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. Unlike 2011 where I attended the whole festival, I only opted for the 2 days. When the schedule was released I noticed that there were only a few acts I would see on the Thursday. With this I booked a 2 day ticket for Friday and Saturday.
I arrived in Brighton just before noon. The reason behind this was the fact I needed to exchange my ticket for a wristband and also the first band I would of liked to have seen was on at 12.30. Now this festival is also about discovering new talent rather than just seeing the acts that you know and love. I wanted to get the full use out of my 2 days so the first band that I witnessed were Aussie band Echo And The Empress consisting of sisters Skye and Beth Germein. This short set took place at The Hope and both sisters were accompanied by Sam on drums and Elise on bass. The material which was showcased was in the Indie Folk/ Pop genre and sounded rather mellowing.
What opened up this short showcase was The Wolves. Skye delivered the vocals strongly and Beth harmonised as well as playing the keys. Just hearing this being performed right in front of me reminded me of the Irish sister duo Heathers. “We’re Echo And The Empress and we’re from South Australia” Skye then said to the intimate gathering before introducing the next tune as the light hearted Set The Boys On Fire. Now I really liked this tune. Other than having contagious lyrics it also had a melody you want to have a jig to. “The boys should be set on fire/ Such a nasty liar”. The harmonies were gorgeous while the cute lyrics were upbeat. Beth then introduced the next song as Oh Darlin and Skye had placed her guitar down for this tune. It was Beth providing the vocals for this sweet song with Skye harmonising. “Oh Darlin you can see/ It’s not like you and me/ To be the ones to dance around the circles at the party”. I also found it to be rather entrancing and both Skye’s and Beth’s vocals geld together perfectly to form something light. “This next song is about sunshine in the summertime. We get a lot of that in Australia” Beth said which resulted in a few sniggers as the weather in the UK is not the best at times. It was then onto Golden Skin. I found this to be pacey and breezy at the same time. Skye took the lead for this tune with Beth who provided the pitch perfect harmonies. Skye then said the next tune Butterflies Inside she wrote for a couple of friends of hers whom got married in Indonesia last year. This was a beautiful love song with stunning lyrics which seemed to be very hypnotic. It actually sent shivers up my spine. “It’s about people that try and Control each other in relationships” Beth then told the audience before introducing the next number as Control. This again was another love song but not a happy one. Beth sang the majority of this song with Skye adding in the harmonies. The verses were superb as you could clearly picture what was happening in your head. “Control its a little game we play”. It was then onto One More Tear. “It’s actually one of our new singles which we brought out about month ago. It’s all about break ups” Skye then said before launching into this break up love song. The lyrics were sweet aided by beautiful harmonising. One More Tear was perfect pop and the vocals were superb. “Thank you all for being here and sharing this with us” Skye then said revealing that this was the last date of the string of gigs they played on UK shores. What they ended on was Balloon which again was hypnotic. This tune was upbeat and radiant at the same time. Balloon was in fact the winner in the Pop Category for the International Independent Music Awards of 2012.
Set The Boys On Fire
One More Tear
After Echo And The Empress was over it was then onto The Loft for Gabriella Cilmi. This was part of The Alternative Escape. The event that took place there was not running on time. This then saw Cilmi’s 2pm set taking place 45 minutes later. A delay was annoying as I would of liked to have seen Wolf Alice who were playing at the RSVP party nearby at 1.30pm.
Left With Someone Else was delivered flawlessly. It was very infectious with stunning verses and an incredible/ powerful chorus. It was definitely a tune that can get you moving easily. There was actually a rock vibe to this song. “We’re going to take it down a little bit now cos I’m a bit puffed out” Cilmi then said before introducing her band. The next tune being Don’t Look Back. This was sung at a steady pace and the huskiness was still there. Gabriella’s vocals were superb and she delivered this wonderful/ sleek number to perfection. Not Sorry then followed on straight after. This was a promising number and was strongly delivered. This was a grower and has lyrics which oozed plenty of energy. In Highway Cilmi says that she lost her dreams along the highway. This tune offered plenty of promise. The vocals were faultless and it had been perfectly written. Straight after Gabriella was kindly given 1 last song and this was The Sting which is a grower. As soon as it progresses the more addictive it gets. Its verses were superb whilst its chorus was packed with a punch “All of my life I’ve been running from the sting”.
