Our favourite new bands from Britain’s gem of a festival, The Great Escape.
The sun left it’s mark on Brighton’s new music festival held last weekend (17-19 May) as artists and new music fans descended on the city and the packed stone beaches, can in hand, with or without a wristband, it didn’t really matter, the atmosphere was electric.
Early in the afternoon on the first day, Peckham outfit Mellah played a stunning set full of upcoming tracks from their EP Middle England. The venue, a neon-let gentleman’s club just off the seafront, was one of the stranger backdrops to witness the bands politically-charged and lyrically upfront brand of sprawling left-field indie music.
Playing just before one the UK’s most hyped new bands isn’t easy, Norwegian born, London based artist Anna Lena Bruland aka EERA, took to the stage with a hypnotic set full of blood-warm synths set against a backdrop of ghostly guitar, and at times brilliantly awkward electro-pop. Providing one of the best, and criminally overlooked records of last year, EERA played gems such as haunting album opener Living, and the touching Christine, from her debut Reflection of Youth.
Following shortly after, having travelled straight from a show in Paris the night before, Goat Girl launched into a tight set full of tracks from their self-titled debut record. Balancing short, sharp ramshackle rock and roll numbers with delicate vocal harmonies and times moments of haunting intimacy.
Norwegian electronic trio SASSY 009 played a fitting late night slot down by the beach, giving their nighttime feel electro-pop debut EP Do you mind a live outing, their set was accompanied by live flute and a soaring trio of harmonies.
One of the talking points of the weekend came in the form of Australian newcomers Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, who played a to a packed out ballroom audience recorded live for 6 music. Steve Lamacq was outside the venue sucking down a cigarette telling a fan he doesn’t know how to describe the band (he’s about to introduce them live on air, on stage in 5 minutes time), but the Melbourne five-piece’s online description of ‘tough pop/ soft punk’ seems to be on point. On stage the band’s fast paced, driving rhythm’s and jangly guitar lines create a crowd frenzy on tracks such as French Press and Talking Straight from last years stellar EP. The band seem as likely as anyone to be the next breakout guitar band this year.
The next morning, looking as if they’d just stepped out of bed, Brighton’s thoughtful romantics Underwater Boys stepped on stage in their pyjamas to blow the cobwebs away. Coming up somewhere between Beach House and Tame Impala, the four-piece have a backlog of dream-pop gems which side alongside snaking psych-rock guitar lines, but lurking behind their sun-kissed melodies lies a strong message about dealing with mental heath issues in today’s crushing society.
When walking around Brighton it’s plain to see that the alternative escape stages have just as much to offer as does the official festival. With incredible line-ups announced on the day or in some cases not at all, it’s the word of mouth element which keeps this often industry suffocated weekend still incredibly exciting. With this in mind, we found ourselves in the top room of a sweaty pub neglecting the gorgeous summer sun outside witnessing the delights of London band black midi. The band’s set was a raucous affair, often not stopping for breath but revelling in intricate, tightly wound math-rock madness. The band’s live sessions on youtube are a must-see.
Later on into the evening, hyped Brooklyn post-punk outfit Bodega took to a much larger stage playing tracks from their upcoming debut LP Endless Scroll. Their politically charged brand of sprawling post-punk shook the drunken midnight crowd into a frenzy with standout tracks Jack In Titanic and Can’t Knock The Hustle proving the New York five-piece were worthy of the all the chatter.