Archive for July, 2012

The Great Escape – Day 1, Part 2

OK, so where was I? I Finished watching Step-Panther because I always feel bad if I leave half way through someone’s set, it feels like I’m being rude, and decided to take the advice of the gentleman in the crowd and go to Pychcosocial. I had no clue about the band which was on before The Killgirls, nor did I know about The Killgirls really, just that a guy I had met previously rates them and that “The Killgirls cater to the Rave and Punk devotees with equal favour”, which is what the program told me.  Before The Killgirs were on was Jordan Cook aka Reignwolf, who was really good, for the brief five minutes which I saw then. After my fairly quiet day of ‘girls and guitars’ things were starting to liven up a bit. The heavy rock from Jordan Cook and the earlier grungy rock of Step-Panther were just what I needed to liven my soul a bit and get me out of the laid back acoustic twee slow pace I had gotten into.

I moved to the downstairs (Psycosocial has a ground floor and a basement and both levels had a stage on) to watch another band, Sunless 97; quite dancy, female vocals, very energetic, with an indie vibe about it. Completely in keeping with the mood of getting more pumped for a good night out. It was a big shame for me that there set did not last for much longer because I was really enjoying it. But alas, it did and I went back upstairs to watch The Killgirls as suggested.

As I waited for The Killgirls to finish their sound checks, and generally prepare for their set, the gentleman from the crowd at the hub came over. He bought me a drink (thank you kind sir)and he was telling me about how you can cheat the system and get a press pass. Apparently because I am typing this right now then I can claim to be a member of the press. I’m thinking about it, I would get to cut through the queues but on the other hand I do also have to pay more for the wristband. To be honest I hardly queued all weekend anyway.

Finally The Killgirls came on. It was obvious that the sound check was a waste of time because everything was so distorted. It was unfortunate because underneath all the crackling was probably a very good set. Looking back now I can see what the programme writers meant, both rave and punk at the same time. Very kool. I’m sure all those at the front were fans of the band anyway and could here the songs that they knew anyway, I wish I was in their position because they, I’m sure would be great without the technical issue of not being able to hear the music.

The Killgirls finished and I made a quick dash to try and see Friends. They had been on the radio at the time and I really liked them. Unfortunately so did everyone else. I left Psychosocial and made for the pier. They were playing at Horatio’s, a bar which is at the end of the pier. I made it past security, which by this time of night had stopped allowing the general public onto the pier at all, and I walked quickly up the pier. It was strange. I was the only person on the pier at all that I could see. It was like something out of a bad horror film, totally alone, the sounds of the world carrying on in the distance, oblivious to the peril one person faces by themselves, so close, but yet so far…. err, yeah I was by myself on the pier. That is until I got round the corner and found the bar. There were two queues at the door. There was one for the general public, which stretched so far that I couldn’t see the end and there was another for the press, which was longer than the pier is wide. I clocked that there was no point in me joining the poor man’s queue and turned around. I doubt I would have got in even if I had blagged a press pass.

Moving back down the pier I instead went to the Haunt. Looking at the timings in the program, I thought that if I wanted to see any other bands which were popular I’d better get inside now, and I did, Jamie N Commons. I had no clue about the band which was on before him, but after the queueing fiasco on the pier I thought I’d better get in there now.

Binary were a great way to get myself in the right mood for Jamie N Commons. They are quite a dark band, which suited the darkly lighted venue and after my lonely experience out on the pier I was feeling a bit dark too. This suited well and I loved it. This pairing was great too, clearly Binary should be Jamie N Commons support act when they are on a normal tour situation.

Jamie N Commons came on later and did a set including all of the songs which I had heard played on the radio. His voice is like something I have never heard before. The gravelly, deep, american south voice which by no stretch of the imagination should ever come out of someone so young, was just amazing. He played his set well and I was in awe throughout. I suggest that anyone with any taste in music see him play, quite truly something to behold. I have said it before in this post already but hand on heart I did not want that set to end. I could have listened to him all night.

I left The Haunt, wondering what to do now, is there any point in watching anything else? how is anyone going to top that? In truth the rest of the bands today were not going to beat it, but they were still great and still worth seeing.

