The Great Escape:Various venues, Brighton, Thursday May 17 – Saturday May 19

Twenty venues, 150 bands, and a thousand music industry liggers – it’s SXSW-on-Sea

Three square miles of chip-strewn, hen party-riddled lanes and dingy dirt pits, it’s a minefield of the good, the bad and the downright chancers. The Great Escape, these were your best moments…



Midweek at the Great British seaside isn’t quite São Paulo mid-heatwave, but as the CSS carnival arrives the Concorde is transformed into the tropics. Lovefoxxx though, couldn’t be cooler: hair stuck to her face, she dances like a mischievous octopus. “We would never be rude with you, Brighton,” she winks, popping soapy bubbles and cheekily converting ‘Let’s Make Love…’ into ‘Let’s Eat Fish’n’Chips’. The ultimate party band hit the ultimate party city. CSS-xcellent.



Art Brut, welcome back, it’s been too long. These postmodern popsters are immense tonight, and, of course, at their helm is Eddie Argos orating like an indie Stalin. “What disappoints me,” he announces, “is that the first thing you see when you walk into Virgin Records is computer games. Computer games. We must do something about this! Art Brut go!” And with those words they bounce through a pounding set of sensitive terrace chants, culminating in a frankly spectacular ‘Formed A Band’. This is the year that decision will pay off.



Under swathes of reverb Montreal’s The Besnard Lakes stroll out like troopers from a crash-landing Tardis. Or a battered tin phonebox, circa 1975. Steve Raegele wears amber Aviators and looks like a ’70s cop, or Noddy Holder’s stamp-collecting cousin. But what they might lack in clobber taste they make up for in tunes. ‘Devastation’ in particular – an icy, Pink Floydian, post-rock highlight – has us convinced we were born in the wrong decade.



These kids may be one smash hit away from being this country’s answer to No Doubt – the groovy pop punks for people who like to dilute their punk with pop – which is better than it sounds, and in Shingai Shoniwa we may have a new, indie Gwen Stefani. Tonight they’re kicking certain corners of this crowd into a state and that’s all down to Shingai, who couldn’t be a more obvious star if she was a million miles of burning gas. Pounding across the stage, she leaps into the crowd and flirts with photographers, all while dressed like a cyberpunk apache.



“Let’s ’av some agro,” demands Tom Clarke, “starting with you in the Fred Perry.” Saturday night, post-Cup Final – it couldn’t be better timing for Coventry’s premier bovver boys to whip TGE into ecstasy. Like lager-can grenades dropping from the ceiling, every, single, tune is an absolute belter. “Are we gonna ’av this?” he swaggers after bombastic closer ‘Had Enough’. And there’s only one answer. Manchester United and Chelsea might be able to fill Wembley today, but tomorrow it’ll be The Enemy.