As promised we will give you a succinct round-up of all the bands and artists we managed to see and a brief descriptive review of each gig so that we can share with you the plethora of acts and types of music we saw at The Great Escape Festival.
SAY YES DOG, (ALTERNATIVE POP, LUXEMBOURG)
When you read the biographical description on Say Yes Dog's Facebook page it is clear that they know their sound; indeed the vast use of figurative vocabulary makes us and our fanciful words look tame and so the seeds of intrigue were sown and encouraged us to check out their evening gig at The Queens Hotel. Based between The Hague and Berlin the trio of Aaron, Pascal and Paul provided a mystical extravaganza of sounds entrenched in pulsating Teutonic verve and determination. Subverting instrumental normalities was clearly something that came as being very natural to the Say Yes Dog vision as keys grated across swooning guitar riffs whilst strained synth voids resonated heavily with drum-like rhythm and obedience. The less than spectacular turnout didn't do the three-piece band's gig any true justice, although it did enhance the intimacy of the performance and made us appreciate witnessing exceptional musicians with a talent for producing moody electro-pop laced with surprising compositions a whole lot more. A great gig indeed.
Say Yes Dog: Facebook
KID KARATE, (ALTERNATIVE ROCK, IRELAND)
Whilst waiting for the next scheduled band in our daily planner we found ourselves with a precious half an hour to spare. Thus, the most logical thing to do was to have a little peak at what the Dublin duo who go by the name of Kid Karate had to offer. Kevin Breen; a silken haired gentile Irish lad one minute, then a frenetic explosion of movement and screeching vocal empowerment the next, channelled his and Steven Gannon's music perfectly within the murky confines of club Audio. Their skittish body mannerisms epitomised how gritty pop-rock should be as the twosome played with animalistic fire; bounding around and performing a selection of fantastically sweaty alt-rock tracks that really energised the crowd and made the entire ensemble feel interactive as well as visually captivating. Foots stamped and shoulders swayed. Amidst the gleamed Irish charm of Breen it was clear that Kid Karate were special; this set was professional yet fun, which is always going to be a winning combination. Indeed the two from Dublin were a huge surprise of the weekend for all the right reasons.
Kid Karate: Facebook
THE FAMILY RAIN, (INDIE, UK)
As part of the title to the band might suggest, The Family Rain are indeed a family, a humbling trio of musically astute young brothers who play with a genetic precision and unspoken understanding of the other brothers' sound. Seeing the three-piece from Bath play was another little highlight amongst our day simply because these siblings produce a smoothed out style of indie that is sun-kissed, melodic and gently rousing to the ear. We managed to grab a spot right at the front of the crowd and when we turned around to see a completely packed out Above Audio it confirmed the overheard rumours and tittle-tattle whispers that The Family Rain were one of the bands to watch during the festival. Their stage persona was calm, collected and low-key and perfectly mirrored their shimmering guitar riffs and earthen vocal tones. Whilst it felt a wee bit tame in places the crowd were enthusiastic and responsive to such succulent harmonies and instrumental prowess. A fine performance for the afternoon.
Check out the video via Youtube after the hyper-link jump.
The Family Rain: Facebook
SUSANNE SUNDFØR, (ELECTRONIC POP, NORWAY)
We first heard Susanne Sundfør over a year ago and instantly fell in love with her typically Nordic charms and ability to create glacial melodies and stark pop contrasts. The moment we saw she was playing an intimate gig at The Courtyard we were there in a flash. Amidst the cans of Red Stripe and the obnoxious nattering between scene-kids there stood the Norwegian electronic princess inside an open garage, accompanied by several musicians. Her vocals were what sealed the deal here; absolutely pitch perfect, icily precise and haunting, yet still you felt hope and warmth. It is a strange contradiction but amongst the brief woos and stupendous harmonies there was a veiled lightness which trickled through. Her performance was simplistic and there was no avant-garde behaviour or crowd-pleasing so as not to deter from the music, which worked out perfectly well. Add in an array of experimental electro warbles, clicks and tectonic bass shivers and the gig was made. Solid Scandi-pop from a brilliant artist.
