Fluctuating weather, the strong smell of fish and chips lofting around and a packed programme of captivating new music from across the world, it can only be The Great Escape.
Returning for its 11th instalment this year to the dense streets of Brighton, it’s catapulted a range of artists from relative obscurity to the front pages of magazines and music collections of millions, with this year only destined to add to that number. The city becomes an altogether different beast over one weekend in May, full of diverse nationalities, sensational stories, aspirational hopes and a party-like atmosphere that sends fans and industry alike running around the South Coast, hoping to catch a glimpse of the next global superstar. Showcasing the best new music across the musical spectrum, taking in core and alternative venues and an unmistakable feeling of finding the next best thing around every corner, The Great Escape once again delivered a varied and concise introduction to this summer’s festival favourites.
If Day 1 is where the warm-up begins, then Miamigo definitely didn’t get the memo – as they launched into a kaleidoscopic pop masterclass full of unmistakable 80s shine and bravado that immediately knocked the cobwebs out of any gathered to bare witness. Pure pop joy that perfectly pays homage to those before them, they’re only set to get bigger over the next few months, with new single “Forever” a particular standout. Dashing across to the pier and Horatios Bar, The Parrots deliver a no holds barred onslaught of grungey garage charm, shaking the pier to a packed standstill.
Equally as shaking yet more likely to punch you in the face whilst playing, Nova Twins are a spiky duo with plenty of bluesy soul. Riding over electro riffs and pumping hip/rock depth, the twins could be seen as the ultimate cocktail concoction between Deep Valley and Junior Senior. They’re set to become live favourites over the next 12 months, steeped in originality muck like Tuff Love who took to the Dr Martens Stage with an unavoidable calmness to their punky DIY standards – rattling through cuts from their “Ritual” LP with ramshackle efficiency.
Hugely talked about and praised across the board Let’s Eat Grandma are definitely a unique proposition, smothering a playground nursery undertone with unrelenting and dystopic synth euphoria. Enchanting lo-fi previews of their upcoming debut album are welcome with open arms in a packed Haunt, and it’s clear to see just why so many predict their sound to capture an imagination like no other. Down a more direct path is Spring King, festival kings last year after two mammoth performances, their return this year was a heralded and unforgettable moment. Pulling through a set that saw trips through early EP releases and their upcoming debut “Tell Me If You Like To”, they very well may be the band of the summer – combining euphoric garage rock and a full throttle live spectacle in a mix that’s sure to capture thousands over the next few months.
What makes The Great Escape so attractive to thousands of music fans is the ability to switch styles yet retain that unmissable quality of exciting new sounds. From the raucous rock of the evening so far comes Mabel, bewitching a capacity Wagner Hall with a dazzling set of emotionally potent r’n’b. Aside from the phenomenal family tree around her (mum and dad sit as Neneh Cherry and acclaimed Massive Attack producer Booga Bear) Mabel possesses the glitchy yet ethereal tones that find her firmly in the present yet holding the cards dished out by the mid-90s genre icons such as Aaliyah and En Vogue. It’s evident when she dips into an expertly crafted version of Destiny’s Child “Say My Name” that twitches like a cut from the latest 1975 record yet with a gritty rawness akin to Lauryn Hill.
Anthemic indie-rock? The Amazons have it in abundance, unhinged yet undeniably tight on stage, they steam through the Hope And Ruin like a runaway carriage with a set of punchy kicks that leaves no-one in doubt that they could take over any venue they get their hands on. There’s an instant charm and catchiness about their onslaught, and even with the chance of electrocution rising its head at one stage, they decimate a packed out room and chuck their hat into the ring for the new rock kings of 2016 and beyond.
Rounding off the evening in celebratory form is Anteros who have slowly garnered more and more acclaim throughout the year so far, and delivered an effortlessly cool slice of infectious alternative pop to the Pagianni Ballroom. Lead singer “Laura Hayden” is an immediate icon, bouncing around the stage with emphatic confidence and the presence of a superstar taking on the biggest stages in the world. It’s a sound that rattles through recent releases including “Breakfast” and “Blue” with ease, pristinely untouchable and already set to become a true critics favourite over the next few months. The party is well and truly on, and Anteros are seizing the moment on a packed day 1 at The Great Escape
This Great Escape article was written by Jamie Muir, a GIGsoup contributor