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Top 5 Picks of TGE

The Great Escape is a new music festival and conference. In it’s 7th year, the Brighton based festival is noted as being the UK’s version of SXSW, with 350 bands in 30 venues across the city.

Showcase type festivals, like the Great Escape, have been on the rise over the past few years, attracting 3000 delegates from all over the world. I wandered around drinking and trying to see as many bands as possible. Here are my highlights:

COUSINS

My current favourite duo from Canada. Cousins are from Halifax (Nova Scotia) and started out as a 4 piece but have evolved in line up move arounds into a 2 piece of drums (Leigh Dotey) and guitar (Aaron Mangle). I first saw them in a vintage clothing shop last September in Montreal and every show has just gotten better. I showed up at the Blind Tiger to a one in one out queue and the room was boiling. Drummer Leigh’s face turned purple. I felt for her. A stage hand turned on a fan. She said that was one of the happiest moments of her life. Cousins have a unique blend of stop start garage rock that will get left in your head for days. I wake up with their songs buzzing around my brain. Live they plummet through each song not caring how sweaty or purple their faces have gotten. It’s well worth checking out.

DRENGE

Second duo on my list. Heard these guys were only 19? I know at least for a fact they are brothers from around the Sheffield area. Points for being young and points for being Yorkshire (my Dad was born in Sheffield, it’s just a thing for me). They played the giant room that is the Corn Exchange sandwiched between Canadian superstar Mac DeMarco and Florida heart throbs Merchandise. I love bands that are only 2 instruments but can fill the entire hall with a wall of sound. Drenge aren’t doing anything new, guitar & drums, bluesy rock with kick ass guitar riffs and bashing drums but they do it well and catchy. Every generation needs their own version of the tried and true rock heroes.

MELODY’S ECHO CHAMBER

I first heard Melody’s Echo Chamber while sat eating tacos in a bar in Toronto. I was instantly drawn to the band and asked the barmaid (who’s ipod was on shuffle) what we were listening to. I had the name written down as a band to check out since then. And now I know why Parisian songstress Melody Prochet sounds so enchanting, her record was produced by Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker. No wonder the music is so brilliant. I feel like Tame Impala is one of those bands who can do no wrong. Live it would have been better suited to a smaller venue than the Corn Exchange but it was still enchanting and lovely, just needed a smaller Chamber to really draw people in.

KLAXONS

OK – so not a new band. But watching 1100 people scream along to Golden Skans with their hands in the air was a festival highlight. The Great Escape is all about new up and coming bands but throwing in a band with some nostalgia and putting them on at 12:30AM when everyone’s been drinking for at least 6 hours is pure genius (thanks to festival programmer Adam Ryan). I had a massive grin on my face, singing along to Magick with all the other Brits. I had taken 4 Germans to the gig though who stood motionless arms folded watching the craziness unfold around them. I asked them “Are you having fun?” as I bounced around them in circles. I guess they only knew the one song (Golden Skans) in Germany. I think every festival should have at least one nostalgia band for everyone to get drunk and sing along too. This was perfect.

This show was crazy to get into. Chvrches were headlining and I had already seen them previously as one of the hyped band’s of CMW (Canadian Music Week). When we rocked up to Digital there was at least a 200 person queue outside, luckily for me I was with someone who could get us in a little faster. It was a busy room and being short and standing at the back I could make out the video visuals and that’s about it. I always find it weird watching bands as a short person where all I can really experience is the music. I stood on a step at the end of the set and saw Mø squirming and shaking about. The music is typical of the trendy female electronic singer songwriter stuff ala Grimes but I’d say a little less quirky than Grimes with a more accessible voice. If you like that stuff Mø is for you.

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Last week I went to Brighton with my new band – The Racket – to play a gig. I was really excited because we were opening for Hunx and his Punx which is Seth from Gravy Train!!! and Pantyraid‘s new band. I’ve known Seth for 11 years. I can hardly remember how we first met but I think it must have been through Otto Matik of the Prima Donnas. However it happened, Seth and I used to be penpals when we were teenagers and he had this amazing new wave record label that put out Luxo Champ, Prima Donnas, The Causey Way and he sent me loads of amazing music which I still have to this day!

I don’t think we met in real life until we played together back in Vancouver. He was in Gravy Train!!! and I was in the Ewoks. Last time I saw him was about 5 years ago at Club Motherfucker in London. So this gig was quite a reunion for me. It was also the Racket’s second gig ever so we were quite nervous. Lots of our friends came down on the train from London (the whole DMD crew was there and half of Baby Honey – represent!).

Hunx and his Punx is made up of Seth on lead vocals, a very outwardly camp gay man, he did at one point describe a song as “this next song’s about gay sex” and his backing band of 4 female punkettes singing about love, gay sex and rock n roll. The punkettes all wear matching bowties and shirts and have 60s boufont hair. It’s really cute.

After the gig we went back to one of the promoters houses with the whole Hunx band and the middle band, Nottingham’s Human Hair. I don’t know who’s idea it was (probably one of the American’s) but I turned around and a game of spin the bottle had started. I eagerly joined as I hadn’t played since I was 13! Hilarity ensued and by the end of the night I had kissed Seth, a punkette, a Human Hair and a few more party-goers. It was like being a kid again!

Already booked back to play Brighton on June 18th and looking forward to more sunny seaside sloppy party times in B-town.

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