The Great Escape, Brighton → FIND ←

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Sunday, 15 May 2011 5:35 pm
tags: brighton festivals greatescape livemusic

The Great Escape festival descended on Brighton this weekend. The festival, now in its 5th year, has grown rapidly and is now considered to be one of the best festivals for new music in Europe. I attended for the first time this year and was thoroughly impressed.

The quality of music for the price is amazing. A 3-day ticket costed around £50 and gave you access to 3 full days of music across 25+ venues around the city. The great thing about a new music festival, compared to an established festival full of household names, is it forces you to try out new music and more often than not, leave you pleasantly surprised. An open mind is a must, but if you've got one you will be rewarded greatly.

London band The Vaccines played out the Saturday night in the picturesque Corn Exchange, a large venue that the band managed to fill to the rafters with their inexplicably catchy breed of indie pop. Just before, in Coalition - a cosy seafront venue (host to Ratatat in December, last year) Austin band White Denim blew the audiences socks off with an hour-long set of psychedelic punky blues-infused rock. Unadorned, not a pair of skinny jeans in sight but bursting with original sounds and a modest air of confidence about them. I can see this band being big over in the UK in the next year. Just before them was new LA band Foster the People, who's set I caught the end of. Two songs, including the brilliant new single Pumped up Kicks, were more than enough to see this band has a lot of potential.

Other highlights of the weekend include Canadian alternative art-rockers Braids, San Franciscans EMA, and Danish singer-songwriter Oh Land.

I'm disappointed with the volume of music I ended up seeing over the two days, mainly due to alcohol consumption, but the quality was undeniable. A momentary black cloud at the end of the festival was the strict capacity allowances at the Corn Exchange. It meant I only got to see the final 20 minutes of The Vaccines' set. Despite not being on stage till 11.30 on the Saturday night, The Vaccines had festival goers queuing outside the venue on a 1-in-1-out basis, reportedly from 9 o'clock. When I eventually got in at midnight, I was outraged to see so much space in the venue still. It was, thankfully, short lived. But it's disappointing to know that some of the older venues have such strict policies with regard to numbers.

Still, it didn't dampen an amazing weekend of live music and frivolities in an amazing city. Definitely worth going to again next year