Sunday 17 May 2015

The Great Escape 2015 - Review (Saturday)

“Today this is about how long must I wait for this stupid hangover to piss off,” uttered Ruby Taylor, aka Yumi & The Weather introducing her song Must I Wait from a makeshift stage on street outside the Fiddler’s Elbow in the sun. It seemed that after two days of music, more music and some significant alcohol consumption, much of Brighton was suffering – but also determined to carry on the party. 

First up to start the day was North East band Cape Club at the Dome Studio. Benefiting from a good size stage and PA that added depth and fullness, it was quite possible to visualise this band playing larger shows in the future; their guitar based rock music developing from swelling melancholy to out and out urgent arena rock. Meanwhile, rock of a slightly more experimental nature could be found at a well-received set from Daisy Victoria, playing at Brighthelm. Dressed as if she was a guest at an upper class Victorian wedding, her sound possessed some of the rawness of early PJ Harvey, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and even a little bit of vocal gymnastics of Marina & The Diamonds. Two acts that made a pleasing start to the day.

Away from the core programme of the Great Escape and the Alt-Escape there was a number of other unlisted free gigs and one of those, off the beaten track, was at The Monty. Presented by Sunday Best Records, responsible for the likes of Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, Kate Tempest’s Sound of Rum project, Valerie June, Skinny Lister and Kitty Daisy & Lewis, there long time blog favourite Alice Jemima played. With an announcement there was to be an album for 2016, Alice played a set that gave a hint of what might be to come, including the Jamie XX referencing guitar and minor rave beats tune So, the deliciously melodic Home and the funky sweet shop dream of Liquorice which found Alice near rapping in a soft whispered style. Throwing in her internet destroying cover of No Diggity (over 2 million plays on Soundcloud), it looks like Alice Jemima will be one to watch in 2016 rather than 2013 as we originally suggested (here)

Back in the city centre Madi Lane, ex-vocalist of Dear Prudence, was found road testing some new material by candlelight in the Fiddlers Elbow. It’s difficult to tell what form the new songs will finally take, as they were just performed acoustically, but certainly Madi’s voice was soulfully strong and the tracks show much promise; an emotional song about her late father being a particular standout.

From acoustic softness to noise; Stevenage’s Bad Breeding hit the Corn Exchange with some venom. With angry, ear splitting shrieks and shouts, lead vocalist Christopher Dodd spent more time rolling around on the floor and in the pit than he did standing on the stage. It certainly made for an intimidating spectacle for the front rows. What anyone else further back in the huge hall would have made of this vicious hardcore stuff is difficult to say. What works in a small sweaty punk club in London doesn't necessarily translate to a cavernous space with a mixed audience.

In the evening the brick arched venue with the leaking roof known as Coalition was hosted by New Shapes, a London club well known for bringing some of the most exciting new pop music to the UK. Opening half an hour late things didn’t particularly get off to a good start and electronic duo Oceaán didn’t make matters any better. Whilst on record their futuristic electronic r’n’b grooves and shivers like the best of them, live they lacked impact, the music needing some additional punch. Visually a man with no real stage presence pressing some buttons and another hitting some electronic pads just didn’t inspire.

Things went on an upward trajectory from that point though. New York’s Verite (pictured below) produced a set that was competent without ever bringing a much needed rush of exhilaration. The electronic productions of her recorded songs were replaced with a rockier guitar, bass and drums format, closing tune Weekend being the high-rise highlight.

Once part of the live set up for the likes of Kwes, Kate Tempest, and Micachu And The Shapes, Georgia Barnes (who just goes by her first name but spelt GEoRGiA) was the first of three performers in a row to make Coalition come alive. A livewire on stage, GEoRGiA sang, shouted, rapped, played guitar (briefly) and drummed over a set of squelchy electronics and chaotic heavy beats that impressed.

But it was Sweden that won the pop victory outright on this evening. If Georgia was good, then Stockholm’s Mapei (streaming below) was even better; 21st century soul, gospel, hip-hop and pop all performed with buckets full of good-vibes energy. If Georgia had started the dancing, Mapei took it to a glossy higher place. 1-0 to Sweden wasn’t enough though;  it was left to Seinabo Sey to score the winning second goal. Immaculately composed and controlled, Sey may not have danced crazily like Mapei (although she confessed her love for Mapei and how she makes her want to dance) but instead relied on her incredible soulful vocal and authoritarian tunes such as Hard Time and Younger to command. Seinabo Sey was the strongest argument possible for good tunes plus talent are still the two most important requirements for a musician.

And that was Great Escape 2015 nearly over. After all the new music it was time for something a little more familiar to finish the event. The drunken masses had arrived at The Corn Exchange for The Maccabees. The Brighton group played the very first Great Escape 10 years ago and it was therefore fitting to find them closing everything down with a tight festival ready set that didn’t shirk from rolling out past glories such as Latchmere and X-Ray before showering the crowd with confetti (pictured above) sending everyone home to (probably) wake up with another hangover tomorrow, but memories of a fantastic 10th Great Escape.

Conclusion / Results

Breaking More Waves saw 39 full performances by bands and artists over the course of 3 days at Breaking More Waves and remained hangover free.

We’ll certainly be back for the 11th event next year. Great Escape is undoubtedly the best new music multi-venue festival in the UK.

Mapei - Believe

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