From The Haunt I ran across the road and back up the pier, again, and tried my luck at Horatio’s once more. Friends had well and truly finished their set, but Nicki and the Dove were playing now and if I hurried I could catch most of the set. When I got to the bar right at the other end of the pier I was relieved that there was no queue holding me back and I walked straight in. The band were already playing as I walked to the bar and I listened from the back while I sorted out a drink. By the time I had got myself into a good position the band had played half their set and I only really listened with intent to the last three songs. Luckily they hadn’t played DJ Ease My Mind, the song which had first attracted me to them when they were on the radio. If I was asked to make one point about the band I think my response would be “she’s a strange bird”. Really and truly off her rocker, but it made for a great set, really geeing up the crowd.

A bit disappointed that I had missed the whole set, but consoled by the fact that I had seen Jamie N so really it doesn’t matter, I left Horatio’s and back down the pier and into the town. I had hoped to see Django Django, but as I got near to the venue, The Pavilion Theatre, I saw the queue here too was down the street. I was advised that the queue was longer than the capacity of the venue already, so I made my way to the corn exchange, which I knew was massive and had no chance of filling out. I didn’t even look to see who was playing, I just walked straight there, joined the queue which was short and was in. Who was it that I had walked into? By this time they had already started playing, I’m sure I recognise this song who is it? I looked at the programme and low and behold, it was the Mystery Jets. Now I’m not the biggest Mystery Jets fan, but I know the hits which have been on the radio a lot and the other songs I decided to sing along anyway. Once they sung the chorus to any song once, I could sing it back the next time. By this point I had been drinking quite a lot, and didn’t really care too much, so I barged my way right to the front and from then on I had a whale of a time. A full hour long set then followed, which was just really good fun.

After the Mystery Jets final song I looked to see if there was much else on. There were a few DJ sets and things which didn’t really appeal to me, so I went back to the hostel I was staying at. When I got there I found I wasn’t tired so I sat at the bar with a bottle of cider. One thing lead to another from then on as other people came back from their own Great Escape adventures. Story’s were told, drinks were drank, games were played and arguments were fought. In the end I went to bed at around four in the morning, long after the bar had closed, because I was having a heated discussion about the question “John Peel or Zane Lowe: who is the better DJ?” Peel hands down.

The Great Escape – Day 1, Part 1

I realise that this post is many months late. My excuses are as follows; 1) I had just a day or two to get ready for my Coast to Coast walk after getting back from the Great Escape, 2) I’m quite lazy, 3) I forgot and 4) I lost my timetable which I was used as my memory jogger, I only just got a copy from the nice people at the Great Escape office who very nicely emailed me a new timetable. If you wanted to read about my Brighton adventure, sorry about all the delays. I have also realised that some of my posts are quite long, so I’m splitting the Great Escape posts into two parts for each day, hopefully not quite so “TLDR”.

OK, excuses out of the way. The story begins, as usual, by me arriving in Brighton with a bit of a hangover. I tried the usual remedies of a cup of tea and a book to take my mind off of it while I was on the train, which lunged all over the place. This was not a new train, one of the old ones which seams to have suspension which has been made by welding slinkys to the bogies. Two hours after after I got on the train, it finally arrived in Brighton. Feeling a little bit like a traveller (arriving by train, bag on back, in an unfamiliar city, this must be what its like backpacking!) I got off the train and looked up at the massive poster, taking up most of the back wall of the station (which is massive), it was a poster for the Great Escape festival. This was clearly going to be a bigger event than it was last year, and last year was pretty epic.

