The Great Escape 2017: The 14 most exhilarating sets

It was another riotous weekend in Brighton - here's the pick of the bunch


Riding a wave of serious hype, the Norwegian singer had the most to gain from this weekend. Come Friday evening at Coalition – she showed little sign of any pressure, putting in a performance which indicates a performer ready to take the leap to pop-stardom. Read the full review here. (Thomas Smith)

Hare Squead

It’s hard to get a grip on what Irish hip-hop trio Hare Squead are actually all about. One song will sound straight out of the golden age of hip-hop, the next like thumping US trap, and set closer ‘If I Ask’ is a huge club banger, packed with big beats and catchy hooks. Regardless, at Shoosh on Friday evening, they executed all sides of their eclectic skill set with ease and personality – making themselves one of the scene’s most intriguing prospects. What will they do next? Whatever it is, we’re all in. (TS)

Aldous Hardling


You can hear a pin drop during Aldous Harding’s mid-afternoon set at One Church on Saturday. On the day of release for new album ‘Party’, the 4AD signing is in celebratory mood between songs. But from when the first notes of ‘Blend’ kick off her set, she’s an intense performer, widening her eyes like she’s just seen a ghost and delivering every line like some kind of primal chant. It’s impossible not to get caught up. (Jamie Milton)


In Great Escape terms, 3pm is pretty early. As hangovers begin to abate, it takes some serious noise to get the crowd going and cobwebs well and truly blown to oblivion. Step forward, Estrons, the Welsh punks who revel in making a right old racket. But it’s a good racket, clearly. Under red lights and navigating a dodgy drum kit – the four piece power through ‘I’m Not Your Girl’, ‘Drop’, with new track ‘Strobe Light’ providing plenty of punch. (TS)

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On their debut record, the south London troupe dabbled with shoegaze and indie – but on upcoming album ‘Universal High’, they’re a completely different beast. At their set at Horatio’s on Saturday afternoon – where they premiere almost all of the new record, laid-back guitar riffs are replaced with bombastic sax solos and trumpet parts as the group embrace West Coast soul and funk. None more so exciting than on the luxurious ‘Californian Light’. Reinvention may not have been wholly necessary, but it is certainly welcome. (TS)

Jay Som

California perfectionist Jay Som is responsible for every guitar, bass, drum and synth part on this year’s ‘Everybody Works’ album. Live at The Green Door Store on Friday night, she’s joined by a perfectly poised three-piece band. They’re as tightly wound as it gets, turning these intimate songs into fire breathing beasts, all showy guitar solos and slick musicianship. (JM)


Husky Loops

If you like to live life loud, then look no further than Husky Loops – a foundation of kraut-rock and psychedelic beats beneath an onslaught of howling vocals, feral riffs and pure madcap math-rock menace. Muse had better watch their throne, Husky Loops are coming for them. (Andrew Trendell)


Few bands had as victorious a weekend as Slotface. Playing at multiple events to capacity crowds, whether acoustic for Vevo, delivering a one-off night of karaoke bangers, or inspiring a rare but wild moshpit in Horatio’s at the edge of the Pier on Friday, this Norwegian invasion of artful indie and pop-punk mastery shows absolutely no sign of relenting. Debut album ‘Try Not To Freak Out’ is coming in September. Yeah, good luck with that (AT)


As we all know, Scandinavia’s reputation for churning out elite pop acts is embarrassingly good, but actually translating that into commercial success is trickier than you think. So standing out of the crowd is tough, but one that Norway’s Dagny is becoming rather adept at. Yes, her viral hit ‘Backbeat’ is the one that gets the crowd at Wagner Hall on Friday night going – but there’s so much more to be enamoured with. The powerful ‘Bullet’ shows a singer ready to embrace a more sophisticated side of pop, and indie-crossover ‘Ultraviolet’ continues to be an underrated gem, thought it’s upcoming single ‘Wearing Nothing’ that showcases Dagny’s shimmering personality and true star quality. (TS)

Middle Kids

“Thanks for letting us back after kicking us criminals back” say Aussie indie trio Middle Kids, halfway through their late night set at Sticky Mike’s on Friday evening. An impromptu history lesson might not have been on the cards for many punters, but a chance to see the Sydney band on these shores is a rare opportunity that people have not passed up, as the room fills up way before the band even step on stage. But when they do, it’s easy to see why. Airing cuts from their stunning debut EP, like the massive ‘90s enthused ‘Never Start’ and the dreamy slice of shoegaze ‘Your Love’, they prove themselves to not just be purveyors of soaring choruses and tightly constructed songs about “silly love things”, but to be an electrifying live act that few can rival. Sorry about the whole booting out thing, come back soon? (TS)

Miya Folick

LA musician Folick might have shot recognition via her ethereal electro-folk songs, but it’s becoming blatantly obvious that by mixing it up with some wickedly catchy garage-rock corkers – she’s putting herself forward as an elite songwriter and performer. Notably on last single ‘Trouble Adjusting’, in which she channels early PJ Harvey to make for a rollicking jolt of electricity to a sleepy Saturday crowd. (TS)

Off Bloom

There’s something about Scandinavians. It’s as if a knack for pop runs through their veins. Maybe there’s a genealogy of epic and choruses that you can trace through their DNA right back to the Vikings? Who knows. All we know is that the legacy lives on with the electro-pop rush of Off Bloom. Their joyful half hour of pure abandon saw every hook hit the spot, and you’d struggle to struggle to find a frontwoman more capable of leading you to the dancefloor. (AT)


Coming into her Saturday night showing, Welsh musician Casi still feels quite hard to get grip on. Early song ‘Golden Age Thinking’ was a trippy electro-R&B belter and tje fittingly-titled ‘The Beast’, with it’s womping bass lines and piercing chorus are early signs of the artist to come. Her Saturday night set showcased an artist not just able to flip between genres effortlessly, but remains devilishly exciting throughout. (TS)

Pom Poko

The weekend has to come to a close at some point, and so it’s left to Norwegian quartet Pom Poko to round out the festivities at Komedia Studios in the early hours. But they make easy work of it, blending Foals-like guitar riffs with frantic drumming in what proves to be the festival’s most fascinating set. Jazz Baby’ zips by at lightning speed and early single ‘It’s A Trap’, in all its angular and complex glory showcase a band like no other. (TS)

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