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22 June 2012
THE GREAT ESCAPE FESTIVAL 2012: SATURDAY ROUND-UP
------- SATURDAY ROUND-UP -------
MMOTHS @ THE PRINCE ALBERT:
Starting off the final day of The Great Escape was the talented Jack Colleran who goes under the moniker of Mmoths. Performing within the tight confines of The Prince Albert's sweaty loft provided a marked contrast between soft musicality and hardened wood surroundings, feeling almost impromptu and disorganised regarding the setting for such a talented Irish gem. Mmoths' set was a continual trickle of watered cosmo-gaze alternative pop. Shaping fluorescent pools of feathery electro between pulsating beats allowed for a reassuring continuum of noise that lapped gently across the room. Colleran harnesses his gift of music wizardry with subtle belief and ushered confidence; rippling with clockwork rhythm each track feels spectral and uplifting; with no sense of anchorage every note whispers sweetly with salty charm and gentle attention. Showcasing distinct Irish undertones meant you could really feel the difference between Mmoth's electro vision and that of many urban-electro artists; losing the shredded metallic gregariousness in favour of misty synth whirs and dew saturated electro sighs. Relaxing and yet invigorating, Colleran's dream world of music transports you to happy places far, far away from the grubby floorboards and stained walls of some humble ageing pub by the sea. A perfect start to the final day of The Great Escape indeed.
The duo of Jackson Firebird have been around for some time now having garnered a very individualistic nature of pugnacious rock hot iron branded with heavy drum beats and swaggered blues. At The Great Escape these brazen Aussies from Mildura delivered their musical ideologies by throwing together some weighted confrontational tracks that really livened up the larger club setting of Digital during the sweltering Saturday afternoon haze. Possessing an infectiously energetic stage presence meant the overall performance was both enjoyable and enlivening. Thrashing together granitic guitar slams, oily riffs and rampant stampeding beats created the stereotypical Firebird song; brassy, sweaty and characterful. With over zealous enthusiasm the duo rocked the very foundations of the seafront promenade amidst fiery musical bouts and all out noise warfare to produce a diligent and fun performance.
Red Ink were another Australian band making the pilgrimage across the globe to The Great Escape to showcase their take on sultry indie and yearning vocal layouts. Hailing specifically from Mornington Peninsula in Melbourne, Red Ink instantly struck the audience as a carefree band full of personality and humble roots with a stage presence that both attracted and entertained, offering a minuscule glimpse into their extravagant little world. Being offered to play several times over The Great Escape weekend in Brighton amongst a variety of clubs and varying stage times meant the band could play to a broad and varied mix of people rounding up as many new found fans as possible. Red Ink managed to sew together bronzed guitar twangs to underpin the majority of their songs, the jostling of noise was culminating and increasingly tempo driven. With seemingly agonised drum beats and slippery keys there was a dynamic hybrid of indie, pop and electro that trundled along with extroverted assurance. The performance at Digital was both cheerful and fluid; lacking any form of pretentious swagger and obnoxiousness Red Ink delighted in swaying arms, flouncing with camp bravado and engaging the crowd with polite banter and wit. Bringing together the sometimes bolshy realms of indie into an orange hue sun-topia of beach warmed music meant this band epitomised carefree genre blending, guitar adoration and instrumental genius that was best proved by witnessing their brilliant little stint at The Great Escape.
Bolstering the Australian contingent further, Chet Faker is one of the most refreshing and impressive musicians of recent years. Growing up in the Australasian music utopia, known to most as Melbourne, this male solo artist has an astounding ability to produce polished low-dub pop-tronica with excellent execution and sublime production finesse. With an influential pedigree of music ranging from Onra to The Avalanches, it is perhaps no surprise that this Australian is a maestro of music. What certainly is surprising is how very few people on a global scale have heard such of a talent. His set at Digital was minimalist and personal. Indulging on inebriated clonks and day glow beats meant Faker's songs had a predominantly sombre vibe; however with his brassy vocal power, cleansed finish and sincere lyrics, there was a passion and a spark that illuminated each track giving it enough energy to tumble across the floor into the crowd. Enticing and even hypnotic, Chet Faker's musical prowess can leave you awestruck; such shimmering expertise at work was a fantastic sight to behold as song after song captivated you with sultry beats, staccato keyboard patterns and viscous grooves; a rousing tonic for the ears to indulge upon.
