of you who have read my previous article on The Great Escape (in FEATURED
#1 here) will know
it has become an unmissable part of my year. As one of Europe’s
biggest music industry showcase events with hundreds of bands, famous
and upcoming, hitting Brighton’s venues for three days of solid
music, I always make the effort to meet with as many bands, managers
and labels as I can, and of course check out some great new music.
This year (2015) saw the festival celebrate it’s tenth anniversary
with over 20,000 music fans attending and 3,000 music industry delegates
looking for the next big thing. More than 450 bands made up the main
programme, and a further 200+ bands played alongside that as part of
the Alternative Escape. As a multi-genre festival promoting new original
music it can take some planning and a little research to pick out bands
of a particular style. Thankfully, guitar bands were well represented
especially (as expected) within the Alternative Escape schedule. Here’s
a run down of my time at the festival and a few bands that stood out
from the crowd...
My Great Escape started for me on the Wednesday evening before the event
officially kicked off. Lively Pop-Punkers Fallow Fields played a pre-festival
show at the newly refurbished Hope & Ruin. It wasn’t a long
set due to the number of bands packed in to the line-up but that suited
their style, a fresh energetic blast of punchy melodies and memorable
hooklines. Front-woman Lois McDougall lead the show with confidence
at one time making a tongue in cheek apology to anyone in the crowd
who may not have liked the sound they were making. The crowd were far
Along the road at The Prince Albert were Tinnedfruit, a Garage Rock
band from Falmouth. They were playing an event which sees bands from
the South West of England on the same bill as local South East bands.
It is almost compulsory to have a free Cornish pasty and has, over the
last couple of years, become the event for many people to kick the festival
off with. Tinnedfruit played loud and put on an energetic show. The
overdriven fuzz of the guitars and shouted vocals created a wall of
intense sound that at first took a moment to adjust to, reminiscent
of the very early Seattle Grunge DIY bands. If lofi rock is your thing
then they are definitely worth looking out for.
Day one of the festival saw EofE playing the Inspired Artists Agency
showcase at a cool little basement venue The Latest Music Bar. Having
recently seen them supporting Glamour Of The Kill on their UK tour the
opportunity to see another show couldn’t be missed. Opening once
again with Bridges they wasted no time in making an impression, their
energy and modern take on a traditional style bringing people down to
the bar from the floor above. Two more new songs got an airing, both
showing their flair for the big chorus, and making full use of singer
Tom Harris’ excellent vocal range.
Playing later at The Hub was another new band worth checking called
Knights. They had drawn an impressive crowd, squashed shoulder to shoulder
into the venue. They are band with a big commercial edge to their songwriting
style. Unfortunately, the stage didn’t really allow for much movement
as it seemed sized more for DJ use but, like the audience, Knights did
what they could with the space they had. “The Fear, The Sweat”
proved to be an instant crowd favourite and latest release “Sidonie”
(the video features Nick Hewer from TV’s Countdown and The Apprentice)
went down particularly well too. It is still early days with only a
handful of songs released but Knights already seem to be causing a stir.
The more established Sunset Sons were at the XFM / War Child sponsored
Concorde 2 venue. Although lighter in style with the addition of keyboards
to their sound the band certainly know how to rock out. Fans of Kings
Of Leon should find much to like about Sunset Sons especially in the
sound of Rory Williams’ voice. The guy has a natural talent for
sure. There’s a hint of Tom Petty in the band’s songs too.
The crowd at Concorde 2 certainly liked them. With songs like “Remember“
in their arsenal it’s easy to see why.
Afterwards back at The Hub Vukovi were due to play but there was a chance
to see them on a bigger stage during day two instead. At the Showcasing
Scotland event in the much larger Brighthelm Centre and with room to
move around singer Janine Shilstone’s personality really came
to the fore. Her constant movement was reminiscent of Gwen Stefani from
No Doubt, and the band’s sound with it’s funky bass patterns
had a touch of Don Broco about it. The grooves were infectious and it
wasn’t long before the crowd were dancing too. “So Long
Gone” and “Schwagger” proved particular favourites.
of the standout events in the programme was the "AIM Presents..."
evening, the first time Metal and the heavier side of the Rock spectrum
has been featured in a dedicated showcase event before. I have written
about this event in greater detail on the next page here.
This year, like last year too, The Hub was the venue for many of the
Rock bands. A particular highlight from day three was LTNT (lieutenant).
Their fuzzy riffs over heavy bass grooves went down a treat for the
early lunchtime crowd. Bare chested Guitarist / Vocalist Liam Lever
was in a giving mood, offering the van to anyone who could find it along
the road as the door lock didn’t work. There’s a lot to
like about this band. Songs like the stomping “No Home”
and the anthemic “In The Back Of Your Mind” offer tantalising
hints as to how great LTNT could be. Ones to watch for sure.
Later in the afternoon the lights were turned down low for an atmospheric
little show at Sticky Mikes by Belgian Indie Rockers Intergalactic Lovers.
Their lush soundscapes carrying Lara Chedraoui’s beautiful voice
washed through the packed out venue. All in attendance were utterly
mesmerisied. Check “No Regrets” and “Northern Road”
if the band are new to you.
For fans of music with a heavy Bluesy edge that delve into Alt Rock
areas then Bella Figura were playing the Dr. Martens showcase at Green
Door Store. The London based three piece put on a show that could only
be described as pure class. Justin Gartry’s smokey vocals oozed
emotion, transferred perfectly to his guitar when not singing. The bass
lines were inventive and drumming sensitive, both locked together to
provide a dynamic foundation for the songs. The audience stretched through
the venue and outside too so there’s plenty of people interested
in their music. Expect to see a lot more from this band over the next
couple of years.
Ending this list of highlights are Lonely The Brave who played another
newly refurbished venue, Patterns (previously called Audio). It has
to be said their sound was quite phenomenal. How much of it was down
to the venue’s new PA, or the band’s gear can’t be
fully known but hearing songs like “Backroads” in this way
became a truly immersive experience. David Jakes typically stayed to
the back of the stage next to the drum kit leaving guitarist Mark Trotter
to do any talking between songs. It was a great show that was all about
the songs and David Jakes’ rather special voice. No frills, just
excellent music and a spectacularly good sound.
Overall, The Great Escape once again provided a feast for music lovers
of all genres. This list features mainly newer or lesser known guitar
bands worthy of further attention but there’s much more besides.
It’s an event that puts Brighton on the global music map and real
credit must be given to the multitude of quality venues the city has
to offer. Some of the venues had recently received total refurbishments,
new PA systems, or new lighting installed. Hopefully that is a sign
that live music still has a healthy future, at least in Brighton.
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