Archive for May, 2010




While you might not yet be familiar with Scary Mansion, you probably have heard Leah Hayes, the band’s frontwoman, without even knowing it.  That’s because this musician and illustrator, based in Brooklyn, sang a duet with TV On the Radio for their track Snakes and Martyrs.  In her own project, she does more than just offer up a set of fragile vocals.  She writes the songs and plays an obscure Appalachian instrument, known as the thunderstick, which adds a banjo-like sound to the drums and bass provided by the two other band members.  The effect of listening to her music can be likened to the process of making her published scratchboard art.  She starts with the darkness and gently, purposefully reveals the song with her gorgeous voice and soft melody until a picture begins to take form.  Her poetry generates the imagery, the heartache is crushed by the layered sounds and the uplift is always reached through each tunes extraordinary box of feelings.  However, it’s often about what isn’t being shown than what is (not to sound too pretentious), but just when you think you know what the final scrape will reveal, the bass and drums kick in to shake it up a bit, adding the unexpected touches of shadow and perspective, or in the music’s case, distortion and racket.  Sometimes the fragility in her voice is almost overwhelming, but Hayes has a talent for leading a song just where she wants it to go.   She never lets it linger too long or come off as desperate.  This control most likely comes from her years of playing in differing projects, including a noise-rock band and as a solo singer-songwriter.  Scary Mansion’s tunes are always charged with emotion, as you find some that are melancholy, some that are filled with disdain, whilst others are hopeful.  Using the same trick that Arcade Fire mastered so well, she magically turns around the initial tension found in each track to leave you feeling thoughtful.  The band have two LPs, with the most recent out on Talitres Records.  You can also find some of Leah’s art at her website, where she has links to the two books she has published.  (OG)

Find them here:         Myspace

Hear them here:        SCARY MANSION – OVER THE WEEKEND

Hear them here:         SCARY MANSION – NO LAW



Thanks to all those that came to our last party (#4), as we thought it was the best yet.  Wild Palms played one of the best shows we’ve ever put on.  The culture of new continues as we look to the next showcase of cutting edge music, with party #5.

Of course everybody’s favourite lens twiddler, Eleni Mettyear, will return to snap all you drunk punters.  The results from the last photobooth are found here.  Bring your best.  Whatever that might be.

Our new mixtape, compiling a selection of the world’s newest tracks, will exclusively be handed out, weeks before it’s available to anyone else, along with the Recommender badges and other goodies.  We list the mixtape from April’s show below.  If you didn’t make our last party, then try clicking play to see what you missed…


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MUCHUU – This brother/sister duo surpass their young ages with a box full of magical, gorgeous pop songs.  Japan already love them, so cute and impossibly irresistable are both their songs and their looks.  Time for the UK to fall in love with them too. Check out this remix of their tune Somebody Tell Me.

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THE GOOD NATURED – In a year where strong female vocalists have stopped the traffic like an Icelandic volcano, we bring you the very next queen to the throne.  Star quality, showmanship, and most importantly a special ability to pen an extraordinary pop tune, will be evidenced in one of our most exciting headliners ever.  Here’s a very recent Baby Monster remix of her track Your Body Is A Machine.

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BATTERY POWERED DJs – Our resident DJs will round off the evening, playing tracks exclusively from the blog, so expect cutting edge, razor sharp selections. If you want to know what tunes you should be listening to this year then check out this set from Brighton’s scenester DJs.

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Tickets are available from Ape, Resident and Rounder Records. If you can’t get to the shops in person, simply phone them and they will happily put a ticket on the door for you. It’s only £4 advance and £6 on the door.



Two down, one more day to go.  So with the ringing tinnitus killing my poor little ears, a hangover that only two long days of boozing can bring on, a sever lack of sleep impossible to hide from showing in my eyes and a voice that is fading to a kind Jack Palance husk, we head out for one last sunny day in Brighton.  Another stack of excellent shows awaits and by the end of the day we will be worn, but high on the knowledge that this weekend will forever hang long in the memory.



