Of all the UK’s multi-venue festivals, Brighton’s The Great Escape is The Big One – a three-day, 30-venue whirlwind of buzz bands, beaches and breakthrough stars. For one May weekend the entire British music industry relocates to Sussex to don their tipping hats and try and predict the musical future – and with over 350 bands playing across the event there’s a veritable minefield of hype to navigate. So, with that in mind, here’s our pick of the ten bands you’d be a fool to miss…
AKA The Big Comeback. Whilst the festival may be primarily centred on emerging bands, surely Klaxons have more to prove than all of the newbies put together. After following their Mercury-winning, genre-starting, critically and commercially adored debut ‘Myths Of The Near Future’ with a prolonged delay and an almost universally-panned second effort (2010’s ‘Surfing The Void’), the quartet retired into relative hiding all over again to concoct forthcoming album three. Genius move or repeating the same mistake? We’ll soon find out. But if they pull it off, then this TGE show could mark the start of one of the most ahem, MDMA-zing returns of the year.
Wolf Alice, Coalition (Thursday, 20.15)/ Latest Music Bar (Thursday, 22.30)
They may still only have three proper singles under their belt, but London’s Wolf Alice have already proved themselves as an intriguingly diverse proposition. Whether through the melancholic, almost folky stylings of ‘Leaving You’, ‘Fluffy”s grungy outbursts or the sentimental, catchy melodics of ‘Bros’, Ellie Rowsell and co. are causing all kinds of intrigue.
Having cut their teeth repeatedly touring with Palma Violets, fellow Londoners Childhood are quickly showing they’re in no-one’s shadow. Early AA-side singles ‘Blue Velvet’ and ‘Bond Girls’ showed the band’s penchant for a hazy melody, but in soaring recent offering ‘Solemn Skies’ (potentially one of the best tracks of the year), the quartet clearly have something pretty special up their sleeves. Catch them in the small venues while you still can…
The last time we caught MT (upstairs at The Old Blue Last in one of the most ridiculously packed crowds we’ve been party to all year), they gave the entire audience individual flowers, dished out some of the most buoyantly joyful pop around and proceeded to woo us like old-fashioned gents. Whilst the likes of ‘Heaven’ might prove their way around a pop hook, this lot have to be seen to really be understood.
Three parts Horrors album one to one part Horrors album two, Brighton’s The Wytches come on like a howling, feral animal – as snarlingly heavy as they are entrancingly psych-tinged. Singer Kristian Bell’s cracked vocal will leave you beguiled and slightly creeped out in equal measure, whilst early single ‘Digsaw’ and newie ‘Beehive Queen’ are propelling behemoths in their own right. Plus, put a band on their home turf and you’re bound to be onto a winner.
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Mikal Cronin, Dome Studio Theatre (Friday, 23.30)
Ty Segall’s sometime bandmate swaps the bratty garage stomp of his day job for blissfully sweet pop hooks and other-wordly harmonies in his solo endeavours. New record ‘MCII’ pitches itself as a lovelorn, wide-eyed update of Brendan Benson’s wholesome stylings, whilst the melancholic likes of ‘Piano Mantra’ show the singer can span the stylistic and emotional spectrum. With Cronin in the UK for only a small string of dates, you’d be a fool not to get your fix.
It’ll be more than worth your while getting down to the festival early to catch this quartet. Having honed their live skills with a recent residency in East London, their reverb-drenched musings are sure to have some added clout by the time they hit Brighton. 2011’s ‘Crystal EP’ hinted at the Creation-era stylings (think The Jesus and Mary Chain meets Ride) they can muster up, but newer offering ‘Dromes’ (all melting harmonies and quietly heartbreaking crescendoes) proves that a couple of years of perfecting their craft have done the band a world of good. This lot have the potential to be the weekend’s surprise gem.
Like fellow American hype-bearers Parquet Courts, Allah-Lahs emerged out of seemingly nowhere to make a time capsule of an album plucked wholesale from a better time, but with enough spark to mark it out as more than merely nostalgia. Referencing the old-school spirit of the Stones and the more sepia-tinged edges of Love, the likes of ‘Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind)’ create an entire world, whilst the Californian’s last jaunt to the UK proved a rousing, sell-out success all round.
Temples, The Haunt (Friday, 22.15)
The best thing to come out of Kettering since probably ever, psych-dripping four-piece Temples are bound to provide one of the biggest treats of the weekend. They look like a glam-rock dream (check singer James Bagshaw’s sparkling eye make-up in the video to kaleidoscopic new single ‘Colours To Life’ below), flit between Bolan-esque sonic stomps and Byrds-meets-Beatles, harmony-laden psych stylings and have already been given by the nod by the likes of Noel G, Weller and countless other musical legends. What’s not to like?
Despite taking a while to get the momentum going, Drop Out Venus have already hinted that they have something special enough to prove worth the wait. ‘Love In Vein’ sees the trio, helmed by Iva Moskovich’s beguiling coo, at their most doe-eyed, whilst the likes of ‘Love + Desire’ are as understatedly tense as a fucked-up, angry Bjork. Now could be their time.