The Great Escape Festival (19-21 May '16, Brighton) // Words: Saam Das
Following a successful first couple of days at the UK's finest new music festival, The Great Escape in Brighton, perhaps it was inevitable that our final day at the festival might fall short. That said, I still managed to catch some intriguing performances, although none that quite matched the might of Anna Meredith on day one or vigour of Meilyr Jones on day two.
First up on Saturday were Smerz in the unsurprisingly cramped upstairs room of The Prince Albert. The Norwegian duo's glitchy, swirling productions transported listeners a world away from a humid Saturday afternoon in Brighton. Admittedly, it was hard to escape the feeling that the music was a little out of place for the early start.
Over at The Black Lion, London-based Harper had no such concerns, with huge-sounding tracks like 'Blood Sweat Tears' feeling utterly timeless even in the relatively inauspicious setting - which saw staff weaving in and out of the crowd while balancing plates of food. Not that Harper (or indeed her live band) were even remotely distracted.
While The Black Lion may have been unique for its awkward stage-to-kitchen proximity, Canadian group Chastity delivered a unique performance in The Hub. Having heard just the solitary track (the emotive, piano-laden 'Peroxide') online, their Rage Against The Machine-esque aspirations came as a complete surprise. And perhaps not just to me, as frontman Brandon Williams decided to set up shop in front of the stage, in response to the sparse crowd being stood a significant distance from his band. A bold move, but one that seemed to alienate the audience.
Huddersfield-meets-London outfit Flawes subsequently came across as entirely inoffensive, and a suitable palate cleanser, following the preceding aggression. Unfortunately the late running of their set at the North Laine Brewhouse meant that I had to depart early, but their soulful synth-pop suggests bigger opportunities ahead.
I was one of the lucky ones to snag a ticket to the Amazon Secret Show, which saw Kaiser Chiefs play in 2014 and Paul Weller in 2015. This year was the turn of The Temper Trap, although they felt a tad undercooked in the Old Market. A failed attempt to see Day Wave later, and I was at the Paganini Ballroom for Rozi Plain. Where I waited. And waited. And waited.
Suffering from a string of technical difficulties, Rozi Plain eventually took to the stage over half an hour late, and sadly not worth the wait. Similarly, the dozens-strong queue outside the Corn Exchange for Mystery Jets seemed like an unnecessary wait, and I made the decision to see rising starlet WOLFFE at the Brighthelm. The London-based singer prowled across the stage, delivering her dark, electro-pop. Overall, another year, another terrific installment of The Great Escape.
Read more about our time at the festival here. Find more info about The Great Escape at greatescapefestival.com.