EXPERIENCE – If you sign up to the festival’s text services you get informed about the (immediately not-) secret shows that crop up.  The festival itself is mainly an indoor evening affair, but the officially established Alternative Escape throws up plenty before and after the main performances.  We awoke, having partied the previous night at the Moshi Moshi Records party at the New Hero venue, to the text service informing us that Fenech Soler were going to be playing outdoors at 13:00 next to the train station.  We headed down to a large, backstreet area, which is normally just a, well,  backstreet area, to find a crowd starting to form.  Amul, Fenech’s manager was there, (we had spent some time together at the Moshi Moshi party the previous night), so I said hello to him and the band as they waited to go on.  This was the band’s fourth set of the weekend, with at least one other to do this evening, so not only did they seem the hardest working group of the weekend, but the buzz around town was that they were totally ace awesome live.  They duly blasted through a fantastic set, to a packed courtyard, looking as fresh as their first performance.  The only distraction from a memorable, engaging show was the arrival of a flash mob.  A large group of people had gathered within the crowd and started dancing in a rehearsed routine.  We’d never experienced a flash mob first hand and we have to say it was totally fucking awesome!  All gigs should hire one!  They even froze to the chorus for Stop And Stare.  As if that wasn’t enough, they then let off an explosion of confetti.  Are you able to imagine how totally brilliant this looked?!  And we hadn’t even had lunch yet.  We love the Great Escape.


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EXPERIENCE – This brother/sister duo was the first of two artists that we would see today that are due to play the Recommender’s next party.  Another afternoon show, this time down at the beach-front club, Life.  Walking around the club’s warren of tunnels to find them seemed somewhat appropriate, as their music is one long attempt to transport you to some sort of cute nether-world of magic and coy mystery.  We found them to be as sweet and tidy as their videos and songs had always suggested, converting the productions well into a live set.  George hit the keys and lined up the samples, whilst Milky sang as if not a care in the world.  Were the room not busy she would surely have produced exactly the same dream-like performance.  It was mesmerising, a little fantastical and ended with Milky throwing a handful of glitter into the air towards the audience as the last song hit it’s final note, (played on a triangle of course!).  Once it was over we waited for them to pack up so we could go and say hello and introduce ourselves.  It’s worth noting just how young they became once we engaged them in conversation off stage.  It was like talking to two little children.  OK, so their tiny reserved voices, reticent natures and modest confidence will never win over Wembley stadium, but it gave a context to their sound that we never had before.  They’d never been to Brighton, but already Milky said she wanted to live here.  Thinking about it, this place is perfect for her.


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EXPERIENCE – We enjoyed lunch on the beach and a few beers at the Oh So Social beach-fronted bar, prior to the second of today’s enjoyable street gigs.  This time the temporary stage was knocked up on a groynes that jutted down the beach, giving the band the backdrop of both the sea and our famous pier.  From a photography perspective it really couldn’t get more Brighton.  As we sipped our pints we heard the first few bars of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool’s set kick off, so we raced straight over.  The Groynes filled rapidly, being set in such a busy area and with these street gigs not requiring a Great Escape wristband, it was free and open to all.  It’s a great way to show those people who didn’t obtain a ticket the type and quality of acts that are on show all weekend.  Two fellas jammed on their synths and twiddled their knobs at the back of the stage and two fellas prance enthusiastically up front.  It worked well and we should point out how hard it must be to generate energy during a daytime gig, with no lights, no smoke, broad daylight and a sea breeze on this occasion.  However they had the crowd singing along, particularly to their strongest single to date, Dance The Way I Feel, and a broad smile was found on the vocalists face as he spotted a lively bunch of young teens bouncing like mad at the front of the audience.  The smiles was contagious and set us up well for the oncoming evening.