Rounding off the Australian themed events at Digital on Saturday were the characterful and brazen Jinja Safari. Coming from Sydney and forming back in 2010 this band possess the beautiful simplicity and joyous naturalistic whimsy that so many bands strive to incorporate within their act. Mirroring the likes of an earthen Sigur Ros, clad in bedazzling sparkles of musical wonderment and joss stick aromas, Jinja Safari carried to the table a new slant on the indie folk-pop that the majority are so often accustomed to. Frayed at the edges, this Sydney band sauntered around bathed in shards of tree splintered musical light; with organic foundations of vibrant Afro-pop, tropicana electro nuances and colonialist dream-folk tapestries, Jinja Safari secreted a sugary whirlpool of sun rich melodies and terraced instrumental layers. Sparkling bright between whoops and tinkling, keyboards pivoted around procrastinating drum thuds and silken synth torrents. With mantra induced choral floods of percussion and uplifting vocal pleasantries each track tumbled excitedly into the next; with such an onslaught of noise it was devastatingly easy to become entangled amongst Jinja Safari's dreamy bouts of dancing and airy chants. Their performance at Digital enveloped the crowd with such infectious energy and feel good vibes that it was unquestionably one of the best shows of the weekend. Visually entertaining from the start their incredible stage presence became a spectacle in itself, harnessing the tribal beats and increasing tempo generated a wave of positivity that consumed the entire room, encouraged feet to stomp and arms to raise to the ceiling. These Australians really know how to make their performances memorable, their set was essentially a multi-coloured canvas of musical diversity that evoked swathes of happiness and fun leaving the crowd enthused and basking in folk-pop euphoria.
This band from Rennes in France epitomise the stereotypical new-wave noire-chic electronica that French people sculpt so proficiently. Having gained some weighty backing in the form of Kitsune Records snapping them up almost instantaneously there is no doubt that Juveniles are highly revered and sought after; their two gig jaunt at The Great Escape served as the perfect footing for breaking the hard-nosed English crowd and warming a few previously smug hearts with some Gallic charm. Juveniles will automatically sound familiar to you; the sound is best described as a delirious and sweetly intoxicating amalgamation of Cuty Copy, Metronomy, M83 and Hot Chip; Hadron collided together into a neat little atom of French Electro. Their set in the underground basement of Sticky Mike's Frog Bar was a confident little showcase of their digital plethora prowess. Threading along a sparkling constellation of synths between monochrome steady beats and revolving bass distinguished the niche Juvenile sound; artistic flair and conventional French nonchalance percolated through every contemporary note to generate a shadowed matinee of seamless music. Each track the band performed was done so with clinical precision and dexterous application; liquorice droplets of electro intertwined through a fretwork of synthesised zorbs and purring Franco-stylised vocals. Providing such hypnotic rhythms with such ease and lavish quality allowed Juveniles to puppeteer the crowd into dreamy wonderment. Surprisingly, there wasn't any great extrovert reactions or behaviour so often displayed from bands of a similar nature, instead there was an air of mutual respect and enjoyment filtering between the bodies within the crowd to which only good murmurs were echoed.
Feeling a lot like the setting for a school pantomime or church hall community meeting The Warren was one of the more obscure venues for The Great Escape over the weekend and with the sun beginning to set over the Brighton skyline it was up to the newly popular Camden duo of BIGkids to warm up the evening proceedings. Having a sufficient crowd present meant London's freshest act could unleash their eclectic plethora of brassy indie funk pop; with an instantaneous overspill of childish tomfoolery courtesy of Burger King hats and witty banter between songs BIGkids possessed such mischievous charm that they quickly warmed the crowd and encouraged a slightly drunken few to shake limbs and jive with intense menace. The boy and girl collective from Camden managed to compose music with such broad diversity spanning multiple genres and musical influences that it almost overwhelmed the aural senses. Thrashing hootments of brass rampaged past wobbling bass streaks and conflicting percussion duals. Each track from BIGkids had the innate ability to lasso juxtapositional sounds into one avalanching punch of noise; the effect meant each song was not only constructed of the band's unique DNA, it also felt procreative as elemental sounds produced more sounds to create remix. Could BIGkids have forged their own genre of music? It certainly felt that way when the brain heard such adolescent panache and bullish musical mutations splashing across the stage. Swing jazz, indie thwacks, electronic bloops and folk-pop percussion trail-blazed forth stabbing craniums with noise sharpened daggers dipped in the BIGkids 'remix' sound. During the set the Londoners outward persona tip-toed over sonic beam notes to indulge the crowd with boisterous claps and sizzling funk-pop samples. The fact that a music journalist from The Guardian was present merely highlighted that these BIGkids are growing up fast; excellent set list, brilliant performance, A star.
