Perhaps the only problem with the Great Escape in Brighton is that all stages seem to be scattered casually around the hilly town.
You tend to walk miles around the twisting maze of lanes – squeezing through narrow alleys – just to hunt down your favourite artists that are hiding in tiny venues. So, armed with our schedules and a very strict sense of duty, we slogged on foot through the horizontal sheets of rain that seemed to be hampering our quest to get to all of the best places.
We started our weekend by hiding from a shroud of icy rain at the Blind Tiger public house. Here we spent some quality time with the mild dream pop outfit ‘Alvvays’ – who had flown all the way from Toronto, Canada. We plugged into their rich layers of warm resonance and we sunk into their overflowing acidity. Molly Rankin (singer) wooed the crowd – who swayed soggily.
We also saw the beautiful singer-songwriter Hannah Georgas at the Blind Tiger. She played her fizzy pop-work with grace, aplomb and style. And she regaled us with that gentle voice of hers that hinted of dewy mornings and long regrets.
Over at the Queens Hotel, we witnessed the Dutch indie band ‘Taymir’ as they played a decidedly 1960’s sounding rock show to a thrilled young audience. It was the first of two fantastic shows for this band. These four promising guys from The Hague (Netherlands) are still celebrating the successful release of their début album ‘Phosphene‘ – and it was evident that they are about to hit the big time very soon.
‘Misterwives’ over at Digital played their elegantly smooth dance/soul numbers to a smallish crowd. The performance by Mandy Lee (vocals) was high-toned yet ritzy. It was all thoroughly luxurious.
Later, we moved on to the Pav Tav where we caught the lovely fluctuating harmonies delivered by the ‘Daughters of Davis.’ Followed by the more robust – but no less fascinating – perky pop/gospel singing – from Philippa Hanna.
We got up early to see Luxembourg’s ‘Angel At My Table’ at The Bermuda Triangle. We got our timings wrong though – somehow – so we headed off to the Blind Tiger for our Nova Scotia Brunch. Here we enjoyed the velvety richness of Alberta / Ontario singer Gianna Lauren. She performed an admirable set for all of us – slightly rocky – full of charm and wonder.
Australian band ‘Stonefield’ were playing over at the Madeira Shelter. The performance from these four sisters was smouldering hot. Stonefield’s songs are summer-radio ready … boasting a floaty zestiness that is electrifying.
Power punk multi-instrumentalist and Patti Smith impersonator ‘Hana Piranha’ over at the “Animal Farm” showcase at The Tube later the same evening- played a set that combined both rare talent and sheer nerves.
The band’s performance tingled with tight-packed emotional under-currents. It was as if the band members were all about to explode … struggling to keep a complex series of torrid feelings under control.
Sneering Leeds-based trio ‘Beretta Suicide’ also played on the “Animal Farm” stage. Their gobbets of sleazy punkish theme-tunes were hard to ignore… infused with grit and sweaty impulses.
Then we headed over to the “Break Out West” BBQ at the Blind Tiger. To see a consignment of scrapyard funk delivered by Winnipeg’s ‘Crooked Brothers.’ This had to be one of the stand-out performances of the weekend. Musically perfect, with catchy compositions and impeccable stage-craft. It was immense fun. The ‘Crooked Brothers‘ were memorable.
In the afternoon we headed to “Beyond Retro” – the vintage clothing store on Vine Street, Brighton – where those lovely lads from the ‘Common Tongues‘ were curating a splendid afternoon of musical entertainment. The Bristol-based ‘Cadbury Sisters’ reminded us of the ‘Staves’ with their ornate harmonies and pitch-perfect precision. Their finely crafted songs were joyous.
Also at “Beyond Retro” we saw the talented and juicy Annaca [Espach ] who reminded us of Regina Spektor spliced with Carmen Miranda. Her tropical songs were hot and saucy and delivered with a spattering of jazzy electro rhythms.
The punk duo ‘Slaves‘ were on our ‘must see’ list. The Slaves are Isaac Holman (drums and vocals) – and Laurie Vincent (guitar and vocals) – Laurie was showing off his new guitar. They played an unpolished & unholy set at the Coalition – full of combined raw energy and feckless noise.
MØ – over at the ‘pop up’ VEVO stage at “The Warren” played a generous show. ‘Don’t Wanna Dance’ was icy cold with dark pain concealed around the edges. But it also purred along – holding our attention like a tiny clockwork toy heading for a dangerous edge. Her voice [Karen Marie Ørsted] was clear and draughty – it chilled us to the bone at times. Yet her gangly manner and smiley calmness pleased the crowd and charmed us all. It was a singularly spectacular show.
Kata, the lead singer, floated – crafted – and gurgled her way above and beyond most of the lyrics… taking the most subtle, twisting, turning, floating songs you can possibly imagine; Then spiralling them into something even bigger and much more fluorescent.
Sometimes, the tiny flakes of whirling sound created by ‘Mammút‘ flew around the room like enchanted gold dust. At other times, we heard huge stomping bear-shaped mounds that seemed to trudge towards us in great furry swathes. Mammút was a sensational act to experience.
Words & Images: @neilmach © 2014
Next Escape: 14 May to Saturday 16 May 2015