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EXPERIENCE – This was the second of today’s artists that are booked for the next Recommender show, which they headline, so we were obviously keen to see them.  We went straight backstage at Audio to say hello to frontwoman and main songwriter, Sarah McIntosh.  She sat there alone and looked nervous.  “Look at me…” she suggested as she held up her hand, which was shaking like a tambourine.  With her young face, her asymmetric haircut and designed eyeliner, this was an artist that had put some effort in, but it reminded us of a student about to sit her exams.  Perhaps the promise of label bosses and A&R in a lot of the crowds at The Great Escape can do this to the performers?  Perhaps Sarah’s like this every time?  Either way, this was going to be interesting.  The set began as most of her songs do, with a piano refrain and her Kate Nash-sounding vocals, but the microphone stand was too far away, causing her to stretch over the keyboards.  Poor thing. If she was nervous before, then now she had a real battle on.  She adjusted the stand for the second song, explaining it all rather engagingly to the audience.  Sadly the stand kept slipping down as she sang, so she gave up on it and snatched the mic from it’s holder.  At this point the show shifted.  It forced her to leave the comfort of the piano’s position and come centre stage, dancing, twisting and posing as she sang.  It became a dramatic performance, where you couldn’t take your eyes off her.  During one heartfelt moment, she put her hand on the chest of a boy stood at the front, as if hypnotising him, accepting the crowd’s existence.  It reminded us of Marina Diamondis and proved we have booked ourselves someone who not only has the tune-bag packed full, but someone who also has an enchanting charm when performing.  This is definitely a chart-bound star of the future. Look out.


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EXPERIENCE – This was always going to be a set cut short as Theophilus London was due onstage within the next half hour, so we had to leave with enough time to catch him.  No matter as half of this band’s set is enough to make you smile and besides we had caught them live back in March of this year, so we were well aware of how incredible they are.  We’d shared a few laughs with their lead guitarist Luke on that previous occasion, so it was nice that he recognised us as we waited stage right.  As they set up we also took the chance to chat with Tinashe, another exciting act that had been playing various shows at the Great Escape this year.  We confirmed our interest in booking him for a future Recommender show and he agreed that it would be a great idea, so we will let you know in due course with that one.  As we looked backstage it was nice to watch all seven members of The Phenomenal Handclap Band get in a little pre-game huddle.  It says something for their closeness and focus, which translates directly into their engaging performance.  They did their usual magic of starting the show by jamming for several minutes before hitting their stride with You’ll Disappear, a song we didn’t want to miss, so we were pleased they played so early in their set.  The packed, sweaty crowd in this dark basement suited this hardworking band perfectly.  They have a fantastic bond with each other and that infects the crowd.  We left the room noticing that every single person within it was smiling broadly.


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EXPERIENCE – This was possibly the one artist that we were most excited about seeing out of the dozens on show this weekend.  Why?  Well, firstly, his blend of crossover hiphop is totally fucking ace, and secondly his performances comes with a warning sticker that says ‘look out’, in bright neon pink!  Additionally, his fashion is so fly and so fresh that he was always going to shine in a room full of drunk youngsters.  So we arrived at this venue, which is situated at the end of the pier, which adds in it’s own sense of exciting magic, a few minutes early with our man Mark Stafford, a music lawyer and good friend, who was enjoying his seaside jaunt away from London.  As we stood in the bar we spotted two of the boys from Mirrors, so we chatted over a couple of rounds of beers and thanked them for a good set of performances this weekend (see previous Great Escape posts).  They agreed to join us in watching Theophilus do his thing.  Standing alone on stage and working the samples and pre-recorded beats himself he fearlessly launched into his set.  The amount of energy and enthusiasm this guy protrudes is exceptional.  It’s like he’s possessed by his music.  Jerking and posing, knocking his cap, tipping his shades, flirting with the girls and dominating the space, this was a totally perfect boozy peak to the evening.  He ended by letting the last song blast out over and over, whilst he jumped off stage, selecting to dance with the crowd until it’s close.  To say they wanted more was an understatement.  We quickly met with his agent to try to secure a future Recommender show.  It’s worth noting that as we left the venue we bumped into Jamie Klaxon.  With our best journalistic hat on we asked him when the new Klaxons album might be ready and his uninhibited and certainly inebriated self informed us that they’re aiming for August 21st.  Drunken exclusive.  Nice.


