Tag Archive | "Great Escape"

The Great Escape 2015

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The Great Escape 2015

Posted on 23 May 2015 by Dorian

Any festival is only as good as your viewing choices, and this is especially true of a multi-venue festival such as The Great Escape. If you choose to watch some of the not-so-great acts, missing out on better acts elsewhere, then you have nobody to blame but yourself. However, if you take random(ish) choices as an overall guide then I think it is unlikely that this 10th anniversary Great Escape will go down as one of the vintage years.

Very little stood out as being particularly new or different this year, and a lot of acts were so middle of the road that the whole thing was in danger of becoming a traffic accident. Nothing I saw hit the highs of Parquet Courts or Phosphorescent from previous years and although one of the best live acts I’d previously seen at the festival, Django Django, were playing it was their third appearance here and nothing to get excited about.

My underlying sense of ‘meh’ with the weekend was probably caused by a combination of jet lag and a reaction to a band as bad as The Vaccines being the festivals secret special announcement. I have no desire to be a killjoy, and everyone else I’ve spoken to loved the weekend, so in the spirit of positivity here are some of my personal highlights.

Happyness

Happyness

Happyness released one of the best albums of last year and are one if the most likeable live acts I’ve seen in a long time. Their catchy homage to the best bits of 90s indie rock sounds as good as ever in a cramped Sticky Mike’s and the non-album tracks they play have me itching for their next release.

Saycet

Saycet

Slightly sombre European electronica is something that you are always guaranteed at the Great Escape, and this year was no exception. The Unitarian Church is one of the more reserved venues on the circuit, but it was a good match for French duo Saycet. This wasn’t a hugely upbeat affair, but it sounded pretty good to an attentive audience.

Son of Bill

Sons of Bill

A listing error meant that a trip to check out Popstrangers, in the recently branded Hub, actually meant a set by Sons of Bill. This was the cause of some confusion to those expecting antipodean pop and getting some guitar heavy US country rock. For those that were there by mistake it turned out to be a happy accident as quality playing and appealing tunes made this a very satisfying way to spend the afternoon.

C Duncan

C Duncan

C Duncan may sport some unwise facial hair, but his likeable tunes and genial performance more than make up for it. His performance is a little low-key, and it is hard to tell exactly where his career will go from this show, but he is definitely somebody to put on the “ones to watch” list. Brighton’s own Fatcat records saw enough in the classically trained Scot to sign him up and I’ll personally be keeping an eye on his progress.

Get Inuit

Get Inuit

I’m not somebody who cares hugely about originality, borrowing is an essential part of pop music, but I do wonder why you’d wear the Weezer glasses if you sound this much like Weezer. And when Get Innuit don’t sound like Weezer they sound like Cloud Nothings, another band with a singer that sports Buddy Holly specs. Eyewear decisions aside they sound pretty good and it is a really fun set of songs, and if you are going to have obvious influences I can think or worse places to start.

SLUG

SLUG

SLUG are the work of Field Music bass player Ian Black and their debut album was good enough to lift them above the side-project category and establish them on the festival list for 2015. The songs are great and Ian Black is a surprisingly gifted front-man with a great voice and some proper axe-an skills. The backing band are uniformly great, featuring both Brewis brothers, and the whole set sounds wonderful. I’m already looking forward to seeing them play again at the Green Man festival in August.

Ralegh Long

Ralegh Long

The Independent Label Market held in the Open Market was not as huge success, and footfall for the labels who set up stalls was disappointing. I hope that this feature of the festival is repeated next year, but some thought from festival organisers on how to get crowds down this end of town is needed if it is repeated. It was also disappointing for the acts that played on the market stage throughout the afternoon, with only a handful of passers-by stopping to watch some quality sets. However, for me it was great to see the guys from Gare Du Nord on their stand and Ralegh Long’s songs (accompanied by Jack Hayter) sound great even if there isn’t the biggest audience to hear them.

Low Pines

Low Pines

One great feature of the festival is getting to hear live music in a wide range of venues, some that I don’t visit at any other time of year. Something new for me in 2015 was getting to see the Brighton Museum used as a setting for a range of acoustic acts. I was largely bemused by the popularity of openers, the Dunwells, who got the biggest applause of the evening. They clearly had some talent, but they looked and sounded just like a group you’d see getting voted out in the later rounds of the X-Factor and they left me pretty cold. Much better was the soft folk of Low Pines and the endearingly cute Japanese pop duo Moumoon who provided one of the most charming sets of the weekend.

The risk of a multi-venue event like this, with so many acts and so many styles, is that you’ll not always see the best it has to offer. This year I don’t think I saw the best of the festival, but I still saw enough great music to make the time worthwhile. The Great Escape is still one of the best value musical events in the country and I’ll be back again next year searching the venues for something extra special.

By Dorian Rogers

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Getting Ready for The Great Escape

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Getting Ready for The Great Escape

Posted on 09 March 2014 by Dorian

May 8th 2014 will see the start of the ninth Great Escape festival in Brighton and I’m already getting excited. The festival has built each year since 2006 and, with 400+ acts playing across 35 venues, it is the premier multi-venue festival in Europe and deserves comparisons to SXSW.

We cover the event each year and our experience in 2013 was of a festival that is getting better with age and one that has a more interesting line-up on show each year.

Kelis

2014 already looks interesting with Albert Hammond Jr, Kelis (pictured), Wild Beasts and Jon Hopkins being among the bigger names that have been announced so far. But as any veteran of the festival will know the recognisable names, as enjoyable as they might be, are not what this event is about. What it is about is new music, seeing someone brilliant you’ve never heard of play above a pub, or outside the library or in a launderette.

