The Great Escape: Day One


There’s little denying that Brighton in the Spring sunshine is a location of absolute magnificence, so when you add 350 amazing bands playing in over twenty venues around the city to sixteen thousand sartorially elegant punters over three days, you’ve got yourself one awesome frickin’ party.

The Great Escape has long-since established itself as a staple in the European festival calendar with its commitment to showcasing new musical talent. If you were to call it the English SXSW, you’d certainly be barking up the right tree. Day one opened, happily, with some good ol’ Australian vibes (the best kind of vibes), most notably Deep Sea Arcade. Featuring Something You Said’s favourite handsome guitarist, James Manson, and his swoon-inducing mop of wavy hair, the Sydney band purveyed a 60s-tinged set of reverb-laden indie-pop to a surprisingly rammed Haunt. Surprising, not because the band don’t deserve an audience, but because it was only 2.40pm. These festival-goers were clearly hungry for sounds.

Tom PriorAs the afternoon shadows grew in length, London three-piece Glitches delivered indie-electro on the outdoor festival hub stage before Aussies, Made In Japan, performed at The Queens Hotel, which had a function roomy kinda vibe about it. The four-piece played indie pop with a smile while, nearby, Lou Hayter, the statuesque keyboard-playing beauty from NYPC, was fronting her new band, Tomorrow’s World, which is also the project of Air’s Jean-Benoit Dunckel.

Further up the seafront, Tom Prior‘s ‘Early Plan B with keys’ style was radio friendly to the extent that it’s not hard to envisage him blowing up soon. Oh, and he (pictured, left) had the coolest backing band ever. The kinda guys who look like they could batter you but would actually rather hit the dancefloor. Drummer in a leather jacket AND shades indoors? Yes please.

Downstairs in the same venue, we waited through Only Real‘s set – which was essentially watered-down Jamie T – in anticipation for Syron. This website has been raving about the 20-year-old (pictured, top) for a while now, so we were pumped to catch her live for the first time and we weren’t disappointed. Looking hotter than the sun in faded acid-wash pants and a stars-n-stripes bikini, she showcased her note-perfect, soulful vocal to some garage/RnB-inspired backing and commanded the attention of the busy room. Impressive indeed, not least big radio hit, Breaking. Her turn was the day’s highlight and her star continues to ascend at pace.

P1080159Across the city, ace Londoners Is Tropical were getting sweaty in the low-ceilinged Komedia, their cracking single Lies a particular highlight, while upstairs, Mumbai power-pop trio, Blek were putting on an equally raucous show.

Maybe it was tiredness caused by running around the city all day, maybe it was the really annoying strobes that kept shining directly in the audience’s eyes or maybe it was because there had been so many ace performances in the smaller venues already, but Everything Everything‘s headline show at The Dome fell a little flat. There seemed a distinct lack of energy in the room, from both band and audience and this won’t be remembered as one of the great Great Escape sets.

Not to worry though, there was still the beautiful RnB-fused sounds of How To Dress Well to come and then a whole bunch of late night shows to take punters through to the wee hours. Not for us though. With eight million* bands (*this is an approximation) we really like on the bill tomorrow, we were calling it a (very good day and) night. A cracking start to the festivities. Roll on Friday.



Words and pictures by Bobby Townsend. For reviews of days two and three and to see a bunch more photos over the next week, follow us on Facebook.