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EXPERIENCE – Having quickly darted into Audio one more time for a knockout cocktail on the busy evening terrace, we duly wandered down to Concorde 2, just in time for the last tune of Chatau Marmont‘s set.  In a way this kind of points out the scale of The Great Escape, as this is a band we planned to watch and would love to see live, but because we were at the end of a mammoth three day festival, missing them in place for a Mojito somehow didn’t seem so bad.  Nevermind, as we were really there to catch Sleigh Bells, the band arriving from New York with the most buzz.  We darted straight backstage to say hello and met with their manager.  Being over-confident on booze it’s possible that we tried to book them for a future Recommender show.  Not totally sure though.  Anyway, we were introduced to the New York duo.  We enjoyed a funny moment when Derek Miller and I shook hands, before Alexis stepped forward and said “Hi, nice to meet you. My name’s Alexis…”.  As if I didn’t recognise precisely who she was.  We knew she was gorgeous, but in person she’s knock out.  Totally knock out.  We wished them lots of luck, but tonight they weren’t going to need it.  Much in the same way Crystal Castles only played with a strobe light, the lighting for this show made it virtually impossible to photograph.  We tried it from the photographer’s pit below, then from the stage entrance steps and finally by actually sneaking onstage with them, hiding behind the sampler desk.  Lights or no lights, Alexis runs around the stage like a woman possessed, her hair moshing to the music.  They’re unstoppable.  The crowd got over-excited during Crown On The Ground and invaded the stage, which is not that easy when you consider there’s a barrier, a broad gap and quite a big step up, but the frenzy was simply too exciting for them.  They were all quickly cleared offstage and Sleigh Bells completed the set that completed this years festival for us.  It was glorious.  The perfect storm.  We love Brighton.  It seems that there’s really no better place to escape to than your own home.




As bad as hangovers are, and they only get worse as you age, they somehow don’t seem to hold us back when you wake up in a good mood, at a festival, with a day of exciting treats ahead.  The same thing happens when you’re on holiday.  Those hangover blues seem to wash away that bit faster.  The glorious sunshine we had helped too, but as we stepped out for day 2 of our mammoth new music festival we noticed the buzz around Brighton was palpable, as the swarm of industry and fans alike we swimming in the streets of our seaside city.



EXPERIENCE – We saw this Brighton four piece the previous night, but that was our Recommender vs Source after party, which, although an awesome show, became a far more drunken and raucous affair.  This time we fancied catching them in an altogether different situation, with it’s own challenges for the band.  We now found ourselves at 15:00, in broad daylight, in a tucked away courtyard in the centre of our city’s maze-like South Lanes area.  It was delightful to catch a breeze as we watched this OMD-saturated electro pop as part of the festivals many daytime shows.  These afternoon open air performances were to throw us some of the weekend’s biggest highlights, but more on that in the next post.  We chatted with Mirrors frontman James as he was setting up and he suggested that they wanted to play during the daytime in preparation for festival shows, to see how it went down.  This time the band were in Skint Records open garage, which couldn’t be less matched with Mirrors dark, clean, synthetic music, but they turned out yet another thrilling performance.  The unrelated sign on the wall read ‘Massive Masters’, which although is not quite how we would describe them, is perhaps the kind of adjectives they should get used to if they fulfill the promise on display, daylight or otherwise.


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EXPERIENCE – A couple of beachfront beers in this sunshine were quickly scoffed, before we headed off to The Foundry pub to catch this Welsh five piece. Although their Idolise LP is out, this group is unsigned and roaming up and down the country, as part of Dead Young Records mini UK showcase, where a collection of bands are playing their home towns together. This tour takes in Leeds, Bangor and this show in Brighton, before heading up to Liverpool. We chatted with Dead Young Records at the bar, who were indeed very young, but ultimately enthusiastic and refreshing with their many plans, setting their base in Leeds and aiming their sights on bringing fresh music to the UK. The band jammed through their garage rock sound, which seemed backwards when you consider that I’d just come from a performance that was inside an actual garage, but this was just as enjoyable. Powerful riffs and punched beats crunch out, with just enough keys to lift it, while the vocals garner the focus, sung with guts, style and gravel in equal parts. We spoke with the frontman, (who’s name we think is Cynyr), after the performance and he confirmed that they’d only been together since December, which is remarkable considering they’ve already churned out an album. You might be able to catch them at the Radio One showcase in their hometown of Bangor this summer.