For every band I plan to see I discover two new favourites over the weekend, and miss twice as many again. You can see the enormous list of acts announced (so far) on the Great Escape website and buy tickets here.

In advance of the festival we’ll be posting about line-up additions on our Facebook and Twitter pages and we’ll publish a list of ten acts to watch out for a few weeks before the festival (see our ten from  2013 here).

By Dorian Rogers

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Top 10 Bands To Watch Out For In 2014

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Top 10 Bands To Watch Out For In 2014

Posted on 06 December 2013 by Joe

We are pleased to introduce you to our annual look at the year ahead and those bands and solo acts that we think you should look out for in record shops (yes they still exist, go to them and find out) and gig venues. In our latest list we’ve got bands from the UK, US and South Africa all hand picked by our  our team of  expert contributors.

10. Super Squarecloud

super squarecloud

We heard their song Lollymoon while judging this year’s Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition and fell in love with their blend of math rock and twee pop, It is no surprise that they remind us a lot of XTC with their sense of musical invention, as they too come from Wiltshire. Their debut album Soupeater was released late in 2013 and we think it’ll help catapult them from their south west of England heartland into many more UK lugholes during 2014. (Joe Lepper)

9. Catfish and the Bottlemen

Catfish-and-the-Bottlemen

Led by the implausibly titled Van McCann, the rascally Catfish & The Bottlemen are already armed with an impressive arsenal of incendiary two-minute indie firecrackers that will surely see them blow up some time in 2014. An album is expected early in the new year and is sure to feature some of their current stage set highlights  including the raucous Rango, crowd favourite Sidewinder, and the howitzer that is their single Homesick. Exhaustive touring has already helped catch the ear of BBC radio presenters Zane Lowe and Steve Lamacq who have both championed them. 2014 is the year they explode, mark our words. (Kevin McGough)

8. John Wizards

johnwizards

Despite receiving critical acclaim from The Guardian and BBC 6 Music, South African six-piece John Wizards have flown somewhat under the radar in 2013. Having supported Jagwar Ma on their UK tour, we are looking for their blend of electro rhythms, township basslines and Graceland-esque guitar riffs to appeal to 2014’s summer festival crowd in particular. Their sound is one of overriding optimism, perhaps stemming from their multicultural lineup and the history of South Africa. If 2014 offers up another heatwave, then John Wizards could provide the perfect soundtrack. (Conal Dougan)

7. New Mendicants

newmendicants

You’d be hard pressed to find two better exponents of melodic guitar pop than Teenage Fanclub veteran Norman Blake and Pernice Brother Joe Pernice. It makes sense that they would collaborate and as New Medicants they are set for a big 2014 . Joined on drums by Mike Belitsky of The Sadies they have so far released one EP and played some very well received live shows (including their Bristol show which we reviewed) where they mix new songs with their own classics. January dates in the UK followed by their first full album mean they’ll be making a big (if soft and sensitive) noise in 2014. (Dorian Rogers)

6. Withered Hand

withered

Otherwise known as Dan Willson, this Scottish singer songwriter has signed to indie pop heavyweights Fortuna Pop in the UK and Slumberland Records in the US for the 2014 release of his next album New Gods. Its track Black Tambourine, which was released late in 2013, was enough for us to propel Wilson straight into this list. If the rest of the album is as exciting as this track it’s likely to be a shoo-in for our end of 2014 best albums list. But we are jumping the gun a little. For now, go see him, go buy his album and help him have a great 2014. (Joe Lepper)

5. Making Marks

Makingmarksvid

It was at 2013’s Indietracks Festival that we first saw Making Marks, the Norwegian indie pop act with a country feel that for the last two years has been steadily building up interest among indie popsters. Their debut album A Thousand Half Truths, featuring the track Barcodes,  is due in February 2013 and we anticipate their audiences will grow as a result. Formed in Oslo their star turns are vocalists Ola Innset, whose intricate guitar picking style is worth paying close attention to, and Nina Bø. (Joe Lepper)

4.  Alex Highton

alex-highton-woodditton-wives-club-main

Highton’s album Wooditton Wives Club, about his move from London to a small Cambridgeshire village proved to be one of our favourite releases of 2012. Turns out we are not the only ones to be enjoy his refreshing take on folk and pop as improbably Ashton Kutcher is among his fans. The Guardian also likes him and in 2013 interviewed him when he topped their readers’ vote for the best breaking act. 2014 marks a busy year for Highton, who releases his next album Nobody Knows Anything in April. He also has a tour of the UK and Europe planned.  Go see him if you can. (Joe Lepper)

3. Wolf Alice

New-Wolf-Alice-500x333

Wolf Alice impressed us as one of the best new acts that we saw at the Great Escape Festival this year. A simple mixture of good songs, good playing and assured, if understated, performance made them stand out. This year they’ve released a handful of impressive singles and EPs demonstrating their knack for wistful, melodic indie rock. At the time of writing they were due to headline the Club NME New Year’s Eve Ball at Koko, which shows how highly they are regarded by the music press, and we expect to see much more of them in 2014. (Dorian Rogers)

