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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE GREAT ESCAPE FESTIVAL 2015
14th, 15th, 16th May 2015.
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Knights @ The Hub venue

Those 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...

Fallow Fields

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 from complaining.

Tinned Fruit

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.

EofE

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.

Knights

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.

Sunset Sons

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.

Vukovi

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.

One 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.

LTNT

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.

Intergalactic Lovers

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.

Bella Figura

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.

Lonely The Brave

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.

Find out more about Great Escape Festival and all the latest event info at greatescapefestival.com.

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