Festival Preview: Ten Must See Acts @ The Great Escape 2023

on Thursday, May 11, 2023

The Great Escape, various venues across Brighton (10-13 May 2023) // Words: Saam Das

We’ve been fans of The Great Escape festival since attending its inaugural edition in 2006, and it's become an important part of the UK music festival calendar ever since. Largely eschewing huge artists, Brighton's sprawling multi-venue festival has its eyes firmly on “the next big thing”, and in conjunction with its industry-led events, has attracted comparisons to Austin’s South By South West. The likes of Adele, Bastille and Haim have all played early gigs at the festival, and here we have ten acts that we hope may reach similar heights in future:

Alice Longyu Gao (Friday, 8.15pm, Komedia Basement + Fri, 12.00am, The Hope And Ruin)

We just caught ALG on their first tour date in London as part of their new world tour, and it was quite the experience. Having previously collaborated with Dylan Brady of 100 gecs, ALG is now striding out on their own wild and provocative warpath towards leftfield pop domination from China, by way of New York.

Anna B Savage (Fri, 3.30pm, Queens Hotel + Sat, 12.15pm, Patterns Upstairs + Sat, 3pm, Komedia Basement)

We’ve been keeping tabs on Anna B Savage since her debut EP dropped way back when in 2015, with its shades of Laura Marling and Wild Beasts. A debut album finally arrived in 2021. Produced by William Doyle of East India Youth game, ‘A Common Turn’ saw Savage receive wide critical acclaim, with a new album dropping earlier this year.

Hak Baker (Friday, 10.30pm, Komedia Basement)

Hak Baker’s East London roots seep through their musical career, as does their grime background, perhaps best displayed on the lilting coming-of-age acoustic piece ‘Conundrum’. We actually came across Baker thanks to Adam Buxton’s BUG video breakdown of ‘Cool Kids’ so hat tip to Buckles!

James Ellis Ford (Saturday, 6.30pm, Chalk)

Not satisfied with being a member of Simian, Simian Mobile Disco, and The Last Shadow Puppets, as well as notably producing Klaxons’ Mercury Prize-winning debut album, James Ellis Ford has now stepped into the solo musical arena. The glimpses of new material we’ve heard have an off-kilter and experimental tinge generally more distinct from Ford’s existing body of work.

Jessica Winter (Friday, 7.43pm, Revenge)

London-based artist Jessica Winter received a well earned signal boost from Metronomy last year with an appearance on their ‘Small World’ Special Edition album. Game recognises game. Winter’s avant-garde pop has the potential to breakthrough in a similar manner to Rina Sawayama.

The Last Dinner Party (Thursday, 8.30, CHALK)

Unsurprisingly, The Great Escape usually features some “buzzy” appearances – we vaguely recall The Spinto Band and Tapes’n’Tapes being the acts du jour at the 2006 edition, for example. Brixton five-piece The Last Dinner Party are the latest band to whip up some hysteria, with debut single ‘Nothing Matters’ produced by the aforementioned James Ellis Ford.

Master Peace (Friday, 9.25pm, Shooshh)

With every release, it feels like we’re taking another step through Master Peace’s ever-evolving musical journey. Following their freestyle rap beginnings, the Londoner has steadily dipped their toes in different directions. Last year saw a collaboration with The Streets, and 2023’s ‘Peace Of Mind’ EP sees influence from the likes of Bloc Party and Arctic Monkeys. Arguably the best thing from Morden since Good Shoes and Saams Function Hall.

The Murder Capital (Friday, 10.15pm, Amazon New Music Stage )

We’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the intense live show of Irish post-punkers The Murder Capital previously, and anticipate more of the same on Brighton’s seafront. Second album ‘Gigi's Recovery’ dropped earlier this year to strong reviews.

Sans Soucis (Thursday, 2.15pm, Patterns Upstairs + Friday, 8.15pm, Komedia Studio )

It's heartwarming to hear that Congolese-Italian producer Giulia Grispino’s stage name of Sans Soucis, meaning “without worry”, came from her grandmother’s nickname for her as a child. We’re pleased that Grispino’s music carries on the sentiment, with a carefree disregard for musical genre boundaries. Soul, dance, jazz – it’s all to play for here.

YONAKA (Friday, 10.30pm, Chalk)

We’re still patiently waiting for alt anthem ‘Run’ from YONAKA’s debut ‘Heavy’ EP to get the big sync that we know it deserves. In the meantime, the Brighton band signed to a US deal with Fueled By Ramen (Fall Out Boy, Twenty One Pilots etc) and continue to amass millions of streams.

The Great Escape Festival runs across various venues in Brighton between 10-13 May 2023. Stage times subject to change. Find more info at greatescapefestival.com.

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