2. Temples

Temples_LARGE

These  psychedelic rock revivalists from Kettering emerged during 2013 after their virtues were extolled by the likes of Noel Gallagher and Johnny Marr. First coming to the attention of Heavenly Records founder Jeff Barrett  in 2012 with the self-produced ‘Shelter Song,’ Temples soon evolved  into a full touring band over the next 12 months and, despite their youth, they have added a  watertight live dynamic to accompany their considerable song-writing chops. They certainly impressed us when we caught their Bristol show late in 2013. Think the melodies of psychedelic-era Beatles, the 12-string jangles of The Byrds and a hint of Madchester bagginess; all  given a hypnotic contemporary twist. Over the next 12 months we predict many more than Marr and Gallagher will be left impressed. (Scott Hammond)

1. Hospitality

hospitality_promo

As debuts go Hospitality’s self titled 2012 album has been among the best we’ve heard since Neonfiller launched in 2009. Signed to Fire Records this Brooklyn trio’s set is full of infectious pop hooks all delivered superbly by lead singer Amber Papini, whose songwriting and vocals perfectly sum up all the hopes and fears of the developed world’s 20 somethings. But these are no mere indie, niche act as the likes of the mainstream Rolling Stone are  among their many admirers. After a quiet 2013 they are back in 2014 with a new album Trouble, including the song I Miss Your Bones, which displays an even keener ear on appealing to mainstream and indie audiences alike. (Joe Lepper)

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The Great Escape 2013 – Day 3

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The Great Escape 2013 – Day 3

Posted on 19 May 2013 by Dorian

Day three starts in the Komedia downstairs into the unnecessarily dark concert space to watch Mary Epworth play. I am immediately struck by the incongruous nature of the band, two young women, with beautiful harmonious voices backed by a hairy bunch who could easily double as bikers in a remake of Easy Rider. Odd they may look, but they play things pretty well and the prog-folk-rock songs are enjoyable, if let down a bit by some poor sound in the venue with a slightly irritating rattle throughout. This is a minor quibble on what was a strong set by a very promising artist.

Mary Epworth

Mary Epworth

Heading upstairs to the smaller studio venue I manage to get front of stage to catch Husky Rescue a Finnish act that prove to be one of the finds of the day.  Sounding like Efterklang  at their more minimal with impressive vocals by a singer that recalls a less histrionic Bjork it is an engaging set. Johanna Kalén is a calm and ethereal presence on the stage whilst the two ban members quietly and unassumingly produce some really lovely music. One of the bands from the weekend that go down in my notes to check out after the festival is over.

Husky Rescue

Husky Rescue

Outside at the Hub it is Jake Isaac who has the unenviable job of telling the crowd that Deap Vally have cancelled their set and he will be filling in. His voice is nice enough and his acoustic guitar based songs are fine, but it doesn’t make up for missing out on one of the bands I’d been looking forward to (more on whom later).

After a break from bands and a few convention activities I start the evening at Sticky Mikes Frog Bar for some full on classic rock from The Upskirts.  Fronted by a couple of bare foot guitarists they make an enjoyable noise, it is loud and high energy but falls short of doing anything special. I can’t remember a single note of any song they play even as I’m leaving the venue.

The Upskirts

The Upskirts

Superfood are another band that sound pretty good without managing to serve up anything particularly memorable or groundbreaking . They do have some nice hooks, evoking the sound of Blur’s noisier songs and, less favourably, some of the second string Brit-pop acts that history has forgotten.   They are a very young act though and I hear enough promise in their sound and playing to think that they might turn into something more interesting over time.

Superfood

Superfood

Cheatahs are an act that wear their influences on their sleeve, and given that their influences are largely bands I love I can live with that. Fey vocals, echoing guitars and lilting melodies which recall Ride, The Posies and Superchunk across an entertaining set. They are a band I’d heard a lot about prior to the festival, and on the strength of this performance I can see why. If you are going to be derivative then you need to do it well.

Cheetahs

Cheetahs

The schedule is out the window at The Haunt, with Deap Vally make a surprise appearance on the bill with the promised Jagwar Ma nowhere to be seen. To be honest I’m not disappointed by the substitution,  the all girl version of The White Stripes sounds like a lot of fun on paper. Imagine Bette Midler belting out AC/DC tunes in the back of a sleazy dive bar off the Sunset Strip and you’re somewhere close to understanding their strange charm.

Deap Vally

Deap Vally

Parquet Courts are the band that I’d been looking forward to most all weekend, they got great reviews at SXSW and I’ve enjoyed the little of them that I’ve heard on record to date.  The perfect modern New York art rock band, effortlessly blending Jonathan Richman, Sonic Youth and Big Black into a sound that’s uniquely their own. Their ability to take other band’s sounds, like their opening track sounding like Pavement doing the Fall, is one of the keys to their success. There is a level of familiarity mixed with enough individuality to make for a truly excellent show. It is also the best crowd reaction I saw all weekend, with frantic dancing, crowd surfing and a small stage invasion taking place during their frenetically paced set.

Parquet Courts

Parquet Courts

I’ve enjoyed lots of acts each day, and been lucky enough to see one truly great set towards the end of each night. But whereas Phosphorescent are an established band, one who I’ve seen over three years earlier, and Billy Bragg a true veteran it is Parquet Courts who are the best new act at a festival that is really all about new music.

This was Neon Filler’s third year covering the Great Escape and each year offers up something new and exciting. I look forward to another excellent festival next year and urge you to buy a ticket as soon as they go on sale.

