This Breakout Festival article (and all photo’s) is by Alia Smallwood Thomas, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse
Brighton is known to be a place full of culture and creativity, holding many exciting events. The most recent to appear in the seaside town was Breakout Festival, which made its debut last year at Brighton Racecourse. Breakout brings the alternative music lovers together as the only outdoor rock and metal festival in Brighton, and it does itself proud.
The festival debut in 2014 held a solid line up of well-known bands including Skindred, Funeral For A Friend, The Blackout, The Qemists and INME, amongst others and lesser known bands. This years line up was just as big with the likes of Zoax, Heck (formerly Baby Godzilla), Martyr Defiled and We Are The Ocean, with Sikth and Deaf Havana closing the festival.
Breakout also involved a number of handpicked up-and-coming bands. First on the bill were We Deny who were chosen by BBC Introducing: The South, and secondly, Skint Circus, a local band from the area, played thanks to Access To Music Brighton. The two main headliners of the festival were also asked to choose a band each to play – Sikth chose Seething Akira, and The Gospel Youth were chosen by Deaf Havana. Very good choices.
Breakout Festival had an eclectic mix of musical styles on offer, ranging from the light-hearted sounds of pop-punk from We Deny and The Gospel Youth, to the sound of pure rock from We Are The Ocean and Deaf Havana, to the hardcore breakdowns of Black Tongue and Martyr Defiled. There was something for everyone and more.
The atmosphere and energy at Breakout grew throughout the day. We Deny, a young, new, female-fronted band from Basingstoke started off the day with their friendly pop-punk sound. At this point the audience was thin on the ground but they played a good show nonetheless and did their best to interact with what crowd there was and warm them up for the rest of the day.
Skint Circus followed, upping the anti before the brilliant Seething Arika got the crowd going for the first time that day. Frontmen Kit Cuntrad and Charlie Bowes made sure to pick up the spirit and really start getting people involved and having fun. The antics of the lads from Portsmouth included Cuntrad engaging with the crowd first hand, starting mosh pits and increasing crowd participation. The energy and enthusiasm from these guys was inspiring. They obviously loved what they were doing, had great fun doing it, and was intent on spreading that to the crowd. Definitely a band to take a listen to and see for yourself.
Following the energetic set of Seething Akira was Brighton-based band, The Gospel Youth, who brought the tone down a notch again bringing us back to the well-loved chilled out yet fun vibe of good old pop-punk. Fronted by Sam Little, who has previously worked successfully as a solo artist; The Gospel Youth gave us a good lighthearted performance. The sound unfortunately wasn’t up to scratch which left Little’s voice drowned out at times by the music but the overall performance left a good vibe all round.
Next up was By Definition. By this time the crowd had grown more and became a little more openly involved, but the performance of the band was a quiet one compared to that of the previous bands. The guys did do well adding a bit of entertainment with a heavy rock cover of ‘Witness The Fitness’, originally by Roots Manuva in the early 2000s; a bit of a surprise for the crowd but one well taken.
London based rockers Zoax were a definite highlight of Breakout Festival. Irish frontman Adam Carroll brought a mixture of humour and fear to the crowd with his crazy antics and intense stare. It was a rule for Breakout that swearing was not to happen, so in true Irish style, Carroll stated that any offensive words would be replaced with “potatoes”. A definite crowd pleaser. Zoax definitely made a point to get the crowd up and about and fully immersed in their show. They say “if you don’t come, we come to you” and that was no lie. The frontman walked around through the crowd and beyond to interact with those who were sat down or otherwise seeming as not to be taking in their performance, crowd surfing them and jumping on tables, wearing peoples’ hats, drinking their drinks, all in the name of having fun and grabbing the attention of others.
After being out of the game for a while now, TRC (The Revolution Continues) are back in full swing. Their set at Breakdown was fast-paced, full of energy and a general great performance from the now hardcore five-piece. Their music is a unusual but effective mix of hardcore and hiphop. Vocals from Chris Robson and Anthony Carroll compliment each other with their different sounds and make for some great music and a good stage presence.
HECK performed a set that no-one will easily forget. The band were forced to change their name from Baby Godzilla earlier this year, however their music and performance has not changed – HECK are just as heavy, crazy, and rock ’n’ roll show-stopping as they were under their former name. The extreme high energy resonated throughout the crowd. Frontman Matt “Butch” Reynolds spent most of the set off stage in the crowd, getting up close and personal with his audience. Amps were brought off stage into the crowd, there was a lot of running around, and circle pits were very much on the go. The band were fully engaging and highly amusing – if you’re yet to experience a live show by HECK, then make sure you do. You won’t be disappointed.
Martyr Defiled, hailing from Lincoln, gave a hearty performance. Similarly to HECK, the band were good at engaging with the crowd and brought a great atmosphere to the stage. Lead singer, Matthew Jones got the crowd riled up again and connected with them well.
One of the best performances of the day came from The Qemists. The local band returned to Breakout again this year by popular demand, and you could easily see why. The atmosphere for the whole set was electric. The Qemists put on one hell of a show, getting the whole place moving with their high energy performance and a light show of great quality to enhance their stage presence.
We Are The Ocean and Sikh followed, the latter playing their only UK festival of the summer, before the day was rounded off usually brilliant alt-rock band Deaf Havana. Unfortunately for them, it started off badly as they were about 20 minutes late due to time overrunning throughout the whole day as well as trouble with their soundcheck, so after such a pick up with the performance from SikTh, people were getting restless.
It wasn’t helped when they appeared on stage with lead singer James Veck-Gilodi seeming less than happy, which definitely dampened the vibe. The band did put on a good show overall – guitarist and backing vocalist Matthew Veck-Gilodi certainly did well with putting on a bit more of a hearty performance, engaging with the crowd and looking like he was having fun. As a big fan of Deaf Havana it was not as good as I’d hoped, but still enjoyable.
Overall, Breakout was a fairly successful music festival that brought a good mix of alternative music to the table. At times the atmosphere could have been better – it was a shame there was such a small turn out for the first few bands as they really deserved more appreciation than they got. The lineup could have been altered slightly with certain bands being at different times to compliment their sets, or cause the lineup to flow more smoothly from band to band, however it was a good, affordable one day festival and one that I’m sure will continue to grow and thrive from year to year.
The Racecourse is a good venue for the small, family-friendly festival (baby metalheads were spotted) as it’s not too big and not too small, with enough space for a few good food and clothing stalls as well as a couple of extra entertainment pieces. All in all a good day out for music lovers.