Great Escape 2010 – Friday

18 May

Firstly, for those of you not familiar with the Great Escape Festival, you really need to go. It’s a weekend in Brighton which consists of eating chips by the sea, ramming your mates and randoms on bumper cars, buying sticks of rock for loved ones and, oh, watching the hottest new talent from across the world of course in beautiful surroundings. Every gig venue hosts bands with a whole bunch of performances happening in shops, cafes and anywhere that can accomodate a band pretty much.  

There’s a great “vibe” to Brighton that hits you as soon as you exit the station. It’s a place that has arguably just as many gig venues as London but with a much friendlier atmosphere. It’s an event that even the most pretentious music industry sorts go to let their hair down.

I did not arrive in Brighton until Friday meaning that I missed an entire day of festivities. As a result, I missed the likes of Simon Says No, Jamaica, Gaggle, Let’s Buy Happiness, Blood Red Shoes, Chapel Club, Surfer Blood, Crystal Fighters, Wilder and The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster to name but a few! No use crying over spilt milk (well, missed bands) though right?

I frantically made it to Brighton on Friday afternoon in time to catch Islet at the Freebutt. A band that snub the now-traditional social marketing methods and simply rely on good old-fashioned word of mouth. Having heard a live session track a few months ago and reading a lot of positive reviews on the band, I was really keen to see them because there’s no other way to them check out. I wasn’t alone in this because I arrived to find the Freebutt full of curious gig-goers. So, how were the band? Ace. Full of energy, passion and not afraid to alternate instrument duties and make jokes between songs. Although, I do think that had I heard them before seeing them, I’d have perhaps enjoyed them more. They’re a band that sound truly original and at times, it felt a little bit awkward to be there because I had no idea of what I was listening to.

I then went to catch disco-poppers Think About Life at a venue called Life on the seafront. You’ve gotta give it to the bookers – quite witty of them to put them on there wasn’t it? Great set too. Everyone in attendance was shaking either their head, legs and ass (or all three) in enjoyment.

Following an Italian music industry schmoozing dinner, I frantically ran around Brighton catching as many acts I could. I was fortunate enough to have a priority wristband which allowed me to access most venues without queueing. I didn’t get to see much of Fortune at Audio as 1,2,3 were a “must-see” act on my list. Unfortunately, that meant missing the amazing North Atlantic Oscillation and Gold Panda but 1,2,3 did not disappoint.

After catching ten minutes or so of Warpaint on the pier, I headed to Digital to see Darwin Deez who was one of the biggest draws for a lot of people as hundreds of people were left outside queueing – even those with priority passes. By the time we made it inside a very dark Digital, we caught the end of Darwin Deez’s set – which was as fun and entertaining as you’d expect – ruin slightly by one “jerk” in the crowd who seemed to cause a bit of a stir for Mr Deez and attracted boos from the (over) capacity crowd.

Ending the set with a cover of Beyonce was a stroke of genius and it’s one that every band should do if you ask me!

Annoyingly, we arrived at Hectors House for  The Morning Benders only to find that they had already played / pulled out. Nobody really knew. As a result of the decision to go to see them, I missed Ellen and the Escapades who I have been following as a fan for almost a year. That’s the one downside to events like these – there’s too many clashes. I felt a huge sense of guilt the whole time I was watching one band because I knew that another band I really wanted to see were playing elsewhere at the same time. But, I can’t blame the organisers for putting on a wealth of amazing acts across the seaside town. It’s better to be spoilt for choice than not isn’t it? If anything, blame science for making teleportation nothing more than just a pipe dream!

Feeling in a rock mood, I decided to skip Hurts, Japandroids and Frankie & The Heartstrings in favour of the feisty noise machine that is Rolo Tomassi who blew the upstairs of Revenge to pieces. Weirdly though, the stage on the second floor is LOWER than the crowd. So, I couldn’t see a thing. It’s rather strange going to see a band that plays with such vigour and passion only to spend the set on your tippy toes. I have the utmost of respect for people who aren’t as tall as me because you must spend every gig you go to feeling the way I did.

Absolutely awesome set though. Intense as anything I’ve ever seen before. Sadly, I missed the ‘wall of death’ due to being in the toilet (not literally).

As much as I was interested in seeing Ellie Goulding, the trek up to Concorde was one that didn’t fill me with much interest and I then opted for Everything Everything followed by one of the biggest draws on the bill, Delphic. Unfortunately, the queue at the Corn Exchange was huge and despite having a priority pass, we realised that we probably wouldn’t get in to see either. I decided to head round the corner to the Pavillion to catch Wild Beasts but again, we were greeted by a massive crowd and we realised that we’d not get in to that show either.

With the delights of Alessi’s Ark and Peggy Sue miles away from our location, we decided to head to Coalition for the rest of the night and get to see Kid Adrift and the hotly tipped Silver Columns in the process. Neither act disappointed me.

Kid Adrift seemed to wash over a lot of people though as the venue was filled with chitter-chatter throughout his set. Sadly though, that’s what happens at gigs sometimes.

By the time Silver Columns made it to the stage at 1.30am, as you can imagine, the day had caught up with me. Things were somewhat blurry to say the least. I thought they were ace though – but sadly, I can’t tell you much more than that!

We left Coalition and headed to the beach where we spotted a bunch of people having a bonfire. Rather drunkenly, I convinced a kid with an acoustic guitar to let me have a go and I “treated” all of those around with acoustic renditions of hits by Take That, Oasis and Robbie Williams, reggae cover versions of Coldplay, Rolling Stones and Nirvana as well as serenading a couple with this classic love song in exchange for champagne (including the reprise not shown in this video):

One thing though, you should never play an acoustic guitar without a plectrum for very long. I cut my knuckles open and handed back the guitar to the kid rather apologetically. He didn’t seem to mind though and asked me if I was playing anywhere that weekend. Sadly, Paul Weller wasn’t playing at the Great Escape so the joke didn’t really wash with him. Ah well.

By the time I made it back to my hotel, the sun was rising and it was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. When arriving back at my hotel, I then looked in the mirror in my en-suite and saw one of the most hideous sights I’ve ever seen. My drunken face. Not a pretty sight at all. Oh, what am I saying? I’m well fit.

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