Words and pictures by Dorian Rogers and Alex Reeve

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The Great Escape 2013 – Day 2

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The Great Escape 2013 – Day 2

Posted on 18 May 2013 by Dorian

Day two at the Great Escape is really all about one man, Billy Bragg and I could spend the who review talking about him and his excellent show. However, there was plenty of other great stuff to see through the day, so I’ll cover off some of that first and come back to the bard of Barking later.

Eamon McGrath

Eamon McGrath

My first act, albeit a brief stop, is singer songwriter Eamon McGrath whose gravel voiced songs play to a Hub crowd that is noticeably smaller than day one. The downturn in the weather meaning that outdoor and seaside based venues are not quite as busy as the day before.

Cousins

Cousins

My first planned stop of the day is at the Blind Tiger for another act in the Canadian showcase, this time Cousins from Nova Scotia. As always the venue is a hot ticket and I only just beat the queue to get inside the pub-venue sweatbox. Canadian acts in this venue have always been pretty reliable and Cousins don’t disappointing  They are another guitar and drums duo, this time with the classic girl drummer, boy guitarist line-up, but definitely not aping the White Stripes sound. The guitar sound is rough and the drums always one step away from falling apart, with some really nice extended repetition in the songs. Definitely an act I’ll check out on record when the festival is over.

Fletcher

Fletcher

Moving to the slightly odd Brighthelm Centre, a kind of mix between a church and a community centre, we decide to give Fletcher a go. The programme description of bands playing is often a little misleading, but in this case it seems that the organisers may have booked the wring act. Where we are promised a three piece new-age British rock band we actually get a rather earnest singer songwriter accompanied by a harp player. The tunes are very pretty and well played, but it is a much more low key experience than we were expecting.

Wandering into the Komedia we are greeted by the extreme contrast of Lady Chann startling a small crowd with some pretty full on dancehall stylings. Sadly she finishes minutes after we arrive and her compatriots, The Heatwave, start to treat the crowd to a reggae karaoke sing-a-long that is a lot less fun or interesting.

Popstrangers

Popstrangers

Coalition seems to be the venue where slightly sullen acts are booked to play, yesterday Girls Names were the petulant schoolchildren and today Popstangers are the ones staring at their shoes. To be fair they don’t complain, and it is easy to mistake nervousness for lack of audience communication, but more effort is needed to win over a crowd. Better songs than played here would also be a bonus, nothing really catches fire during a middling set and it is a hook free half hour. There are some nice instrumental moments amongst their 90s slacker indie set, and enough interesting sounds to show some promise, but the band isn’t quite the real deal yet.

In Digital

In Digital

On route to get some food we pop into Digital and catch a few tracks by the rap act performing to the smallest crowd we’ve seen at the festival so far. They are pretty good and put everything into their show, something that Popstrangers could learn a little bit from. In a festival dominated by white guitar players an act like this is going to struggle to get an early evening audience. I couldn’t tell you who they were as they don’t seem to match anything in the programme for the time slot.

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg

Fed and watered we head for the main event, a true veteran of British music who is loved and loathed in equal measure for his straight talking and good old fashioned political songwriting. Although truth be told it is the many love songs that Billy Bragg pens that show his skills and, although there is plenty of politics between songs, make up the bulk of his set.

A mixture of old favourites, pop classics, new songs and Woody Guthrie numbers are all played beautifully by Billy and his band. The experienced performer that he is, he knows exactly how to command a crowd and there is hardly a moment that isn’t top quality in the time that he is on stage.

His band are excellence, and the pedal steel country style suits his back catalogue pretty well (his first dabbling with country music dating back 20 years). In the middle of the set he takes the stage alone and plays some old favourites to a partisan crowd. When he plays ‘The Milkmen of Human Kindness’ there is no need to ask the crowd to sing the chorus for him, they do it unprompted  and it is quite a touching moment.

It is the first time I’ve seen him play since one of my first festival attendances nearly a quarter if a century ago. Hearing him tonight I wonder why I’ve let myself miss out on some great performances in the intervening years.

Siblings

Siblings

After a failed attempt to get in to The Warren to see Iggy Azalea (clearly one of the hottest tickets in town) we heard up to the Green Door Store where Siblings (an unscheduled act) are taking the stage. The appearance of a banjo makes me worry that we have another Mumford and sons on our hands, but an energetic performance gradually wins me over. The songs are pretty good and, if anything, Vampire Weekend are a more accurate reference point. All told it is a pleasant enough end to another enjoyable day.

Words and pictures by Dorian Rogers and Alex Reeve

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The Great Escape 2013 – Day 1

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The Great Escape 2013 – Day 1

Posted on 17 May 2013 by Dorian

The Great Escape got off to a literally bright start, with sunshine make a rare 2013 appearance. Good weather always brings out the best in people and the massed crowds in the many venues around town seemed in good spirits. I doubt that cheerful Canadians The Elwins need much brightening up though, their bouncy pop coming from a naturally happy place. It is always hard to get the audience participation going during an early afternoon gig, but in a packed Blind Tiger they made a pretty good fist of it.

The Elwins

The Elwins

Scottish singer Lauren St Jude, in a dark Dome Theatre, was a radical change in pace slowing things right down. Her voice was pitch perfect and the performance was good, but it was late night music and seemed better suited to a smaller venue.

In further stark contrast was rock trio Velvet Two Stripes playing to an overflowing Komedia basement, with a singer looking like a young bottle blonde Chrissey Hynde, with Joan Jett’s voice after chuffing down a bottle of Whisky and 200 fags. Like a Swiss take on The Kills’ drum machine-backed blues rock this trio of strutting rock vixens proved that Switzerland has more to offer the world than the cuckoo clock and a hideaway for Nazi gold.

