As promised we will give you a 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 this year's festival.
YADI, (POP, UK)
The Great Escape has a knack for surprising you, whether it is an unannounced live act, freebie drinks, delegates industry debate or a new stage venue being added to the schedule. In this case it was a spontaneous pop-up stage on the promenade next to Brighton's infamous pier. The fantastic spring weather made this the best setting by far for a little street gig during the festival and on stage was one of London's finest emerging pop extraordinaires, YADi. Despite a less than desired turnout, the well-touted Londoner who is a mix of Niki And The Dove meets M.I.A. treated the seafront diaspora to an energetic performance full of emotively soaked power chords, seismic harmonies and a flurry of alternative pop intricacies. YADi was instantly likeable; her cute silhouette, her polite mannerisms and deceptively powerful voice won the youngster a lot of positive attention and compliments from those watching. Added to her performance were oscillating bass wobbles, electro-tinged synth manipulations and dynamic choruses. It perfectly highlighted that YADi has all the ingredients to be a promising alt-pop princess and her little set in the middle of Brighton was a great surprise too.
NIGHT ENGINE, (FUNK / POP-ROCK, UK)
Having seen how much interest has been aimed at London four-piece Night Engine over the past year as well as being firm fans of their bounding jolts of funk derived eighties gloss-rock, it made logical sense to grab a slice of the live music pie and check out the emerging band in the decidedly more intimate setting of Above Audio during the daytime. A braces-clad lead singer in the form of Phil McDonnell was candidly excitable and showed a preppy enthusiasm for his band's work that rubbed off nicely onto the watching crowd. Having toured extensively around the London circuit their physical musicianship was seamless and deftly orchestrated, belying their relatively short band life; Night Engine's gig remained buoyant and intriguing from start to finish as McDonnell's sweltering whelps and skittish façade nicely complimented the strong ligature funk framework on offer. Bounding beats, fuzzed up guitar agitations and steadfast drum thuds oozed retro eighties pop a la David Bowie and revealed how stupendously awesome Night Engine are as a live music act.
Night Engine: Facebook
LULU JAMES, (ELECTRONIC SOUL, UK)
Oh Lulu James! This fabulous matriarch of modernised electro-soul immediately won us over with her comedic resonance, friendly irreverent demeanour and a beautifully swooning vocal arrangement when she performed at The Great Escape. The young lass from South Shields, Newcastle, was born at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, speaks Swahili and settled at the mouth of the murky river Tyne. Somewhere along the lines there was an absolute guarantee that she was destined for artistic excellence and luckily she found her calling card in the form of music. A charismatic stage persona and jokey wit made Lulu James a joy to watch at club Digital. Performing to a full capacity crowd the solo artist showcased a phenomenal vocal display; opaquely melancholic in areas, emotively raspy in others and oozing raw soulful harmonies by the bucket full. Lulu James has been continually compared to Jessie Ware but we think Donna Summer meets The Noisettes in a James Blake realm of electronic distortions is far more accurate and just. Chirpy synths and intermittent noise board exultations ensured her set-list was a darker affair and properly conveyed a veiled style of soul that was captivating throughout.
Lulu James: Facebook
DIANA, (ELECTRO-POP, CANADA)
Toronto four-piece DIANA were a band we were desperate to see after fawning over their lackadaisical dream-pop worlds where imaginations wander and senses are awakened. Sounds rather fluffy and poetical we know, but when you first hear DIANA you are transported to said world with escapist enthusiasm and you don't want to leave. Performing in the early evening at Club Digital the docile appearing and calm faced DIANA had a mellowed stage persona that merely enhanced their appeal and nurtured a vested intrigue amongst festival-goers. Lead singer Carmen sauntered around the microphone with a domineering presence as her vocal melodies lapped tranquilly against the diverse instrumental backdrop on offer. Ushered sighs, convulsing synth jitters, pagan chants, waterfall keys, tribal drum skits, the band had it all. The introduction of a saxophone enlivened the crowd and added a romanticised M83-esque fluidity to the performance all whilst the delicate harmonies of Carmen sewed each musical element together. Unexpected and surprising, this gig was a masterpiece in dream-pop revelry and wonderment and left us wanting to hear more.
MØ, (ALTERNATIVE POP, DENMARK)
It is known that Danish people love to create hygge (pronounced hue-gah) which is a sense of intimacy, of feeling good and about creating a positive atmosphere. After MØ had finished at Club Digital you could undeniably sense a feel-good rapport within the boisterous crowd. Hygge. It was there and so very tangible. The Copenhagen starlet whose real name is Karen Marie Ørsted managed to bag herself a fantastic venue with a heftily sized crowd on the last night of The Great Escape Festival. A firm favourite amongst music journalists, the Danish solo artist has already made waves thanks in part to her raucously edgy image and sharpened pop intellect. MØ's set was a sensory induced monster of archived retrospective images splattered across the back wall that enhanced the visual aesthetics in tandem with zorbing alt-pop tracks that barraged forth with tenacity and attitude. Imposing hand claps, assertive beats, maniacal jolts of energy and experimental noise inclusions made for a perfectly quirky set. MØ's empowered nature and enthusiasm for singing rubbed off onto the crowd and ensured the young Dane was well received; her brand of pop scours away any frivolity and sticks to an efficient and steady tonic of glacial vocal layouts and inquisitive sounds.
CHVRCHES, (ELECTRO-POP, UK)
Chvrches were the band we wanted to see most at The Great Escape Festival this year so it was imperative that we worm our way intrepidly to the front in time for their set. Thankfully we managed to succeed in said task. We have championed the electro-pop act consisting of Lauren Mayberry, Martin Doherty and Iain Cook from the very beginning after the Glaswegian three-piece first dropped debut 'Lies' onto the internet. We adore their whimsical pop attributes and fuzzy electro landscapes which have shifted attention back onto the UK electro-pop scene alongside those from Scandinavia and further afield. The packed venue was testament to the band's increased popularity and every person within the crowd was hypnotised by their sound; otherworldly, curious, comforting and dreamy, the way Chvrches stimulate multiple senses and evoke positive emotions ensures they remain the purveyors of synaesthetic music. Their sugary electronica superbly wove itself between rousing pop instrumentations with dexterity and well-oiled execution. The cute nature of Chvrches gave the band a nonchalant and reserved vibe between each song allowing both the audience to fall in love with their mannerisms as well as letting the music do the talking. Tracks such as "The Mother We Share" and "Recover" perfectly showcased their unique sound and unequivocally confirmed that Chvrches were the best band of the festival, not just for us but for a lot of others too.
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