The Great Escape Festival has now been around so long it doesn’t need an introduction, however my editor says that’s a cop out so I need to write one – plus using the term “Tight Butthole” from the TV show Workaholics isn’t seen universally as a positive saying, so you can’t just use it to describe every band you like (which is totally “Loose Butthole”).
Now in its 9th year The Great Escape has gone from strength to strength, making it one of the premiere new music festivals in the country, unveiling the latest and greatest new acts and musical trends coming on to the scene. With this year’s line up finally seeing the festival deleting Folk numbers and burning the checkered shirt of pain, we instead get to jump in feet first into the pool of the 90s alterna-rock revival.
The annual event covering three days has over 350 musical acts flooding into the city. But which ones should get your attention? Well I have your back with my twenty acts you should make time for at TGE 2014.
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Deathcrush – A big bag of loud or ‘noise rock’ (as they like to call it) from Oslo, Norway. DC are a three-piece sick noise machine of feedback last seen in the final days of Rome – or at that Bloody Valentine gig you went to and forgot to wear ear plugs.
Big Ups – The first time I heard this band I thought “Man, they’re angry… Never heard of Nectar points?” Turns out, coming from Brooklyn (NY), no, they hadn’t. Sicking up a mix of post wave/punk oddity, prepare for a wave of random happenings.
BadBadNotGood – In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve found this band a few years back, being drawn to any act with a strange name (and having access to an internet connection at 3am) is a massive deal for me, from the likes of Tacocat (sharing a name with the best palindrome ever), Heavens to Betsy (think Daisy Chainsaw with a bigger smile) & Slutever (the best no-wave duo you never heard but need to add on Facebook and buy their merch!). So it’s weird for me to recommend a jazz act. Think the instrumentals the Beastie Boys pulled after their “farting on each other” period meets Radiohead after the robots got ‘em.
Dolomite Minor – If the White Stripes had opened their own school you couldn’t help but feel that Dolomite Minor might have been top of the class with their excellent blues two-piece rock. You know, if they showed off to class instead of drinking bourbon behind the bikes sheds.
Andy Shauf – Last year Andy was one of my first impressive finds: I gushed several ways from Sunday over his Indie lite, college rock revival of his 90s cool… Then the fucker cancelled and I had to find nice things to say about Alarm Bells instead.
Buffalo Daughter – The latest crop of acts brought to us by the fantastic musical importers Made in Japan, who have a bit of a mix bag this year but nothing that sticks out like BD – from their impressive credentials over the last 20 years from being on the Beastie Boys label, Grand Royal, to popping up on the Katamari Forever videogame Soundtrack. Making an odd mix of all genres and mixing it up in a way that only Japan can, just think something odd and that’s probably BD jumping off point.
Dune Rats – Australia’s answer to Japandroids, DR are a perfect mix of guitar fuzz indie rock roar slowed down ever so slightly to not throw you off you their good times sailing.
Gnarwolves – Hardly “new” to anyone in Brighton (and from last year to the rest of the world) – but everyone should have a space in their record collection for Gnarwolves. After relocating to Brighton, this trio has set the country alight with crazy live shows and their own brand of skate power punk that pisses on all that came before it.
God Damn – Very rarely does a band name sum up what you actually end up hearing (with the exception of the Shitty Beatles from Wayne’s World), so when checking out God Damn it’s no surprise when you’re slapped in the face with the heavy edge of Pulled Apart By Horses (who are also playing this festival and are rad so check ‘em out) meets the more psychedelic side of 80s Matchbox b-line disaster.
Pup – Can Canadians really get angry? According to PUP they can, playing a mix of that weird part in the early 2000s when England had a “post-hardcore scene” that zigged in and out of rock and punk without the makeup and dress sense of a bitchy fourteen year old.
Youth Man – So it turns out Birmingham has a long and prestigious heritage of music, but it appears the trio of Youth Man probably weren’t too happy about UB40 being the number one Google pick, answering the question “famous bands from your home town”, so decided to form their own one and make it awesome. Energetic and frantic punk passing bring this trio into fist punching glory.
Love Zombies – After watching all four seasons of The Walking Dead I have developed a theory that the virus that makes zombies also has made everyone else’s necks very thin but also very kissable thus the zombies are drawn to give hickies. It’s the kind of out of the box thinking that gets you kicked out of most social circles and fan fiction groups, but could be seen as the template for the Love Zombies. More of a love letter to classic punk of the Ramones era, mixed in with a big chunk of Blondie and some Gwen Stefani vocals – you’ve got a tight mix.
Vimes – Although this year’s TGE has been slanted on the harder edge of music, Electro is still playing a big bit of the festival with the likes of German duo Vimes who are knocking out cool Kitsune-esque electro that kinda comes out like a more precise version of Hotchip.
The Wonder Villains – So if you didn’t hear Ireland’s officially made up Bono during the 90s as we now have The Wonder Villans, like a less “punch you in the face” version of Fight Like Apes with light dance beat of C.S.S or a non-lame version of Junior Senior.
The Wet Secrets – TGE and Canada seem to have a bit of a cool thing going on at the moment as the bands we’re getting yearly seem to get better and better. This year it’s the turn of Wet Secrets, blowing raspberries in the expected direction of sounding like Arcade Fire and instead making odd 80s electro-rock-dance-pop just because they can.
The Amazing Snakeheads – If John Spenser of the JSBX got conked over the head and woke up speaking in a thick Scottish accent you wouldn’t be too different to The Amazing Snakeheads. Think thick blues rock ‘n’ roll with a pinch of Begbe from Trainspotting.
The Dumplings – So who knew Poland took a look at Crystal Castles and thought, “Yeah it’s good, but can we do it without all the screaming, banging around and allegedly being a massive bitch to everyone before you got mega-famous and everyone put up with it?” And thus The Dumplings were born. All the best parts of chip tune with a smothering of overwhelming female vocals that feel like you should probably put on a tie before listening.
Superfood – A fuzz reminder of what music sounded like in 1993; all alternative college rock and badly fitting t-shirts ‘n’ things like that – it’s friggin’ super.
September Girls – A bit Jesus and the Mary Chains, you know, sounds like they’re singing down a traffic cone after finding out you’re rocking the same dress and haircut as that bitch you don’t like from work on your company fancy do.
White Lung – If someone told me that a curse got put on Courtney Love following the same rules that apply to Space Jam, where all her talent was sucked out in 1994 by aliens only to years later be divided by the super talented White Lung, I would probably believe it, hearing their mix of trash grunge alterna.
The Great Escape is in venues all over Brighton, 8th – 10th May. Tickets and more info here: greatescapefestival.com