THE GREAT ESCAPE – REVIEW – DAY ONE
We are waiting for someone to wake us up as we walk through this dream festival. Imagine a blog writer compiling his ideal festival: Sprinkle generously just about every new Indie band he knows and a few he doesn’t around town (check). Then stir in a handful of top industry people to fluff and a gaggle of celebrities (check). Mix them all into dozens of the finest small and personal venues so you can get so close you can actually touch them without prosecution (check). Finally dollop the entire thing on your very own doorstep! (check check check!).
As Dorothy pronounced there really is ‘no place like home…’, but this ain’t no dream and we’re loving Brighton to bits! And so we are going to do our best to find the time to report back, day by day, the comings and goings from Brighton’s streets, as we pound them in this new music theme park. We’ll add pictures, mp3’s, reviews and links. Enjoy…
1.) PANAMA KINGS
Experience– An impromptu gig on the beach during the afternoon seemed a perfect way to begin the weekend and allowed us a chance to stuff our lunches down. Many gigs will be occurring throughout the festival that aren’t in the listings. Linking up to the text service and twitter feeds looks set to provide us all with plenty of hidden gems, particularly in the afternoons before most official schedules begin. This 4-piece from Northern Ireland whipped us in the mood, with their summery, bouncing, power-Indie. The chatter seems to suggest everyone fell for their charm. An ideal start.
2.) CLUB SMITH
Experience –Old friends of The Recommender (see our Q&A and previous posts about them), this 4-piece from Leeds and York, bring us a new name, a new drummer and refreshingly a new sound. It’s no re-write of the rules here, as they’ve kept all the original charm they had in their previous incarnation, but added a little weight and intelligence to their upbeat music. As we stood chatting in the crowd with Storme, former tour manager of Bloc Party and Kaiser Chiefs, we noticed that the keyboards had stopped working! Turned out that the famous Rock photographer, Danny North, had accidentally pulled the plug out by standing on the lead as he snapped away in front of them. It turned out to be a charming moment in what was an enjoyable set. We also managed to get introduced to Huw Stephens, of Radio One fame, so dutifully extolled the virtues of reading our blog. Hope he takes note eh!
Experience –With their Clap Your Hands Say Yeah sound and Arcade Fire inspirations (or should that be aspirations), this turned out to be a fantastic choice on the schedule as we entered the rammed Honeyclub venue. We bumped into Jason Clark, the organiser of Brighton’s Loop festival which kicks off later this summer. We all enjoyed the set that built and built and left everyone wanting more. With their numerous band numbers you aren’t sure where to look, but what struck me most was the amount of different instruments on display and the way they all swapped them around. Real craftsmen playing out charming, atmospheric Indie-Folk.
4.) THE INVISIBLE
Experience –The largest room in the Komedia venue was packed out as it showcased this delightful 3-piece. It didn’t go unnoticed by the band themselves as they explained they’re not used to such a large crowd. They deserved nothing less than a busy room as they justified the time and effort paid by every punter in there by playing a crisp, tight set. Their funked basslines, smooth keyboard chords and the layered vocals of Dave Okumu were mesmerising. Frontman Dave is a sight to behold with his unique fashion and giant stature. We will more than likely give them a full Recommender posting in the near future.
Experience –Having found The Hope pub too rammed to even think about entering we decided to skip seeing Chew Lips, (they play another set on Saturday anyway), and moved straight over to The Ocean Rooms club to catch Anita Blay’s brilliant Electro-Pop. Being right at the front allowed an face to face, personal experience in this packed nightclub. Her commanding presence and dramatic gestures, as well as her mirrored cloak, allowed for a colourful, bright set. All the thumping singles were provided and the knowledgeable crowd sang along. The day’s highlight so far.
Experience –Having seen them earlier in the week at a warm up show at the New Hero club in town we knew exactly what to expect here. Namely the freshest and most exciting band to come out of Brighton in years! We will definitely be handing them their own post on a future Recommender, so more will be explained in due course. Suffice to say we met up with (The) James Kendall, editor of Brighton’s going out bible, The Source, and found him as excited as a puppy dog. We weren’t disappointed either. They had to play to a much bigger room with this set and their huge sound and irresistibly melodic, dark Electro-Pop seemed made for it. They’re currently enjoying a potential million pound raising bidding war between labels and on this evidence they’re worth every penny!
7.) WE HAVE BAND
Experience –Having had a no-show from Fan Death at the beachside club, Coalition, we cut our losses and headed further up the beach to the Concorde 2 venue. What a turn that ended up being as we once again found a brilliant selection of bands. Meeting up once again with Jason Clark and also Anthony Prior, manager of multiple bars in town and all-round-super-booker of bands to various venues in Brighton over the years, we caught the end of Milke. Immediately up next was We Have Band and we wandered back stage to get some photos and generally thank them for their involvement with this blog in previous posts (see the Q&A amongst other posts). As usual they played their lively, pounding bass-driven beat-Pop, with their excellent layered vocals and skillful arrangements. The most fun so far!
Experience – Finding ourselves backstage we were able to get up close and personal with them and they’re just as nuts off stage as on it. A truly wild bunch of characters that totally deserve their headline slot. In their signature red, hooded tracksuits they thumped through their Dance-Funk set. It’s impossible to know where to look when watching them and photographing them was no easier. Normally only a two-piece they multiply their numbers when playing live. Cue lots of running around on stage and lots of posturing. The tracksuit tops were duly thrown off as the set whipped the crowd into a frenzy. The encore was the longest I’ve ever witnessed as we lost track of how many songs, even playing one twice we think. They didn’t want to leave the stage, which was all good, because we didn’t want them to either. Outstanding!
And so that’s the end of just day one! Can’t quite believe what an amazing experience it’s been. Roll on day two. Whether we will make it to day three is another matter. You’ll just have to come back to The Recommender to find out won’t you…