The Great Escape takes over Brighton for three days from Thursday (May 14), with hundreds of bands descending on the south coast seaside town to get wrecked and play a few shows by the famous pier. Celebrating it’s 10th birthday this year, TGE has become known as the UK’s answer to SXSW, and rightly so – if you want an early chance to see which bands are likely to own the upcoming festival season, this is it.
With that in mind, we’ve combed through the line-up to bring you the 10 new(ish) bands you can’t afford to miss. Check back throughout the festival and next week for NME’s report on who aced it.
Show: Patterns (Downstairs) 15th May 11:15pm
This lot (pictured above) sound like Bad Brains annihilating Death Grips, and caused a storm at SXSW back in March. Last night they took London, playing an incendiary show at Electrowerkz which was all kinds of crazy. Skater kids moshed while some of grime’s elite stood at the back, and I even caught sight of Arni from The Vaccines bopping his head along to them at one point. It was one of the loudest shows I’ve ever been to, and most enjoyable too.
Show: The Corn Exchange 15th May 10:15pm (NME Show)
A personal favourite from SXSW, we booked Sunflower Bean to play an NME showcase at TGE straight after seeing them kill it at Austin’s best DIY venue, Hotel Vegas. They’re perfect in those kind of venues (speaking of which, as well as their show above, be sure to check them out at Bleach on Saturday as part of the Alternative Escape), and live they reminded me of seeing Tame Impala back in 2010, when they were drenched in distortion and giving thrilling glimpses of how huge their potential was. Sunflower Bean are kind of like that, only with songs that lean heavily on glam while also fleetingly recalling classic 80s pop – I’m thinking everything from The Cure to ’99 Red Balloons’ here. Since SXSW I caught them at London’s Lexington and, amazingly, they’ve got even better live. There’s a new single coming next week but until then listen to ‘2013’ from their debut EP.
NME’s Secret Guests At The Haunt
Show: The Haunt 15th May Midnight
We’re putting on Radar shows every evening at our out’n’out favourite venue in Brighton, The Haunt. The bill has been handpicked by me, and features the best breaking bands around. Deep breath…
– Courtney Barnett’s touring buddy Fraser A Gorman
– London DJ bros Formation
– Sydney trio Little May
– Former Late Of The Pier man Sam Dust (Eastgate)’s sublime new project LA Priest
– UK indie’s most messed-up and exciting new band Yak
– Canadian Velvets-obsessive’s Heat
– XL/Godmode Records wonderkid Shamir
– and Gengahr, who’s guitarist John Victor plays like he’s Graham Coxon’s surrogate son
Friday night at The Haunt, though, is one I’m particularly looking forward to – a mammoth seven-band bill comprised of America’s absolute best garage bands right now (The Garden, Bully, Wand), Copenhagen grungers Yung, all-girl London newbies The Big Moon and ‘the new Jamie T’, Rat Boy. Heading it up and playing at Midnight are a total a-list band who you don’t want to miss out on. In previous years, we’ve had Palma Violets, Fat White Family and Peace play this slot and every gig has been crazy. This year is our biggest band yet, so get down early.
Tobias Jesso Jr
Show: Dome Studio Theatre 15th May 10:15pm
In case you haven’t been won over by Tobias’ album, he’s been opening his sets with a cover of Big Star’s ‘Thirteen’ recently – what’s not to love about that? Watch a version below.
Mumdance & Novelist
Show: Coalition 14th May 10pm
Grime’s ascension to the mainstream is one of 2015’s wonder stories in music, and this summer Skepta, Stormzy et al are surely gonna reap the benefits at festivals. You can see the former at TGE, but my money’s on Mumdance & Novelist’s headline slot at the XL night at Coalition to be one of the must-see shows.
The Magic Gang
Show: Green Door Store 15th May 9:15pm
Along with Black Honey, these are the best new Brighton band around, so the festival – a homecoming of sorts – should be something special. Last year they played house parties and little dive bars all around the town, including one place where the whole band (drummer aside) ended up crowdsurfing at the same time. Expect Friday’s Green Door Store show to be an industry-heavy clusterfuck (they’re still unsigned), pepped up by their own fanbase keeping things interesting.
Show: Komedia Studio 16th May 1:30am
Newcomer Georgia has played with Kate Tempest and Juce in the past, and her solo breakout single ‘Move Systems’ is a total studio masterpiece that takes in gamelan drums and a hefty dose Death Grips/MIA angst. Check out the video interview below for more on that:
Show: The Corn Exchange 16th May 6:45pm (NME show)
One of Rough Trade’s latest signings, Irish act Girl Band’s shows remind me of those early Factory Floor gigs, except with more aggression, less morals and a full-on willingness to lose it completely. I’ve seen them go from playing tiny spit’n’sawdust venues in London to sizable packed sweatboxes in the States, but never anywhere as big as the Corn Exchange. They’re one of the most confident, shit-kicking bands around though, so because of that I’m expecting them to blow the roof off the place.
Show: Corn Exchange 15th May 11pm (NME show)
It’s been years since I’ve seen an indie band divide people like DMA’s do. Defiantly influenced by Britpop – from their Kappa hats to their choruses – the Australian band were a big hit at CMJ last year. Since then they’ve supported The Courteeners and collected their various recordings into one batch to be released on their new label Infectious (Alt J, These New Puritans).
Show: Prince Albert 16th May 8pm
Nobody really knows who this Scottish act are yet, so TGE is the perfect opportunity to see what all the (industry) fuss is about. There are rumours they used to be a cheesy chart band, but on the strength of their Soundcloud material, which faintly recalls post-punk and Bowie, there’s much more depth to them than naysayers might assume.