The Great Escape: Day One 12th May 2011

The Great Escape is Europe’s Leading Music Festival. You could call it the UK’s answer to SXSW. Still The Great Escape takes place in Brighton and features sets from big names and brand new artists whom you may of not heard of before. Plus there are impromptu secret gigs that are revealed to the people who subscribed to the text service. This was the first time I had attended all three days of The Great Escape but I did not subscribe to the text service. I already knew who I wanted to see over the three consecutive nights. My plan was over the three days I was going to remain in the one venue because last year I had experienced queues during the daytime schedule. Now I decided to leave my place at 9am which was early but I wanted to see a band play at 1pm and this band was someone that was headlining one venue that evening. Plus this event was opened to people who weren’t attending The Great Escape. So I finally got into Brighton at 10.50am and the dilemma I was faced with was do I go and get my wristband or just go straight to HMV. The ticket exchange point was on the way to HMV which meant I got my wristband and then left. Now the band I wanted to see was The Joy Formidable. HMV were putting on a series of instores which featured artist/ bands whom were playing on The Great Escape. Frank Turner was playing at 4pm and Mona were playing on the Friday at 5.30pm. Once I had reached HMV I was the first one there. I asked whether if there would be a queue but there wasn’t to be one. As this event was also a signing I asked if they had the album. With it being an instore you would expect them to have the bands album. I was disappointed to be told that they were expecting a big delivery of albums but they hadn’t come in time. Seriously not having the bands album is appalling. So after I was told this I then went to Ape and Rounder Records to find the album but neither shop had it. I then made my way back to HMV and the barriers were going up and more people started to arrive. I would say there was about 100 people in the store just to see them play a short but sweet three song acoustic set. “How you all doing?, you seem really far away, what are these barriers” Ritzy said to the audience. Now at The Joy Formidable gigs I have attended there has been plenty of energy, very sweaty and plenty of crowd surfing. Kicking off this mellower stripped down set was The Greatest Light, Is The Greatest Shade. It actually sounded really strange hearing these songs acoustically as they are alot louder when the band perform a full live set. Still just hearing this song stripped back was extremely special. Next it was onto the bands first ever single and this being Austere. Now I really like this song as it was very strong and oozed energy. Even though Austere had been stripped back it was delivered perfectly. The drum was actually used alot more during this song. This instore ended with the current single and this being Whirring which had recently got re released. The lyrics to this song are brilliant and it is very strange to see this band more mellower. At their live gigs you expected it to be sweaty, vibey and plenty of crushing. Now this is what makes instores like this extra special the fact it has been toned down. Still it was a fantastic instore featuring one of my favourite bands. I was definately going to be at Hectors House in the evening.


The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade

Around 20 people decided to stay for the signing. I even overheard one person ask if they had the album only to be told they had sold out which wasn’t true. So I had my programme signed as I had nothing else with me. So once that was over I left the store and planned my next move. After having looked at the programme I then plumped for Fredrika Stahl who I had never seen play live before. I was actually going to see her play the next day as she was on the same bill as Anna Calvi. So once I had reached The Hope I was told that the venue had reached full capacity. They were adopting a one in one out policy. and it was around 10 minutes until I was able to go upstairs. When I had reached the upstairs venue it was packed but there was alot of room at the front. The band I was to see were French band Gable. They were already halfway through the set. Their music was humorous and reminded me of the French singer Soko. So after when Gable had it was then onto Fredrika Stahl. Now Fredrika is one of my discoveries at The Great Escape. Stahl is a Sweedish singer but lives in Paris. The rest of her band live in Paris as well. Even if you are not aware of the name you have probably heard her version of Twinkle Twinkle on the Nissan Juke advert. The set played was extremely special because there was no keyboard whatsoever. They were blighted with technical difficulties at the beginning which caused the keyboard not to work. The 6 song set consisted of material from the current album Sweep Me Away. This was Pop music at its best and I enjoyed all the songs sung. My highlight was What If? which was slightly dark. Still the lyrics were fantastic and the whole audience participated in ending this song. Check out the album Sweep Me Away because it is one amazing album


