Is it possible to dislike a band at the Great Escape? I think the answer may be no. The vibes are too profoundly good. Great beer, the first big sun of the year and about a hundred different cubbyholes to catch new / old / strange music. So… here are some thoughts straight from my beer-soaked voice memos.
In no particular order…
Opus Kink are a six piece, massive sounding partybandofyrdreams that would suit a basement in London just as well as a street corner in Louisiana… Their vocal lines absolutely ripped straight thru thoughtful wind arrangements which helped propel their pop anthems into a more experimental realm of songwriting. I was pretty much enthralled.
The keys player looked like something out of Back to the Future and the rest were in a typical Britpunk uniform…
Oh, the suits! I love it! Hello!
The sun pretty much flattened my once-ice-cold pint, but it didn’t really faze me or my friends because we were too busy dancing around, in spite of our dead weight guitar cases. The Beach Stage took some time to relax and move, probably because there were enough industry heads to call it a board meeting. Regardless of the cool peopleTM, when the band took off feet started tapping, people grooved and the entire outdoor stage seemed to really follow the vibe. Something special is going on with these guys and I just want to know what it is… after a couple pints with them you might figure it out. I think they just really love their craft and theres a lot we could all learn from bands like them.
Really great first impression of this band.
Yard Act started their set in Chalk and I was immediately aware of the depth of their fanbase… these guys are leading these people to the water and you have to respect that. I do. I know this band best by their recently released album, ‘The Overload’, which I was immediately impressed by because it wastes no time introducing you to their biting edge and infectious the Streets-esque pop-sentiments.
My notes ended around here because I was sucked into a massive mosh pit and spent the subsequent 30 minutes screaming along with a few hundred other fans. Very solid.
Holiday Ghosts gave us an afternoon worth of Desert-tinged rockabilly that made the crowd dance/ teeter between the sidewalk-Sun and baking walls of Presuming Eds. I had a big goofy grin watching them most of the time and spilled my beer not one, but three times during this set. I even caught one of the choruses and was grooving along by the tail end. Really enjoyed.
Fake Turins made me want to run home and call everyone I know for a massive jam because of the joy they exuded while performing at Presuming Eds on Saturday. I was excited, and they seemed excited, like well-dressed hippies performing some sort of respectable ritual… and the frontman took no leads from the calmness of the other musicians, as he twitch-danced his way around the tight floor stage and had me completely floored with his presence. This is the kind of band you take notes on, musicians. I know I was…
Speedboat gave me 80s pop sensibilities from the Hand in Hand and made me want to fall in love… I was grateful to be in a suit by then so I could do my dad-dancing and not be fully embarrassed. Their music paired well with a house pilsner and a crowd chock-full of talented musicians in their own right which made for a really special performance and reminded you that these guys are no one-off pop moment but a thoughtful band using 80s reminiscent synth sounds and vocal styles to totally boot you into a full on ass-shakin.
BTW – For fans of Brad Stank (Liverpool) defo get involved!
Vanity Fairy, who are you, where are you from and why are you here you absolute angel?? One of the coolest looking, most interesting performers of my trip south was Vanity Fairy who blessed us at Hand in Hand with a sort of interstellar, cottage-core Kate Bush on helium / speed / immaculate vibes performance that made me goofy grin and dance so much that it was hard to break that even after a 24 hr journey back to Liverpool. What a show! In blue finery, climbing on pubtables, parading a cat statuette around with no regard for the confines of her monitors, (thank god!) she ARRIVED and all of a sudden I realised there was no better gig to be at that day, which even reinforced how good Speedboat had been.
Love you Vanity Fairy, let’s be friends.
Crawlers, ah yes, seeing my loves back onstage but out of our city reminded me that these aren’t just some friends but really an absolute forcetobereckonedwith unit of raw vocal power and pop prowess… I’d be a fool to forget that! As usual, Crawlers played a packed out set to fans / friends and I am sure more than a few overly curious bizniz people who wanted to know what all the fuss is about. I reckon they are well aware by now that these guys simply can’t be matched for their over saturation of bangers in the set as well as performance quality and overall joy of the craft. It is almost a bit silly to review because they just really set the bar and we all follow. I think they would’ve benefited from played a room more akin to Chalk or the outdoor stage (for lack of lightshow or much sunshine) but regardless loved this set, these guys, their immense power…
Courting… I missed that feeling that yer the only one in the whole crowd because yr spending the show shouting lyrics till yer hoarse and waiting, bated breath, for yer favourite choruses… thanks for bringing me back there. I saw Courting in 2019? in Liverpool, yanno, early days type stuff… and in spite of them always being fun, I wouldn’t have predicted that they’d be one of my favourite bands at the moment or that I’d try to force them to listen to lot’s of Wilco (sry Sean). This band screams BIG up ‘n coming and totally won over the Casablanca Club crowd, which considering the massive queue and (usual) festival delays meant they were really giving it 150%…. and they were. The tunes sound just as great live as on the record, the energy was thru the roof, lots of cool looking older dudes in sunglasses were nodding (which seems like a good industry sign? Uh, idk) and on a personal note I gave myself whiplash from dancing at the barrier.