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EXPERIENCE – It was a relief to move back out into the fresh air once more, having seen a sweaty show in the tiny backstreet Foundry Pub and the next daytime performance on show was Ghost Poet. We can’t write too much about this as we only stopped for half of their set as we walked past. We also simply don’t know much about them either, short of researching. It’s worth giving them a mention as this is precisely the kind of unknown show (it wasn’t even on any listings) that crops up between your plans. We turned a corner on our way to meet friends at another bar and came across this lyricist chucking out his poetry. Simple, lowered beats with minimal basslines and keys stay in the background while his expressive vocals are delivered in his lazy haze style. Having subsequently checked out the Myspace, he rolls out an interesting, dark urban set of lo-fi tunes that are well worth your investigation. He’s clearly linked one of the tracks up with Micachu too, so with a bit of luck he’s perhaps around the (more important) metaphorical corner of the public’s wider conscience.

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EXPERIENCE – Starting our first shows of the evening, we had planned to catch 1,2,3, but it was a waste of time as once down in the basement, it was so rammed we couldn’t even see the stage. We decided to leave and had a choice between seeing Warpaint and Darwin Deez. It turned out Darwin was also rammed and the queue was suffering from the common one-in-one-out policy that you sadly get at many of the tiny venues around The Great Escape. It’s even worse if you only have a standard ticket. Thankfully Jonny Cassell, this venue’s Promotions Manager, was outside and kindly allowed us indoors, but we knew he couldn’t do this all weekend as it’s simply unfair. Inside Darwin was halfway through his set, which didn’t particularly concern us, as we had seen him at the NME Radar Tour the previous week. We had urgently tried to book him when Velo pulled out of our Recommender party at the last minute, but their agent informed us that he planned to stick to just his scheduled Great Escape shows, as the NME Tour had knackered him out. This isn’t surprising considering how active they are onstage, with their busy dance routines, to tracks such as Walk Like An Egyptian, that are squeezed inbetween their own works. The crowd loved it, particularly the killer single, Radar Detector, which we’re glad we witnessed, even if it was from the back of the room.


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EXPERIENCE – The great thing about being at the back of a crowd is that you’re able to leave first, which we happily did at the end of Darwin Deez’s show. Virtually next door is another large, decent, beach-fronted club, Coalition, where Wolf Gang (The Recommender’s booking for our end of June party) was due to play. It was still busy but the dancefloor area is broader and stepped so you can’t fail to get a good view. We headed to the photographer’s pit between the crowd and the stage so were in great position to watch him close up. Max McElligott is a talented music machine, with many singles in the bag, such The King And All Of His Men, or Pieces Of You, but watching the rest of his catalogue on show today, he isn’t relying entirely on them. Don’t get us wrong, they are the stand out tracks on this performance, but there’s a clever craft on display. Comparisons to David Byrne, Bowie and Duran Duran are a little over-bearing on anyone, but they also hint that this is a broad, but inventive musician at work, who’s aiming for the charts.

BEST TRACK – PIECES OF YOU (Remix listed below…)

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EXPERIENCE – We’ve written up plenty on HURTS before now and discussed them on other forums, as they are fast becoming a bit of a marmite band. In a nutshell their problem is that they’re easy to hate, but that misses their talent and abilities to pen a tight, timeless pop tune. Randomly bumping into The Recommender’s partners in crime, Matt Allfrey and George Nunn, always helps lift our mood, only for HURTS to come onstage and do their very best to lower it. Their songs soar and their show is tighter than an Olympic swimsuit, complete with that silly, out of place opera singer at the back of the stage. We had seen them headline the NME Radar Tour where the room continued to empty the more they played, which seemed a little harsh, but thankfully that wasn’t the case here. So planned out and so delicately constructed is every tiny detail of their set that you get a carbon copy of the NME show. One hand is placed in the pocket. Out comes the comb which he never actually uses. Even the frowns seem deliberate during what should be a genuinely emotional section. Herein lies the issues. With so many excellent, moody, emotive, often dark, but often equally uplifting tunes, they seem to have removed the integrity. Emotion cannot be this contrived and work for long. The fear is that with all their shunning of the blogs and the kind of planned control more common with the US President or Royalty, this spin will lose momentum. Good songs will get you far, but the really successful bands, who they constantly compare themselves to in interviews also have character and a humanity to them.