Fast Moving Train
She & I
In My Head
What If
Altered Lens
M. O. W. S

Around 6pm is when I started queueing for the evening schedule. I was toying with the idea do I go to Hectors House or should I go to another venue. I already saw The Joy Formidable in the afternoon so why not go to another venue and see some new bands. In the end I chose to wait outside Hectors House. The reason I was so early was the fact is that it has a capacity of 200 plus delegates get queue jump. So at 7.30pm the doors opened. There were only 2 people in the delegates queue so I was the 3rd one inside. I then got the spot I wanted. The stage was so small. It was then 30 minutes later until the first band graced the stage. The band in question being Two Wounded Birds and there has been plenty of hype around them. Hailing from Margate, Margate’s Two Wounded Birds consist of Johnny Danger, Ally Blackgrove, Tom Akers and James Shand.  The style of music is Surf Pop/ Rock and this set went down a storm. The 10 song set featured new songs as well as the single Midnight Wave and its B side All We Wanna Do. The new tracks gave you an insight to what the debut album will sound like and trust me it will be amazing. I found myself enjoying the music more as I had already seen them play at the Camden Crawl. Whereas I was blown away by the sound back on the Crawl this slot was not as noisy. Maybe I had gotten used to it? Still I see this band going really far in the music industry.


Summer Dream
My Lonesome
I Surrender
To Be Young
All We Wanna Do
I’ll Come And Get You
Night Patrol
Treat Me Tender
Midnight Wave
Together Forever

Up next it was onto Canadian Indie Rock band PS I Love You. This band is a duo, with Paul Saulnier on vocals/guitar and Benjamin Nelson on drums. The set showcased material from debut album Meet Me At The Muster Station which was released on Paper Bag Records last year. This set was actually slightly more rowdy than the set by The Joy Formidable which was a surprise. Whereas there were some people who loved the set the music that they sung didn’t connect with me. The penultimate band on the night were Manchester based Indie five piece Dutch Uncles. The band consist of Peter Timothy Broadhead, Andrew Proudfoot, Robin Richards, Daniel Spedding and Duncan Paton Wallis. They have just released debut album Candenza in April on the Memphis Industries label. In early 2009, the band released an self titled album in Germany with Tapete Records, a German label, recorded at Clouds Hill Studios in Hamburg. A year later they then returned to the UK. As for the 8 track set, I really enjoyed it. The band were clearly enjoying themselves and the songs oozed energy. 6 of the songs were from Candenza while Doppelganger and Face In were from the German release Dutch Uncles. It is always nice when a band plays old material.


Face In
The Ink

My Great Escape journey ended with a 8 track set by The Joy Formidable. Now I love this three piece band. This was actually the smallest place I had seen them live. The capacity of Hectors House was 200 while The Borderline back in 2009 was 275. The stage was so low down it made the possibility of falling over the speakers very likely. Thankfully that did not happen. Yes there was a surge of people pushing forward but I managed to stay in my position all the way through. The set oozed energy and was very sweaty however there was no crowdsurfers whatsoever which was a surprise. The night was mainly material from debut album The Big Roar all bar one song. This was to be the opener Greyhounds In The Slips which was offered as a free download. They powered through this song at ease. Why it didn’t make the album is a mystery. “It’s nice to see you all” Ritzy said to the intimate audience before launching into The Magnifying Glass. Now this song was brilliant oozed lots of energy as well. Straight after they went straight into the debut release Austere. Now this song was a real crowd pleaser and the enery given off from it was simply electric. Once over there wasn’t time for much banter as they went into album track The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade. This song was extremely powerful and you could tell the band were putting every ounce of energy into the song. It was then onto Cradle which had been extended and it sounded incredible. Now this song os perfect from beginning to end and the lyrics are amazing. It wasn’t a surprise to see the song got a rapturous response once over. “It’s very nice to be here, we’ve been touring ever since our album came out “ Ritzy then went ont say before thanking everyone coming out to watch them play. It was then onto Bouy a song from The Big Roar I had never heard live. This is a powerful song but during it’s alot gentler nearing the end. The penultimate song was I Don’t Want To See You Like This and even though it is stong there is a gentler bit in the middle. The closing number was the latest single and this being Whirring. “Enjoy the rest of your weekend, it’s only just the beginning” Ritzy said to the audience before diving into the song. Now I really liked the way the songs have been extended. As for Whirring it capped off a wonderful set and it oozed plenty of enery. Overall all the songs oozed plenty of energy and the vibe from Hectors House was simply electric. I am guessing you won’t see them play in such a small venue again. That is the good thing about festivals and this being the fact you can get big bands playing in the tiniest of venues. Also the venue was rammed packed plus it was really sweaty.


Greyhounds In The Slips
The Magnifying Glass
The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade
I Don’t Want To See You Like This


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