As is par de course for The Great Escape, we didn’t manage to see half the bands we set out to (sorry, no Django Django or Alabama Shakes here, folks. Kudos to those of you who braved the queues stretching to Shoreham and made it in; feel free to comment below with your own reviews, though no need to be overly smug about it) but in the true TGE spirit, it was once again often the smaller stages that were the place to base yourself.
The savvy were able to find many of the bands whose shows were prime choices for the evening playing day time slots in intimate venues (and there’s not much that’s more intimate than finding your hand firmly and irretrievably cupping a stranger’s rear end in sheer, bloody minded determination to squeeze yourself into a venue come what may- at least, not sober at 12 in the afternoon) and this was certainly true of Thursday. Those disinclined to head over to an afternoon of La Femme’s lo-fi surf rock crammed themselves into the upstairs of Fitzherberts pub to watch the likes of Cavepainting, St Lucia and Pond hold forth, the latter playing ahead of their evening show in the Dome supporting Maximo Park- this year’s opening headliners.
Indie rockers Yukon Blonde may have been billed as ‘Canada’s best kept secret’ formerly, but their set at the Albert had the queue winding down through the pub and out the door. Nor where they averse to obliging the many requests bellowed out over the course of the night.
It was down to the much hyped Trippple Nippples to provide the obligatory head scratching, ‘what have I stumbled into?’ moment later that night, taking to the stage in body stockings, tribal paint and nippple-covering duct tape. Their bonkers appearance was matched only by their hyperactive J-pop set.
Friday brought the sunshine but most of it was ignored in favour of the Dutch Impact showcase at Komedia. I Am Oak were first on and more than proved the buzz circulating around them was warranted, with their experimental, melancholy folk melodies; as did the hip hop act Dope D.O.D, who followed their performance later on in the afternoon.
While few of this year’s headliners had much appeal for us this year, Clock Opera were one of the acts we were holding out for and they didn’t disappoint, supporting the evening’s headliners, Temper Trap. For those that were canny enough to get in, they were well worth the extra ticket, holding their audience in captive silence- I don’t believe I saw a single person dance, or even move for that matter.
Having played the afternoon set the year before, Tall ships rightfully claimed the headlining slot for the BSM/Alcopop stage, filling out the Pav Tav on Friday night.
Stumbling into Friends’ show sometime I believe was on Friday night (NB: all days/stages/times recalled here are subject to a lot of jager), it was difficult to discern who was in the band, who were the random members of the audience who had stormed the stage and attached themselves, limpet-like to a member of the band and who was the random bouncer/really big audience member who initially looked set to remove the stage-stormers, before getting caught up in the moment and joining in one big on stage hug, before they ended their set and everyone disattached and wandered off back into that crowd. At least, I really hope that was Friends. At some point, it all got really confusing. Whatever, I’m His Girl is still stuck in my head.
Braving day two of excruciating hangover and leaving the house early enough to catch the first round of day three was a challenge that paid off.
Lulu James, another of the hotly tipped acts for this year, appeared on stage on Saturday afternoon at the Haunt enshrouded in a hooded cloak, which entirely obscured her, which made for an eerie beginning to a soulful performance.
Ducking into Queens Hotel on Saturday afternoon, we were treated to the Sound of the C Alternative Escape show. Making it in time for Melodramas and The Lost Souls Club, both bands were kind enough to oblige us with impromptu interviews following their respective performances.
Hello, The Lost Souls Club! How are you enjoying TGE so far?
It’s good. We’ve only seen this venue but it’s been a good day.
You’re only here till 5 I hear, so you won’t get much of a chance to see more of the festival?
I don’t know what we’re doing. We’ve literally just been focusing on getting here and playing, then if we get to see other people, that’s cool.
To those who aren’t familiar with your music, how would you describe your sound?
Like, White Stripes meets Jesus and Mary Chain.
You’ve been described as being able to fill the White Stripes shoes; how does it feel to get that kind of hype so early on?
It’s really nice. It’s just nice that someone would say something good, really because obviously we like cheap viagra 25mg what we do and we care about. It was Simon Price who said it. it was really cool to have someone who was pretty knowledgeable about it to say stuff that we thought echoed what we do musically ‘cause quite often you get comments that seem strange. In the early days of being in a band, some of the reviews you get… we heard like Bon Jovi and you wonder exactly how you heard that in what we do. So it’s nice when someone says something, like we do actually like that band. So it’s nice to feel like someone gets what we’re doing.
