As we enter the final day of The Great Escape, Brighton remains openly positive. If you think the festival would reign it in for the last day, then you would be mistaken. Saturday is as stacked as the previous two, and with the weather beginning to embrace Brighton’s traditional wet standard, there is even more of an excuse to cram inside a sweaty club and find the next big thing.
And Saturday is further proof that The Great Escape is the best at exploring international waters. Australian Ruby Fields brings two rocking sets to the seaside while French pop-death metal crossover duo Sun take over the Latest Music Bar for a thrilling thirty minutes. If that was not thrilling enough, Trash Hawks head from Canada for two tiny, sweaty shows.
One of the wildest sets of the festival is drafted in from the French city of Sens. Johnny Mafia are a four-piece garage/punk group blissfully unaware of the concept of restraint. For thirty joyous minutes, the wedding chapel-esque Marine Room is transformed into a bruised basement. “I sing English but don’t speak English”, jokes one of the members halfway through the set. Any potential language barrier is thrown out by the universal love for power chords. With the bass player constantly gurning, and the lead guitarist surveying crowd members to stick his tongue out at, it is chaotic but wonderful.
After a brief fifteen-minute walk, Kojaque displays an incredibly mature performance at Patterns. Not just a rapper, the producer also co-founded Soft Boy Records, a label hosting some of the strongest talent from Ireland. For tonight’s show, Kojaque brings out two label mates: Luka Palm and Kean Kavanagh. The latter helps to soothen the jazzy instrumentals while the former injects some fury to the set’s final third. Some songs illicited a strong reception from the crowd, some members shouting back lyrics with passion. The thirty-five minutes are accomplished, and Kojaque (much like an Irish Loyle Carner) is an undemanding performer.
If the final third of Kojaque’s set suggests the crowd is up for a dance, then Injury Reserve will be more than happy to supply. Six days before their debut album is released, the Arizona rap trio smash through Patterns for a crazy thirty minutes. After some early sound issues, there is an apparent sense of urgency throughout. Ritchie With a T shouts at seemingly everything: be it his laptop, the sound crew or the crowd – he is determined for the set to go off. Stepa J Groggs stands composed, calm while remaining punishing in verse. New singles like ‘Jailbreak The Tesla’ are visceral while older hits like ‘Oh Shit!!!’ threaten the mosh pit.
However the most ethereal, otherworldly experience of the festival falls to the last act. JAMBINAI are hard to pin down: a Korean post-rock outfit that incorporates traditional instruments into metal arrangements. After a buzzed set at Patterns earlier on, they pack out Sallis Benney Theatre as part of the Bella Union showcase. From the beginning, it is hard to lose concentration. With wonderful visuals from local talent innerstrings, the show is immersive and sonically haunting. Each member is remarkably talented, and their long history today (met at university some ten years ago) does more than enough to create a sensational sense of cohesion.
Given a luxurious forty-five minutes, their set is spacious yet claustrophobic. At one point Lee Il-woo gives a passionate speech about the context of a song; it is so poignant, sniffles can be heard around the room. It is not just the projected visuals that create the thrilling live show; Kim Bo-mi’s bond with her haegeum is inseperable while witnessing instruments like the geomungo and the taepyeongso in person are mesmirising. At times the writer’s jaw was involuntarily dropped by the sheer magnitude of the performance. Plugging their forthcoming album ‘ONDA’, JAMBINAI depart the stage to thunderous applause. It is the type of show that makes you appreciate the beauty and brilliance of The Great Escape.
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