Great Escape: Notable Alumni

Tuesday 15 May 2018
Words Matt Zara

England’s answer to SXSW, The Great Escape Festival has helped launch the careers of more artists than there are pebbles on Brighton Beach. There must be something in the salty sea air that turns fledgling talents into bona fide pop and rock megastars.

Ahead of this year’s edition kicking off on Thursday, we decided to put together a little list of five acts who’ve played the festival since its launch in 2006, and gone on to become so big that they’ve probably made it on to your mum’s Spotify playlist. Keep checking Spindle throughout the weekend to see who we’re tipping to rival this lot in the future, but for now join us on a nostalgic trip to the seaside.

Vampire Weekend, 2008, Concorde 2

In 2008, the preppy afro-rock boys played a sweaty show at the legendary Concorde 2. They went on to play every festival on the planet. Frontman Ezra now plies his trade at Beats 1, and has put out a wildly successful anime series on Netflix.

It’s hard to find footage of the gig, as it took place at a time when most people were still using one of those Sony Ericsson Walkman phones. The video below is them playing at the same venue just a year later, so we’d imagine the 2008 gig went something like this…

Foals, 2007, Horatio’s Bar

A band known for being suitably raucous playing a secret gig in a small bar on Brighton Pier. It’s a wonder everyone involved didn’t sink. Foals have continued to put on mad live shows ever since, touring the world in the process and playing Glastonbury’s iconic Pyramid Stage in 2016.

All we could find online was this 14 second clip, which suggests the whole thing was far too good for you to stand there with your phone out.

Kasabian, 2009, Brighton Dome

By this point, the lad rock legends were already well on their way to becoming the force they are today. This meant that catching them in a relatively small venue was a rare treat for those present as Kasabian closed the festival at the Dome.

We’re sure this one had football chants, beers flying – the lot. The Leicester boys have gone on to achieve just about all that’s possible for a band since then. Here’s them belting out Fire.

Adele, 2007, Concorde 2

When Adele played Concorde 2 in 2007, her name wasn’t even anywhere near the top of that year’s festival poster. In front of a crowd of about 80, she sat with just a microphone and an acoustic guitar and stunned crowds to the point that they didn’t know their Pier from their Pavilion.

These days, she plays stadiums, sells more albums than Michael Jackson, and has more than earnt her national treasure status. Here’s her performing Hometown Glory before it all went stratospheric.

Charli XCX, 2014, The Corn Exchange

Charli XCX played the festival a few years ago, not long after taking her moniker from her old MSN display name (MSN and Sony Ericsson phones in one article, this really is a nostalgia trip).

With number one singles in the UK and the US under her belt, it was a surprise to us that gig footage from this one was pretty hard to come by. Instead, we’ll let Charli bring this roundup to a close by doing what every visitor to Brighton does – taking a trip round the Sea Life Centre.