Ok, I hold my hands up and admit that I whinged a fair bit about how poor the Great Escape line-up was this year. In the end, my friends and I saw some really good stuff. I wasn’t around on Thursday, but here are my Friday/Saturday highlights.
Meilyr Jones: Watch out for this guy. To call him the new Jarvis Cocker is too obvious… but it’s an appropriate description nonetheless. Witty lyrics delivered with an irresistible chess-club charisma. Superb backing musicians too. Everyone was in accord on this one. He ended on this, my favourite track of the night. Includes a neat use of the “cunning stunt” spoonerism.
Fai Baba: This was the actual gig my mate Jamie and I were at; the last two of the group standing late on Friday night. The drummer was a cross between Animal from the Muppets and Genghis Khan. Everyone was transfixed by the guy. Can’t Get Over You started like a motorik take on the Top Gear theme and ended like Keith Moon being chucked down a flight of stairs while in the middle of a solo. Awesome.
The Magic Gang: I love Brighton’s Magic Gang. I wonder if they’ll let me join… to play tambourine or something. They just look like they’re having so much fun, they and their mates from the sixth form who know all the words — an instant cure for festival fatigue. They even managed to illuminate the drab concrete corners of Shipwright’s Yard on Friday, with its carpet of discarded Red Stripe cans. I can’t stop listening to this track. Classic pop like this deserves to be huge. But, to be honest, I’d rather keep them for myself. Sorry lads.
Sego: This lot’s funky, electronic post punk noise is very Brooklyn 2003. Perfect for The Hope and Ruin. Think The Rapture or LCD Soundsystem. Is 2003 retro now? Obscene Dream, the opener on their recent LP Once Was Lost Now Just Hanging Around, was a stand-out, especially its jittery, discordant verse that feverishly evokes the paranoia of life on the edge. At the end of the set, LCD Soundsystem’s Losing My Edge starts pumping through the PA. They must get that a lot.
Teleman: I saw Pete and the Pirates play Horatios on the pier a few years back — one of those crowd-surfing, legs-in-the-air atmospheres you don’t forget in a hurry. Teleman were never going to quite recapture that level of exuberance, but they were excellent at The Paganini Ballroom on Ship Street on Saturday night. The ended on an extended version of this. A perfect antidote to the dull Mystery Jets, who I’d had to endure beforehand, and a satisfying climax to the festival.
Flamingods: A lo-fi Goat might be the nearest approximation for Flamingods, who have one of the most ethnically diverse sounds around, using instruments from (according to their press) Nepal, Thailand, Indonesia, Turkey, Japan and Tanzania. They played on the Alt Escape in Brighton Youth Centre, which was also hosting some kind of kids’ gymnastics class that day. Bring your own booze, two drummers, a sax player, a psychedelic light show, a percussive free-for-all, a singer with a twirly thing on top of his hat. What’s not to like? I even got a free sticker.
*Some lines originally written for http://www.brighton-source.co.uk.