Despite the fact that I live only half an hour away from Brighton, prior to this year I’d never been to The Great Escpae, the south coast’s very own answer to SXSW. I have to admit it was a slightly surreal experience to be at a festival where there were real toilets (although admittedly not always sufficiently stocked with toilet paper!), somewhere warm to watch music in the evening as opposed to standing in the freezing cold and, for me, being able to sleep in my own bed at the end of it all! To be honest the music was rather good as well! You also still have that traditional festival moment of looking at the programme and realising that it’s not physically possible to see everyone you want to and, with this being a festival of new music, it means it’s even more important to be open to the prospect of discovering the next big thing, or experiencing a show where you realise that you’ve just lost half an hour of your life that you will never get back (luckily this only happened to me once over the weekend and it was a band that I hadn’t intended to see).
On arrival on Thursday, we discovered the genius addition of the hub, a new stage this year creating more opportunities for undiscovered talent to be heard right at the heart of the festival. Brighton folk quintet Common Tongues provided an impressive introduction to the weekend but it was David J Roch who really evidenced the stage’s potential. Probably my favourite discovery of the day, his pitch perfect voice and, at times, sinister lyrics, the result of his work at a funeral parlour, had us hooked to the point of foregoing another gig!
Thursday evening began in earnest, with London duo Paper Crows and their occasionally intense and intelligently written synth-pop tracks delivered with such power by 18 year old Emma Panas’ amazing vocals. Following on over in Queen’s Hotel, a surprisingly plush venue for a festival, Netherlands four piece Moss delivered upbeat pop-rock that will undoubtedly appeal to many and were succeeded by pint-size popster Florrie. Strangely enough the latter seemed to be the only show of the weekend just about everyone at the front was male, but when you consider there are comaprisions to be drawn with a certain small Australian pop princess with added drumming ability and attitude you might just understand why. After a brief detour from music to see Manchester ‘punk-poet’ John Cooper Clarke, the very definition of an interesting experience, Miami Horror rounded off the day rather nicely with their fantastically fun electro-pop which sounded as though it was tinged with the sunshine of Australia itself!