With some absolutely incredible acts to see, like Swim Deep at The Audio, Arcane Roots at the Concorde 2 and Dingus Khan at The Hope – this year’s Great Escape in Brighton was always going to be massive. Tremendous bands to discover, huge expectations to be satisfied, enormous distances to be covered, immense excitement anticipated, and large amounts of alcohol to be imbibed.
RAMzine planned to see more than 40 acts – over a period of 3 days – in 30 different locations. Luckily, the weather was kind to us, and our feet were up to the task. More importantly, we were suitably refreshed. So we went for it.
Here are our favourite moments:
Shoe-gaze-noise-rock band ‘Oyama’ (in Japanese it means “big mountain”) actually came all the way from Reykjavik, Iceland to play for us at Great Escape. We were entertained with interesting songs like “I Wanna” which were darkly esoteric. Oyama’s sounds are full of lazy energy, shimmering voices and smoky images. Úlfur’s vocals are mysterious and lofty – and his words were enriched by Júlía’s warm backing vocals (she also plays synths.) Kári took his guitar on various brain pathways and mad journeys. And Rúnar created intricate patterns on his drums. The effect was cohesive – yet confusingly transparent. Their sound was like a fragile veil – it spread gently – and it only allowed the sacramental icons inside to be rarely seen. It was a wonderful show.
Trio ‘Birth of Joy’ from Holland (seen at the Dutch Impact Showcase at The Komedia) are influenced by vintage rock, Sixties psychedelica and earthy blues. Gertjan Gutman plays bass on the keyboards, Kevin Stunnenberg provides stunning guitar-work and all the passionate lead vocals, and Bob Hogenelst plays furious drums and also adds backing vocals. We listened to songs like ‘Make Things Happen’ which had organ sounds that writhed and squirmed. And guitars that were flexed to the point of painful contraction by Kevin. We loved the authentic character of this band, and we adored the way that they played their blues/rock. It was authentic, rustic and down to earth. They played a furnace-hot set.
London four-piece art-rockers ‘The Manic Shine’ rocked the tiny Fishbowl pub during their triumphant ‘Animal Farm’ show-case on the Friday. Their performance was smooth and adventurous. Their songs were intoxicating – and they involved a lot of incredible solos, mad tempo changes and plenty of surprisingly throbbing grooves. It was an extremely satisfying show.
The highest point of our weekend festival was the Deap Vally show. We managed to catch up with the Vally girls Lindsey Troy (vocals, & guitar) and Julie Edwards (drums) at their Warren gig. This gritty garage-rock duo played to a packed venue. And a disappointed queue waited outside in the windy lane.
Kicking off their colourful show with their latest hit ‘Baby I Call Hell’ – they had the crowd up on their toes – and bouncing – in no time. The ramshackle, sooty bass sounds on this song were as black and as sticky as licorice, yet twice as tasty. But it was only when the voice of Lindsey careered in (after the catchy Whoa-oh-oh-oh start) – and she intensely screamed those “Baby do you love me” lines – that we realised just how passionate and resolutely vicious these girls could be.
During their second number, the overwhelming power and the immense volume of their production somehow triggered the safety switch for the main power source. And so the stage was plunged into silence. But did that stop the girls? Of course not. No. They played on, but this time with a renewed energy and an even greater furious intensity. It was totally crazy.
Next year’s Great Escape dates have already been announced: 8 May-10 May 2014