Velvet Two Stripe

Velvet Two Stripe

After a strong start the afternoon hit a bit of a lull with the underwhelming Young Husband playing to an overflowing Prince Albert. Their retro indie sound is nice enough but really fails to engage and this is the first set that we abandon to enjoy the sunshine.

Girls Names prove to be another disappointment, their surly performance failing to win me over to their surf guitar influenced sound. They seemed annoyed at having their set cut short, but surely giving the huge Coalition audience a good time for 20 minutes would have been a better approach? Thankfully the vocal mic was so quite that it was hard to hear the singers grumbles between songs, and the shorted set was a blessing in disguise.

Staying at the same venue it was up to Wolf Alice to show them how to do it. Engaging, cheerful, noisy and showing a mix of swagger and indie-pop hooks ready to reach a mass audience. They prove that enthusiasm and good tunes is the (not-so-secret) recipe to a good show and set us up nicely for the evening.

Drenge

Drenge

The Corn Exchange can be a bit of a soulless venue, the sheer length of the room means that bands can get a little lost, but the NME stage there each year always presents some interesting acts to catch. Drenge are a guitar and drums duo, which is a line-up that will always see a band compared to The White Stripes. In practice if you play bluesy rock in this set-up it is going to have similarities, but Drenge have a style and sound that just about sets them apart from Jack and Meg. The set takes a while to get going, but for most of the performance it is very enjoyable, and the drumming is excellent. They make a poor choice of final tune, a turgid affair, which brings a promising performance to a rather flat conclusion.

Merchandise are up next, and one of the bands playing today with the most hype around them. A Smithsy single getting play on 6 Music suggests that they could be a big thing in the future. The performance tonight doesn’t rule that out, but it wasn’t to my tastes at all. Elements of Simple Minds and even Big Country show they know their 80s stadium pop, but it feels mannered and I don’t hear enough classic tunes. Maybe they’ll prove to the new Killers, another bland throwback act, but I’ll not be keeping an ear open.

Merchandise

Merchandise

Taking some time before the evening’s main event we manage to catch the end of two sets in the various Komedia venues. Boats, with a mountain man lead singer, are hard to categorise but seem like a lot of fun and I’m tempted to catch the whole of their Saturday performance. The Skints are also a welcome find, a band I enjoyed last year, and another act I may try and catch again today. Their skinny unassuming singer having one of the biggest and best voices of the festival so far.

Boats

Boats

Phosphorescent prove that they are one of the best live acts around, as well as having a catalogue of excellent songs to play. Tracks from their excellent last two albums, along with a a stunning version of Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson’s sobriety-yearning hit from 1983, Reasons to Quit, sound big and bold in the Dome Studio with electric piano and organ high in the instrumental mix. Matthew Houck’s mumbled vocals take a while to adjust to, but it is an assured headliners set and a closing version of Los Angeles is as wonderful as when I first heard it several years ago at End of the Road.

Phosphorescent

Phosphorescent

There are still many shows left to play when we head home, but with two full days and dozens more bands to see a good night’s rest is in order. This year’s festival is has more names that are unfamiliar to make than ever before, and as a result it is proving to be the most interesting Great Escape to date and I can’t wait to see what today has to offer.

Words and pictures Dorian Rogers and Alex Reeve

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The Great Escape 2013 – 10 To Watch Out For

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The Great Escape 2013 – 10 To Watch Out For

Posted on 04 May 2013 by Dorian

The Great Escape is a multi-venue music festival that takes part ion Brighton each year in May. Firmly established as one of the best events in the musical calendar it offers up the chance to see some of the 350 bands playing across the 30 venues involved.

Getting to see even a fraction of the artists you want to see is a challenge, as clashes and geography get in your way. Equally, with so many new and emerging artists on show it can be a challenge to work out who your should be trying to see. Below we feature ten of the many acts that we will be trying to catch across the festival weekend.

1. Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg played at the first music festival I ever attended, Reading in 1990, and is a stalwart of the festival circuit. Strangely, despite always being a fan of his music, I’ve not seen him live once in the intervening 23 years. He is always great value, a first rate live act, and has a great catalogue of songs at his disposal.

His set is one of the Dome shows (requiring a top-up on the standard ticket price) and I recommend taking in one of the three nights there if you can. BRIGHTON DOME FRI 17TH MAY 21.30.

2. Phosphorescent

This band, essentially the work of Matthew Houck, came to our attention through shows at the End of the Road festival and their album Here;s To Taking It Easy in 2010. The brilliant Muchacho earlier this year was equally impressive, and added some new sounds to the expansive country he had become famous for. This is very likely to be one of the most popular sets of the weekend, and my advice is to get there early on the night.

DOME STUDIO THU 16TH MAY 23.30

3. On and On

This trio, from Chicago and Minneapolis, are brand new to me, and although  Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci, and Ryne Estwing have played in various bands for more than a decade I first heard them via the Great Escape Spotify playlist. They have a dreamy washed out sound that could be pretty perfect for a midnight gig.

COALITION FRI 17TH MAY 0.00

4. Sweet Baboo

Sweety Baboo are (is?) a Marc Riley favourite which (Mumford and Sons excepted) is normally a good sign. Stephen Black plays songs that are funny and tender, and manages to be quirky in a good way (something hard to achieve). Flitting between folky and poppy he delivers a pretty varied song palette and promises a very enjoyable set.

