Who’d have thought we’d survive long enough to see our fifth year of The Great Escape Festival? Oh how I remember our first time in attendance, when I was pleased just to see an Australian space-funk band perform one thirty minute song, later citing the experience as “unreal”.
These days I’m much more bitter and harder to please. With a whopping 400 bands on the menu, I’ll give each band approximately six seconds of play time before moving onto the next, like some sort of musical version of Tinder. Having discovered Bastille playing in a box room to less than thirty people in 2011, it’s difficult to convince yourself that such an experience could ever be even remotely replicated again.
Yet as we arrived at the grand old city of Brighton, optimism was moderately above average as familiar oddities immediately made you feel at home. The fresh sea air, the winding lanes, that strange bloke who makes origami next to that record shop or the amazing skateboarding dog will all make you feel like you never left.
After checking in with our AirBnB host (who worryingly trusts me a little too much with her own personal belongings), we did the first thing any music fan turned journalist does: methodically listen to every act on today’s line-up like you were going through your mate’s football stickers. Got, got, got, got, got… need. No wait false alarm, got… got…
Despite the miserable weather, we emerged to soak up the metaphorical sunshine kindly laid out by Brighton’s very own Fickle Friends. With rhythmic guitar riffs and 80’s style percussion, it was a pop-inspired wave of synthetic summer that brought a touch of cheer to The Hope And Ruin. Sadly, in reality it was still pissing it down outside.
With hunger settling in, choosing where to eat almost became as difficult as picking our bands of choice that day. Festival food isn’t usually much to write home about (plus you’d be lucky to even survive the added side of salmonella that often comes free with all orders) but with Brighton’s culinary wonderland on our doorstep, downtime between bands quickly became a whole different ballgame when compared to any other music festival. Vegan & Gluten-Free Quinoa Lentil Pakora with Chia Seeds anybody? (Still have no idea what this is.)
After successfully blurring the lines between music and food festivals, we settled into Concorde 2 along the windy Brighton seafront for a healthy dose of The Bohicas. With hazardous riffs that should be issued with a warning label, every note of thundering bass felt as though the Brightonian waves were impacting upon very walls of Concorde 2 itself. Anglo-Aussies Sunset Sons followed, effortlessly channeling what Mumford & Sons failed to achieve on ‘Wilder Mind’, with a refreshingly old school Kings Of Leon vibe.
We ventured back into the centre of Brighton to the Corn Exchange where George The Poet was promising to blow minds with his slick rhymes. The spoken-word poet from North-London offers social commentary through poetry backed by sombre R&B instrumentals and tonight was no different. Whilst being far from what I’d commonly describe as ‘my cup of tea’, George The Poet delivered like Royal Mail, without the need of a fluorescent jacket. He was undoubtedly the first artist at The Great Escape to challenge convention without simultaneously alienating the audience with thirty minute guitar solos or fusing genres that nobody asked for (such examples include electro-jazz, metal-pop and hip-hop country.)
Given that I’d spent the majority of the day with damp socks (a sickening feeling that likens to a middle class trench-foot), we decided to call it night like the boring people we are. Did I mention that I was sober by this point as well? God, my past self would be disappointed at what I’ve become. Let’s hope I man up before the morning. Until tomorrow…