We’ve gone through a period of recuperation recently, where we’ve ben abroad in Asia and Australia and we came back in the beginning of they year. We’ve all got real lives and stuff. We just need to figure out exactly where we are, what we’ve got. We’ve got all this stuff recorded, all this stuff we want to record. We’ve recorded this EP and it kept being put off for release and we finally said, there’s not going to be a better time to just get it out, so the next thing that’s coming out is to release this EP. It’s probably going to be the 8th of June, in Southampton. Then during the summer, doing some festivals. Then recording, ready to do some kind of album hopefully later in the year.
So Melodrama, have you seen much of the festival?
We came here to play and then we’re leaving again! I think our manager is doing most of our partying for us this weekend. We’re going to go home and have our own private party. Probably the four of us sitting around and going, ‘Yeah, it was alright, actually!’.
Is there anyone you would have liked to have seen?
We would have liked to have seen Gaz, ‘cause Gaz played but he was on the Wednesdy, right? We’re pretty excited about his new album, but we’ll catch him on his tour.
You’ve worked with Gaz Coombes, among others; is there anyone else you have on your wish list at the moment?
Is it genre specific?
We’re waiting for that duet with Slayer.
I’m going with Metallica. Or Paramore.
I grew up listening to Blur but I think we might be a bit late in the day to support them, ‘cause we won’t get on the Olympic bill at this stage.
You never know! We’ll phone the Olympics when we get home, see what they can do!
Might have to compete. We’ll have to pick an event. I’ll do the swimming so at least I can don some speedos that way. I don’t think you even asked that question. I think we just made it up ourselves.
How would you describe your music?
It’s a bit of a mish mash of stuff… We like bands like the Coral. We don’t really sound like them but they take pop music and do something a bit wonky with it. something a little bit different, so that’s where we find ourselves. But we’re a bit heavier. Not afraid to rock. Choruses, solos and such
It’s got a bit of that Queens vibe to it.
Yes, not a queen vibe.
Well, you’ve got a bit of Freddy Mercury to you.
I thought you were going to say I have a bit of Freddy Mercury in me.
That’s a vicious rumour.
Well, we’re going to eat our curry… [There then ensued a three minute segue into the weird and wonderful foods consumed on their recent Asian tour. Highlights included the 1000 year old egg, pickled snake and Grandma Tofu- rotten tofu.] What are we doing next band wise? We’re playing Blissfields festival next, that’ll be fun. And we’re putting on a few of our own odd shows, ‘cause we’ve just finished our tour to promote our EP so we’re just doing a few shows then we’re going to record our second EP with Sam [Williams] and then tour that one again probably.
Rough Trade’s stage at the Komedia on Saturday night was suitably impossible to get into: Micachu’s DJ set opening the night, followed by Palma Violets, Howler and Alabama Shakes.
Peace- you know, that band from the Midlands that were the ones to watch on everyone’s lips for the weekend and are being lauded as the ‘New Maccabees’, the ‘Next Big Guitar Band’ and ‘Most Likely to Make you Reach New Levels of Aurally Induced Bliss’- were cut short in favour of a dash across to the seafront, which is a shame, as live, they’re every bit as euphoria-inducing as you’ve heard they are.
Hopefully, you caught them at one of their earlier shows in the weekend though, as the sheer volume of people packing out Coalition suggested that half of Brighton turned out in favour of We Are Scientists’ set, who played the odds and dutifully knocked out the crowd pleasers, with a set mainly comprised of their hits from 2006’s With Love and Squalor.
Those who waited out the two-hour delay were treated to Slow Club at the end of the night, whose intimate acoustic performance earlier in the day at Marwoods Café was a festival highlight for the majority of those gathered.
Despite the best intentions to make it down to the Concorde 2 for Dan Le Sac to end the night, alas, TGE took its toll and a premature end was called. To those who valiantly strode on into the final night with the DJs and ‘late night surprises’ promised at many of the venues, we take our hats off.
Once again, The Great Escape opened up festival season 2012 in style.
I can’t move.
Photography: Matt Martin