GREEN DOOR STORE SAT 18TH MAY 22.00

5. Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Another act getting Radio 6 evening airplay is the eccentrically named Unknown Mortal Orchestra. UMO is the work of multi-instrumentalist Ruban Nielson and play a music that has been described as junk-shop break-beat and having an ” intoxicating, opiate groove”, neither of which seems to sum up how they sound at all well.

COALITION FRI 17TH MAY 22.15

6. Parquet Courts

New York punks Parquet Courts are one of the more hyped bands coming in to the Great Escape this year. Their second album, Light Up Gold, has received glowing press in their native land and has recently received a full UK release. Their shows at SXSW festival were some of the most talked about in the programme this year.  Their clash with Sweet Baboo gives us a scheduling problem before the festival even begins.

THE HAUNT SAT 18TH MAY 22.00

7. Three Trapped Tigers

Instrumental rock music can be a difficult thing to wholly buy into. The lack of lyrics can lead to a lack of emotional investment in the band. Three Trapped Tigers play an intense music that draws equally on electronic sounds as it does noise rock structures. Their Saturday evening slot making our list of early clashes even longer.

CONCORDE 2 SAT 18TH MAY 22.00

8. Drenge

Drenge (a name I’m not certain how to pronounce) are a young guitar and drums duo from the Peak District that play a stompy blues music that belies their age. Place them min your heads somewhere in between The White Stripes and The Bad Seeds and you’ll not go too far wrong. The band (like many acts) offer you two chances to see them over the weekend.

CORN EXCHANGE THU 16TH MAY 21.15
THE HOPE FRI 17TH MAY 22.15 

9. Girls Names

A four piece from Belfast, Girls Names have a sound that is more than a little bit influenced by the post-punk sounds of the early 80s. They have been favourably compared to The Cure and, with two albums under their belts (signed to the excellent Slumberland records in the US), they have started to develop their own sound.

COALITION THU 16TH MAY 19.30

10. Melody’s Echo Chamber

Melody’s Echo Chamber produce sweetly sung pop music that, in a very very rare moment of perceptive YouTube commenting, has been described as like a female version of Tame Impala. Whether this accurately sums things up is arguable, whatever the comparisons this is blissful softly psychedelic pop music.

CORN EXCHANGE THU 16TH MAY 23.15

 Preview by Dorian Rogers

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The Great Escape 2013 – Line-up announcement

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The Great Escape 2013 – Line-up announcement

Posted on 05 March 2013 by Dorian

The Great Escape Festival announce today another hundred acts for the event to be held at various venues across Brighton between 16th and 18th May this year.

The festival is primarily aimed at showcasing new and emerging talent, the discovery of new and exciting acts being the best thing about the weekend, and there are many unfamiliar names on the list. Some established acts announced include Brighton locals The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster and Billy Bragg, who joins Bastille as one of the big Dome shows taking place over the weekend.

great-escape-2013-500x303

The full list of acts announced today is as follows:

A TRIBE CALLED RED / AA WALLACE / ANDY SHAUF / ARCANE ROOTS / ATLAS GENIUS / BABE / THE BALCONIES / BEACH FOSSILS / BIG WAVE RIDERS / BILLY BRAGG*/ BLUE HAWAII / BROOKE CANDY / CAIRO PYTHIAN / CAIRO KNIFE FIGHT / CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN / [CHAMPAGNE] / CONCRETE KNIVES / DANIEL DRUMZ / DEEP SEA ARCADE / DIANE / DIIV / THE EIGHTIES MATCHBOX B-LINE DISASTER / ELISAPIE / EYE EMMA JEDI / FARAO / FIMBER BRAVO / FINDLAY / GIRLS IN HAWAII / GOLDEN FABLE / HACKTIVIST / HIGHASAKITE / HOUNDMOUTH / THE HOUNDS BELOW / HUSKY RESCUE / IGGY AZALEA / INDIANA / IS TROPICAL / JACKIE ONASSIS / JAGWAR MA / JENNY HVAL / JOE BANFI / KAMP! / KIMBERLY ANNE / KINS / KODALINE / LITTLE GREEN CARS / LONDON GRAMMAR / LORD HURON / LOSTALONE / LOWELL / MARIKA HACKMAN / MAUSI / MAZES / MEL PARSONS / THE MIDNIGHT BEAST** / MIKAL CRONIN / MO KENNEY / MONOPHONA / MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY / MURDER BY DEATH / MURMANSK / NO CEREMONY /// / AN ON / ONLY REAL / OWLLE / PARLOUR / PARQUET COURTS / PHANTOM / PINKUNOIZU / PLASTER / RAH RAH / REBEKKA KARIJORD / RUBIK / RUEN BROTHERS / SAINT MICHEL / SARAH MACDOUGALL / SAY YES DOG / SHARKS / STEVIE NEALE / STORY BOOKS / SUSANNE SUNDFØR / SYRON / TALL SHIPS / TEMPLES / DANCING YEARS / THE ELWINS / THE GRISWOLDS / THE OTHER TRIBE / THE STRYPES / THREE TRAPPED TIGERS / THUMPERS / TODDLA T SOUND / TRIPWIRES / TROUMACA / UNNO / WARM MYTH / WHITE FENCE / WOODS / YAN WAGNER / YOUR FAVOURITE ENEMIES

This is in addition to the list of artists previously announced:

