Monday, May 17, 2010

The Great Escape

Relentless Street GigImage by joedawson via Flickr
The Great Escape Festival is a new major music festival that covers all genres of music and is held in the city of Brighton every year from 14–16 May. Taking place across 30 venues over 3 days in its seaside location, the urban festival is the UK equivalent to SXSW. Each year the town is overrun with bands, industry insiders and music fans – in what has quickly become the unofficial start to the festival season. The big question is do you see bands you already know, or choose alternatives in the hope of discovering the next big thing?

Red Alert

Thursday afternoon I travelled down to Brighton with my partner and her entourage, they had planned the festival for several months and were booked to stay at a hostel on the seafront. I was originally only intended to be their transportation but was offered a competition ticket for the weekend from a friend. While awaiting his arrival I found a suitable place to leave my vehicle and headed to Horatios Bar, Brighton Pier. I got talking to local residence here and we watched performances from Dangerous Heresy and Kid Bombardos. The festival organisers operate a text message service and I shortly began receiving messages about events. Relentless were hosting Street Gigs at various locations at the festival, I received details from the SMS service and headed to the Doughnut to experience the Violent Soho performance. I met my partner here and decided that as this was her weekend that I would operate as a separate entity, especially as her sister had made the arrangements, I didn't want to dictate proceedings or create a situation. This meant that elaborate public displays of affection were prohibited!

I headed in the direction of Concorde 2 to see what was occurring at the Campervan and managed to catch a rehearsal from Pulled Apart By Horses. The rehearsal was solid and I was fortunate because their gig later that evening overlapped with other performances. I had arranged to meet the friend with the tickets at the Queens HoteI and secured several items reserved for the delegates before he arrived! I also met my partner's group here and Horatios Bar was the next destination for everyone with the intention to watch the Darwin Deez. I arrived before the others and had a brief conversation with Darwin Smith about the NME Radar Tour. The venue reached capacity quickly and I realised that the chances of my partner gaining entry weren't good, especially as she was at the back of the queue that had formed outside. I attempted to speed up entry but we soon found ourselves ejected from the venue for misbehaviour! With Darwin Deez performing on the Friday, we decided to watch Fench-Soler at Audio, I loved their clothes and their set list got the crowd jumping. Brighton Coalition was next on the agenda, Tinie Tempah was the main event and everyone was advised that crowd surfing wasn't permitted! I attempted to watch Cold Cave, Goldheart Assembly and The Cribs but the queues prevented access to any of the venues. I met everyone later at Digital for the Late Night Special and watched Egyptian Hip Hop and the delightfully named Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaur. Our night ended listening to a band play tracks from popular artists and being refused entry to Ou Est Le Swimming Pool because we were two minutes late!!

Wish I Stayed

I woke up confused Friday morning, I spent the entire night in the car and still managed to lay-in until almost midday. Admittedly I woke a few times but I was impressed that I was able to achieve a decent night. The cleaning ritual wasn't enjoyable though!! After getting dressed I ventured into Brighton to browse the local shops and there was plenty available. Eventually I arrived at the Basement but was advised that the ACM show had relocated to the Komedia Theatre, the SMS message arrived shortly afterwards! I watched Felix Fables and Arcady Bliss, organising where I hoped to attend for the duration. I passed the girls as I left the theatre and headed towards the Prince Albert with the aim to catch General Fiasco. Accompanied by the friend who sold me the ticket we attempted to gain entry but were told that they had reached capacity so instead we headed to the seafront to catch The Cribs perform an acoustic set. Here I met up with the girls and afterwards we occupied the beach for a few hours.

The girls moved on and I met up with Darwin Deez on the beach, I spoke to them for a while and participated in their stone throwing game which became extremely competitive. They complimented on my clothing and style, although the 'biscuit' shoes and 3D glasses were questioned! When they went for lunch I watched Everything Everything perform an acoustic set and then headed to the beach again. Later I watched The Midnight Beast perform a Relentless Street Gig at the Doughnut, this was probably the performance with the largest crowd participation. They informed those in attendance that this was only their second show, the Tik Tok parody being the obvious highlight! Chew Lips were the next act that I saw perform and everyone was there for the set. Afterwards I had a conversation with my partner and we both agreed that the distance felt strange, I reassured her that it was what we had arranged and then attempted to gain entrance to the delegate area but that bubble soon burst. The 'John Kennedy presents' showcase at Freebutt sounded appealing but I arrived too early, Futureheads at Audio were a much better alternative so I wasn't disappointed. Unfortunately we missed out on the Darwin Deez performance for the second night, this was because delegates took priority and were able to bypass the Digital queue. Not fair!! Instead Revenge and performances from Canterbury and Mount Kimbie were on the agenda. Ellie Goulding was next and I was able to experience this with my partner, this was my highlight of Great Escape for many reasons but mainly because she was there to experience the performance with me at Concorde 2. Our night finished here as Smash & Grab hosted their legendary London club night at the venue.

The Great Divide

Last night she said "Oh, baby, I feel so down". Oh and turned me off, when I feel left out. Another night in the car, I awoke to the builders who have become my neighbours for the duration of the festival. Digital beckoned with an Aussie-style BBQ and several bands from Down Under, the girls were here and I waited by the speakers for them but after achieving partial hearing damage I decided to head for the exit. A Relentless Street Gig was next on the agenda, Fenech-Soler were the act performing and I'm certain that I featured in promotional material. Afterwards I returned to 'the office' briefly and then watched Chelsea beat Portsmouth to claim the FA Cup and complete the double!! What happened to the "Boring, boring Chelsea" chants?!

After the FA Cup Final I headed to the seafront for the Ou Est Le Swimming Pool performance at the Doughnut. I have seen them at Koko before but can't remember much about that night! The Corn Exchange provided the entertainment for the evening with Zeus, Jason Collet, Timber Timbre and Broken Social Scene. I hoped to see Frankie & The Heartstrings afterwards but the Audio lineup was running late so instead I headed to Concorde 2 for Marina & The Diamonds. I loved the bond theme and the 3OH!3 cover of Starstrukk was interpreted well with Marina's vocals. There were a few closing parties but we opted for the seafront before heading back to the hostel. I slept there the night, and was relieved not to be awoken by builders. Instead I was greeted by a sea breeze through the broken window, the alluring smell of sick in the corner and the beautiful voice of Nicholas Howe an aspiring singer/song writer. We shared breakfast together and contributed to the art display at the restaurant with the children's colouring material before heading home with our signed CD. The Great Escape was more than I expected and Brighton provided a vibrant nightlife and location. Definitely plenty to reflect upon over the next few days, the only disappointment was learning that I wasn't accepted into my first choice university and not being able to find the balance! A fantastic weekend overall and I'm already full of anticipation for the Isle of Wight!!

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