Nothing on the UK music calendar is quite like The Great Escape. Every May, 450 artists converge on Brighton’s pebble beaches and winding lanes from all corners of the planet. And unlike most festivals that boast about the diversity of their line-ups, The Great Escape really does put the effort into ensuring that they walk that walk, with some thirty different countries represented this year. In many ways, it’s all too much.

Yes, there are familiar names in the mix as always – Idles, Superorganism, The Go! Team and Nao amongst them this time around – but for every one of those there are dozens of unknown treasures to be discovered. What’s more, most of them play multiple shows across the weekend (there are more than thirty venues hosting bands, and that’s just the official ones). Away from the world of delegate conferences and networking though, it’s still the new bands that get us excited here at The 405, so we’ve put together a list of six bands that might help to give you at least some structure to your weekend plans.


The Netherlands is the lead international partner for the festival this year, and Dutch artists pepper the line-up (see also Pitou below, and check out Iguana Death Cult, Nana Adjoa and Pip Blom too, whilst you’re at it). This Amsterdam quartet have been bubbling over onto a lot of online outlets over the last 12 months, drawing the attention of one Stephen Malkmus in particular. “They are loud, young and not too snotty,” he says, and who are we to argue. Their second album ‘Naughty Naughty Violence’ is out now on Excelsior and will get its hooks into your subconscious if you let it.

See them at Komedia at 15:30 on Friday, and Horatios at 22:15 on Saturday.


A garage punk trio from Bury St. Edmonds, Gaffa Tape Sandy have been releasing singles and EPs over the last two years to increasingly fervent responses. Drawing on The White Stripes and Parquet Courts, they tour hard, with a long set of festival dates to come after The Great Escape this summer. They are recording their debut album between their travels too, so feel free to binge on their most recent single ‘Beehive’ as preparation for that announcement.

See them at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar on Thursday at 13:30 and 21:30.


Endorsed by everyone from Q to The Independent, Haley Heynderickx is a Portland, Oregon songwriter with a penchant for idiosyncratic storytelling. The songs that comprise her debut album ‘I Need to Start a Garden’ tell the story of her life, her background and her faith, but you would need a deciphering book to decode it. Luckily enough, none of that matters when her arrangements are as eccentric and her melodies as crystal as they are. Her Great Escape set is sure to be in high demand and odds are short that she’ll be one of the key names on lips as people leave Brighton.

See her at the Unitarian Church at 18:15 on Friday.


You may well be familiar with Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Her debut single ‘PONPONPON’ has been viewed 131 million times on YouTube, after all. No Japanese artist has more Twitter followers, she has recorded with Charli XCX and has sold out three world tours. And still, her profile in the UK is curiously low. The poster girl of Harajuku, the youth culture and fashion centre of Tokyo, her irrepressibly joyous bubblegum J-pop will be a God-sent pick-me-up for fading limbs on Friday night in Brighton, a glittering explosion of confetti and synths that will serve as the antidote to the self-serious guitar bands in surrounding bars.

See her at The Arch at 21:00 on Friday.


Another representative of the lead international partners The Netherlands, Pitou is an Amsterdam-born singer-songwriter of standout talent. Her ability to build an instrument out of harmonies harkens back to her classical training, her haunting voice setting her apart from the maelstrom. The Dutch national broadcaster 3VOOR12 has on multiple occasions singled her out for praise, particularly following her performance at the Eurosonic Festival in January this year. Her Great Escape performances double as the launch party for her new EP ‘I Fall Asleep So Fast’, so there’s no excuse to miss them.

See her at the Unitarian Church at 21:30 on Thursday and at Komedia at 12:45 on Friday.


Playing as part of the first ever Russian showcase at the Great Escape, Sado Opera are a queer performance group originally from St. Petersburg, although now based in Berlin. Led by The Colonel, their shows are flamboyant and extravagant, enough so to have caught the eye of Conan O’Brien, who jumped on stage with them during an appearance on his talk show. Their string of singles to date have been increasingly addictive and few in Brighton will seize their moment on stage more vigorously than Sado Opera.

See them at the Queens Hotel at 14:30 on Friday and at Bau Wow at 2:15 on Friday night/Saturday morning.