Sunday 11 May 2014

The Great Escape Festival 2014 - Review (Part 3)

It was the third day of Brighton’s Great Escape Festival and once more Breaking More Waves took to its streets amongst shoppers, tourists, clubbers and the occasional hen and stag party for a non-stop day of live music, clocking in a whopping 42 acts full performances over the course of the whole festival.

Here’s ten more things we learnt: (You can find the other things we learnt here and here)

1. Bridie Jackson of Bridie Jackson & The Arbour likes to keep it old school.

Keeping it real, the golden toned Bridie Jackson had a Filofax on stage for her lunchtime performance at the Komedia. We assume that this had the set list written on it, but maybe when she wasn’t providing note perfect renditions of songs such as We Talked Again and Prolong she was actually looking at a shopping list for all the clothes she was going to buy down The Lanes boutique shops later?

2. The Great Escape involves spending a lot of time in basement venues.

And due to lack of wi-fi this meant that often if we wanted to live tweet from the gig we had to resort to old fashioned text tweeting, if there was a signal at all. Brighton’s Audio won however, as it has public access wi-fi.

3. Our new favourite discovery of the festival was Meanwhile.

From starting his set eagerly jumping up and down in the audience as his three-piece band began to play, to his finishing stride out through the crowd, the man known only as Meanwhile became our new favourite discovery. Here was a man who fizzled with charismatic / camp booty and hip shaking energy and a blast of Prince like electro-funk grooves, plus songs that were both intriguing and infectious. Despite suffering from the dreaded ‘technical hitches’ he knew how to impress. His debut track Luvletta streams below.

4. Sometimes just when you don’t expect that much from a band, you get a lot more.

Having already seen Fickle Friends three times this year we suspected that gig complacency might set in for ourselves, after all there’s only so many times you can see a band play the same songs isn’t there? Plus the gig was in The Mesmerist, a pub with no stage. It didn’t bode well. However we were proven completely wrong, the bands summery effervescent blend of indie pop sparkling bright, bringing natural highs, big smiles and dancing. Lead vocalist Natassja admitted that she was enjoying the show more than the previous night’s one at the Green Door Store, even although the band had been up partying most of the night. 

5. Half hour sets are the perfect length.

Nearly every gig at Great Escape was half an hour long. This was the perfect length. Not too long that new bands would struggle with material, but also perfect for more established bands who could ditch the filler and just play the killer. It’s also the ideal length for attention spans, allowing the audience to get enough, but probably leaving them wanting that tiny bit more.

6. Gig venues at festivals like this need to have food stalls.

How else are we going to be able to zip from venue to venue without pit stopping elsewhere for refuelling and potentially missing the opportunity to see more live music? So we’re not asking much are we? Just a food stall and wi-fi in every venue please. Thanks.

7. Salt Ashes is more than quite good.

With pulsing dark disco electronics and throbbing beats Brighton’s own Salt Ashes knows how to make sexy pop music. This we already knew. But Great Escape gave her the opportunity to show that she could also do it live. She delivered. Unlike many other pop acts there was no guide or backing vocal, for Salt Ashes voice is so note perfect that she didn’t need it. Add to that a composed and commanding stage presence and this lady showed that she means business.

8. Indie rock is the lifeblood of Great Escape Festival.

Whilst there was pop, dance, folk and a small amount of hip-hop, indie rock was the dominant genre of Great Escape. One of our favourite bands within this genre was Blessa. With chiming, anxious, noisy and claustrophobic guitar work juxtaposed with dreamy female vocals the Sheffield band brought an old fashioned indie sound bang up to date in the Komedia Studio.

9. We thought the only band to ever wear shorts and get away with it was Carter USM.

But Olly Alexander, lead singer of Years and Years proved us wrong in the Corn Exchange with shorts, a baseball shirt and cap. We saw several girls swooning. Black clad skinny jeaned indie boys take note. Can you imagine The Horrors in shorts? That might be a giggle.

10. The Great Escape is a must visit for any fan of new music. It also represents excellent value.

An early bird ticket was just £39.50 plus a small booking fee. We saw 42 acts, the majority of them being above average quality. You do the maths. 

See you there next year?

Bands Seen On Saturday: Bridie Jackson & The Arbour, Codes, Meanwhile, Jake Isaac, Fickle Friends, Robyn Sherwell, Years And Years, French For Rabbits, Young Summer, Blessa, George Barnett, Salt Ashes, Hannah Georgas

And finally, here are the important statistics:

Number Of Artists Full Performances Seen In Total: 42

Number Of Hours Sleep: 14.5 ( An average of 4.8 hours / day)

Fatigue Factor: Surprisingly awake

Hugs From Artists: 5

Number Of Music Bloggers Randomly Bumped Into: 8

Meanwhile - Luvetta


Unknown said...

Great Blog.

It was my first time at GE this weekend and best festival I have been to (I'm 45 and I have been to many!!!). For years I got shunned by friends for clutching my hand made timetable, glancing at my watch, getting irritated at extra long burger stops. But then i get to Brighton and i am with my own kind. Plus it's the best festival to bugger off on your own. That's the one point you forgot. With 30 min sets, easy entry, a music fan crowds and the being in the city centre (I always shop alone anyway) you can go on your own and not be distracted (or embarassed). I left my mates to see Phantogram so i could get there early and stand front row for my Sarah crotch level gig experience :-o. and still got back in time to meet for Ethan Johns. Plus meet another blog lady. Infact on my 2 mini breaks form my mates I met a local music fanatic (he ran between gigs to fit them in!!) and the amazing OY who were at the Amartorski gig. Infact most little gigs you could easily hang out with the band afterwards. We fell in love with Yumi and The weather in an aquarium.

Anyhow just wanted to say your blog review was brilliant. Love this....