Left With Someone Else
Don’t Look Back
It was then off to The Courtyard for Norwegian singer/ songwriter Susanne Sundfør. This again was another performance for The Alternative Escape. Once there The Courtyard was literally packed out and the reason being Night Engine were still playing their set. So during the time they were playing I managed to worm my way to the front in time for Susanne. The reason I had chosen to see her was down to 2 things 1: I wanted to make the most out of the festival and 2: She was playing her own gig on The Great Escape so seeing her perform in the afternoon allowed me to cross her off of my list.
Susanne was phenomenal and each of her tunes stunned me to silence. The only one gripe about the set was the fact it was too short. It was all over and done with in less than 15 minutes. The set consisted of Diamonds and White Foxes from the newest album The Silicone Veil and It’s All Gone Tomorrow which was taken from The Brothel.
I rather enjoyed what was showcased. It felt like it was Experimental Electronic Pop which worked wonders. I was actually reminded of Bat For Lashes whilst hearing this hypnotic music for the first time.
It’s All Gone Tomorrow
My evening consisted of seeing 4 bands/ artists perform in 3 different venues. My first stop being downstairs at the Komedia. Now this gig proved to be a hot one as the queue to get in stretched all the way down the road. It was the first time I had been downstairs and I was shocked to see it was a big space. I always expected downstairs to be rather intimate. I would say capacity wise it could fit about 400+ people. Deap Vally consist of Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards. At the moment they only have 2 releases to their name and these being limited 7” vinyl’s of Gonna Make My Own Money and End Of The World which are impossible to get hold of now. The bands style of music is rock and roll but it is not over heavy. The last time I witnessed them was at Dingwalls in February. This time I learnt from my mistake and chose to stand at the side rather than the centre.
The set only consisted of 7 songs which were blitzed through in 30 minutes. These tracks being the singles, a B side and 3 new songs. Each tune was sung to perfection and Troy’s vocals were ever so powerful. Every number made me look forward to the upcoming LP. My favourite of the set had to be the ferocious Lies which sounded incredible live. This set actually was a lot different compared to London. There was no atmosphere from the crowd. Yes people were enjoying what was being performed in front of them but I had expected people to go crazy when they ended on End Of The World. I fully expected it to be a Dingwalls part 2 but instead it was extremely mellow.
Baby I Call Hell
Gonna Make My Own Money
Walk Of Shame
End Of The World
After having missed the sold out Hoxton Hall show in February I made it my aim to catch Little Green Cars live. The fact I wanted to see this Irish band live was one of the reasons I watched Deap Vally (I love Deap Vally and it was handy that they were both in the same venue). This 5 piece band consisted of Stevie Appleby, Faye O’Rourke, Adam O’Regan, Donagh Seaver O’Leary and Dylan Lynch. What was showcased was mainly material from upcoming album Absolute Zero plus Mom + Dad and River Song which have not been released. The style of the music that they played was indie rock. I wanted to see this band because I loved both The John Wayne and Harper Lee. At the time I was not impressed with what was showcased and I couldn’t enjoy it as much. Watching back what I had captured from the set that they played I terribly misjudged them. This band are highly talented and the next London date that they play I will book in a flash. Each song showcased were crackers and it makes me look forward to when Absolute Zero is released towards the end of June. I am also intrigued to see what will happen with Mom + Dad and River Song which don’t feature on the LP (unless they will be used as bonus tracks).
Mom + Dad
Big Red Dragon
After the set by Little Green Cars it was then a dash to get to Blind Tiger for the set by Lauren Aquilina. As I know Lauren she was always a definite of people I wanted to see. Aquilina clashed with MØ which was slightly annoying but my loyalty goes to Lauren Aquilina. I managed to get into the venue no problems there wasn’t even a queue. Even though I knew that I would of already heard all the songs which she was going to play I was still uber excited just to see her play at this festival.
