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…