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EXPERIENCE – This was our last showcase of the day and was to be found at one of Brigthon’s largest venues, the Brighton Dome. We arrived, half cut by this point, but buzzing like a power station, to a find another massive queue. We approached the front to see if our press passes were able to jump the queue when we noticed another, even longer queue, snaking away in the other direction. Turns out that was the non-press pass queue! Fortunately we secured photo passes too, so the doorman let us in. Anyway, once inside we witnessed an enormous climax to the day, with a show so spectacular and special that we will never forget it. Delphic are going to be massive and ruled the stage from the outset. We would even go so far as to state they are the new Bloc Party, with the their emotional, thumping set. The strip lights created a gorgeous look as their thundering indie dance tunes spun the crowd into a jerking frenzy. Their album takes a step up, no make that one giant leap, to a whole new level when played live. The drums punch right through, even breaking off for a monster drum roll for periods, like some kind of 70s drummer, but the real trick is their ability to properly jam. The songs are extended into seven or eight minute leviathans that build and build to a close. If that’s not a metaphor for our perfect Friday at The Great Escape then we don’t know what is!




It’s rare that we review anything here on The Recommender, choosing to preview most things instead.  This is so we can keep things positive and remove the pressures involved in reviewing shows, bands and releases that turn out to be rubbish.  However, The Great Escape Festival is such a special event for us, with so many impressive new bands arriving in our home city, alongside the generous helping of unique and memorable experiences, it’s more a case of – where to start!?

We will run through the shows we witnessed from each of the three days and try to include some of the various anecdotal moments too…well, if we can remember them all.  It was quite a messy affair and the hangover has refused to budge for two days now.  Suffice to say, with a couple of Press Accredited passes in hand, we were once again fully able to enjoy this spectacular spectacle, with all the blindingly good experiences it’s able to throw up.

Having decided to co-host The Recommender’s first ever Great Escape party, alongside the Brighton Source magazine, on the opening night of this year’s festival, we were immediately launched into the weekend with a million things to organise.  Starting the whole event by standing in a lengthy queue for our press passes meant that we were late for the start of the band’s soundchecks for our party.  Not the ideal way to begin, but Source legend, (The) James Kendall, stepped in to cover until we got to the venue to help.

The sun was beaming broadly and the first pint of many was poured.  As we sipped our beers we contemplated that drinking this early in the day probably isn’t a great idea when standing at the start of what will be a three day set of Leo Sayers (cockney rhyming slang = an all dayer).  Pope Joan were already there setting up, with Foreign Office arriving soon after.  Mirrors followed and The Agitator hovered around.  Quite a star-studded bar for 5pm on the first day!

We were aware that time was ticking closer to the doors officially opening at 9pm and already the soundchecks were falling way behind.  King Charles arrived last and we all concluded that there simply wasn’t going to be enough time to soundcheck them before their earlier gig that day, at The Queens Hotel.  Like an alcoholic ostrich ignoring the problems we continued to bury ourselves into yet more pints, with Battery Powered DJ (and Recommender contributor), Matt Allfrey, joining me and the delectable Geogre (Poundance) Nunn.  Neither of them are known for their sobriety.  Gulp.

The bar was open during the day, even though we officially started at 9pm, so during the soundchecks you had this strange set up where people were arriving and listening to bands rattle out thirty seconds of a tune, before stopping and shouting and pointing at the sound engineers.  It didn’t stop the crowd actually applauding Foreign Office though.  That’s the first time I’ve ever seen people clap a soundcheck.  Talking of firsts, it was time for me to head over to the first show of the evening, Crystal Fighters, at Digital.  We may have had responsibilities to our own party, but surely we could sneak off to catch a band or two, right?



