There’s nothing like interviewing a band on the beach; the ocean view insinuates you’re somewhere exotic and the band relaxes as soon as they hit the sand. Unless of course, you’re in Brighton. As I plonked myself in front of the video camera at this year’s Great Escape Festival, the painful jolt of pebbles against rear reminded me that this music event is neither forgiving nor easy. It is however, the best three days on the music calendar.
Whatever your taste in music, there’s something about the Great Escape Festival. Maybe it’s because the event is held in a UK beachside city, maybe it’s because it’s always overcast, or because the mix of music seminars and cracking gigs attract the industry’s finest. Most of all it’s because the three days are full of the best emerging bands and artists out there. If God really is a tune spinning DJ, The Great Escape is the crystal ball used to predict fantastic musical things to come. 2008’s event was no exception and I was in it for the long run; bruised posterior and all.
Thursday May 16th
My music reviewer buddy Zed and I arrive at Victoria Station with enough luggage to merit a trip to Australia. While most music bods headed down with a change of clothes and enough drugs to see them through the three days, we’re scheduled to chat to bands, so a video camera and half of Maplins comes along with us. We kick off the proceedings with a green tea and a salad. Hard core darling.
Our Premier Inn hotel is a hell of a lot better than the mould and builder’s bum cracks on show at last year’s disaster. It reeks of the Subway below, but we’re well aware that later on, their footlongs will be life-saving stuff. The secret street side gigs are already in action all over town. We’ve got delegate passes to pick up (worth the extra cash for the swift gig entry privilege alone) and a game plan to construct.
Gigs are dotted throughout Brighton’s many venues and the pickings are anything but slim. Derek Meins, Ida Maria, Vampire Weekend, The Ting Tings, Yeasayer, Cage The Elephant and Emmy The Great catch our eye as we flick through the programme. A bright-eyed Jason Bick greets us outside of the Queens Hotel. It’s the industry meeting point and a melting pot of bands and free booze. We place bets on how long The Fly’s Director of Artist and Brand Relations will look so perky. I don’t give him long… this must be mayhem.
It’s time to hit the gigs. The Coalition is the first stop for the night… the beachfront venue hosts City Riots, The Boxer Rebellion and Sarah McLeod. I’m here for Sarah’s feisty Aussie slot. I’ve not seen her since she fronted Australian band the Superjesus and the slimline Rock chick doesn’t disappoint. Growling lyrics and instantly catchy tunes are signs of a promising resurrection. The crowd is small but passionate and the drummer is the happiest chap I’ve ever seen behind a kit. It’s good to see musicians genuinely enjoying their moment.
My how time flies. We avoid the Great Escape trap of drinking ourselves into the corner of one venue only and head to the Barfly for Donnington four-piece Late Of The Pier. It’s packed and I don’t have a rat’s chance of seeing anything. I detect a pattern. It sucks to be a music loving, human coloured smurf.
We find ourselves at The Coalition again where two insipid vodka lemonades are all that comes between us and Reykjavik’s bouncy band Sometime. They’re fronted by a feisty stunner in a twenties inspired dress. Their synth explosions keep us happy and her bra-less bosoms amuse the men in the front row. The night it seems, is history.
During the night, we are woken by a ghost with a taste for 4am cartoons and our sauna-like room. Give me bum cracks anyday.
Saty tuned for the dramas of day two and three.