The Great Escape 2016: Reviewed
The Badger took on the imposing task of covering The Great Escape; leaping between interviews and gigs across Brighton and Hove, we managed to catch some massive sets whilst chilling with the brightest new prospects in music- not to mention sneaking into the Spotify artists’ lounge to make the most of a (very) open bar.
Thursday started with a fab interview with Brighton boys The Island Club, who followed it up with a spellbinding set at The Hope and Ruin, filling the entire venue in the early afternoon; certainly no easy feat. Expect big things from them after a summer of songwriting.
Next up was Komedia for Australian electro-rock advocates Northeast Party House, whose blend of dance infused basslines and visual energy quickly won over a youthful crowd. Closing songs The Haunted and Youth Allowance were blissful highlights, and we caught up with them after to discuss Australia’s vibrant music scene.
A hurried bus journey took us to Hove to meet Clean Cut Kid, and their company was predictably splendid.
Onto the pier for a chill with London based Beach Baby, a band generating huge amounts of buzz with their lackadaisical style and effortlessly repeatable refrains. Much like their music, they were relaxed and engaging, offering the ultimate compliment: “Can you stay for a few more questions? We’re having fun!”
A medicinal session of drinking and phone charging preceded VANT’s set at Patterns, which felt slightly flat; a docile crowd and dampened vocals restricted their set from reaching its peak potential.
Beach Baby and Spring King followed, both entrenching their hype credentials with tight, powerful sets.
Rushing over to Concorde 2 saw us witness Blossoms’ triumphant headline set, the Stockport natives ambling through their cannon of hits, encompassing crowd favourite At Most A Kiss and ending with the spectacular Blow.
The night closed at Green Door Store, with Bonzai arguably providing the highlight of the day; bold, intriguing, and decidedly dance friendly, her set was a sparkling showcase of electro tinged R&B.
Friday was a much lazier day, the repercussions of daytime drinking manifesting in a difficult morning. A trip to the Hope and Ruin to catch some of the inspired “Don’t Panic! We’re From Poland” curation got the ball rolling again, and this was followed by some delicious (free) pizza at Dead Wax Social.
Suitably replenished, the afternoon consisted of lounging at The New Road Stage with singer-songwriter Fenne Lily before her stunning set in Unitarian church.
Onto The Joker for Frankie Cosmos and Chasity Belt, the American bands putting on a wonderful free show which unsurprisingly saw queues trail through the pub.
Chasity Belt stopped for a few words after, breathlessly confirming that was indeed the hottest gig they had ever played.
The night finished up at Coalition, with Northeast Party House putting on their second set of the weekend- the club environment proving ample foil for their raucous performance.
Saturday reaffirmed the cliché of saving the best till last, despite starting with an exam; the last night’s excess making itself known during a rather difficult question on Reagan’s economic policy…
Test (un)successfully navigated, the night started with The Big Moon’s hypnotic groves, swiftly followed by The Mystery Jets, the Corn Exchange hosting a stellar night of established and rising talent. The Mystery Jets mixed their old cuts with new material, the psychedelic rock of Blood Red Balloons beautifully juxtaposed to the iconic indie-pop anthem Two Doors Down.
From then on the night took an unexpected turn; invited into the Spotify VIP Artists’ lounge by The Island Club after bumping into them outside the Corn Exchange, (thanks to Fenne’s manager for the required wristband) an open bar was gleefully received as artists from across the festival made small talk and, uh, played FIFA.
Not being one to let any opportunity pass by, the Spotify photo booth was put to fine use as the empty glasses piled up, the fun culminating in a hazy Tame Impala appreciation session in the kitchen; security insisting for the fourth time that “We really are closing now.”
“Can we take one for the road?”
In the wise words of Fred Macpherson, enjoy it while it lasts.
The festival closed in fitting euphoria at Sticky Mike’s, shambling around the upstairs indie disco until The Magic Gang ushered in the finale with a typically exuberant 3am set.
Roll on 2017, The Great Escape, it’s been a pleasure.