Festival Preview: Ten Bands To See At The Great Escape 2016

on Wednesday, May 18, 2016
The Great Escape Festival (various venues across Brighton, 19-21 May '16) // Words: Saam Das

Back in 2006, I took a punt on a new festival called The Great Escape. Although not a great enough punt to pay for more than one night at a Travelodge in Brighton. Since then, The Great Escape has grown into the UK's finest festival for new music, and arguably one of the world's finest festivals. This year, they've grown even further, partnering with Raindance Film Festival for a new film strand.

As usual, there are dozens of bands on offer, through day and night. We've carefully handpicked some of our favourites below, although it's always worth remember at this kind of festival that if there are any particular bands that you'd like to see then try to turn up an act or so beforehand. And with so much talent in such a small area, we'd heartily recommend changing plans at the first sight of a long queue.

Al Bairre (Thursday, 3.15pm, Prince Albert)

I had the pleasure of watching this bouncy South African outfit at last year's Great Escape Festival, and I'm very pleased that they've been invited back. Returning to the intimate upstairs setting of the Prince Albert pub, they're all but guaranteed to get you dancing with their string-laden indie pop.

The Amazons (Thursday, 10.15pm, Hope & Ruin)

One of our tips for 2016, we've caught the Reading quartet several times live over the last year - each time delivering bigger performances to bigger audiences. Signing to Fiction Records was just the first step, catch them before they hit the top.

Ardyn (Saturday, 8pm, Coalition)

We caught the Pearson siblings and their live band at Live At Leeds, and were impressed by their haunting Daughter-esque set. The dark, club setting of Coalition should handsomely add to the atmosphere.

Day Wave (Saturday, 10pm, Horatios)

Another of our tips for 2016, Jackson Phillips has built up a rapid following, including Blink-182's Mark Hoppus, who appeared in a recent Day Wave music video. His woozy, lo-fi should work rather wonderfully on Brighton Pier.

Highasakite (Thursday, 11pm, Komedia)

An unexpected appearance on ITV talkshow 'Weekend' suggests that the Norwegians might just be about to break into the mainstream. Huge pop anthems like 'Keep That Letter Safe' and 'Golden Ticket' should have the late night Brighton crowd suitably enraptured.

Johnny Foreigner (Friday, 3.30pm, The Hub)

Considering The Great Escape strong reputation as one of the world's best festival for new music, it's perhaps surprising to see one of the UK's most established bands appear on the bill. But it's a welcome surprise. Expect plenty of energy and wit.

Meilyr Jones (Friday, 8pm, Sallis Benney Theatre)

There's something charmingly old fashioned about Meilyr Jones, and his orchestral-infused offerings stand apart from many of the newer bands that will be playing Brighton this week. The perfect tonic if you feel like you're listening to too much of the same old/new music.

Mt. Wolf (Thursday, 8pm, St Georges Church)

Two and a half years after they split up, it's pleasantly surprising to see all of Mt. Wolf at The Great Escape 2016 - admittedly in two separate outfits, with Kate Sproule's Bo Rocha also appearing on the bill. The new iteration of Mt. Wolf feels as strong as its previous incarnation, retaining the wide-eyed sense of wonder that made me fall in love with them in the first place.

Otherkin (Thursday, 8.30pm, Latest Music Bar / Friday, 1.15pm, Prince Albert)

We stumbled upon these Irish noiseniks at Live At Leeds earlier in 2016, and were staggered by their in-your-face brand of rock. Frenetic and fast-paced, vigorous and visceral, and other such appropriate groupings.

Owen Rabbit (Thursday, 2.50pm, Komedia Studio Bar / Friday, 20.45, Patterns Upstairs)

One of the most fascinating emerging solo artists around the world today, Australia's Owen Rabbit melds glitchy electronica with despairing vocals. Breakthrough track 'Denny's' impressed me enough to appear at #3 of my Top Tracks Of 2015, which saw one Soundcloud user aptly comment: "i can't remember the last time i got this excited about a song".

Find the full line up and more info at greatescapefestival.com.

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