So, The Great Escape is over for another year. London has been reinstated to its usual industry hub status, everyone has returned to waiting until at least midday to start drinking and Brighton’s makeshift weekend venues have gone back to the pubs, car parks and front rooms they usually operate as. The beachside festival always throws up its fair share of treats and this year was certainly no exception. So, with a sepia-tinted air of reminiscence in our hungover hearts, here are the best ten things that happened at TGE 2013…
Brighton’s next in line are very good. So good in fact that we managed to watch them every day of the festival and still leave clamouring for more. And, whilst every set of theirs was pretty much exactly on point, the quartet’s Friday night house show shoots straight up there with the best gigs we’ve seen all year. Crowdsurfing practically on the ceiling? Check. People going so nuts they had to play the same single twice to keep them happy? Yeah, that too.
Lambeth’s finest’s secret 2am show for NME Radar was always going to be a big deal, but the sheer chaos that greeted the PVs was akin to Kasabian randomly pitching up at the local Wetherspoons. If there was ever any doubt of how big the quartet have become, then the rabid scrum of a stage invasion that greeted ‘Fourteen’ was surely it.
Kettering quartet Temples debuted their forthcoming B-side ‘Ankh’ on Friday alongside established A-side stunner ‘Colours To Life’ and, with it, proved that they’re almost definitely going to conquer the world. One’s a contorted, sweeping amalgamation of multi-part harmonies and technicolour tones. The other, a strutting, swaggering glam rock monster with a string section that sits somewhere between a psychedelic Bond theme and Doctor Who. They were about the strongest statement of intent across the whole weekend.
This year, it felt like Brighton’s new crop were forcing themselves to be heard, whether they liked it or not. Top of the class were The Wytches, who packed out every set they played and never fell short of fantastically feral, whilst local favourites Demob Happy played a brilliantly raw set of effortless, sticky-floored rock’n’roll from a makeshift pitch in their van. Newcomers Kill Moon proved why they were handpicked to support both Haim and Deap Vally within some of their first ever gigs (namely, because the likes of ‘Jupiter’ and ‘Shine’ are like the heaviest bits of Wolf Alice with added balls and a hint of a psych leaning). Watch out Birmingham.
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US teenagers The Orwells may have been around for a few years (they started when most members were only 15 – look out The Strypes…), but you can tell that there’s something bubbling up pretty quickly for the band now. Channelling the bratty hedonism of Black Lips, crazed singer Mario Cuomo (seriously, he might possibly be clinically insane) and co were one of the undoubted rising stars of the weekend. Between their two gigs we spotted members of Palma Violets, Loom and Big Deal in the near vicinity, whilst apparently Keira Knightley was also lurking down the front. Not bad at all.
Whilst Billy Bragg (hooray!) and Bastille (boo, hiss) may have been perhaps more obvious festival headliners, it’s Everything Everything’s Thursday night top set that felt like the most righteous celebration. Like Wild Beasts before them, the Manchester-based quartet deal in the kind of intelligent, off-kilter and downright odd pop that, by rights, shouldn’t appeal to the masses. And yet there are so many damn hooks in there you almost forget that it’s pretty weird that their biggest single is based around the noise of a disease.
Seriously Birmingham, what are you on? Between Swim Deep and sadly absent buds Peace, the musical output of the town has made clashing prints, gender-rejecting aesthetics, 90s hobo chic and mind-bending haircuts (SD drummer Zach was once spotted with a glow in the dark dip dye) the fashion du jour. At TGE we spotted a selection of floral denim jack ups (aka too-short trousers) and a hairstyle straight out of Hanson (that’ll be Zach again) and that’s only for starters. Shouldn’t work, but does. Where’s the nearest Oxfam?
Whilst the majority of bands were rocking their own pretty distinct looks throughout the weekend (from Deap Vally’s barely there semi-nakedness to Temples’ fur-coated Marc Bolan glam), Parquet Courts looked like they’ve just come from a long afternoon of sitting on the sofa. They still glowed effortless cool. Maybe it’s because ‘Light Up Gold’ sounds like everything good that’s come out of America. Who knows.
Sure, the psychedelic revolution shows no sign of abating, but Dutchman Jacco Gardner (a be-hatted imp of a man who looks a little like he should be on strings) is proof that the pool’s far from saturated yet. Recent album ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ may be a hazy, paisley dream on record, but live there’s something genuinely bewitching going on.
At Brighton boozer The Pav Tav, Jagerbombs cost £1.50. That means, if you do a bit of savvy advanced booking, it’s actually cheaper to pay for a train to Brighton and get drunk than it is to do the same level of partying and stay in London. Was it utterly rammed basically all day? You do the math.