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The Great Escape 2013: Thursday

17 May 2013, 13:05 | Written by The Line of Best Fit


Dan Carson and George O’Brien ignore temptations to do nothing but sit on the beach all day in the Brighton sunshine and bring us an account of some incredible performances from the first day of this year’s Great Escape Festival.

Chasing Grace

Recent Island signing Chasing Grace kicked our weekend off with an early performance at The Hope. The British four piece conjure-up a light-hearted blend of folk and emotional pop with glimmers of heaviness, that is arguably too shackled. There is no doubt it’s early days in terms of live performance though and they soon warm into their set with tracks like ‘Bullet’ and particular highlight ‘Trust’. A Live Lounge-esque cover of ‘White Noise’ shows intelligence, while the quality of their voices stand them in good stead. They’re not quite ready but undoubtedly a decent future lies ahead. GB


Honeyblood//The Great Escape
Photograph by Andrew Novell

The darkness of the Dome Studio played host to some pure punk-pop from Scottish duo Honeyblood, as Brighton was bathed in sun. Their simple setup of crunchy Telecaster power chords and splashing drums sound so much bigger than they appear, while Howling Bells-like vocals help carry the performance. GB

Holy Esque

Holy Esque//The Great Escape
Photograph by Andrew Novell

More punchy scuzz followed-up, as fellow-Scotts Holy Esque soundtracked our Thursday lunchtime. The quartet deliver controlled angst, with a quivering lead vocal rasping out over the top of some genuinely bone-shaking synth bass and relentless top-end riffs, that at times echo the heavier moments of Editors. The performance feels polished and brilliantly professional, the voice grabbing attention above all else, and the closing track ‘St.’ is desperately brilliant. It’s accessible aggression and very, very watchable. GB

Glass Animals

Glass Animals//The Great Escape
Photograph by Andrew Novell

A delay to scheduling at Digital seems to leave Oxford four-piece, Glass Animals, feeling somewhat jarred and disjointed initially. It certainly takes them a few minutes to find their groove amidst the shroud of smoke and aqueous atmosphere. Although they’re wedged into an early-ish slot on the bill, their occultish soundscapes – formed of whining samples and softly kissed hi-hats – manage to precipitate a kind of trancelike shuffling amongst the assembled fans. ‘Dust In Your Pocket’ broods and bubbles and threatens to boil over, all flitting synth arpeggios, seedy finger clicking and creeping whispers; it’s the highlight of a set stuffed with primal delights. DC

London Grammar

One of the most anticipated performances of the day came from the fast-rising London Grammar. A wonderfully lavish church provides the ideal setting for their sound, filled with emotion and lead by one of the most striking voices you’re likely to hear.

With the makeshift pews at bursting point, the three young Londoners seize the crowd’s attention; ‘Wasting My Young Years’ feeling completely like the hit single it is. The real drums that kick in when ‘Metal and Dust’ starts, turning a good sounding live track into something genuinely spine-tingling. They can do it live, and that’s what confirms them as one of the UK’s most exciting new bands. GB


Syron - The Great Escape, Brighton 160513 | Photo by Howard Melnyczuk
Photograph by Howard Melnyczuk

The clue’s in the name with this London garage diva. A Best Fit favourite, Syron is responsible for some of the most exciting garage-fuelled tracks to surface in the last 12 months. Dominating the Audio stage with her trademark, extravagant appearance, her live set has grown, allowing her to slip seamlessly between songs, with carefully thought-out backing tracks. Her comfort and energy on stage is genuinely eye-catching and with chart-ready hits like ‘Breaking’ and ‘Here’, there’s no doubt she is the absolute complete package. GB

Mac DeMarco

‘We’re from Montreal, welcome to the rock show baby’. Hello indeed Mr. Mac Demarco. Looking like a quartet of roughnecks time-warped in from an 80’s truck stop, he and his band might seem a little marooned front and centre in the cavernous Corn Exchange but that doesn’t hinder them from delivering an essential collection of tuned-down romantic slacker-rock gems.

Surfy up-tempo toms roll with intricately woven bass and impeccable three-way harmonies, Mac blithely jamming away on his guitar, tongue lolling out through the feel-good bridges. ‘Rock n Roll Nightclub’ provides the biggest thrill of the set. Pounding floor toms and swooning leads are punctuated by Mac’s bassist’s frankly mental backing vox. Honest and self-deprecating throughout; even the room’s sternest critics struggle to withhold a slight grin. DC


Merchandise - The Great Escape, Brighton 160513 | Photo by Howard Melnyczuk
Photograph by Howard Melnyczuk

The Tampa trio – plus their live drummer – are probably better suited to diners and dive bars where their punchy post-punk rhythms hug the sweat-stained ceiling, rather than flutter away, as in the case of tonight’s somewhat ‘airy’ venue. The Corn Exchange is barely at half capacity but Merchandise perform as if they’re facing a crowd of 10,000. Oozing charisma, vocalist Carson Cox lets rip with his disillusioned croon on ‘Time’. Bruised yet comforting, he wags a cautionary finger between the gristly guitar breaks and thunderous toms and snare. Romance and recklessness entwined; Merchandise are living proof that falling in love will only ever end in tears. DC


Hanna Toivonen and Tommi Koskinen aren’t your archetypal Scandi-pop duo. Though they retain that innate command over big, bold hooks; they also wield the power to drop down a key and roll out some wonderfully expansive, elegiac sprawls. Tonight they exercise both capabilities in perfect synch. A hooded Tommi arches over a huge, homemade Midi controller – Hanna dubs it ‘The UFO’ and suggests we check out its Facebook page – laying down the bristling, crunchy beats to which Hanna’s spidery coo attaches.

Bon Iver’s ‘Skinny Love’ is morphed into a rapturous electro-pop call to arms while ‘Kisses’ sounds typically euphoric; Tommi and Hanna’s billowing limbs casting playful shadows on the backdrop of cascading CGI images. Dipping into a host of genres with thick dubby bass drops, haunting post-rock synth swells and tonnes of pop sensitivity, Phantom’s confident little intricacies suggest they’ve got what it takes to mix it with the genre’s heavyweights. DC

Blue Hawaii

Blue Hawaii//The Great Escape
Photograph by Andrew Novell

The Brighthelm Centre could easily be mistaken for a temporary disaster relief building. There’s flagging bodies strewn across the floor as Montreal duo Blue Hawaii appear. They promise to ‘take it slow, then speed’ up, giving us a chance to catch our breath after a long day pounding the concrete. Shoulder-to-shoulder, Alex twirls over a switchboard of samplers and synths while Raphaelle trills spookily in the gaps between his echoing beats. Their padding cowbells and prowling bass oscillations prove the ultimate tonic for sore limbs and fuzzy senses.

Come back tomorrow for more coverage from Brighton’s Great Escape Festival.

Lead photograph by Andrew Novell

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