I remembered my to the ticket exchange point, it was the same place as last year. Ticket exchanged, I still had a couple of hours to kill until I could check into my hostel. Do hostels deliberately make you wait? Don’t they know there is a festival on? Anyway, I thought I might as well see some bands, that’s  why I’m there after all. I look at the time table, if I hurried I could see Zebra and Snake, who ever they were! So that’s what I did.  They were playing in The Hope, a small venue about a pub, or more accurately, its a pub with a venue on top of it. The festival programme didn’t give much away other than they did synth-pop and they were from Finland. All I can really do is confirm that was correct. They were fine, nothing wrong with them at all. I liked it but it didn’t really grab me. I can’t say I didn’t like them, perhaps it was the heat because it was HOT inside the venue. All the AC and extra fans had been put in the back of the room but it was still blazing in there. Infact the heat was so bad that I nearly left, but with no clue as to who else to see I decided to stick with where I was to see the next band on, Milagres. These are a band which at the time I did not recognise, and even when they played “Here to stay”, probably their most well known song, I didn’t click as to who it was. Only later when I heard it on the radio did the light bulb come on. I felt a bit stupid after that. I did at least know I enjoyed watching their show, despite it running late after a ridiculously long sound check.

I had planned to see We Were Evergreen, I knew I’d miss the first few minutes because they were staring in the Studio Bar at Komedia at the same time Milagres finished, but because they over ran by so much I was only in time to see the last song. Fortunately they were playing again on Friday evening. After the song had finished, I left Komedia and went to find my hostel. It was not far from Komedia and I arrived there at three minutes to check-in. There was a bit of a faf to sort out, and then I misunderstood the guy and tried to get into the wrong room.

Confusion sorted, I left my bag in my room and quickly made my way back to Komedia for what was described in the programme as “folk inspired acoustica”. It wasn’t that at all, to me a lot more rock/blues than that, not a problem though, I liked it. The guy playing was called Farryl Purkiss, and he and his band the audience entertained throughout with their tracks, which now I listen again to the SoundCloud I can see what the writers were thinking of when they wrote the introduction that they did. Live I found them to be a lot more hard edged than the quite acoustic recordings that I have listened to since.

Once Farryl had finished, I finished my drink and went in search of my next act to see. This was back outside and next to the wristband exchange. Here they had an outdoor stage set up in a small square by the library, each day the Hub, as the stage was known, was curated by a different promoter. Today was the turn of an Australian promoter. They had fielded Emma-Louise, with her band, to try to inspire the poms. It worked. Emma-Louise had already had a small amount of radio play in the weeks leading up to the Great Escape and this had obviously lead to some interest, especially for her single “Jungle”. All of her songs were just as hauntingly beautiful. She had a personality which shone out on stage, with a few little stories which helped the audience warm to her, as well as explaining the back story to some of the songs. This was the first act of the day which I thought I’d personally buy the album. Unfortunately they only have an four-track EP at the moment, which goes against my physical-full-albums-only policy. Never mind, myself and the rest of the audience were amused by the dancing toddler at the front of the crowd, which put the icing on the cake for the set; good music, weather held off, likeable people, and amusing anecdote, what more does a gig need?

The next act on my list to see was Ren Harvieu. I decided that I should make my way there as soon as I could because like Emma-Lousie, she too had received some radio attention, and an article in NME and with a back story like hers the crowds were going to flock. I thought best get their early and take pot luck with whoever was playing before her.

When I got into The Loft there were lots of posters for Record of the Day, who had obviously been curating some daytime events which were not in the program. Turns out that the Loft was running late and they still had some of their daytime acts to get through, so before we got to the Filthy Boy and Ren Harvieu, which I was expecting, I first got to see Savoir Adore and Nina Nesbitt. Savoir Adore reminded me a little bit of Arcade Fire, they had a mannerism on stage which was well rehearsed, its a bit of a gimmick, and obviously an act, but few bands these days but effort into how they look on stage. These are a band which are so much more impressive live than they are to listen to over the internet.

After Savoir Adore and their explosive final song, there was a long-ish wait for Nina Nesbitt. Her sound check went on for a long time. This I feel was because she is a bit of a perfectionist along with the sound man not taking any direction from her, at least, that’s how it seamed to me. When Nina came on most of the front of the crowd went silent to listen to this beautiful voice and her guitar. It was a shame that the venue is so long and thin that those at the back can’t really hear her, but everyone at the front can hear them at the back talking. It was a bit distracting at first, but I tuned it our and enjoyed listening to every moment of her set. Nina is set to go on tour with Ed Sheeran and I’m sure off the back of those gigs she will get her voice heard and the masses will pick up on this talent.

