Friday, 29 April 2016
The Great Escape 2016 - Preview / Recommendations (Thursday)
‘Festival season’ in the UK doesn’t really exist now – with the exception of Christmas week it’s possible to go to a music festival, be it in a field camping in the summer or a multi-venue event in a city centres or holiday camp, all year round. It seems like every Tom, Dick and Harry is organising a music festival. Hell, in the last year even I’ve been part of a small team that has organised two of the things - Dials, a multi-venue event in Portsmouth replacing Southsea Fest whilst it took a year out and the follow up Dials Days, a two room-one venue bargain bucket festival which charged just £10 to see the likes of Fear Of Men, Champs, Femme, Avec Sans, Estrons and about ten more.
However, probably the most established and popular of the multi-venue festivals is Brighton’s Great Escape. Why? Because, whilst many festivals fill their bills with new music, Great Escape does it on a colossal scale. Over 3 days around 30 venues in Brighton pay host to 450 emerging artists from all over the world. On top of that there’s the Alt. Escape, the festival’s sister event which puts on many more showcases, free to Great Escape wristband holders and most of which admit the general public for free or a small fee.
Great Escape is the must go to event of the year for new music fans; I usually manage to see somewhere between 35 and 40 full performances over 3 full days. Also for those who are interested or part of the music industry side of things there’s a very full conference for which you can buy a delegate ticket, but frankly I’d rather get into the thick of the action and just gulp down as much live music as I possibly can.
Over the years at Great Escape I’ve seen the likes of Adele, Mumford & Sons, Foals, Haim, Chvrches and London Grammar taking their first baby footsteps into the world of popular music, playing sets to small intimate crowds before they became household names. Of course the festival still markets itself partly on ‘discovery’ but with the advent of streaming and playlists (the Great Escape has its own comprehensive playlist on Spotify ) the idea of ‘discovery’ has changed from hearing a band for the first time, to discovering if the artist can actually cut it live.
However, in case you’re going and haven’t had the time to run through all the bands playing, I’ve done the job for you, and so over the course of the next 3 blog posts I’m going to be recommending five acts from the official bill (and a link to 1 bonus act from the Alt Escape) that are, if nothing else, on my list of ‘possibles’ to see.
Let’s start with Thursday:
Vallis Alps (Komedia 12:15) (Also playing at Brighthelm 22:30)
The Komedia is the place to be get your Great Escape off to a fantastic start. A showcase of varied high quality Australian artists kicks off with an act that I first introduced to the blog in January 2015. Parissa Tossif and David Ansari are Vallis Alps and will appeal to those who want to be slowly teased into the weekend with a drowsy blend of pop that tugs on the heartstrings.
Northeast Party House (Komedia 15:35) (Also playing Coalition 00:15 Saturday)
At the other end of the showcase that Vallis Alps open are Northeast Party House. Remember Friendly Fires? Well Northeast Party House bring that same level energy in their songs. This is four-to-the-floor hands in the air celebration music but with a rougher rockier edge. Like Foals going dancing.
Let’s Eat Grandma (The Haunt 20:30) (Also playing Latest Music Bar 01:00-01:45 Saturday)
Already well covered on Breaking More Waves since summer last year, Let’s Eat Grandma are two teenage girls who produce music and a live show that’s like experimental jazz in a scrappy multi-instrumental pop format. Not everything they do works, but even when it doesn’t it’s more than intriguing.
Jones (Paganini Ballroom 22:15) (Also playing Wagner Hall 16.30 and 21:00)
Another act that I first featured some time ago (September 2014). At the time I described Jones' music as ‘breezy electronic soul pop’. Since that time she’s appeared on Later with Jools and has wowed many with her song Hoops.
Anteros (Paganini Ballroom 23:15)
Anteros have at least 2 killer songs in their bag. The first is recent single Breakfast which has a really fun video (including a pop star in the bath moment for all pop star in the bath followers) of fashion), the other is the song from which their name also derives. Already touted as Ones to Watch for 2016 by plenty of tastemakers, Great Escape will be many people's first opportunity to witness what else they have to offer. Here's hoping the rest isn't filler.
Alt Escape Bonus Pick: Wyldest (The Globe 21:05)