Up the Scousers, and damn good show.
Lynks’ shows continually provide me with long-lasting memories of spilt beer, dancing with other queers in the audience, huge vibes and the sense of ‘how the fuck did they just sing and dance for that long ohmygod I am so tired watching this’…. I digress… Lynks is an underground queer icon who is now above ground and the air is much sweeter for it. Showmanship, the costumes, the choreo… it’s outrageous that someone could bring all that to their second set of the day at 2am at Chalk.
What a fuckin show. ((Queers to the front!))
KEG, what to say- I have never instigated a mosh-pit from outside a venue because I was so stoked to see a band… until you! I spent a good part of your set attempting to sweet talk the bouncer to letting my mates and I in but I think it didn’t really matter because from the 2 tracks I heard inside and the many others I heard from behind a glass door, you gave us a lot of naughty energy and surprise trombone moves… great arrangements, great lads, great vibes. Next time the review will be longer but for now, I have memories of ‘Dirty Old Town’ to keep me company.
*Begin emotional violin playing*
But, perhaps, the best band wasn’t even a band at all… but a group of friends / random musicians from various bands I met in varying circumstances after the shows in bedrooms and living rooms jamming, laughing, smashing keys and dancing to laptop speakers. I am a total sap… what can I say?
Brighton ya have my heart. See ya next yr.
PS : Great Escape Weekend Extended Reviews
I managed to swing by the Fox and Firkin (London) on Sunday to catch Deadfly’s event ft. Fatdog, Black Bordello, Alien Chicks and House Arrest – some of my favourite bands – and since I missed Fatdog at the Great Escape these are my thoughts.
This band, made up of friends of mine that I slowly got to know from playing the scene together, are so outrageously talented that it can be bordering on frustrating. Their command of the audience is unwavering. The arrangements are intimidatingly thoughtful. They are the best of mates playing shows that you actually have to see to believe. Fatdog are already onto the BiggerandBetterThingsTM that we all talk so much about, but haven’t remotely lost touch with their firm roots in the S/L scene. Joe, yr voice really has held it’s own since my first time seeing you in October and Jazz has shaped up to be a formidable frontwoman / dancer / singer and like a discoballinfernotypebeat— is pretty much impossible to look away from. She is constantly ablaze and watching this band makes you feel close to something really, really great.
(Also I sprained my ankle bc the pit was so fun).
Alien Chicks remind me sort of like the Beastie Boys meet the Streets meet Black Midi… I don’t know how else to put it but they are grafters thru and thru and watching them grow as well has been a privilege beyond words. If you want to see them, do it now cuz you only get so much time with bands like these in early days, just still forming, fighting to see what they are capable of; And I have no problem telling you that these lot are capable of some serious shit… I have seen them pack enough rooms across the country to tell ya that for free. The music is there, all three of em are beyond talented and when Joe and Stefan do their back-to-back vocals ya can’t help but have a big ol goofy grin and then push the lad next to ya, opening a fairly rowdy pit.
Black Bordello has been kicking up dirt for a little while and has always been on the forefront of what’s Cool as far as I was aware in my meagre viewpoint. Sunday night was no different.
She is a powerhouse- dynamic, charged, and always presenting as Black Bordello even when she’s on her ones because she really is her own unit.
My first time catching her full band set, this was a completely different experience. Another Kate Bush reference, mostly because of her theatrics and multi-register voice, I was pleasantly surprised by how goddamn catchy her songs were considering they could’ve stood just as well being that they were accompanied by a wall of sound band / orchestra backing her.
Very, very good.
House Arrest, who am I to review a band that asked me to come onstage and bash tambourine for them while I ate my Chinese takeaway in front of a 30-odd person mosh pit?
Oh, yea, it’s me so of course I will.
Some gnarly arrangements there, guys, considering I’d not heard some of the tunes but always heavy, always quite comical with the side remarks and stories interwoven into the tunes breaks / choruses, and a constantly refreshed look at a sort of Parquet CourtsmeetsVundabar performance.
GOOD NIGHT , I am OUT