We started the day still buzzing with the excitement of the night before, trying to explain to the other B&B guests that the destruction of a chandelier is a very exciting thing, I guess you had to be there… To the music then, the day really began with Said the Whale over at the Canadian Blast Showcase. I’m not saying that I love Canadian music more than anything else in the world but I do seem to spend an awful lot of time lost in their music. Said the Whale are a chirpy bunch, much like , who I talked about in the review of Thursday at TGE. Their songs are catchy and inoffensive but thinking back I cannot remember one hook or lyric, that’s not to say that I didn’t really enjoy their music, I did. It’s just not got any staying power within my brain. Unlike Hey Rosetta, who’s songs kept appearing in my head inexplicably, even during the sets of other bands. I won’t mention any names. On record they specialise in good ol’ fashioned honest rock songs, but see them live, and those same songs sound like gods orchestra. The strings add an extra dimension to an already punchy guitar sound, and the bass is instantly more funky and defined within the mix, but the real gem is Tim Baker’s voice. Strong enough to fight an ox it finds interesting melodies over the top of every song and at least three times had the hair standing on my arms. I would recommend this band to anyone. Emotionally engaging but still lots of fun to see. We made a quick jaunt outside to see Seekae play a short set in the afternoon sunshine. As their three heads bobbed together we came to terms with our hangover, embracing it. The band blend atmospheric keyboard soundscapes and interesting glitch beats. Their songs have an ability to crawl under your skin and make your body move. Not in a bouncing around pulling shapes way, more of an inability to stay still. Remember when they first coined the term IDM and it meant Intelligent Dance Music, yeah that. Check them out. Braids have been getting hype for what seems like for ages. That’s the opening line of every review of them from The Great Escape. Braids are a real buzz band. Forget that. Braids are a really good band. Just watching them set up hurts my brain. To make the noise that they make apparently takes about one thousand jack leads. It shows how their sound has developed over the few years since they left high school. Little looks between members show how close they are as people and such genuine warmth is touching to see. Lemonade is the obvious big tune from the album, and it is received well by the audience, which has increased massively since Hey Rosetta’s set. Must be the buzz. All shoulders are shaking by the time they are repeating, “All we wanna do is love”. The buzz, it seems is well deserved, far more capable live than shows on the record, Braids music is muscular and danceable in the big bits and all encompassing in the drone-y bits. Overall this is a band that belongs on a stage. Although maybe not on the stage of a Canadian showcase seeing as they are all from Kansas. Malpas were first on the evening’s bill at Concorde 2, one that I was determined to see all of, as a fanboy of next three bands. You have been warned. Unfortunately, I missed the first few songs whilst on an ill-advised burrito hunt, also discovering that the 5-minute walk described in the programme takes at least 15 whilst trying to eat a burrito. Apologies if you saw me trying. It seems Malpas are part of the new wave of bands that blend the ever-popular folk trend with electronica, and they do it very well, I was drawn into the set and thoroughly enjoyed it. Finding out they were unsigned was a shock. There clearly should be more backing for bands trying interesting new things. The set ends too soon, or maybe I arrived too late. Before I knew it Dry the River were taking the stage, their touching brand of folk is much more powerful in a live setting. I certainly didn’t expect any of them to be wearing a t-shirt of The Bronx, let alone feel like rocking out as I did during a couple of numbers. The band is clearly on the rise and their star is shining bright of late. Looking confident as hell during their allotted half hour. We get to see a greatest hits set, which, for a band without an album release to its name says it all. Talking of confidence, The Antlers played a set comprising of material only from their new album Burst Apart. A ballsy move considering that it had only just been released and the emotional impact that Hospice had on their many fans. Needless to say, songs like “I don’t want love” hit home, and the crowd were enthralled. The songs speak of their newfound confidence. Each melody is more pronounced and the lyrics are easier to digest. Even trouble with a vintage Korg synth was soon glossed over and the band stamped their dense sound all over the consciousness of every living thing in the building. It’s hard not to be drawn in. With many people leaving the Concorde to head back into town and not as many arriving it felt like a strange time for Okkervil River. They have established themselves over the years as a great live band and a purveyor of thoughtful, literate indie music, but you get the impression that the masses of the Great Escape would rather be watching Yuck than hanging around with the older guys and their stories. Luckily Will Sheff is one of those thoroughly entertaining frontmen who make you forget about everything else, spitting the words to “Unless it kicks” with extra venom and a knowing wink, “…from some mid-level band”. They stick to newer material only going as far back as “Black Sheep Boy” to play “For Real”. It’s a wise move to play a set that you are comfortable with but they are all seasoned musicians, and the set is beautifully constructed. It’s a credit to them that Sheff can construct a overall narrative to a set of songs picked from different albums. Although it is quietly disconcerting if a little surreal to see a band singing intelligently about the wider music scene, and their place in it, with a heap of cynicism and another gulp of whiskey. And with that, it was over, walking down the seafront you realise how lucky the people of Brighton are to have so many great venues at their disposal. The Great Escape is not just a great advert for music but the city of Brighton and we are left counting the days until next year...
Top Three Bands of Saturday by Ryan Barham
Guillemots The Great Escape’s text service and twitter feed informed the crowds that Guillemots were to play a street gig next to the wine cellars up by the train station, and so many people took note. They all made their way to a normally quiet side-street to see what is really a huge band to play something so out-of-the-ordinary. Not that the band seemed phased one bit, playing a stripped-down set with two songs from new album ‘Walk The River’ and a poignant ‘Made Up Lovesong #43’ that lightened up a sky just starting to cloud over. This was the best of the special street gigs that make The Great Escape so unique, although Cloud Control were impressive the previous day. The Antlers Beset by technical problems and a crowd that just would not shut up, it is to The Antlers’ credit that their shortened set still remained one of the highlights of the weekend. The entire performance was drawn from the frankly incredible new album ‘Burst Apart’, and the band have drafted in an extra guitarist to capture more of the incidental sounds that they specialise in so well on record. The closing ‘Putting The Dog To Sleep’ is the kind of song that gives you shivers, especially in the live environment. This and the likes of ‘Hounds’ are extraordinary pieces that lose none of their majestic qualities live. Art Brut They’ve always been a lot of fun live and this performance was no different. Eddie Argos still asks: “Are you ready Art Brut?” and remains the king of self-depreciation,. They opened with a short gambit of ‘Paradise City’ before blasting into old favourite ‘Formed A Band’ and then playing a song all about Axl Rose. Eddie still does whatever he wants, be it telling the crowd how upset he is that he missed Doctor Who, updating the lyrics of certain songs to fit with what has happened in the time since it was recorded (‘Emily Kane’), or making the crowd sit down while he chastises the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam for charging him “12 Euro 50” to see some ‘Modern Art’ before demanding they all “rock out” with him. And everyone does as they’re told – proving just why Art Brut are such a national treasure.