THE 1975 / ALLAH-LAS / ALUNAGEORGE / AWAKEN I AM / BΔSTILLE / BEAR’S DEN / THE BLACK HEART REBELLION / BLACKEYE / BLAUDZUN / BRODKA / CAITLIN PARK / CHARLIE STRAIGHT / CHILDHOOD / CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS / CHVRCHES / CLOUD BOAT / COUSINS / CUB SCOUTS / DAN CROLL / DARK STAR / DAVID RAM JAM RODIGAN MBE / DEL BARBER / DINGUS KHAN / DINOSAUR PILE-UP / DRENGE / DUNE / EAGULLS / ECHO AND THE EMPRESS / EDDI FRONT / ED HARCOURT / ELIZA AND THE BEAR / FIST CITY / FOAM LAKE / GALLOPS / HOW TO DRESS WELL / HUMANS / HUNGRY KIDS OF HUNGARY / INDIANS / JACCO GARDNER / KING KRULE / LAB COAST / LAWRENCE ARABIA / LEWIS WATSON / LUKE SITAL-SINGH / MAC DEMARCO / MADE IN JAPAN / MARMOZETS / MERCHANDISE / MØ / THE NATURALS / THE NEIGHBOURHOOD / NEIGHBOURHOOD YOUTH / NICK MULVEY / NIGHT ENGINE / PHOSPHORESCENT / PORTASOUND / RAINY MILO / ROYAL CANOE / RYAN KEEN / SAN ZHI / SKATERS / SKIP&DIE / SNAKADAKTAL / SOAK / SPECTRES / STONEFIELD / SUPERFOOD / SWEET BABOO / SWIM DEEP / TELEMAN / TO KILL A KING / TOM ODELL / TOMORROW’S WORLD / TOWNS / TRES B / THE TROUBLE WITH TEMPLETON / THE UPSKIRTS / UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA / VELCRO HOOKS / VELOCIRAPTOR / WALL / WOLF ALICE / YOUNG RIVAL

Festival tickets are available for as little as £45 if you get in quick and take advantage of the early-bird offer. Dome shows are available on their own but can be added to your weekend pass for a £7 “top-up” fee. More details and links to ticket sales can be found at http://mamacolive.com/thegreatescape/

By Dorian Rogers

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UK Music Festival Guide 2013

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UK Music Festival Guide 2013

Posted on 27 February 2013 by Joe

With Glastonbury back after a year off, 2013 is set to be one of the busiest for UK music festivals. Some of our favourite small festivals are also still going strong as we take you through our guide to the best festivals in the UK. We’ve also found space to showcase possibly the worst festival line up we have ever seen. Sadly this year is the first where we will no longer be endorsing the All Tomorrow’s Parties events. With the line-ups becoming increasingly predictable and question marks still lingering in our minds over a recent festival postponement and financial woes we’ve decided that there are better and more reliable options elsewhere.

The Great Escape

May 16-18

great-escape-2013-500x303

Taking place at venues across Brighton and Hove, on the Sussex coast, you have to be very queue tolerant for the more popular acts. The event does include a lot of leg work to flit between venues but such minor ordeals are worth it for this festival, which prides itself on showcasing the best new talent around as well as a sprinkling of familiar names. This year’s line up includes Merchandise, Bastille and Phosphorescent. Once again we will be reviewing this event. For more information click here.

Glastonbury

June 26-30

glastonbury 2012

As usual tickets sold out swiftly for this year’s event, especially after it took a break last year to give the fields at its Worthy Farm, Somerset, home  a break. It’s worth checking the website though for details of returned tickets that usually become available around Easter. So far this year the line up rumour mill has been churning faster than ever with David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac and Arctic Monkeys all in the mix for a headline slot. After attending our first Glastonbury in 2011 we were amazed by the sheer breadth of music on offer, with the new band-focused BBC Introducing Stage and the John Peel Stage among our favourites. Whatever the bill it promises to remain the best festival for music fans on offer this year. As with 2011, we will be once again be covering the event. This year will be extra special for us as our co-editor Joe Lepper has been one of the judges in the festival’s emerging talent competition, which has a main stage slot as its prize. For more information click here.

Indietracks

July 26-28

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New bands, twee-pop and steam trains. That’s the quick review of this excellent small festival that we have attended at its Midland Railway, Butterley, Derbyshire location for a number of years now. Over the years Neonfiller.com favourites such as Teenage Fanclub, Allo’ Darlin’, Tigercats, Darren Hayman and Pains of Being Pure At Heart have graced the stages scattered around its steam railway museum location. For more information click here.

Greenman

August 15-18, 2012

greenman

Set in Glanusk Park, Wales, this three-day event offers an enticing blend of folk and alternative acts. This is another we are looking to attend this year, especially as the line up includes the likes of Veronica Falls,  Edwyn Collins, This Is The Kit, The Pastels and Fuck Buttons. For more information click here.

End of the Road

August 30 – September 1

End Of The Road

The laidback setting at the Larmer Tree  Gardens, North Dorset makes this one of the best located festivals on the UK circuit. Nestled at the end of the summer holidays the weather tends to be drier (although don’t hold us to that) and this year’s line up is one of the best we have seen. Headliners are Sigur Ros, Belle and Sebastian and David Byrne & St Vincent, with other notable acts already booked including Matthew E White, Jens Lekmen and Frightened Rabbit. For more information click here.

