The Great Escape 2017: Day Two

Having survived day one of Brighton’s Great Escape, we hit the town once again to see what the second day had in store for us: 

Waking up with dry mouths and a pounding heads thanks to an excess of partying/alcohol yesterday, the last thing that appealed on this Friday morning was to immediately go and stand in a packed, sweaty room while people played loud music. What we needed was to ease our way into day two of The Great Escape. Thank heavens then for the festival’s conference programme. With a full three days of insightful talks, discussions and interviews on offer, not only does it provide somewhere for a bit of a sit down, but you’ll also gain some invaluable music industry knowledge and the chance to do a bit of networking with likeminded folk. The conference programme is open to anyone who attends The Great Escape with a delegate pass (worth thinking about if you work in the music biz or have a blog etc, and are planning to come back next year). Around 3,500 music industry professionals from all over the world converge each year.

This morning, delegates either headed along to a couple of talks at The Komedia (Where’s My Fucking Money? How The Cash Flows and Export: Great British Music Overseas) or to some international networking gatherings in The Dome.

As our heads started to clear, it was time to get back to the main reason we were here… the music. Another exciting aspect of The Great Escape is the plethora of pop-up events that take place. One such example occurred at the British Airways i360 at lunchtime. Punters brave enough to journey along the seafront in the absolutely torrential rain were treated to a special gig hosted by Dr Martins. All that was required was to pick up a free ticket from the Dr Martins store in town and head towards Brighton’s newest landmark.

After taking off our soggy shoes and holding them under the hand-dryers in the toilets at the foot the attraction, we were sent up in the large pod, while Cosima (pictured, top) performed some sweet tunes. While from the ground the i360 may look like a tall obelisk piercing a donut, it was a magnificently unusual place for a gig. The vista is like none other that we’ve ever experienced at a live show. From 450 feet in the air, you can see for miles and miles, looking down on the shell of the old West Pier, back into Brighton and beyond or each way along the coast. What’s more, the sun even made its first appearance of the weekend to render the panoramic view even more stunning.

The break between afternoon and evening sessions allowed for a stroll up the pier. While holiday-makers and European students threw their copper change into arcade machines and took selfies, we used the opportunity to get some much needed sunshine on our wan complexions after a day-and-a-half of downpours. Soon enough though, it was time to get back into the guts of the festival, with another evening’s worth of shows to flit between. First up for us was Blackwaters at the Queens Hotel.

If you like your indie-punk raucous and bursting with energy (and let’s be honest what other way is there?), then this four-piece might just become your new favourite band. Their songs were belted out with a youthful verve and swagger and positively ripped through the room. While the musicianship was tight, the whole shebang had an alluring sense of shambolic danger about it, like the it could all fall apart at any moment, a la The Libertines. Blackwaters are certainly a band to keep on your radar in 2017.

With secret shows popping up all over the place, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of where you need to be when, but there was no keeping us from Volks Nightclub near the pier as the sun went down. Why? Because Mount Kimbie were about to drop a set there in collaboration with Soundcloud. It was an exciting opportunity to see such an innovative band so close up and not from the back of a large festival crowd. You can read our extensive review of the show here.

A little later, the queue went round the block for the not-so-secret late-night turn by legends The Charlatans at The Haunt. It would be the smallest room they’d played for an age, and it seemed like the whole of Brighton wanted to be there, so we instead headed along to the (still busy but) not as busy Sallis Benney Theatre, where another set of indie veterans were about to take to the stage.

Many years have passed since Shout Out Louds supported The Strokes at the Brighton Centre, but time hasn’t tempered their songwriting chops. Their beguiling set seamlessly blended classics with numbers from their forthcoming fifth album, suggesting there is plenty of life in the old Swedish dogs yet.

After Perth’s Tired Lion smashed through some raw rock belters at Bleach, day two was all but done. A Friday which started 450 feet in the air retained such musical heights throughout and left us eager to discover what was in store on the final day of festivities. If the Saturday was anything as good as the Thursday and Friday, The Great Escape was going to end with a bang.


Review by Jayne Cheeseman and Bobby Townsend.