Monday, 16 May 2011
No, not a homage to the classic Steve MacQueen movie, The Great Escape is, to quote themselves, "Europe's leading festival for new music". Quintessentially, the British answer to Austin's SXSW festival, it is the perfect way to start the ever-earlier festival season.
In case you've been living on the moon or in a cave for the past five years, then you would've heard about the festival, as it is the best place to catch the up-and-coming stars of the future. Chances are, your favourite artists of the past five years have played here, with Hall of Famers including Vampire Weekend, Kasabian, Ellie Goulding, Klaxons and current lady-of-the-moment Adele. Whilst it is a festival for discovering new bands, you can also catch artists who have broken through, with Friendly Fires, Sufjan Stevens, Katy B, Example and Warpaint, just a few names who played over the weekend.
Thursday's discoveries were:
Dry the River (Above Audio) - The five piece from London, brought their folk-infused indie rock, which also embraces Americana and gospel sounds. Their energetic and euphoric set was watched by a full crowd in the venue, and they left as one of the bands of the weekend.
The Smokin' Barrels (Komedia Downstairs) - The Geordie trio, heavily influenced by the Mod and Britpop eras. Their sound borrows heavily from their influences. They even had time to cover The Who's "My Generation" too. Ooh, get them.
In-Flight Safety (Jam) - Part of the Canadian invasion to hit Brighton, the Halifax, Nova Scotia quintet played melodic indie anthems to dramatic sounds. Like a cross between the synths and vocals of The Killers and the alternative sounds of Death Cab for Cutie, it won't be long till they're big.
Fight Like Apes (Coalition) - The Irish quartet from Dublin, brought their synth-electro punk anthems to the festival, giving a thrashing performance to supplement their attitude-fuelled songs.
Brasstronaut (Komedia Studio) - The Canadian quintet from Vancouver compress jazz, indie rock and electro, to harness their own impressive sound. Similar to compatriots Arcade Fire, their multi-instrumentals combining together really shouldn't work, but it does and to fantastic achievement, creating an original and highly enjoyable sound.
Friday's discoveries were:
Trails (Komedia Downstairs) - The quartet from Guildford tore apart the venue, with their impressive and raucous live shows. Their heavyweight riffs where supplemented by a collison of relentless energy and melodic vocals. With a summer EP due to be produced by James Kenosha, responsible for Pulled Apart By Horses and Dinosaur Pile-Up, they will soon by joining them as live favourites.
Brother & Bones (Komedia Downstairs)- The five piece managed to upstage Trails, with the bluesy-western folk and loud racket threatening to tear apart the venue. Quite how combining blues guitar solos and bongo drums works is suprising, but it does to great effect.
Gallops (Prince Albert)- Jagged guitars and electronics combine to produce dancefloor anthems, that more than make up for the lack of vocals from this North Wales quartet.
Funeral Suits (Hector's House)- Multi-instrumental Irish alternative band, combining guitars, with synths and keyboards. Their sound incorporates distorted guitars, art rock, electronica and harminous pop. Not bad for a band looking of a combined age of about 16.
Tripwires (Hector's House)- With influences including Sonic Youth and The Smashing Pumpkins, the Reading quartet are intent on bringing back the 90s grunge/alternative sound of the latter. With floppy hair and flannel shirts, it's as if Kurt Cobain has never been away! Their energetic live show includes distorted guitars and compulsory accompanying headbanging from the crowd.
Dinosaur Pile-Up (Jam)- The Leeds trio further enhanced their growing live reputation, with another incredible set that threaten to erupt the venue. A surging mosh that nearly broke the barrier, resulted in the band asking crowd members to join on stage, resulting in some poorly attempts at singing along with anthem "Traynor" and some terrible stagediving. The best band of the weekend, showing the newcomers how to do it.
That concludes the first two days of The Great Escape festival. Sadly, being unable to attend on Saturday, meant missing out on some quality bands, the beach and arcade games. Damn!