Festival Preview: The Great Escape 2012 [Ten Bands To Watch]

on Wednesday, May 09, 2012
The Great Escape (Brighton, 10-12 May '12) // Words: Saam Das

There are quite literally hundreds of bands playing at this year's The Great Escape, the self-confessed leading new music festival in Europe. With that in mind, we've narrowed down a list of just ten recommended acts to catch across the three days of the festival, as well as throwing in some more general tips seeing as this is the third time we've been down to Brighton. Keep reading, and come along.

I've neglected to include recent Camden Crawl picks like BASTILLE, Swiss Lips and Clock Opera, each of whom are well worth seeing in Brighton but with The Great Escape's focus on seeing new bands, here I'll be suggesting choices who I haven't the chance to see yet. Others like Mammal Club (Fri, 17.30, Queens Hotel) are playing Alternative Escape events, run alongside the main festival - worth investigating if you don't have/fancy buying a ticket for the whole shebang.

As for general tips, the main one I can suggest is to do check the schedule in advance and do a little bit of planning. If you plan on seeing bands in different venues, check how far they are away from each other and if you are desperate to see a band then make sure you get there early. Queues are almost inevitable but the best way to beat them is to stay at one venue per afternoon/evening session - choose wisely. Keep an eye out on the likes of Twitter and the text service for any schedule changes. Similarly, a free app is also available


Alt-J (Fri, 21.15, Blind Tiger)
One of our ones to watch for 2012, despite their silly name, Jack described them as a mix between Wild Beasts and Bombay Bicycle Club with a "beautifully haunting and incredibly hypnotic sound". Hotly anticipated debut album, 'An Awesome Wave', arrives on 28 May.

The Big Sleep (Sat, 13.00, The Hope)
For those about to rock, we salute you. The Great Escape generally caters toward more of the indie/electro crowd, and it's a rarity for more rock leaning bands to appear on the bill. Here are one of the few on offer, a thrilling American trio, with an appropriately timed new album ('Nature Experiments') out this week. I imagine they'll be bringing the same levels of energy to their live performance.

BOY (Sat, 21.00, Unitarian Church)
An act I'd planned to write an age ago, as is always the way. The Hamburg-based duo recently released their debut album in the UK, and I presume it's full of somewhat-leftfield-but-nonetheless-catchy-pop like the free download of 'Skin' below. Let's have a bit of a dance down by the seaside.

Grimes (Fri, 20.45, Digital)
A hit at SXSW 2011, she is a shining example of a buzz band actually managing to go on to bigger things and it'll be interesting to see if the likes of POND, Haim and Wild Belle (who are all playing this festival) can follow in the footsteps of Claire Boucher and the success of her experimental pop.

I Ching (Thurs, 19.15, Sticky Mikes Frog Bar)
The first signees to Best Fit Recordings, spawned from The Line Of Best Fit website, this London group offer beguiling synth-pop. Their current sound is best seen on their debut single on the Best Fit label, 'It's Me'/'Drive', but the less avant-garde song below ('Promise') is harder to find and equally worth a listen.

Madeon (Sat, 22.30, Corn Exchange)
Already hyped as a teenage prodigy, this French producer burst onto the scene with his live mash-up entitled 'Pop Culture', melding 39 tracks into a brilliant electro-pop smash. Does he have more in the (record) bag? We certainly hope so.

MONEY (Fri, 20.30, Horatio's)
Following in fellow Mancunian outfit WU LYF's mysterious footsteps but infuriatingly upping the game by fluidly changing their band name every so often (other guises include Meke Menete, Youth, Books, and probably more), they have now finally settled on a name. Hazy lo-fi.

Oliver Tank (Thurs, 18.00, The Hub + Fri, 12.30, Volks + Sat, 19.45, Blind Tiger)
Another of our tips for 2012 but moreover, my most anticipated act of The Great Escape this year. I have high hopes Oliver's glorious James Blake inspired electronica will be as jaw-dropping live as it is on record.

Sunless 97 (Thurs, 19.45, Psychosocial Basement + Fri, 23.45, Audio)
For me, this band is something of a curiosity - the latest project of Edward Leeson, perhaps better known to many as Edward Larrikin. I loved Larrikin Love and was excited about his follow up solo effort The Pan I Am, which seemed to disappear slowly into the ether. This is his latest outing, making hit-and-miss kaleidoscopic electronica, and collaborating with the likes of Kwes.

Swim Deep (Fri, 19.15, Psychosocial Basement + Fri, 21.00, The Loft)
One of a clutch of exciting new bands from the Midlands area, the quartet attracted attention earlier in the year with 'King City', their tribute to a member of Warpaint. That track is coming out on Chess Club, who put out early releases by Mumford & Sons and White Lies. Not that Swim Deep are anything like those bands, as you can tell by the b-side below, opting for more of a sun kissed vibe.


Antlered Man - Sat, 21.15, The Hope
BASTILLE - Thurs, 23.15, Green Door Store
Clock Opera - Fri, 20.30, The Dome
Duologue - Thurs, 21.45, Prince Albert + Fri, 14.30, The Warren
Foxes - Fri, 22.45, Psychosocial Basement
Mojo Fury - Sat, 20.00, Concorde 2
NZCA/Lines - Fri, 19.30, Queens Hotel + Fri, 23.30, Sticky Mike's
Oliver Tank - Thurs, 18.00, The Hub + Fri, 12.30, Sticky Mike's + Sat, 19.45, Blind Tiger
Peace - Thurs, 20.30, Horatios + Fri, 23.00, The Loft + Sat, 21.15, Blind Tiger
Spector - Fri, 22.45, Corn Exchange
Stealing Sheep - Sat, 17.30, The Hydrant + Sat, 21.45, Life
Swim Deep - Fri, 19.15, Psychosocial Basement + Fri, 21.00, The Loft
Swiss Lips - Fri, 15.15, The Warren
Tribes - Thurs, 21.00, The Loft
Vinyl Jacket - Sat, 12.15, The Haunt

For more info and tickets, head to escapegreat.com.

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