Aside from technical problems with a stubborn and insubordinate mic, the up and coming London four piece Theme Park managed to bag an advantageous slot before indie-pop behemoths We Are Scientists hit the stage. Having received numerous plaudits and wildcard touts over digital radio stations and online blogs, it comes as no surprise that Theme Park are gaining the recognition they so richly deserve. With comparisons to Talking Heads, Bombay Bicycle Club, Vampire Weekend and a more mellowed Delphic, such sentiments amongst the industry bigwigs can only showcase how good this band really are. Sliding across hostile indie plains, Theme Park poured ephemeral trickles of revitalising guitar pangs and marching drum beats to generate the sort of warm continental breeze-folk the UK so often misses. With electric drive and fuzzy pop temperaments this London band eventually delivered a clean, brisk and efficient catalogue of plucky indie tunes. The brickwork enclaves of club Coalition withstood the bass surges and copper resonance of such musical compositions with defiant belief as the tightly packed crowd bayed for more Theme Park songs. Despite the unsettling technical glitches the four individual members brought a unique vein of character to each track performed meaning the gig felt fresh, enjoyable and uniform. A good musical ride and snippet of what to expect from these talented individuals.
Trust were the next band on the schedule for the closing day of The Great Escape as the night time venues started roaring into life along with the deliverance of alcohol and whirling strobe lights. Performing to a suitably sized crowd in Above Audio meant Trust's neon blue patchwork array of dizzying Toronto pop-tronica could shimmer and resonate across the vast bar room, out through the open windows, down streets and along floorboards. Trust are the duo of Robert Alfons and Maya Postepski who between them have gradually chiselled out a unique electro sound to differentiate from the norm. Alfons' interestingly wallowing vocal displays orbited around the rhythmic stream of beats and thuds as the bass stitched together varying musical elements into a fastened cascade. Velvet strings of sinewy electro encroached upon tentative synth jabs to nudge contrasting elements together into a oceanic blue soundscape full of neon zorbs, diamond studded pop scuffles and glacial nodes of club euphoria. The transient nature of Trust's musical repertoire allowed each song to catapult across the crowd with cut throat precision and feed off the combined energy produced from such a genre of motivating noise. The key factor from this duo's set which left it towering amongst the mundane was the European vibe they generated so casually; the pounding bass essentially mixed very Eurocentric electro prongs of synthesising with indie lyricisms and cloudy dance melancholia that spurred miniscule bouts of genre bashing carnage topped with glittery pop frivolity. Exciting and full of electro fun.
Ploughing around Brighton's city centre into the latter evening hours led Owl By Night back to the crammed and pitch black venue of Sticky Mike's for one of the most highly anticipated sets from the up and coming Newcastle band Shields. The five lads have grown up within rich musical surroundings that have ultimately honed their eventual sound and professional approach. Instantly likable and possessing a rugged charm, each individual member helped convey the Shields persona of openness and blunt northern sincerity both through non-committal back channelling, witty tag lines and enlightening indie-pop tracks. Scuffling along with brash guitar strums that dug tenaciously into muddy pits of staccato drum thuds and bass jolts meant each note barraged into the next with a sure-footed ounce of aggression and bravado. Contrast such boisterous elements with the steadier realms of Luke, Dave and Rich's vocal harmonies and the fiery indie nature was quelled with a more mature, diligent sound. This allowed efficient auditory motions of sound to infiltrate the small downstairs club and generated a welcoming indie toxicity. With a tightly packed crowd each wrangled note of guitar, slam of drumstick and abdominally crunched expulsion of howled vocals glided between bodies with serpentine momentum; newly entranced senses then actively encouraged shoulders to sway in lazy unison and generated a nuzzled rapport. Shields possessed some scrupulous angles in which they forged solid blades of hot indie dynamite that plunged deep into fleshy pop nuances; dripping heavy instrumentals into translucent keyboard pools and flitting Borealis inspired noise-scapes. The Geordie five piece stomped forth delivering an amicable, confident and humbled performance that certainly paved the way for greater success, larger audiences and wider recognition.