EXPERIENCE –  Note to self:  Must not forget to eat during the Great Escape weekend.  One rapid Italian bite later we were around the corner at the excellent beach-fronted club, Digital.  With Brighton’s best soundsystem, large stage and larger dancefloor, alongside some fantastic lighting, controlled by our friend Tom, it felt the perfect set up to watch our first show of the weekend.  We got right to the very front, as with a photography pass in hand, we were able to enjoy that space between the packed crowd and stage.  Crystal Fighters walked onto the stage in complete darkness as the crowd spotted them and began screaming.  Boom!  The strobe started as they launched into their high energy set.  One of them already had his top off as he bashed those Spanish wooden planks that are so synonymous with their sound.  With them all having long hair and constantly headbanging, it has a rocking, metal feel to the show, but rest assured this is octane-fuelled dance music at it’s wildest.  The crowd responded as we looked back to witness carnage, fists pumping and broad smiles aplenty.  As much as their track I Love London ruled the set, it had me thinking – I love Brighton!  We grabbed our photos and headed out to run back to our own party before anyone told me off.  The perfect start.  Phew!


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EXPERIENCE –  Now back at our party, we realised that the venue was absolutely rammed.  We wedged our way to the stage area and got talking to James and Ally from Mirrors.  We spoke about how we had seen their first ever gig at last year’s Great Escape, so it felt fitting to have them play our event.  They seem relaxed, the crowd was buzzing and well oiled by this point, so all was well.  As the lights went down and those first few synth bars of Fear Of Drowning started on the empty stage the crowd reacted with the expected cheers and clapping.  Mirrors walked on in their dark suits, looking the sharpest dressed people in the building and burst through a majestic set.  Frontman James has grown into a much more complete and confident frontman, even going down onto his knees, James Brown-style, at one point.  It was particularly enjoyable seeing a band that had clearly evolved from last year’s showcase.  All the hard, grafting efforts from the team involved in the run up to this gig felt worthwhile.  Perfection.


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EXPERIENCE –  This band are the least experienced on show tonight, still without full management, agent or label, but we fully expect that to change in the near future.  Tonight’s performance was yet another example of a band with a packed bag of tunes, ready for the pop charts.  Hassle free to deal with, punctual for soundchecks, positive and appreciative.  Everything you need from bands as a promoter.  Perhaps it’s once you throw managers, agents and labels in the mix that things suddenly get complicated?  Just.  Saying.  The crowd responded well, perhaps knowing less about this band than the others, which meant that this was a true case of ‘recommending’.  Tonight our suggesting skills were clearly on form, as people enjoyed it, dancing and smiling as they watched.  The set was tight and the atmosphere was buzzing like a stomping house party.  There’s something awesome about gigs where the crowd is packed and only about one yard from the lead singer.


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EXPERIENCE –  You simply cannot throw a party like this, with five bands on the bill, at minimal costs and not expect a couple of technical issues, right?  Right.  We should start by saying that our friends Derek and Rob entered the stage to perhaps the most anticipated show of the evening.  Those folk in the audience who have never seen them before were salivating over their reputation for being an extraordinary show, whilst those in the crowd that have seen them before were salivating because they knew this was about to go off!  They kicked into gear with the usual rolling, breakbeat thump and the otherwise meek and sweet Derek Meins began his rallying call.  Political lyrics, along with his usual foot-stomping, jerked dancing and thrashed shaker, accompanied his rasping vocals, that are sung like his head is about to explode.  He got through the majority of his set, before the sound problems occurred, so it wasn’t much really, but sadly three microphones died on us for no reason and the set was cut slightly short.  Disappointingly, Derek walked off fuming at the sound engineer, but we did what we could.  It’s perhaps expected when he gives so much energy, drama and anger into his songs that his emotions were running at full steam.  Me and James duly met him outside and sorted out the apology, but this is live music for you.  To be honest, it actually left the crowd wanting more, which is definitely no bad thing.


TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford


EXPERIENCE – There was a tap on the shoulder from the bouncer.  Apparently there’s been a one-in-one-out policy all night long on the door, but in the queue outside the venue there were eight or nine people claiming to be in one of the bands.  We squeezed our way to the front door to check this out.  Once outside we were greeted by a patient, but confused King Charles keyboardist, James Barnett.  Behind him were the band, including the distinctive Charles himself and a handful of friends, or seeing how good they looked, probably groupies.  We laughed and took them all backstage via the side entrance.  The giant, but lovely Mitch, who manages the band with James, chatted and helped out, arranging for The Recommender to try to meet with them next week to see the rest of their roster etc.  We remembered that there’s going to be a lot of networking done this weekend too.  King Charles kicked off, roughly on time, with a performance, and this was a true performance, of, well, royal standards.  They looked great, the tunes were as upbeat as they were beautiful and Charles is about as good a guitarist as we’ve ever seen.  They totally rocked the crowd, at one point jumping on top of the drums during a guitar solo.  We witnessed a full on, proper star of the future going at full tilt tonight.  It perfectly suited the hedonistic, drunk party atmosphere.  Extraordinary, considering we’d originally booked Velo for this slot, but they pulled out at the last minute, which meant that we had to run around just 24 hours before as we desperately looked for a replacement band.  What a substitution it turned out to be!  We WILL definitely be booking them again.


TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford


EXPERIENCE – Last on tonight was Pope Joan, who had been around the venue all evening waiting for their slot and observing one blindingly great performance after another, so there was undoubtedly a bit of pressure by now.  At least the crowd were warmed up to boiling point for them.  The key thing with this band is that they have an awesome frontman, who comes out of nowhere, performing with his distinctive moustache and quiff.  Mark’s ability to punch the words out, almost headbutting the microphone as he sways back and forth, virtually fucking with his guitar as he does so, is an astonishing thing to witness.  The pressure to perform evaporated immediately and the crowd responded well to their punked, indie rock tunes.  Although pretty much mullered by now, we continued to take photos, of which many more, from the whole weekend, will be posted up on our Flickr site here.  Jumping around the small stage, Mark and the band ended the night flawlessly, completing the perfect start to what would prove to be a very memorable weekend.  The main problem now was, how can any show top this?  We guess that’s precisely what we were aiming for.  Mission accomplished.  At the party’s close we wandered around to Digital again to meet backstage at the club with their Promotions Manager and good friend of The Recommender, Jonny Cassell.  We compared notes on our respective venue’s performances as we walked home.  Bed by 4:40am.  What a day!




Cue the Eye Of The Tiger music…

Brighton’s gloves are off as The Recommender and The Source magazine go head to head with a showcase born in Brighton.

It’s well known that The Great Escape Festival is a massive industry shindig, with tons of music managers, labels, A&R, agents, journalists, bloggers and of course hundreds of artists all taking the seaside trip to London.

Sadly it’s meant that the whole affair has a London-on-sea feel about it and lacks something local.  This year the festival organisers have pushed for Brighton to be heard and asked for our city to try and organise our own shows alongside the others.

This is where The Recommender, a blog born in Brighton and well known here, alongside The Source magazine, Brighton’s ‘going out bible’ that’s been tipping us on music and cool culture for over a decade, step in and show just how amazing this city can be.  We’re putting on what should prove to be THE best Brighton showcase of the weekend.

The buzz is massive, the venue will be packed, the bands are mostly from Brighton and all of them kick ass.  Below we list some tracks for you to fall in love with.  Please note that the Velo sadly had to pull out at the last minute, so although they’re on the poster, we’ve had to replace them with King Charles, who are just as awesome!

Venue: The Black Lion, Black Lion Street, South Lanes, Brighton.
Doors: 9:30pm
Stage Times: Mirrors (10pm) – Foreign Office (10:50pm) – The Agitator (11:40pm) – King Charles (12:30pm) – Pope Joan (1:20am)






This gig will prove that Brighton is packed with talent and will stand tall against anything London brings down.  It looks like the knock out punch will be Brighton made.

On a separate note, we have two FREE weekend tickets to giveaway to our lucky readers, courtesy of VITAMIN WATER.  To obtain these tickets simply email us at and we will instruct you how to collect them.  To qualify you must have left a comment on this post with your names.  First come first served.

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May 2010



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CLUB SMITH (Previously known as THE HAIR)


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