Saturday 17th May
We knew it’d be carnage before we’d even brushed our teeth (yep, still with Bonjela).
When you abstain from any form of hell-raising in the name of work, you know the Brighton Great Escape will catch up with you eventually.
Before we hit the gigs with the rest of the music fans, we have one more interview to bang on the head. Sarabeth Tucek is an American songstress with a devoted following and a few hefty support gigs behind her. Bob Dylan anyone? We catch up with her at the Unitarian Church for a chat about nerves before a Dylan gig and the live experiences that have changed her world. As we chat, bands thunder their way through our makeshift interview room and drown out the quietly spoken and mysterious woman.
It’s then time to drop off our weighty equipment and powder our noses for the day ahead. I’m beginning to suspect I’ve made a fashion faux pas; pink tights and the furry red boots admired by The Young Knives may not be your typical beachside city attire, but in Brighton, anything goes. At least I won’t get lost in the crowds.
We’re joined today by some fresh-faced workmates. This is their first 2008 Great Escape taster and unlike us, they’re not adorned with pebble-induced bruises. We complain now but we know damn well that we’ll parade them about like peacocks when we get back to London. We make time for some lunch (everyone’s a vegetarian in Brighton) and the legume packed cafes show why. If halloumi were a food group, I’d have my five a day every day; it’s heaven from a sheep’s teat.
Next stop, the pub. People look rough today. The people on the streets at the Ida Maria street gig look dazed and confused whilst chatting excitedly about hangover cures and the night of gigs ahead. My liver begins to ache with sympathy pangs. Or is it fear for the evening ahead? Networking (free beer) at the Queens Hotel is overwhelming. Awards are being presented and roughed up music industry bods try to look interested. We opt for meeting real people in dirty venues and end up parting ways in the search for our chosen gigs.
Some of our bedraggled crew head to Fujuya & Miyagi, others to Robots in Disguise whilst I nip to the pub to see an old friend. I very nearly don’t make it to see Mumford and Sons and Jay Jay Pistolet. Luckily, I see a somewhat hazy sense and catch the last few tunes in Mumford and Sons set. The crowd is packed and the UK band deliver the goods. I’ve been told Mumford and Sons can change the way you see music. Try them and see. They sure moved us.
After seeing him at the River Rat Pack tour launch earlier in the week, I knew Jay Jay Pistolet was never going to disappoint. If you see one solo artist this year, make sure he’s it. Doe-eyed, and good looking in that sickening Enrique Iglesias kind of way, he’ll make your heart melt like an ice-cream in the Aussie sun. Luckily, the similarities end there. Jay Jay Pistolet’s ditties reveal edgy lyrics, and tight little Blues journeys that left us gagging for more. He’ll suck you in and spit you out… like a sodden little mess on the floor. Jump on the bandwagon before he’s a household name. Even Laura Marling joined in one the act. Unforgettable.
I’m tempted to go the distance and ride out Noah and the Whale and Laura Marling but the persistent messages from mates tell me I’m needed elsewhere. Unfortunately, the line-up for The Barfly is huge and the NME spun music inside is wretched. Lightspeed Champion takes the stage and confuses me further, I just don’t get the hype. I miss The Rascals (though I’m still in the venue) and it’s a mystery I still can’t decipher. New friends are made, two mates break up and make up again soon after and I realise that I’m still as small as I was yesterday and seeing Crystal Castles isn’t going to be possible unless I risk death and wriggle to the front. I come out bruised, my companion emerges shoe-less and I vow to see the band again when I can soak up the full effect. For now, I’m not gob-smacked.
The rest, as they say is history. There’s an after party at Ocean Rooms but we make our own back at the hotel room. Great Escape indeed. The ashen faces on the return journey tell the tale of a myriad of experiences, joined by one little booklet, a timetable and music lovers with a taste for pebbles and adventure.
See you next year.