Last updated: 15th Jun 2017.
Originally published: 7th Jun 2017
Image: The Great Escape (Photo Credit)
The Great Escape, the UK music scene's sprawling seaside showcase, returned for its 12th annual takeover of Brighton. As ever the city's picturesque landmarks, beer-marinated music venues and overflowing pubs were bolstered with a combination of gigs, club nights, seminars, receptions, impromptu parties and a few more surprises along the way.
Modelled on Texas’ SXSW, industry professionals and international gig goers amass to see an amalgamation of some of the most hotly tipped new musical maestros to the scene, performing alongside some of the biggest names in the festival circuit. This is a unique offering that, across the three days, dishes out over 450 acts, whereby in the same stretch of street you may fall upon a chart-scaling soundtrack at one instance, and a few steps later you’ve uncovered your new favourite acoustic upstart.
It wasn’t all about musical discovery; the seminars were a great touch for industry professionals, offering a great insight and chance to debate a range of issues. Membranes’ John Robb offered an extremely relevant insight into the importance of politics within the music industry, encouraging artists to publically express the importance of voting to their fans.
He later opened the floor up to audience participation that touched upon Brexit, Trump and the dangers of climate we may face in the near future to the music industry, such as the increasing hurdles UK bands are facing when attempting to tour Europe.
After our fill of politically and socially charged discussions, we donned our finest waterproofs to see what the rain-doused streets of TGE had to offer. In terms of gigs, Slaves’ Pier spectacular was more than noteworthy; their Ghost Train-scaled set could have filled a the whole pad. Amongst the excitement of smoke, strobes and polyester spooks, their fans stormed passed the barriers to mount the ride, shutting down the entire show.
At the other end of the spectrum was the indie-folk songstress, Maricka Hackman, delighting onlookers with her newly assembled full backing band underneath the divine chandeliers and grandiose architecture of Paganini Ballroom with captivating cuts from her new album ‘I’m Not Your Man’.
Expecting the grunge revivalist distortion of Speedy Ortiz, breakaway member, Sadie Dupuis, pulled out the positivity on indie-pop spectrum to our alarm; a surprise that didn’t result in disappointment. Jay Som, the California percussionist, also offered an unexpected highlight as their Green Door Store performance oozed slick musicianship courtesy of some sumptuous guitar solos and intricate cross-instrumental communication.
Though the real enjoyment from TGE comes from exploring the streets of Brighton, spontaneously dipping out of the rain-doused pavement, into different stratospheres of acoustic brilliance or electronic escapism. And what a smorgasbord of aural delights landed in our laps when we made this pilgrimage.
Romare’s surprise set of afrotronic sounds, Liverpool’s hotly tipped Paris Youth Foundation performing to a hundred people as though it were a stadium, Famous Friends’ talent-rich showcase with JW Ridley and Puma Blue, Shogun’s all-encompassing persona and wall-drenching tactical vomit – these are the moments that make it such a unique experience. We're already doe-eyed at the prospect of doing it all again next year
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