“Now my name is Lauren Aquilina and this is a song called Expectations. About how I didn’t want to University”. Lauren said to the audience. Expectations was a co write with the equally talented Miss Orla Gartland. This gentle keyboard driven song sounded rather lovely. The lyrics were fantastic and you can clearly picture what this number is saying. Basically Lauren is saying that she feels that she cant live up to the expectations when her heart lies elsewhere. “I’ve never been to this festival before. Thank you for listening to me” Aquilina said before King which was a song about being happy. Its melody was entrancing and the lyrics fitted to it perfectly. As for the song it had been perfectly delivered and the thing I like is that you can picture what is actually happening through its infectious lyrics. It was then onto a brand new song and this being Talk To Me. Having attended Aquilina’s first ever headline tour I heard this back in February. This tune was packed with a punch. Talk To Me was a steady paced number which Lauren put everything into this incredible tune. It has to feature on the upcoming 2nd LP. Square One was Lauren’s sas song and it is about when you are happy to break up with someone. This tune was flawless and the vocal performance was rather strong at the same time. Once over Lauren mentioned that she had been at school studying A levels so hadn’t had the opportunity to see any other bands. What then followed on was Wonder. I found this song to be rather emotional because it was telling a story of unrequited love. Aquilina then signed off with Fools. It was delivered at a fast pace and the vocal performance was sublime. My favourite part had to be the middle 8. The singable part of this superb song was the line “What if we ruin it all and we love like fools, And all we have we loose”.
Talk To Me
It was then off to The Warren to see the artist that was going to close my first day of The Great Escape. The artist is question being 18 year old Scot Nina Nesbitt. Actually this was the only venue that had a queue and I was actually quite surprised. Either they were Nesbians wanting to get in or they were Iggy Azalea fans as she was playing at 11.30pm. Time was getting on and it was 10 minutes before she was due to take the stage. I wasn’t even inside and it was looking likely I wasn’t going to be in time for the start of the set. What I decided to do was go up to the front to see what was happening then I blended in. A few seconds later I was inside the venue waiting for Nina Nesbitt to take to the stage. I couldn’t get to the front row which was ashame but I did get second which was good despite being behind some cameraman.
The set opened up with The Outcome. This was the first time I had witnessed Nina perform live and I was blown away. The Outcome was an acoustic folk, the lyrics were both sublime and infectious. Other than being a singer Nesbitt is also a phenomenal songwriter. Just from hearing this song I could see shades of Amy MacDonald. No introductions were needed for The Apple Tree. Its verses were superb and it was aided by a contagious fast paced chorus which easily gets your toe tapping. The Apple Tree was a lovely sweet sounding song which had been perfectly written. This was about being young and naive in a relationship with someone who is persistently adamant on breaking your heart. Following on was 18 Candles and this was more up beat compared to the first 2 songs that appeared on the set. After witnessing it being performed live this wondrous tune had an extra edge to it which immediately made this track stand out. Nesbitt then moved to the keyboard and used a speaker as a stool for the next number of the evening. This being the beautiful Statues it felt as this was an emotional ballad. The lyrics were perfect and Nina delivered this song sublimely. Brand new song Way In The World was up next (or Wonder which the set list said). This is the brand new single and it was a right cracker. The lyrics were stunning whist its verses and chorus were rather addictive. “Do you ever wonder where your dreams go”. I definitely look forward to seeing the official music video for this incredible song. Just Before Goodbye was next and this left me speechless. Nina’s vocals were extremely powerful whilst delivering the first part acoustically. The rest of the band then came in giving this number that extra something. It actually reminded me of Gabrielle Aplin. Peroxide was the penultimate tune of the evening and yet again it was another new one. I found this to be upbeat with lyrics which had been superbly written. I look forward to hearing this again when it is recorded in a studio. The spectacular set ended with the quirky Stay Out. This featured on the recent Stay Out EP and it excites me greatly. Stay Out was a song that can easily get you moving.
The Apple Tree
Just Before Goodbye