Now I was expecting the venue to get its act together and put on Filthy Boy pretty sharpish to get Ren Harvieu on at all, but then the lights came on, there was no announcement at all. I asked one of the bouncers what was going on, apparently the Great Escape organisers had done something and that was going to be it for the evening, no Filthy Boy and no Ren Harvieu at all. If they played somewhere else, I never found out where it was. I decided to go back to the Hub, here I caught Oliver Tank, another Australian band, which the promoters had put on.  He did a very ambient chill out mix of things which I found hard to pin down, everything was pleasant enough, it just seamed to have an unsettling undertone, I couldn’t tell you where or why though.

I stayed at the hub for what would be the last of the daytime acts. Step-Panther, a grungy rock act the likes of which I had seen a million times before. There was nothing different about them, churning out the same stuff as all the other teenages in their bedrooms. I remember, when listening to them that I wasn’t very impressed, a thought ran through my mind along the lines of “is this really the best new bands that Australian promoters have got?” I doubt it some how, these guys probably do have quite a following in Australia and there is a market for their sound, it was just after a day of nearly all soft voices and acoustic guitars, this just seamed way off pace for me. Since I have tried listening to them again and I still don’t get them, so perhaps it wasn’t the line up after all? While I was listening to them I got talking to a guy in the crowd who made a suggestion, that I go and see The KillGirls, another Australian band, who were playing Psychosocial later on that night.

All that and more in part two to come…

We woke up at our own pace today, there was no rush. All we had to do was be gone by 11 a.m., this was not a problem because we woke by ourselves at around 9. It was the heat which woke us up, the heat of the sun through the canvas of the tent. Every other day so far we had been up before the sun could get that high. We took our time this morning, it was a novelty for us to be able to lounge about and eat slowly, not worrying about getting to the next overnight stop. Jonny went off to charge his phone in the camp sites laundry room while I ate my sweets, which I had decided was going to be my breakfast.

After an extremely long time Jonny returned to find me packed  and lounging on the comfortable grass in the sun. WE then packed the tent and leisurely made our way to the bus stop. From the stop at Flyingthorpe we would then get the bus into Scarborough and from there, trains via London, back home.

We got onto the bus, which was absolutely packed, we deduced that because of all the hot weather we had been having, many of the people on board would have been impromptu holiday makers. By some very good fortune I happened to have the exact fare for the bus left in my wallet. The bus left Flyingthorpe and winded its way up the steep hill which we had walked down the night before. When we got to the top there was another bus which had broken down. Our bus pulled over to see if anything could be done. There was no space on board to put their passengers on board with us, so we carried on, leaving all the passengers on the top of a moor, in the searing heat, with no food and no water. It was at this point that I thought how lucky we were that Jonny’s phone takes so long to charge. The bus then flew back to Scarborough, there were a few hairy moments where I had hoped the driver would slow down a bit (he didn’t), but I suppose he needed to get back to help those stranded.

Arriving in Scarborough we collected our tickets from the station. Our train wasn’t going to leave for about five hours, so after a quick browse round town, we searched out a pub to keep us entertained.  We sat at  table with plugs near it, so Jonny could charge his phone some more. We had lunch, watched the TV, found some apps to play on our phones, read the menu, anything to pass the time until we could reasonably think it time to walk over to the station and wait for the train.

We got on the train, which left not soon after. Again, nothing to do, so back on the apps for entertainment. The highlight of the journey back was probably when the trolley came past with some food on it. I had a can of Strongbow and a Mars bar. A little while later the train went through our home town, Jonny pointed out his flat as the train careered past. We knew this was going to happen, but it still was a bit depressing to know we were about five minutes walk from home and yet the train wouldn’t stop until we were in London.  When the train got into London, we swapped to another train which got us home about two hours after we originally passed through our target destination. All that was left to do was to walk from the station back to our houses. We parted company after nearly a fortnight outside the doctors and went our separate ways.

That was our coast to coast journey.