The Great Escape 2010: Rated!
Various, Brighton - 13-15 May
Photographer: Sara Bowrey20 May 2010
Overall - 8/10
Although it’s only five years only, The Great Escape (TGE) has already established itself as a key fixture in the festival calendar. Part industry jolly, part conference, part massive piss up and mostly great music festival, it gives bands of all stature a chance to put down a marker for the summer ahead and gives real hints as to who the big draws are going to be in muddy fields across the UK in the coming months. The sunny weather that Brighton usually gets helps naturally, but at TGE there is an absolutely terrific weekend to be had.
Getting There And Back - 10/10
Piece of piss. Brighton has to be one of the most easily accessible cities in the UK, by pretty much any mode of transport. Trains run to London every ten minutes or so until after all the acts finish and parking is plentiful across the city. TGE’s venues are all in the centre of town and each is easily walking distance of pretty much any other. Only the Concorde 2 is a bit of a trek, but even that‘s only 15 minutes away from the main street and you get to walk along the seafront to get there. No single-track roads, tortuously long coach journeys or endless rail changes for this festival.
The Site - 6/10
It must first be said that Brighton is a wonderful city: welcoming, easy going and perfect for TGE with lots of venues within yards of each other. As well as regular venues, pubs, nightclubs and even cinemas throw open their doors to the festival with some faring better than others at hosting gigs. In this lies TGE’s main flaw, which is the sheer size of the venues. Most hold under 300 and although the organisers do their best to put the most popular acts in the bigger venues, demand still far outstrips capacity. Thus there are long queues and lots of frustrated fans who can’t get in to see big draws like Delphic, Darwin Deez and the Cribs. There’s the also the fact that as the festival is such a big draws for music industry bods, there are lots of priority wristbands floating about, which mean paying punters are often left feeling a bit resentful at being forced to wait in separate and much longer queues. Fields may be unpleasant when it rains, but at least you get to see everyone you want to.
Atmosphere - 9/10
Really nice. The organisers couldn’t have picked a better host city than Brighton for the festival. It has a relaxed feel that is very receptive to thundering of thousands of converse-footed revellers and is quite happy to be flexible in allowing bands to play street gigs until loud and at an ear splitting volume. In the daytime the pubs are packed, acoustic sets are popping up everywhere and you can’t walk into a shop without hearing a band play. Wonderful.
Delphic - 9/10
No act arrived in Brighton with more goodwill and momentum behind them than Manchester’s post dance trio. Accompanied by a stunningly brilliant light show, fine tuned from its blindingly epilepsy-inducing early incarnation, the band have queues round and round the block for their show at the Corn Exchange. Euphoric and precise in everything they do, the crowd’s arms are constantly aloft and their jaws on the floor. Fantastic.
Chapel Club - 7/10
With a Paul Epworth produced album due in drop in a few months, Chapel Club are very much the catch them before they blow up band. The hype certainly feels justified as the band deliver an intense and captivating performance. Their cold, haunting melodies are set to serrated guitar riffs reminiscent of the Horrors at their nastiest. Expect big things.
The Futureheads - 8/10
Seasoned campaigners compared to most on the bill, the Futureheads’ secret gig at Audio as part of the Levi's OneToWatch takeover on Saturday afternoon shows a lot of the up and comers how it’s done. Furiously energetic, they whip through a career spanning set which includes ‘Beginning Of The Twist’, ‘Heartbeat Song’ and a raucous ;Hounds Of Love’.
Marina And the Diamonds - 8/10
Back as a headliner after last year’s resounding success, Marina Diamandis’ show is jam packed well before she takes the stage. With her album riding high and her biggest tour yet well underway, she delivers a set full of confidence and poise.
Rolo Tomassi - 8/10
Easily the most brutal set of the weekend comes from the Steel City’s hardcore quintet. Their Molotov cocktail of frenzied screaming, wonky keyboards and chaotic instrumentation sees bodies flying everywhere and sweat dripping from the club’s ceiling from the heat. Their new album drops soon and they look set for an explosive rest of 2010.
Stricken City - 5/10
It doesn’t help Stricken City’s cause that their set is beset by technical problems, forcing them to start several songs twice, but even then their whole set is very pedestrian. Their sound consists of scratchy, chugging guitars with songs that go nowhere. As the set goes on it’s more and more obvious that people are here for Chapel Club as the volume of chatter rises above the music itself.
Class Actress - 4/10
To say that kooky ladies who are keen on their electronica has been a feature of the last year would be a gargantuan understatement. Those who’ve succeeded have had a little extra spark and mystery about them, something that is sadly missing from Class Actress. Plonky keyboard refrains, plodding vocals and very samey songs are all that’s on show here with the crowd returning to the conversations they were having before the set started very rapidly indeed.
Such is the sprawling nature of TGE, that spontaneous gigs and strangely set up venues are par for the course. Bands can and do play just about anywhere, above bemused Saturday shoppers, on the beach, just about everywhere. It’s brilliant.