be cancelled, many people didn’t. Hence an hour before Ren was due to on stage people were arriving to see her with no information that the show was cancelled (she was going to be a popular draw having appeared on TV show Later with Jools Holland on Tuesday night). A message was put out via the organiser’s text messaging service and on the Great Escape twitter feed about half an hour before she was due to play, but many people didn’t see this. A simple poster at the front door would have been the most effective way of communicating the show was cancelled.
8. Niki & The Dove have become bona-fide edgy alt. popstars.
Their set at Horatio’s may have been stupidly short, but it was an ebullient euphoric hands in the air set. (Listen to them below)
9. Phone apps are a waste of time when they’re not updated during the event itself.
We’d previously praised the simple functionality of the Great Escape’s phone app via our twitter, but during the festival when shows were re-scheduled or cancelled the app wasn’t updated, rendering it reasonably useless. Could do better.
10. Even when it’s cold Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis still wears shorts.
It may have been cold and damp down the seafront, but that didn’t stop the grandfather of festivals going out for a bracing stroll in his shorts. Surely by now the man can afford a pair of trousers?
Nina Nesbitt - Glue
Niki & The Dove - Tomorrow