The Great Escape: The 15 brilliant acts that won this weekend

That was fun, wasn’t it? With plenty of sunshine and even better music, this year’s Great Escape might just be one of the best yet. NME was there, obviously, hopping around Brighton’s best bars, pubs and clubs watching the best new acts on the planet – so here’s what we saw, and bloody loved.

Haiku Hands

If albums from Confidence Man, Charli XCX and Sofi Tukker have been rattling around your head this year – give this Aussie trio a try. Their brand of hyperactive pop went down a storm across two sets this weekend, and may well just be the most fun you have at a gig this year. Read our full review here.

Snail Mail

Airing cuts from her upcoming debut album, ‘Lush’ 18-year-old Lindsey Jordan and her band have a presence like that of a seasoned pro at the festival’s new Beach House venue. With tight arrangements, gorgeous harmonies and perhaps The Indie Anthem Of The Year in the shape of ‘Pristine’ – their trajectory is now moving in a frighteningly alarming pace. Only a fool would let this lot crawl away from their attention.

Read More: Snail Mail on owning your old self, lo-fi, and her debut album ‘Lush’

Soccer Mommy

The same could be said for Nashville teenager Sophie Allison and her band Soccer Mommy – who released their latest album ‘Clean’ earlier this year and follow in the Beach House. But fat chance you won’t hear this lot coming. From the languishing ‘Last Girl’ to the grab-you-by-the-scruff-of-the-neck lessons on ‘Your Dog’, they’re an unmissable prospect. Judging by the songwriting that’s just the way they like it.

Bad Gyal

Down by the sea at Shooshh bar, there’s beach-ready dancehall bangers from Barcelona’s Bad Gyal. She takes inspiration from ‘90s pop stars like Britney Spears and channels that spirit through a pulsating, hip-shaking show that’s built around ‘Internationally’s addictive chorus.

ALMA

With a punk DGAF spirit and an intrinsic knack for a large than life banger, it’s no surprise that Finland’s ALMA has found fans in Charli XCX, Halsey and Lykke Li. She turns pop into art, but without the pretence. With a flash of green hair and a fucking good time, she dominates TGE’s Vevo Stage. Her debut album can’t come soon enough. (AT).

Pale Waves

After a gigantic US tour, the new music festival proved to be an apt opportunity for Manchester’s Pale Waves to assert their ambition for arena shows with a home crowd. Their show at Horatio’s was a forceful statement of intent, with new cuts like ‘Kiss’ and ‘18’ proving to pack the formula that made their magical early singles ‘There’s A Honey’ and ‘Television Romance’ such a success. Read the full review here.

Bülow

If you haven’t been totally enslaved by ‘Not A Love Song’ yet, then it won’t be long until this ambitious teen’s slick and sophisticated takes over the airwaves and seizes everyone in its path. Dominating Saturday’s Vevo Stage, Bülow won hearts with her danceable but inventive streetwise tales of the darkness, pitfalls and quirks that come with being young in 2018. (AT).

Great News

With the dreamy haze of The War On Drugs, the twisted psych-pop charm of MGMT and the open-road anthemics of Fleetwood Mac, Norway’s Great News provided the ultimate summer soundtrack to lift us out of the dank frustration of the shithole that is Sticky Mike’s basement. Their album ‘Wonderfault’ is a corker, but it’s on stage that their life-affirming charm really comes into its own. (AT)

Dylan Cartlidge

Down at Bau Wow, Stoke’s Dylan Cartlidge blends pysch-rock influences with a silky smooth flow during his riotous set. It’s early days, but he’s showing glimpses of a star performer – at one point freestyling about benders, clashing with Sam Fender and all of us going to get a tinnie together on the beach. N’aww.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

A superstar in her native Japan with three albums and countless viral hits to her name, the young Kyary Pamyu Pamyu was naturally one of the most hyped acts of the weekend. The sense among the crowd was half industry curiosity, and half hollering fans. Flanked by dancers dressed as a giant perfume bottle and perhaps some kind of cloud, she shrunk an arena-ready explosion of choreography and deviously infectious J-pop to unite the whole room in joyful abandon.  (AT)

Octavian

Octavian was of the weekend’s most hyped acts, and thankfully came good on the buzz. Playing what seemed to be the busiest set of the weekends at Patterns, the rising rapper proved to be a star performer, commanding the stage like few others can while dropping one of the year’s best tracks ‘Hands’.

Rascalton

Hailing from Glasgow’s sizzling hot music scene (Pleasure Heads, Baby Strange), Rascalton’s Green Door Store set is an absolute revelation. In many ways, they feel like The Clash reincarnated – all swagger and punk anthems – but there’s something distinctly unique about this utterly superb band.

Bakar

Following them was Camden’s very own Bakar. We caught him at Live At Leeds a couple weeks ago, but the addition of an extra member and a particularly rowdy Friday night crowd made for an atmosphere he’s built for. Pounding drums, chunky guitar riffs and indie bops for days – we might be looking at Britain’s next great rock’n’roll star.

Easy Life

These Leicester lads were probably not the only act playing saxes and trumpets this weekend, but they were undoubtedly the smoothest. Their set at The Haunt on Saturday showed one of the tightest bands we’ve seen in a long time, blending sensual slow jams with a genuine pop hit in the shape of ‘Pockets’. God, they make it look so effortless.

Additional reporting by Andrew Trendell