Brighton May 2019 – The Great Escape: a free for all for music biz types to meet ‘n’ mingle by the sea and go to conferences all over town to hear the latest by Vevo and such like. In tandem with that is The Alternative Escape: ie. live band showcases hosted by labels and PRS and management companies. You can’t move for the pubs and clubs throbbing with the sounds of new bands and sometimes the occasional well known one mixing it up for kicks. So it is with ‘Impressive PR By The Sea’ for the 6th consecutive year, we are told, presenting a carefully curated line-up of renowned and highly regarded artists also featuring award-winning music journalist, broadcaster and legendary DJ Simon Price behind the decks in between sets. This year though – they ditched the usual pub backdrop for a new venue Door 77 in East Street (the old Bau Wow club) which arguably is a much better and well-defined space with much funkier lighting. The bar was superb too. We decided to stick with this one (we were tipped off to stay put) and we’re glad we did:  one artist in particular stole the show and possibly the entire festival – but more of that later.

12.00-12.30: KROY http://www.kroymusic.com/

First up was Canadian electro pop artist KROY a.k.a. Camille Poliquin also one half of Milk & Bone. Unfortunately for her the venue had not yet warmed up or filled out. Undeterred Kroy delivered a very cool and measured set of trippy hypnotic tunes given exquisite melody by soothing undulating synths. Her songs have a sometimes somber and melancholy feel to them but this is not unpleasing and had more of an emotional impact with a very trance like groove to which the audience responded well. Kroy is a cool artist definitely worth further investigation if you like trancey pop synth driven tunes. Set List included: ‘Hull’, ‘Days’, ‘Satin Satan’, ‘River’ and ‘Cold’.

12.50-13.20: THE MAGNETTES  http://themagnettes.com/

Second up was Sweden’s very own punky electro-pop outfit The Magnettes. Think irreverent pop – think of what the naughty offspring of Roxette, Riot Grrl and Abba would be like and throw in extra punked up fun on what was also a very “tight as shit” (as their song goes) upbeat set. Straight away energy levels in the venue ratched right on up as the band stormed onto the stage (well danced and kicked)- with their latest UK hit ‘KIMNKANYE’. The two vocalists quite literally kicked it up from the very floor occupied by the now filling up audience. Tight, energetic, and so much fun you can see why this threesome are in such demand to play as they do across the globe. If you ever get a chance see them headline their own gigs. Almost too much fun, if that were ever possible. Set List included ‘Intro-Anx’, ‘KIMNKANYE’, ‘I Wanna Party’, ‘Killers In a Ghost Town’, ‘Shakes’, ‘Young & Wild’, ‘Sad Girls Club’

13.40-14.10: COUSIN TONY’S BRAND NEW FIREBIRD https://www.facebook.com/ctbnf/

The Magnettes mad energy gave way to more chillaxed soothing melodies with Australian alternative indie pop band Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird. The band delivered a vibe of pure heartfelt pop punctuated at times with a retro disco vibe. Latest single ‘Love Is Heartbreak’ – the funky lights in Door 77 worked well with this lot but somehow you felt you were missing a glitterball. Interestingly the deep, velvet vocals from singer and frontman Lachlan Rose and his love-lorn lyrics are reflective and sometimes sad – kind of at odds with the upbeat optimistic melodies which makes an interesting mix. It works. It will be interesting to hear their forthcoming album and hear how it all fits together with this melodic schematic. This band are currently on a UK tour so go check out dates on their socials and see them whilst they’re still playing intimate venues. Set List Included (in no particular order): ‘Cool Parties’, ‘The Fear’, ‘Transient’, ‘Melbourne Bitter’, ‘Hot Pink’, ‘Morning Person’, ‘Love Is Heartbreak’

14.30- 15.00: JUICEBOXXX http://juiceboxxx.com/

OMG. This guy. We had heard this artist was going to bring something special to the showcase. We weren’t disappointed. Juiceboxxx is really something else. Apparently (according to his own admission before taking to the stage) he and his band were onto in the country from Wisconsin for a quick 24 hours before heading back to headline a 70th birthday party. You couldn’t make it up. This was, in short, the best set we’ve seen in years: exciting and pulsating with pure energy, noise, punk rock, and underground rap. Truthfully it was more of an ‘immersive experience’ than a gig as the audience were just as much a part of this as he was. He made it so. It’s hard to describe Juiceboxxx; comparisons don’t really come THAT close but hey, for the sake of it, think young Iggy. Think Ian Curtis on a particularly mad one. Think disaffected Trumpian American youth without the money for Ritalin. This artist flipped the venue’s mind and had the audience at the tips of his fingers with a crazy infectious energy that affected everyone in the room. A force of nature:  up and down and around – making strange shapes by the fire doors and onto the bar, cradling audience members down on the floor and provoking them to move forward to become part of the experience. And they did- including members of the other bands who’d just appeared in the showcase who were simply mesmerised by what they were witnessing. Seamlessly he delivered songs from his previous album ‘Freaked Out American Loser’ with such insane energy the audience, myself included, were left wide eyed in wonder and delight and disbelief. He included his new single ‘Coinstar Song’ – released that very day. Catchy and whiney and brilliant. It’s not often jaded music reviewers who’ve seen it all say such things but, seriously, Juiceboxxx is an exhilarating experience you just must have. Set List Included: ‘Never Surrender Forever’, ‘Ripping Up My Soul’, ‘Freaking Out’. ‘Expressway To The Darkness’, ‘Coinstar Song’, ‘Open Up Your Life’, ‘The Edge’, ‘Dead End America (Pagans Cover)’, ‘It’s Easy To Feel Like A Nobody When You’re Living In The City’

15.20- 16.00: MY LIFE STORY http://mylifestory.band/

It was unfortunate that headliners My Life Story had to follow a unique ‘force majore’ like the crazed yet fragile animal that is Juiceboxxx. They inhabit 2 different planets altogether. Different universes in fact. We were still bristling with Juiceboxxx energy when MLS took to the stage.However, it’s true this band pleasingly deliver what you expect:  orchestral pop with clever and sometimes snarky lyrics – and they certainly know how to pack out a venue. Charismatic frontman and sharp suited Jake Shillingford, brought out old favourites, and well-loved anthems to their attending fanbase as well as an Adam And The Ants cover done in their own style. Their recent London date sold out immediately when it was announced. A new album is coming they say so watch out for more dates. Set List Included: ‘It’s a Girl Thing’, ‘The King of Kissingdom’, ‘Broken’, ‘If You Can’t Live Without Me Then Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?’, ‘Taking on The World’, ‘Funny Ha Ha’, ‘Sparkle’, ‘No Filter’, ‘Strumpet / Fall In’, ‘12 Reasons Why’