The best new bands at The Great Escape
Our discoveries from the emerging talent showcase
Get me out of here! Crowds at The Great Escape
Daniel Fahey on 19 May 2009
Poor train spotters, they get it in the neck. For days they take notes about the latest engine and carriages they’ve
seen, but when it comes to the world of sonic pleasure, there are many a muso and journo who'll spend days running around
in all sorts of weather to try and discover the next big thing, and who do so for great plaudits.
They might get behind a man playing spoons on his wooden leg or rave about a band that make songs by popping bubble wrap, but they can always say: “I saw these when they played to three people in a pub in Brighton.” They get the 'I was there' gloating rights until a band eventually splits.
So these are the bands we earmarked and watched over the weekend – we were there when they played to three people in a pub in Brighton:
Bonne Aparte – Above Audio, Saturday
With the likes of Kasabian and Gang Of Four to contend with, plaudits to those who stuck it out and watched new music right to the last on Saturday. You may’ve even been one of the 12 people (16 if you count bar staff) who managed to catch Bonne Aparte in Above Audio. Their raw and energetic Sonic Youth soundscapes may’ve been lost on the few there to see them, but the Dutch six-piece are full of promise – most likely to be found at ATP sometime soon.
Screaming Tea Party – Freebutt, Friday
For a trio, Screaming Tea Party make one hell of a noise. Their out-of-tune vocals clash with their driven punk riffs as they gallop around a smelly Freebutt pub sounding like Pavement covering The Undertones at the wrong speed. Their waltzing encore of ‘Moon River’ is the jewel of the show, displacing the crooning classic from big band karaoke to dingy grunge pop.
The Brute Chorus – Ocean Rooms, Friday
This London outfit owe a lot to the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis – haircuts and all – but spend most of their gig in the claustrophobic Ocean Rooms dipping their toes into the warm side of indie. ‘Grow Fins’ reels off an addictive chorus and ‘Hercules’ is a wonderful White Stripes-esque blues ditty, and although the best bits are far and in between, The Brute Chorus show plenty of promise.
Micachu and The Shapes – Po Na Na, Thursday
Miniature art punk Micachu and her Shapes twist the neck of pop in a Homer-style strangling of Bart in The Simpsons. Odd tunings and battering skiffle make the youngster a world away from the generic Girls Aloud genre as she pulls off dry blue tacks like ‘Lips’ and drowning quips of malfunctioned funk like ‘Golden Phone’. You’ll never have kids downloading her to their mobile, but judging from the large crowd in Po Na Na, an older body of fans are already emerging.
Gold Teeth – Arc, Saturday
Part ska, part funk, part smooth talking, good looking frontman who’s likely to whip your girlfriend from you while you’ll at the bar. The London outfit were packed tighter than Kate Moss’ suitcase in the arches of the Arc club for an energetically fruitful set on the final day of the festival, so much so it was inevitable that singer Joe de Costa found his way into the crowd at one point. ‘Everybody’ is an outstandingly catchy chunk of calypso ska, while ‘Tasty’ has echoes of early Brit Pop Blur about it – ideal for the summer.
Pulled Apart By Horses – Sallis Benney Theatre, Thursday
Despite a rather flaccid crowd, the Leeds hardcore made the most of their opening slot at The Great Escape, tearing the university theatre to bits with tracks like ‘E=MC Hammer’ and ‘High Five Swan Dive Nose Dive’. The four-piece are pure melodrama rock: jumping from speakers and invading the crowd to play songs et al, whilst retaining a frame of solid drumming and screeching guitar work.
African Head Charge – The Corn Exchange, Saturday
Following on from a night of dub, the superb African Head Charge may not be the newest of bands (they’ve been around in different forms since the 1980’s) but they are certainly one to look out for. Plenty of African beats, a plethora of bongos and off beat guitar are a euphoric end to a fantastic weekend as the ska reggae outfit mellow out the epic Corn Exchange venue.
Mean Poppa Lean – Prince Albert - Thursday
With a hint of 6ix Toys, a dash of Red Hot Chili Peppers and plenty of good humour Mean Poppa Lean were the discovery of the weekend. The quartet (sextet if you could their trumpet and sax duo the Horny Brassholes) already have a polished their live show: call and response tracks, getting the crowd to go down low and “a little more bacon, a little more sausage,” quips from the singer trying to get the drummer to hit the high hats more, which added a tongue-in-cheek twist to the set. There were parts of Smoove and Jacko during ‘How Times How Hot’, Flea basslines lurking underneath ‘The Pash’ and with great showmanship to boot, MPL need to be caught to believed.