Two days of glorious sunshine and one day of what can definitely be described as weather, saw out the hot to trott 2012 Great Escape festival; a hell-of-a-lot-a gigs happening over a hell-of-a-lot-a places (over 300 artists and over 30 venues respectably), over a three day stretch.
Words > Will Furdas
With seemingly more international acts than ever before playing this year’s event, the ongoing global economic crisis doesn’t seem to be affecting Europe’s impressive musical output. Spain’s noise makers Furguson make emphatic, fist pounding post punk rock, whilst Finland has discovered its own version of the Mystery Jets in the form of Big Wave Rider with well crafted subtle indie pop melodies. France displayed why it’s still the go to place for phat dance tunes as proven by College (College proved why France is still the go-to place for phat dance tunes) and the 17 year old Madeon, stacked more layers than a Scooby Doo sandwich of WUB bass as he rocked the Corn Exchange. This isn’t to say that France has rejected its gold medal status for beard stroking music, as Cheveu provided an angry take on Kraftwerk’s synth sound that’s been shut in a tiny cupboard with 80s progressive rock and poked with a stick.
Indie rock also seems to be on the up and up with the prize-fighting punch in the musical face of Norwich-based rrriot girl grrrr of Fever Fever. Lo-Fi coordinators of the early 90s alternative sound of Pavement and Dinosaur Jr going down a waterslide before being merged forever in blurry photographs are Virals. The second coming of Jack White also seems to have shown a resurgence of bluesy rock ‘n’ roll given the ridiculous queues for most people 3rd favourite new band of the moment, Alabama Shakes. Yet the new distinct feel of ’12 is that the new trend for guitar music is moving in a Black Lips influenced direction, with the likes of Mujeres & Hooded Fang, making skuzzy 60s punk rockers with the added bonus of loads of fuzz and noise baked into it, like a cake you should have been able to buy at CBGB’s before it got outlawed for having glass in it.
Never let it be said that TGE is not an education in itself. If hanging out at the Canadian showcases at Blind Tiger has taught me anything, it’s that there’s a big difference between Canadians, French Canadians and the French. Throughout the three days, Canadian showcases held a huge variety of sounds from both the East and West Coast scenes, and served up everything from the crowd indoctrination of Rich Aucoin, whose set was a battleship of viral video feel good pop dance madness for karaoke greatness, to the wonderful Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers, a blissful blend of heart warming country folk melodies, foot stomping fun times, with terrific banter between songs as the surly whiskey based growls dripped from Ben’s bushy beard. However Ben’s beard paled in comparison of Born Gold, who threw out the rule book of what an instrument has to be, and making even those weird cubes Bjork likes to play look prehistoric by comparison. BG’s set up is made up of the standard drums, synthizer sequencers and a jacket from the future which looks more like what would happen if Ironman was sucked into the Lawnmower Man universe. Using a convicted Microsoft Kinect Sensor (a motion sensing input device which works a bit like a webcam meets a Wii remote), Cecil Frena’s harness the power of LED lights and sequencers wired into the jacket to follow his movements to trigger samples, pitch shift and edit his voice and the music around him to create affluent electro pop from beyond the stars. Whilst the French Canadian collective of Quebec’s finest five piece known as Misteur Valaire are in a party league of their own, seamlessly blending hip-hop, electro with jazz funk and serving tennis aces of Hot-Chip, Beastie Boys, Soulwax and Bently Rhythm Ace for good measure whilst dressing to impress in matching outfits and literally bringing the house down with their fantastic party vibes through a sharp French accent.
Seemingly being the benchmark of what all music now has to be compared against were Trippple Nippples. An ‘only in Japan’ level of creativity, as if you weren’t sold on the name alone you were the second they walked out on stage. Dressed in matching flesh coloured body stockings with African tribal markings painted all over them, topped off with an overly elaborate penis adorning the chest area, the band dropped the first notes of techno, punk rock, hip-hop chic. Their stage shenanigans ran the spectrum of Mighty Boosh style performance art before transcending into tribal rhythms and out and out mayhem that blur the lines between raucous and art. Whilst it’s hard to pin point everything that happened during their performance (and that’s not down most of the songs seemingly being in their native Japanese), I presume the pinkie touching gesture with the audience is an attempt to reclaim the high 5; Drink To Forget (is this a song?) was self explanatory which had one of the Nippples parading through the crowd politely knocking back all the drinks in her path from all present patrons, but as far as the moments of spitting burgers into the crowd and stuffing one of the Nippples with Strawberries until she nearly vomited? No idea. TN are the post child of innovative performance art, strapping your subconscious in for rollercoaster ride of amazement whilst cutting some shapes along to the always crowd pleaser of L.S.D.
More info: escapegreat.com/