The Great Escape Festival @ venues across Brighton (14-16 May '15) // Words: Saam Das
"I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes...". WET. WET. WET. Within six minutes of getting off the train at Brighton station, I found myself bleeding from an umbrella battered by the inclement weather. Thankfully, things got better. And not just in terms of stemming blood loss. Camping out in the relatively arid Green Door Store, the combination of free pastries and the bouncy indie-pop of Toronto's HIGHS immediately raised spirits.
Not-quite-Egyptians CAIRO followed, bringing a great deal of energy to the intimate surroundings. Considering their orchestral element, CAIRO's sound is surprisingly heavy, but the set feels dynamic throughout - particularly thanks to frontman Nate Daniels. The effortlessly cool K.I.D played next, matching a deliberately distant and knowingly witty demeanour with a series of terrific grungey pop songs.
I wandered past the youthful Frankie Furlow's acoustic Secret City Session - more on those Sessions another time. I headed over to the grandiose setting of the Paganini Ballroom, within the Old Ship Hotel, for the debut UK show of New Zealand's latest rising star Thomston. An assured performance built on the smooth grooves of the likes of 'Expiry Date' led one middle aged gentleman to joyously dance along for the entire set. (I was suitably impressed too.)
A dwindling of acts means that I take the option of the unknown-to-me Neon Saturdays in The Hub. Waiting to allow some other punters in before I attempted to enter, I was subsequently greeted with the dreaded phrase: "sorry, we're at capacity". Thankfully, I only had to queue in the rain for a few minutes before catching the Latvians' brand of stadium rock in the quite ridiculously tight venue.
After stopping off for a cup of tea in the Red Roaster Cafe, which I later discovered was where an emerging Adele played in 2007, I then went off on a typically lengthy odyssey to an Alternative Escape show in order to catch CURXES at Bleach. Technical difficulties mean that they are delayed, but bolstered by their new live drummer and punchy newer tracks like 'What You Want', they deliver a storming set - Roberta Fidora in particularly dominant form.
In all my years of going to The Great Escape, I'd never actually seen a show in the Unitarian Church. I rectified that by checking out Northerners Lake Komo next, whose genre-defying sounds surprised me considering I was expecting more traditional folk fare. Worth keeping an eye on this lot.
Another long walk followed, with a visit to The Old Market. A worthwhile trip however as I caught Josef Salvat in his pomp. His pop sounds should see success sooner rather than later, although moments where he eschewed the rest of his live band to perform solo stalled momentum somewhat.
I headed back to the heaving Green Door Store to catch Irish noiseniks All Tvins, getting just about enough of a view of the band to enjoy their set - despite the best efforts of a lairy bunch, who preferred to spend the time jostling about and shouting out their names. So weak. A neat lesson to finish off day one: enjoy yourself at gigs, but not to the detriment of others. Or simply put, don't be a complete twat.
Find more info at greatescapefestival.com.