The Great Escape 2015 – Day Three
The final day at The Great Escape 2015 came around all-too quickly. Harriet Cheney was there once more for somethingyousaid.com:
Day three began with the Aussie BBQ – an afternoon showcasing Australian artists – at the Concorde 2, just back from the beach to the east of Brighton Pier. Safia, Saskwatch, Bad//Dreems, Tkay Maizda and more solid Aussie talent took to the stage to show their best to the UK. Safia and Tkay Maizda in particular have quite a following in Britain and are on many industry peoples ‘ones to watch’ lists. The electro indie three-piece, with lush airy male vocals, fit very much into the on-trend sound at the festival, but Tkay Maizda brought something very fresh. R & B/ rap sung by an Australian female is pretty unheard of. When Lykke Li cancelled her Australian tour and Tzay slipped in to replace her for Laneway Festival 2015, it was a fortuitous break that has lead to greater exposure and more exciting opportunities and she sure impressed at The Great Escape.
It was an idyllic Brighton day with thousands of tourists joining the festival-goers on the pebbled beach and promenade to soak up the sun and enjoy the first signs of English summer. When the music plays at all hours for three days, some down-time in the sun is the perfect antidote for that sore head and aching feet (you walk SOOO much during this festival!).
My first act of the evening was Ireland’s Girl Band (which ironically has no girls in it) at the Brighton Dome – a real centre for the performing arts in the city. Girl Band were in high demand, easily packing out this large venue. There’s a lot of this sort of punk, loud, garage band music around, but not much of it is done this well. Their shouty, but melodic vocals were sung with enormous conviction, cutting through the manic percussion and strong bass riffs. In the quieter moments the lead singer’s beautiful voice became evident, providing superb contrast. But not for long. The band quickly returned to the tantrum-like dramatic shouting creating a unified soundscape, full of suspense.
Heading to the other end of the music spectrum, I returned to St George’s Church (where I fell in love with Susanne Sundfor on Day 1) to see Gaz Combes – ex-lead singer of alternate rock band Supergrass. With his new album, Matador, just out and quite a few very excited locals, Gaz Combes and band showed that they were absolute pros as they pleased the bustling church full of people with their honest folk rock.
I stayed on at the church to see Icelandic electronic producer/ singer Soley. Her pure, almost child-like voice (a little bit like Julia Stone) had room to soar with the high ceilings. This was the closest I was going to get to the Aurora experience at this festival except that Soley is has a much moodier edge to her songs. She began by saying “I hope it’s not inappropriate, but we’re going to play a song call ‘Devil’”. Her narrative-based, darkly-emotional song are elevated to the next level of drama with the organ played via the synth. More suitable for the graveyard than the church thematically, but sonically you couldn’t have picked a better venue.
The final band I saw at TGE was one of the most exciting music acts I have seen for a long time. Four-piece psych rock band, Gengahr, at The Haunt – a dingy, crowded, loud venue that attracts a lot of punk bands. This group had a lot of hype around them, which made me bit weary, but the hype was well deserved. The lead singer’s phenomenal falsetto voice really makes the band – not forced, just free and easy – and he really seduces the audience with his eye contact. They understand the value of space and pauses in their music to give the phrasing air. The more synthy, psychedellic songs remind me of Tame Impala’s early work, a sure sign that the future is bright for these guys. After a few super enticing teasers during an entire set full of winning songs, I’m very excited to hear what their debut album, out on 15 June, holds.
Overall TGE was a wonderful festival with really high quality artists. I really enjoyed the great diversity in genre and nationality on offer. Obviously, with so many bands and so little time, there is so much that I didn’t see. Good research, an understanding of the UK music industry and familiarity with Brighton city all help to make the experience of this festival as amazing as possible.
Review by Harriet Cheney.