Susanne Sundfør: Facebook
TEMPLES, (PSYCHEDELIC, UK)
All the right bloggers and educated music journalists out there are raving about Temples and rightly so. The references, plaudits and similarities could easily overwhelm and drown you in a sea of ushered pleasantries and throwback comparisons; The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Flaming lips, Tame Impala. The list could literally be endless, so we thought it wise to check out the group from Kettering who describe their sound as 'neo-psych' to see if such commentaries stood correct. They were correct. It could be said that Temples are reviving the bygone era of musical psychedelia but then it never really left, it just remained quietly patient until a purveyor of such a genre arose once more. Luckily we were witness to such a kaleidoscopic renaissance courtesy of Temples. Salamandrine guitar riffs reverberated around The Courtyard's enclosed walls to generate a sense of coppery warmth amidst intermittent drum beats and intoxicated musical arrangements seeped in a noxiously woozy vocal coating. And breath. It was, to simply put it, a joy to behold and presented the crowd with a picture frame image of both the past and the future of the psychedelic genre. An excellent little gig by a band who should hit the big time soon enough we hope.
NINA NESBITT, (POP, UK)
We first blogged about Nina Nesbitt last year after noticing the huge online furore the Edinburgh based starlet was causing thanks in part to her springy folk nuances and refreshing pop simplicities. Her Youtube and Facebook accounts have amassed a spectacular amount of hits and 'likes' so it was unthinkable to not see the lass play at The Warren on Friday. At a festival such as The Great Escape we were a little worried that the twee, commercially-savvy and mainstream appeal of Nina Nesbitt may be ridiculed amongst the more vociferous and snub-nosed revellers out there but thankfully she was embraced by the Brighton crowd. Hushing any possible critics Nesbitt showcased a gusto streak of musical assertiveness; zealous guitar tweaks, plodding drums and cutesy pop inferences were lavished over her performance. To top it off she delivered an impeccable acoustic arrangement with pristine vocal sincerity that earned her a rapturous applause and cheeky set of heckles from some intoxicated festival-goers. A happy performance that made us smile and feel all warm and fuzzy. Thank you Nina.
Follow the hyper-link below and watch the video via Youtube.
Nina Nesbitt: Facebook
IGGY AZALEA. (HIP-HOP, AUSTRALIA / USA)
One of the biggest acts on this year's Great Escape bill was Iggy Azalea and we think it was quite a fair coup that promoters managed to bag the Australian-born rap artist. Along with fellow cannons Azealia Banks and Angel Haze the hyped bravado and provocative lyrical onslaughts that the US-based siren constructs have won her a vast wealth of fans on a global scale. It still seems surreal that Iggy Azalea performed in what is essentially an out-dated sports hall behind a shopping centre but there we go, it can't always be 'street' or glamourous, needless to say, the extensive queues suggested this was a gig not to be missed. With a dazzling backdrop of pulsating bright lights, a hype-DJ and two fabulously erotic backing dancers the visual aesthetic was easily the highlight of the festival. Azalea enhanced her set with a feisty, extroverted persona that engaged with the crowd on numerous occasions and even taught people how to 'twerk-it' in between crunked-up bass lines, mountainous alley beats and ghettoised hip-hop thrashment. Her performance generated an infectious surge of energy that resonated around the venue and created a sizzling atmosphere. The young artist was a welcome addition to the festival line-up and her set delivered a brilliantly diverse style of music that is often neglected at such an event. To those who left it too late in that queue, you well and truly missed out.
Follow the link below and watch the video to "Bounce" exclusively from The Great Escape via Youtube.
Iggy Azalea: Facebook
Owl By Night: Facebook
Owl By Night: Twitter