Nothing beats the feverish feeling of a thousand new bands flocking into the same city and making their first steps in the salt-paved, seagull shit-stained beauty that is Brighton.
The Great Escape is a brilliant mess. It’s booze-fuelled, industry-crammed and absolutely bursting with new music at every corner. The seaside’s already-buzzing streets get rudely interrupted with noise. Stag parties and weekend picnics are invaded by buzz, pouring from all sides and leaving no punter hungry for their big new discovery.
Forget the fact that you’ll probably miss a hundred of the bands you want to see. Ignore the reality that you’re more likely to be found guzzling a four-pack of cheap beer and getting swept in by the tide than you are catching the next Haim before the rest of the world. Stick with us and you won’t make a single misstep across the weekend.
We’ve got two stages at this year’s fest - one is an official shindig with Spector, Menace Beach and Ekkah, the other is an ‘Alt Escape’ get-together with The Magic Gang and Brighton collective Echochamp.
We’ve whittled down this year’s extensive bill to pick out ten of the must-see acts at this year’s Great Escape.
Liverpool newcomer Låpsley’s debut EP ‘Understudy’ remains a 2015 highlight. A lesson in deftly-applied but brutally sharp pop, it took elements of house and all-out-dance before filtering these staples into something even more direct. She’s a star in the making, with a debut album on XL expected for later this year.
Photo: Emma Swann / DIY. Låpsley will play Coalition on Thursday 14th May, 7.30pm.
Vibrant percussion, big hooks and shameless use of cowbell - these are the vital elements to UK duo Formation’s first steps. The South London brothers like to hark back to reckless parties and endless summer nights on their early recordings, but there’s a deep knowledge of music’s past (and future) informing everything.
Photo: Phil Smithies / DIY. Formation will play The Haunt on Thursday 14th May, 8.30pm.
A Stateside export so exciting, it’s probably worth preventing them from getting to Heathrow and going back home. Bully have been swept up by UK crowds in the past week, the Nashville group’s first tour on these shores going down with as much thrill as that circuiting their debut album ‘Feels Like’. Alicia Bognanno has penned a triumph, due out this June on Startime International.
Photo: Emma Swann / DIY. Bully will play The Haunt on Friday 15th May, 8pm.
The Magic Gang
If anyone’s taking the prize for most talked-about new band at The Great Escape, it’s a competition between the locals. The Magic Gang one single to their name, but they’ve already penned one of the year’s biggest singalongs with ‘No Fun’. Fresh from the Wolf Alice tour, they’re playing DIY x Echochamp’s Friday 15th show, before popping up elsewhere across the fest.
Photo: Emma Swann / DIY. The Magic Gang will play The Green Door Store on Friday 15th May, 9.15pm.
Stage invasions are a given with Rat Boy’s shows. He’s only played a handful, but already this Essex newcomer has more chance of getting an OBE at eighteen than he does of getting home in one piece. New single ‘Sign On’ is just the beginning for this new Parlophone-signing, his rackety, concrete-flavoured punk sounding out the UK’s true stories.
Photo: Phil Smithies / DIY. Rat Boy will play The Haunt on Friday 15th May, 11pm.
The jury’s still out on Ho99o9, a genre-shunning L.A. outfit who have a solid rep for destructive live shows. Comparisons to Death Grips stem from their ability to fuse hip-hop and thrash, but that’s where the similarities end. Always with an eye for the spectacular, this is a group who can only self-destruct, in all reality. That won’t make seeing them any less game-changing though.
Ho99o9 will play Patterns Downstairs on Friday 15th May, 11.15pm.
Unless Courtney Barnett suddenly turns up to play a dozen secret showcases, no band will play more TGE gigs than Demob Happy. Locals with a thirst for carnage, their destructive live show hasn’t taken time out for a pit-stop in 2015. Instead, they’ve cemented themselves one of the UK’s brightest forces. There’s a secret show on their schedule that could well go down as the festival’s finest moment, and it’s wedged in right at the very end.
Photo: Phil Smithies / DIY. Demob Happy will play The Secret Sessions on Friday 15th May (time TBA); Patterns Downstairs on Saturday 16th May, 7.30pm; A secret show on Saturday 16th May, location TBA, 1am.
Brighton musician Soph Nathan is likely to catch attention with her other band, The Big Moon, over the weekend. But that doesn’t make the guitarist’s Our Girl any less of an exciting prospect. This project came first, after all, and a self-titled debut track from 2014 - produced by The Magic Gang’s Kristian Smith - sums up the energy buzzing around this city right now.
Our Girl will play Bleach (Alt Escape) on Saturday 16th May, 6.20pm.
As well as appearing on our Alt Escape showcase with Brighton collection Echochamp on Friday 15th, Oscar Scheller is bringing his bright-eyed pop to DIY’s Saturday showcase. For the uninitiated, this North Londoner - real name Oscar Scheller - could pen chart-botherers for millionaires as a living. Instead he’s gone down the do-it-yourself route, with a debut album on Wichita fast approaching.
Oscar will play The Arch (DIY Presents) on Saturday 16th May, 7.15pm.
Headlining the DIY stage on Saturday, Spector are experts with this bill-closing business, but that doesn’t mean they’re not about to take risks. Fred MacPherson and co. are readying a new album that’s both politically-sharp and hell-bent on trying something different. Some moments they sound like Take That, others have them snatching the big-thinking baton from pop heavyweights.
Photo: Carolina Faruolo / DIY. Spector will play The Arch (DIY Presents) on Saturday 16th May, 9.45pm.