If you’re a new music lover and you’re not traipsing down to Brighton’s infamous Great Escape festival this weekend, we feel for you. It’s the place where buzz is built and hype cemented, but more importantly, a load of fantastic new artists get a chance to perform in front of dedicated music fans, like you dear reader.
We’re going to be heading down with bells and whistles on, and we’re furiously piecing together a plan of action to see as much as possible. If you’re in a similar position and are stuck with some tough decisions, we’ve painfully extracted just ten names from the bulging lineup we think you’d be daft to miss this weekend. See you down the front…
Girl In Red
Who: Rising Norwegian lo-fi pop icon.
Where: Thursday: The Deep End – Beach Site, 6:15pm / Friday: Komedia, 8:15pm
Why: She’s a life changer. Speaking to NME last week, the artist revealed that she “has people messaging me all the time to say like ‘yo, I came out to your song.’’” Her anthems, with a focus on queer inclusivity, are refreshing and exciting with the best still on the horizon. A great opportunity to witness an artist destined to become a cult figure imminently.
Key track: ‘Dead Girl In The Pool’
dead girl in the pool., a song by girl in red on Spotify
Who: One of South London’s most charismatic new voices.
Where: Thursday: Hideout, 8:30pm / Friday: Patterns, 1:30am (Saturday morning)
Why: Having collaborated with plenty of his peers, this weekend is a fine chance to see the playful artist stand on his own two feet with his energetic and chaotic live performances.
Key track: ‘Buck Me’
Who: London-based quintet who meld post-punk, electronic stylings and beyond for a unique listen.
Where: Friday: Hideout, 1:45pm + Horatios, 9:15pm
Why: One of the most hyped bands in the country right now, partly due to their breakout single ‘Houseplants’, but mainly because of their unbelievably tight live show. It’s an exhilarating and breathtaking onslaught of funky basslines, intense vocals and zippy guitars. Miss them at your peril.
Key track: ‘Houseplants’
Who: Singer, producer and all-round talented electronic artist.
Where: Friday: The Deep End – Beach Site, 8:15pm
Why: Her last two singles have been stone-cold bangers. 2018’s ‘Started Out’ utilises a bassline catchier than freshers flu, while ‘About Work The Dancefloor’ is a pop heavyweight that could go toe-to-toe with Robyn’s biggest belters. Oh, and her self-titled debut album still slaps. This is going to be a big one.
Key track: ‘About Work The Dancefloor’
Who: Australian dream-pop outfit to lose your mind to.
Where: Thursday: Komedia, 2:50pm + One Church, 9:30pm
Why: ‘Goodbye Luya’ is an irresistibly catchy 6-minute wig out, and judging from footage taken at their live show, we could be in for a smattering of mind-melting sets across the weekend.
Key track: ‘Goodbye Luya’
Who: One of Britain’s best rappers and most complete artists.
Where: Thursday: The Deep End – Beach Site, 10:15pm
Why: Her third album ‘GREY Area’ is already being noted as one of the year’s finest records, and rightly so. It finds the 25-year-old on blistering form, deftly toeing the line between ego-splitting bars and gooey R&B jams. Her live performance will no doubt build on the album’s already stellar reputation.
Key track: ‘Selfish’
Who: Sydney group who make laser-sharp choruses.
Where: Friday: Komedia, 7:15pm + Hideout, 10pm / Saturday: The Dive Bar – Beach Site, 2:50pm
Why: Their new EP, titled, er, ‘EP2’ is much more creative and groundbreaking than the name suggests. ‘Stingray’ is a powerful slice of garage-rock, while ‘Sad Wax’ and ‘Insomnia’ showcase the band’s more expansive songwriting. They’re out and about all weekend long, so catch them at least once – it’s going to be a hoot.
Key track: ‘Stingray’
Who: Illinois-based country laced with gallows humour.
Where: Friday: Prince Albert, 7:15pm / Saturday: Three Wise Cats, 12:15pm
Why: Their debut album ‘Curve of The Earth’, 15-years in the making, is an emotional and brutally honest insight into Sam Swinson’s past addiction and subsequent recovery. It’s stunning on record, but hits even harder in person.
Key track: ‘Runnin’
- Read more: Ohtis: How ‘Curve Of Earth’, eight darkly beautiful country songs about heroin, took 15 years to make
Who: Bedfordshire bedroom-pop prodigy.
Where: Saturday: Three Wise Cats, 1:15pm + Patterns, 8pm
Why: There’s tons of potential in this new kid on the block. Between juggling classes and homework, he’s found time to pen some of the year’s catchiest tracks, namely the wobbly ‘Stop Thinking (About Me)’, which builds on his Mac DeMarco-stylings. This could be the start of something special, here…
Key track: ‘Stop Thinking (About Me)’
Who: Electronic duo from Bristol who make club bangers to mosh to.
Where: Friday: Green Door Store, 00:15am (Saturday morning)
Why: Their 2019 debut single ‘Chamber’ and its flip-side ‘Satan II’ are as bruising and gnarly as the name suggests. They’re currently locked in for a single show at the Green Door Store in the wee hours of Saturday morning and it’s probably going to be absolutely feral.
Key track: ‘Chamber’
Stay tuned to NME.com for full coverage from The Great Escape this weekend
The best new music released across the globe, curated by NME's New Music Writer Thomas Smith