Thursday the 18th of May saw The Great Escape festival get underway in Brighton and despite the persistent heavy rain, what a first day it was. As expected, punters flocked in their numbers to the Great British seaside in expectant, hopeful mood. The possible discovery of a new favourite band adds to the already high spirits as excitement grew to fever-pitch. With everyone in buoyant mood, the at times torrential rainfall did nothing to dampen the mood in the streets, bars and alleyways. Already, after just one day of festivities, it is evident that The Great Escape provides an atmosphere no festival can match, it really is a one of a kind – the ultimate provider of those ‘I Was There’ moments.
One of those ‘I Was There’ formulated in the shape of Slaves taking control of Brighton pier for the evening, hosting their own ‘Pier Party’. Free rides, DJ sets and a Hot Dog eating competition hosted by Radio 1’s Phil Taggart promised a fun evening as well as, of course Slaves’ performance on top of the Horror Hotel. The night felt ‘other-wordly’, as if the long-standing archetype of Brighton’s cultural heritage and been engulfed, as if it was possessed by the pair. They firmly had Brighton in the palm of their hands.
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That being said, their set was cut short. The fear for structural damage, meaning that the hundreds of ticket holders would succumb to possibly fatal consequences, in essence – the possibility of falling into the sea along with the pier itself brought the show to an abrupt end around 10:15pm. The Tunbridge Wells duo kicked off with ‘White Knuckle Ride’, setting the tone for an adrenaline fuelled evening and with the rain continually sweeping in, it couldn’t have felt at all more eerie or atmospheric. ‘Take Control’, ‘Beauty Quest’ and ‘Cheer up London’ alongside a somewhat complimentary cover of Skepta’s ‘Shutdown’ all followed while somewhere in between Laurie Vincent accompanied by his Mime-dressed band-mate Isaac encouraged young people to use their voice, urging them to make the difference they have the power to make.
“Five years ago, I sent an email to The Great Escape asking them to put my band Slaves on the bill, I was ignored. Now, we’re at the top of the fucking line-up” waxed Vincent, an inspiring tale to further put into context the hard-working nature of the band, once again encouraging fans to follow their vision and achieve their goals.
Slaves did not take to the pier alone, they brought Superfood, LIFE and Cabbage with them to support in Horatio’s bar providing the build-up to the main event. Superfood’s articulate blend of Indie and Pop proved extremely popular in a post-punk dominated line-up as they grooved their way through old favourites and newbies yet to be unveiled from their upcoming album. Hull four-piece LIFE then took to the stage, channeling The Fall in their enigmatic, rip-roaring sound and presence. Their debut album ‘Popular Music’ is out next Friday.
Pier Parties aside, further highlights came later into the evening as over in The East Wing Fickle Friends delighted the crowd with their perfectly crafted pop. Speaking to Natti and drummer Sam earlier on in the day, they revealed that this was the first home-town show that they had played in a year and a half, but last nights gig was certainly worth the wait. ‘Brooklyn’ and latest single ‘Hello, Hello’ opened the curtain to the set in emphatic style before the 5 piece went onto play a number of un-released tracks including next single ‘Glue’, a further demonstration of their ability to constantly get things right in terms of their style. While on stage, Natti Shine exclaimed her shock that London four-piece had played before them insisting that it should have been the other way around. Flyte’s ability to nail beautiful melodies down to an absolute tee stunned the crowd. They opened with a magical cover of Alvvays’ ‘Archie, Marry Me’ in A cappella form before blissfuly wading through material both new and old, including latest single ‘Victoria Falls’.
With the first day of The Great Escape throwing up so many surprises resulting in great memories, we look forward to a further two days of festival mayhem on the South Coast.