Late on the festival's billing was the freshly squeezed, newly decorated and brand spanking new Brighton based band Cave Painting. To those of you who may not know, this five piece originally went by the moniker Rob The Rich back in the jittery stamp-foot bleep wave youth days of 2008-2010 indie music fashion. Developing a vociferously loyal locale, the five lads managed to garner a frenetic mix of conflicting noise battles and juvenile tenacity; punchy vocals, throbbing beats and clattering drums all made way for an entertaining sound. Fast forward to 2012 and Cave Painting still imbue that mechanic resilience and sleek professional direction having already fostered a major label deal and earnt regional and national plaudits for their sound. There is an evidential note of change amongst Cave Painting's musical composition; boyish scuffles have been drowned out in favour of slender echoes and mature instrumental sounds. At Sticky Mike's this Brighton band remained composed and almost disjointed from the atmosphere of the tightly packed crowd; establishing a degree of seamless Germanic precision in playing song after song bolstered the group's new image; bullish grins, assured stomps and menacing gazes tantalised the first few rows with veiled charms and rogue delights. With escalating ethereal poignancy Cave Painting caressed each individual and auditory note with silken care to produce euphoric tracks steeped in a rich tonic of grey-cloud electronica, crescendo building siren choruses and pulsating drum beat underpinnings. Dressing each moody collection of sounds with blau-dipped iciness cemented the notion of emotive slow-pop as powerhouse vocals soared diligently to lift the wallowing background rhythms. This clever display then generated an ascending journey of sounds, progressing from murky pools of alternate indie to incandescent electro. Appointing shoegaze furnishings to each track left the crowd optimistic, upbeat and entranced as Cave Painting eventually bared their musical sole and embraced eager ears with a gentile nuzzle of gratitude. Performing as a reincarnated five piece could of sounded the death knell for Brighton's most promising band export but worries aside, Cave Painting jostled with opulent genres, lacquered their sound with a misty veneer and accomplished the perfect balance of music, personality and professionalism in order to make their Great Escape gig one to remember for a long time to come.
Bringing the rambunctious array of festival activities to an end was Visions Of Trees' impromptu performance as part of The Alternative Great Escape at Fortune Of War; nestled in the upper corner of this promenade sited pub, Sarah Atalar and Joni Juden crammed all their keyboard wizardry and computational equipment into the hollowed enclave to make way for a delightfully intimate set. Despite the sparse and rather fatigued collection of fans stumbling in to get a slice of the Visions Of Trees pie, the gig was surprisingly infectious as the duo's renowned collective of neon beats, Afrikaans tribal loops, ethereal vocal transgressions and metallic electro fluxes really got to work in dynamic unison and agile functionality. Owl By Night has championed this twosome since late last year and the opportunity to witness such a Spartan display of minimal stage bravado was not to be missed. Those plaudits that left my feathered digits and worked their way onto this blog's first review of Visions Of Trees were instantly justified and vindicated. Dripping onyx trickles of noire electro into black hole voids and jet black abysses where individual sounds of furtive key shimmered and roamed amongst intermittent drum thuds. This generated a vast soundscape which was at times saturated in cosmic bleeps and contemporary wonderment yet vacuous and devoid; displaying such contrasting fields of noise, or a lack of, meant each song revealed an ashen gothic mood of bludgeoned synth sweeps and spectral vocal ascension. Having a strong affinity with the smoke machine not only prematurely aged the crowds lungs but cloaked the stage and bar area with eruptive sensations of murky electro swamps and mythical noise conflicts of epic, even gargantuan proportions. Sidling from one track into the next with absolute finesse and arrowed precision meant Visions Of Trees treated those loyal enough to visit with an elegant performance hooked with satin electronica, mantra compositions and haunting vocals; the perfect comedown after such a long and eventful weekend. Thank you Visions Of Trees.