As Friday dawned on The Great Escape Festival 2015, it was hard to feel immediately refreshed after being woken up by monstrous seagulls, intermittently emanating the song of their people from 5am onwards.
Fortunately, the sound of seagulls would be the worst thing I’d hear that day as we once again studied the vast sea of artists gracing the eclectic venues of Brighton’s Great Escape Festival. Well, that’s excluding the sound of one particular festival goer questioning her acquaintances on the whereabouts of “a cafe that serves alcohol”. Last time I checked, we called them pubs, love.
Despite more grey skies, we kicked off the day with a healthy dose of Ireland’s very own The Riptide Movement (hilariously billed in some places on the line-up as the Ripe Tide Movement). With clean, melodic riffs rife at The Prince Albert, it’s hard not to feel like our taste in music has gone from top dog to underdog. Unleashing tracks like ‘You and I’ and ‘All Works Out’, it leaves you questioning why guitar bands like this aren’t quite where they necessarily deserve to be, or certainly would have been a few years ago.
After a Lord Of The Rings style epic journey to Brighton’s The Creperie, the disappointingly disparate state of modern music became a crucial talking point. It’s been quite sometime since the glory days of The Libertines, Razorlight, The Killers, The Strokes, yet indie still remains the last cohesive ‘era’ of music, with no one particular movement taking its place. Isn’t it about time the misfits of music reclaimed the charts back from the likes of Taylor Swift? Do we really have to rely on One Direction to globally represent British music? Because, as we concluded, that’s totally not cool.
Thankfully, in our first true dose of angst so far, lo-fi punk band PINS wore the underdog indie tag with pride. Tearing a new hole out of the Dome Studio Theatre without hestitation, PINS renewed our faith in guitar bands with rampant percussion and more fuzz than watching Channel 5 on an analogue TV. It’s no wonder there was a queue out of the venue as far as the eye could see.
After concluding that Brighton has more international cuisine than the very countries that birthed them, we ventured to Brighton Coalition to catch the much celebrated Nothing But Thieves. With an arsenal of radio-friendly, direct hits, it’s easy to see why this Essex powerhouse is gaining momentum fast. After milling about inbetween sets (something which mostly involves checking your phone to avoid any chance of interacting with other humans) two silhouettes entered the stage.
In a simultaneous breath of fresh air and punch to the gut, Slaves graced Brighton Coalition and immediately put a puncture in the mass-produced bubble of modern music. With abrasive vocals, sinister riffs and relentless percussion, there’s no doubt that their cynicism and attitude will continue light their path through the otherwise prim and proper music industry. Given that we were also missing Alabama Shakes, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and Jack Garrett (who were all disappointingly playing at the exact same time) Slaves removed all consideration of other acts as soon as they removed their shirts.
Continuing the theme of defiance and feeling like a much needed blast from the past, Rat Boy took to the stage of The Haunt on behalf of NME to a completely packed-out room. It was hard not to instantly have your faith restored in indie music, feeling much more at home amongst lovers of melodic guitars, observational lyrics and feel-good anthems. With many citing Jamie T and old school Arctic Monkeys as comparisons, we’d find it hard to disagree. Perhaps indie isn’t dead after all?
This was made particularly evident by NME’s ‘very special guests’ who followed Rat Boy, later turning out to be the one and only Vaccines. Now that’s worth staying up past your bedtime for! After a death-defying collision between Justin Young and guitarist Freddie Cowan during ‘Bad Mood’, not to mention an impromptu crowd surf during ‘Norgaard’, it’s safe to say the band relished the unusually intimate confines of The Haunt.
It’s little moments like this that have seen us retire from the traditional music festivals, gladly leaving the tents and mud behind. Not only is the choice of bands at The Great Escape out of this world, but the amount of secret shows and special guest appearances make those ‘magic moments’ priceless.
As we strolled home past multiple bustling pubs and venues, we could at least rest a little easier knowing that the music we’ve always loved is still alive and well at The Great Escape Festival. You’ve just got to search a little harder to find it.