Friday, May 25, 2012

The Great Escape Festival 2012 had a couple of roving reporters at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton last weekend. Here's their review: 

The Great Escape this year was fortunate to be gifted with some unexpectedly decent weather and this surely made everyone’s weekend a great deal more enjoyable, especially as, from the look of it, many people spent a lot of their time queuing. For any of the hyped bands at the festival this year, like Mystery Jets, Django Django, The Black Belles and Grimes, there was almost no chance of getting near the venue without being there enormously early and most people were stuck outside with a “one in, one out” door policy.

This was probably not the main experience for everyone as there was so much on offer and the best part of the festival was the opportunity to meander around Brighton’s bustling and sunny (this weekend) streets, browsing the many venues and stumbling across new acts. My favourite example was wandering into a half-empty Green Door Store on a whim to find IO Echo starting their set. I had never heard of them before yet I’m really excited by their music now. They have a new-wave influence with an electronic twist and the two guitarists have a loud, almost metal style beefing up the sound. The enigmatic singer (below) reminded me a lot of Siouxsie Sioux crossed with Florence Welch (in a good way) and her graceful movement was complemented by some cool Geisha projections behind them (briefly blocked by my head).

The Great Escape is an uplifting experience, especially for slightly jaded people like me who are concerned with the future (and present) of music. Simon Cowell’s slow assassination of the medium and the fear of illegal downloads seemed to be absent in Brighton this weekend, with hundreds of young and promising bands playing - and loving - music. You could see thirty bands and still feel like you had barely scratched the surface of what was on offer. It’s even more difficult to find your way to gigs you have planned to go to as you are more than likely to get distracted by something happening on the way, like Saturday night when we were sidetracked on the way to Michachu and The Shapes by a Rockabilly gathering at the Dorset.

We just managed to make to Micachu and The Shapes, who had packed The Haunt out, but luckily there was no queue outside and we saw one of the best sets of the weekend. There is always something so impressive about their almost DIY approach, with obscure percussion instruments, glitchy beats and rhythms and odd melodies that somehow all come together to make something far more approachable and enjoyable than my description would have you believe. It has also been a long time since I last saw them live and they have definitely matured as a band. They sounded amazing, playing newer material with more ambient and discordant moments suggesting the new album, expected at the end of July, is something to look forward to.

The Great Escape was far more civilised than spending four days in a field and offers more chance of escaping the rain, not to mention that bands always sound better indoors than at a festival where a lot of the sound escapes in the air. So be sure to check out next year's event and find some new bands and inspiration.

Review by Dom Erskine and Tanja Stocklin.

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