"Whereas other festival promoters claim that their events are not just about the music, Brighton’s Great Escape USP is that it’s all about that and nothing else..."

and ..... "Being a festival that is ‘just about the music’ means a very low level of twats in the audience."

Cheers. Funny you saw similar sounding artists but totally different ones to me. And mine all rocked...

...apart from 2 on Saturday. My mate's friend (and importantly our Brighton accommodation host) felt we should hang in Brighton on Saturday afternoon and then pick some random bands! Luckily the eating part was great as there are some lovely places to eat (beats burger vans) but after his first 2 go's the terrible Hermitude and funny for 10 mins Slaves (to be honest he was unlucky but i should have said something - i had a list that hadn't failed me all weekend but i thought go with the flow) I bailed to the nearest venue on my own. And before I know it I've seem Howling Bells Juanita playing guitar for some guy from Kaiser Chiefs, met one of my new music buddies and hung out with a load of Belgiums in a hotel basement.

PS: Needed a No.2 in Blind Tiger and glad i held on. Queens Hotel toilets were spotless. Not sure it that's to do with the hotel or the Belgiums but good to know next year.


Breaking More Waves Blog said...

"For years I got shunned by friends for clutching my hand made timetable, glancing at my watch, getting irritated at extra long burger stops. But then i get to Brighton and i am with my own kind. Plus it's the best festival to bugger off on your own. That's the one point you forgot."

Couldn't agree more and thanks for flagging it up - although I attend Great Escape with a friend we generally split up and go our own way, occasionally meeting at particular gigs (or bumping into each other randomly. There's none of that awkwardness about turning up on your own for a show and plenty of like minded / people in a similar situation to enjoy the gig with.

Thanks also for your nice comments. I assume you'll be back next year?

Anonymous said...

Hi just thought I'd leave a comment to say I also enjoyed these reviews. I follow you on twitter and couldn't believe it that every night when I went to bed you were still tweeting at gigs, then when I woke up in the morning you'd already published a review I like the style of the reviews as well funny and serious at the same time.

I think the other point you forget to mention that you suggested in your first post was about 'discovery' and that at Great Escape you'd discover how much stamina you have. I thought I did well and had lots but you obviously have way more than me - but then I'm not spring chicken - once you get to my age (over 40) you might find things a bit harder going!

Great festival this year though, only 1 criticism - why book a band like Jungle who are very popular and buzzy in a 200 capacity venue and yet have much smaller acts playing much larger venues - for example I see you saw George Barnett who played Brighthelm that must be 600-800 capacity at least and yet he is no way as popular as Jungle.

Unknown said...

Will definately try next year, but kind of don't want my regular festival friends to go after my experience this year. I can hang with them at Glasto or something but GE is just hardcore only and I mean that in a nice way. My mate Aid was perfect, we have similar tastes and I know what he likes. He is not as obsessive as me at collecting and had no idea about the bands, where as i checked out EVERY band (one track and one live youtube clip if possible) and wrote then wrote a one line description. So he loved been lead (and surprised) and I got total control :-). PIty he had a duty to hang with our host. Luckily I could do a runner on my own and near instantly i met a girl 'music junkie' who was more hardcore than me and do ing GE alone!

The trick I realised with my list is to make it as much based on how good live they may are anther then just how much you like the music. Not sure I could manage the list again as it took bloody AGES!! But it worked brilliantly. i.e. when we couldn't sneak down to Courtney Barnett after OY and had a blank space we picked the nearest venue with an artist rated 'good live' and that was Grand Analouge, a canadian rap band. There is no way I would have seen them from their music clip but the live clip showed they had great bass player and drummer. So we loved it. The beauty of the internet. Also youtube is great for checking out that odd band where you just take a personal dislike to them for a totally irrational reason. :-) Lamb are a classic for me. Loved them for ages then saw them like and Andy Barlow once and couldn't never watch them live again. Then again some of my list ended up being 'average women with guitar/singer - but easy on eye ;-)'.

My TOP TEN review at GE

1. Phantogram - Band with the best album/sound/live act combo of the weekend. Why this band are not getting more coverage in the UK is beyond me. A crafted mix of electronic, beat driven, guitar fuzzing, classic song based, dark pop (basically everything), fronted by two beautiful people and a drummer who looks like Josh Homme. Even though the PA was totally unbalanced and the venues smelt like a toilet I still loved them.

2. OY - Genre breaking artist and totally captivating live. From Switzerland of all places. Think an African M.I.A., a world music Cornelius, electro world music. A must see live act. One of this gigs where half the audience end up grinning and half the audience wear a look of shock and confusion. You have t check them out Lauren.

3. Paul Thomas Saunders  - Think chilled Coldplay with a Vangelis obsession. Probably the perfect band to perform in a church as he had an amazing almost angelic voice. St Marys church amazing venue. The crowd keep quite on the quiet ones as its a church.

4. Yumi and The Weather  - We meet her by the shark pool in the aquarium and we both had dreams about her that night . :-)

5.  Courtney Barnett   - Way better than on record. She should re cord it as live it was amazing. Big star of future.

6. Sea Change - Norwegian dark Electronic pixie with talented band. Album sounds like it will be great.

7. Samaris - Hypnotic Icelandic Electronic pixie with talented band. Adorable singer.

8. Amartorski - Captivating Belgium Electronic pixie with talented band…. yes there is a pattern. :-)

9. The Hidden Orchestra  - Cinematic trip hop jazz collective got through crap sound to make a sound Portishead used to make but bigger.

10. BRNS - Belgium Foals.

…biggest disappointment, finding out while we waited ages for a little disappointing STATS i hour earlier literally 20 metres away Tom Vek was doing a secret gig!!

PS: Sorry for typo's, my dyslexia is getting worse and just haven't the time to keep checking!