Festival Number 6

September 13-15

the prisonner500

As stunning locations go they don’t get better than this festival, which takes place across the welsh seaside town of Portmeirion, where The Prisoner was filmed. With events taking place in bandstands and other famous settings, there will also be  lots of Prisoner worshippers (above picture by Arthur Hughes) on hand in addition to an eclectic mix of old and new acts. Be warned though, festival goers at last year’s inaugural event warned us that camping conditions, on a rather unsettling slope, could do with some improvement. At the time of writing the line up for 2013 had not been unveiled, but with New Order, Spirtualized, British Sea Power, Field Music and Stealing Sheep among those who played in 2012 we are expecting a similarly impressive line up for 2013. For more information click here.

And this year’s worst UK festival line up….

V Festival

August 17-18

v-festival-line-up-2013

V Festival, seemingly the music festival for people who hate music, has outdone itself with its traditional line up of mediocrity this year. Not only do we not want to see a single act, but we would actually pay not to go. With Beyonce and Kings of Leon headlining the organisers are no penny pinchers but certainly have questionable taste. Elsewhere for those festival goers looking for something bland for the car stereo there’s Beady Eye, Jessie J, The Script and Olly Murs. To top it off Scouting For Girls, who I always thought were a joke band, are also on the bill….albeit a little lower down and nestled next to Deacon Blue and Ocean Colour Scene. If this appeals then feel free to visit their website here.

Compiled by Joe Lepper

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The Great Escape 2012 – Day 3

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The Great Escape 2012 – Day 3

Posted on 13 May 2012 by Dorian

Refreshed after a sober Friday I made my way down to the Blind Tiger for an early afternoon set from Canadian garage popsters Hooded Fang. After another extended line check (they seemed to get longer as the weekend continued) they were introduced to us by the president of their record label, looking a lot like Dick van Dyke in his Diagnosis Murder years. When they finally got playing it was worth the wait, their very enjoyable debut album sounded perfect for a sunny afternoon in the crowded venue. The drum and vocal sound was spot on and reminded me a lot of White Denim, but with more of a classic 60s pop sound. The more punky tunes worked less well, but it was excellent start to the day.

Hooded Fang

Hooded Fang

From here on in I decided that my plan was to try and catch as much different music as possible, even if that meant seeing only partial sets by each act playing. To this end I headed to the Komedia to see French electro act Cheveu play what was described as “Parisian pop” in the programme. Parisian it may have been, pop it certainly was not. It was a harsh and challenging sound where dissonant keyboards and distorted guitar were joined by looped screaming vocals. It was pretty good stuff, but for the second time in the weekend it seemed wrong listening to noise in a dark basement whilst the sun shone outside.

Cheveu

Cheveu

The main remainder of the afternoon was spent exploring the various bands playing outside, most of whom I couldn’t name. At times this was a disappointment, a trip to the Brighton wheel saw the final applause of a well received set, and at others it meant some new discoveries. Best of all was Me and the Bees at the festival Hub stage (much better used this year than last) a really charming female fronted act from Catalonia. They are a little amateurish but have enough good tunes and personality to carry it off, the perfect sound for a sunny afternoon by the sea. A less country tinged Whispertown 2000 springs to mind and it was the highlight of my afternoon outdoors.

Me and the Bees

Me and the Bees

After a trip downstairs at Audio to watch Novella, an enjoyable if unexceptional piece of melodic guitar pop, the time to make a decision hits me. I had been dead set on a trip to the church to see Perfume Genius but a late changed of heart takes me to the queue outside The Komedia where everyone seems to be heading to catch the much hyped Alabama Shakes. I am pretty close to the front of the queue but it has been one in, one out for hours already and the wait is a long one. I’m at the point of heading elsewhere when a few people leave and I get access to the venue, but a lot of others will queue for a long time and not make it in until the band is almost over.

First on stage when I do get in is Howler, and they make a pretty fun noise to the packed expectant crowd. They sound like a band destined for the main stage at the Reading Festival, but they are enjoyable enough and pretty aware that they aren’t the main attraction. When Alabama Shakes take to the stage they are on to a pretty guaranteed winner, they would have to have been pretty bad to fail to get a reception from the partisan crowd. the good news for them, and us, is that they are actually pretty good. Are they the best new band in the world (as the NME stated this week)? No, they probably aren’t, but they are very very good at what they do. And what they do is nothing new, a rootsy mix of The Band and classic 60s soul, but they do it better than most. In Brittany Howard they have an excellent front-woman who can really sing, and plays the guitar with a lot of fierce energy as well. The one thing that does seem a little odd is why the NME have picked up on them, they are all round a Mojo kind of band.

Beth Jeans Houghton

Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny

I decide to end the evening with a trip to The Pavilion Theatre and manage to jump the queue and get in to see the end of (deep breath) Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny‘s set. It is good stuff, real energy and another excellent singer, and the packed house laps it up. I don’t see the whole set but I don’t think the crowd made a bad choice opting to come here rather than stand outside waiting to see a glimpse of more hyped act up the road.

I’m pretty wiped out by this time but I stay long enough to see some of the EMA set before I head home. The songs seem quite full on to fall into the category of “sparse confessionals” as described in the programme (which seems to have only a loose understanding of most of the bands) but it sounded great and the band looked good on stage.

Heading home I reflect on the three days of music, and it is is notable that I haven’t seen one bad act play. I may have been lucky, but I suspect that the overall standard is just very high. The event is brilliantly organised and an absolute steal at under £50 for the chance to pick from over 300 artists at over 30 venues. Even if you don’t have a ticket there are the outdoor shows and the Alternative Escape shows (most of which are free). I’ll be back next year and I have no doubt it will be another big success, and a key fixture in the musical calendar.

By Dorian Rogers

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