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Live Review: The Great Escape Festival – Brighton – 10/5/12

Read here what HTF thought of the bands and events down on the coast at The Great Escape festival in Brighton!

Event: The Great Escape Festival

Venue: Brighton

Date: 10/5/12

The Great Escape hits the south coast every year treating musos’ far and wide to new talent from around the world as Brighton opens the doors of its many venues to bands, fans and the music industry to watch future musical talents at a one-of-a-kind festival dubbed as the SXSW of Britain.

HTF went along to discover new acts, explore the many venues of Brighton and catch the odd intellectual musical discussion in the convention.  We were lucky enough to catch some incredible new talent throughout the weekend and wanted to share with you all how amazing the weekend was!

The intellectual moment came first with Brian Molko in conversation with BBC 6 Music’s Matt Everitt on day one. Speaking about a decade and half in the spotlight Molko admitted “sex is the driving force of rock and roll”, confessed his hatred towards Pure Morning’s lyrics and called The X Factor “Satan’s work”

After brushing up on our Placebo knowledge musician David Grellier aka College left a lot of fans out in the rain as Prince Albert hit capacity instantly. As trails of people stood on the stairs listening to his cinematic synth sounds others were able to listen outside sheltering from the rain under pub umbrellas, squashed on a bench with a cider just to hear that iconic part of last year’s ‘Drive’ film soundtrack, ‘A Real Hero’.

Rock-steady, reggae and dub upstart youth band The Skints brightened the day at Coalition with their celebratory communion of reggae, ska and dub. However, over at The Haunt there was a completely different vibe. Pixie Geldof’s new musical venture Violet made all of the men’s jaws drop and all of the girls put a paper bag over their heads. The beautiful model wore a long dark silver pencil skirt that shimmered under the constant flash bulb of photographers that lined the front of stage. She projected a delicate take on the music of her grunge heroes Hole as the somber and seductive performance evoked heartache, lust and teenage melancholia. Just goes to show she’s not just a pretty face!

The Warren was nestled in the midst of gazebos, fairy lights and an outside custom built bar and resembled an old school assembly hall, but this weekend it was home to The Guardians one to watch artists. This included Boy Friend, the ‘chillwave’ girl duo who played soft, sweet and serene melodies with a guitar and glitchy electronics taken from their debut album ‘Egyptian Wrinkle’.

Later that night whilst Maximo Park rocked Brighton Dome’s socks off, Friends played to a jam packed Horatios then made some room for the forever-growing queues of people wanting to see Niki and the Dove.  Technical issues delayed their performance but after that hiccup one of the most electrifying gigs on the pier was to begin. Playing songs from their debut album ‘Instinct’, ‘Gentle Roar’ opened followed by the gurgling guitar of ‘Fox’ and the dancing drums of ‘DJ Ease My Mind’.  It was everything you’d expect from the alt-pop duo and more!

Brooklyn band Savoir Adore filled the Psychosocial on the afternoon of day two with upbeat dance-pop dreamscapes and their woozy girl-boy vox duets. Their cover of Prince’s ‘I Would Die For You’ was an unexpected treat before venturing out of the dark and back into the sunlight.

Canadians took over Digital on Friday for the M for Montreal showcase and pushed the venue to capacity with ease. The best discovery of the weekend was Half Moon Run. The trio’s melancholic melodies and intricate guitars set up the following act perfectly.

‘Can we turn it up as loud as possible’ Grimes requested before starting the most anticipated set of the weekend. The pink-fringed electronic goddess danced around like a lunatic and the crowd quickly followed suit. Dancers pranced either side in similar white ghostly makeup whilst Claire Boucher’s latest album ‘Visions’ sparked the biggest reaction after playing ‘Oblivion’, ‘Be a Body’, ‘Circumambient’ and ‘Genesis’.

Disco ‘sextet’ Yacht continued the evening’s M for Montreal events whilst The Temper Trap dominated The Dome but a bit of soul caught the eyes and ears of many over at Komedia. Silencing the whole venue with her soft, serene and soulful vocals, Lianna La Havas was joined by a small band as she stood at the front of stage with her guitar glowing in her spotlight. Her cover of Everything Everything’s ‘Final Form’ picked up the pace and knocked everyone out of their hypnotic daze they were under after ‘No Room For Doubt’, ‘Gone’ and ‘Lost and Found’. Lianne was constantly shocked by the crowds reaction but they were deserved as she performed a truly heart warming set but it wasn’t the end of the day quite yet.

Across town in a much larger venue Spector inject all of their energy into the Corn Exchange with their sweet indie salvation. Dry The River followed but didn’t seem to fill the venue as well, it was too big and they ended up being drowned out by the sound of drunken conversation. Nevertheless, their epic folk-rock instrumentation and soft emotive vocals ended my evening on a high and instantly prepared me for bed.

Even though the sun finally made an appearance on the last day of the festival, Saturday was not to be spent on the beach! Lulu James kick started Saturday afternoon in The Haunt. With her face plastered over every ‘one to watch’ list this year the venue drew everyone away from the sunshine into dark smoke filled room. Wearing a black hooded long cape Newcastle’s Lulu James played songs from her recent EP ‘Rope Mirage’ alongside a stripped down cover version of Temper Trap’s ‘Sweet Disposition’ armed with her beautiful soul vocals doused in electro experimentalism.

Brighton buskers also had there own huge spot in the limelight this weekend with Passenger playing a free how at the Queens Hotel and The Robbie Boyd Band performing in the Foyer as part of the Seasac showcase. Robbie is a relentless performer often spotted strumming away in Portobello market, Spitalfields, or Kings Cross played his urban folk songs from his debut summer album ‘Autumns Flown’ with a full band including popular single ‘I Won’t Let You Go’.

Over on the beach, Coalition welcomed X Factor’s Aiden Grimshaw in one of his first solo shows playing songs from his latest album ‘Misty Eye’ including his debut single ‘Is This Love’. Io Echo offered a very different performance at Green Door Store. Lead by a Zola Jesus lookalike and hunched leather jacket wearing band members the LA duo filled the small venue with their catchy pop songs drowned in murky mystical noise.

As Alabama Shakes were clocking up meters of queuing people at Komedia and Horatios welcomed the stylish hardcore and humour of DZ Deathrays, over at Coalition Theme Park weren’t having much luck technically and pushed the venues schedule back an hour. After they found a working mic their fun funk-noir and tropical alt-pop cheered everyone up and seemed fitting under the stifling conditions. We Are Scientists followed and still pushed the venue to a stuffy, sweaty capacity. Purveyors of the biggest sing-along of the weekend the New York trio treated us to some golden oldies alongside recent and even new material teasing us to what’s in store for fans this year!

Street gigs were set up throughout the weekend, artists got their guitars out in a launderette, electronic soundscapes were blasted out in a church and music videos were recorded in a coach stop. This is The Great Escape and you won’t find a festival like it.

Watch a short documentary on this years Great Escape over at 4OD.

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