Great Escape 2010 – Saturday

20 May

I woke on Saturday morning rather early considering I had only made it to bed only a few hours previous. However, when there are so many great events occurring at the Great Escape all day long, it’s not even an option to stay in bed nursing a hangover.

The morning was spent at a few of the keynote speeches which is what separates the Great Escape from other festivals. It’s highly educational as well as giving people from all areas of the music industry the opportunity to schmooze and witness the hottest new bands around.

At noon, I headed to Digital for an afternoon of Aussie BBQ fun and it certainly was perfect BBQ weather – not a cloud in the sky and very warm indeed. The Aussie BBQ played host to exciting new artists from (you guessed it) Australia and all of the three bands that I watched were a pretty fantastic way to start the day.

Blackchords eased me into the day nicely with their melodic yet gentle on the head rock and they were followed by the phenomenal Hungry Kids of Hungary who were one of my favourite bands of the weekend. I have already blogged about them here and was keen to see them live and now love them even more than I did before. Despite being inside a dark underground room watching them, Hungry Kids of Hungary brought the sunshine inside when they played this.

Following the equally brilliant ska-punk-disco-indie Bluejuice and moody disco-poppers teenagersintokyo I headed up to the train station end of Brighton in an attempt to catch Fenech Soler play a street gig, however by the time I got there, it had all but ended. A shame as I really wanted to see them. On the plus side though, there’s too many other bands to see to worry about the ones you’ve already missed.

The award for the ‘Surprise Hit of the Festival’ (not actually an award, sorry) goes to Stagecoach, who played a jaw-droppingly brilliant set in a barber shop of all places. There was something about their set that just hit home with me. I’m not sure exactly what happened but thirty seconds into their first tune, I was stomping my foot on the tiled floor somewhat uncontrollably. Sadly, the band had one member too many for me to use the barber shop quartet line. Which is so annoying that it makes me want to take one of them out. With a rifle, not on a date. Oh, who am I kidding? They are all such handsome scamps.

To call them twee-indie pop would be pretty insulting to be honest. Would you call Idlewild, Pavement and the mighty Biffy C twee? No. They’d smash you right in the face. As would Stagecoach. Their music’s fun and perfect for the summer sun. Are you paying attention Wombats? Stagecoach are coming to destroy you.

I then ventured across town in an attempt to see disco-tastic The Shoes perform at the Freebutt but by the time I got there, it was full to bursting – despite my priority pass, I realised I wasn’t going to get in so I headed back towards my B&B to catch the end of the cup final and prepare myself for what was sure to be another messy yet fun evening.

As I was on my own on Saturday night, I decided to cram in as much as possible. I don’t really enjoy going to gigs on my own because even after years of doing it, I feel like a freak standing there on my own. The best part about urban festivals like this is that I can nip in and out of venues and see loads of bands in the process.

The first stop on Saturday was Audio to catch Young Rival. I was quite keen to see them because the tunes I’d heard up until that point filled me with great excitement. Imagine what the Sex Pistols would’ve sounded like had Malcolm McLaren discovered the Beach Boys instead of the New York Dolls. They sound like that. The trio perform with as much passion and fury as any punk rock band you’ll ever see but they also know how to write a pretty decent hook. Go. See. Them.

I then made the short walk to Digital to catch Wild Palms. I love this band. They remind of the best bits of White Lies and Friendly Fires rolled into one. That doesn’t really do them justice either in all honesty. I shall repeat what I wrote on Twitter shortly after seeing them:

“OK, Wild Palms used to be the best unsigned band country. Now, they are the best SIGNED band in the country”.

Quite. I still stand by that tweet despite it being somewhat drunken and in my excitement, I left the venue late and only saw ten minutes or so of Broken Social Scene before heading to the seaside venue Life to catch the scuzzy-grunge-rockers Japanese Voyeurs blowing the venue to smithereens. OK, “The JVs” are nothing new or original I know but they sure do melt your face. And I love a bit of face melting me. Although, I do think that had I stayed longer than ten minutes I’d have found Romily’s voice annoying, but minor gripes. How can I slag off a band that rock as much as they do?

Having seen the highly enjoyable Philadelphia Grand Jury live show on Tuesday and being miles away from where the amazeballs Is Tropical were playing, I decided to make the stones throw walk from Japanese Voyeurs to catch The Joy Formidable. I love me a bit of TJF. I arrived to them playing arguably one of the greatest album openers of recent years ‘The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade’ but decided that (having seen them before and not being able to find a decent spot in the heaving venue) I would go and catch The Big Pink and this is where the night took a rather strange turn.

After consulting the programme, I walked to where The Big Pink were playing and walked straight into the venue. However, when walking into the venue, I realised that I had in fact read the programme incorrectly and I was actually watching Chase and Status! The two venues were next to each other in the listings and I got the venues mixed up. Silly me. Mind you, it actually worked out to be a pretty awesome mistake as Chase and Status were mind-blowing. The bass rumbled along the floor, up my legs and sent my head spinning. I’ve never seen a crowd go as crazy as they did. And yes, I went crazy too. I was on my own. I had nobody to worry about seeing me. I was busting out all my best Jagger moves. Oh yes.

After heading to Hectors House to see Band of Skulls, I turned back on myself before getting there because I saw a pretty large queue spilling out.  I then hopped in a taxi to the absolutely beautiful Duke of York theatre to catch a band called Melodica, Melody & Me. I’d been wanting to see them for a while having really enjoyed the music I’d heard on their MySpace page and their music was the perfect soundtrack for the setting they were playing in.

Melodica, Melody & Me make refreshing folk music with beautiful melodies and arrangements. Unfortunately, the day had caught up with me towards the end of their set and I made a swift exit before lowering the tone of a very beautiful theatre. What I saw of them, I thoroughly enjoyed. It was nice after having a day of mostly rock music in my ears to sit down and take in something calm, quiet and soothing.

The blurry night ended with a trip that seemed like miles to Concorde 2 to see the bloomin’ marvellous Brooklyn noise pop Sleigh Bells who have made one of my favourite albums of the year in ‘Treats’. And let me tell you… they were breathtaking. A perfect end to a perfect weekend… Uh, I think.

All in all, the Great Escape Festival is a must for any music lover and with the weather over the weekend being close to perfect as well, I can genuinely say that it was one of the best weekends that I’ve had in a very long time.

Same again next year?

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