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FESTIVAL REVIEW: The Great Escape 2022 – Friday

Once again, in an attempt to satisfy both our music and sun-deprived needs, we started at the Beach site. But instead of lazing in the atypical heat, we were poached for a mini photoshoot by Dr Martin’s because, being the emo kids we are, we decided to wear boots during sandal weather. AND as if this didn’t inflate our egos enough, we were then asked by Amazon to perform a song. Look ma we made it! We finally played TGE! Well…sort of…Amazon had this ingenious idea to set up a booth where anyone could film a song and be entered into a draw to win studio time, further encouraging TGE’s ethos of aiding the undiscovered. But it was right next to their stage, so still counts as playing right?

Before we became too hubristic, we sought out a sunspot to watch Irish Rockers THUMPER at the MVT trailer. How this band fit on the stage is beyond us. With a line-up of three guitarists, a bassist and two drummers, it’s a wonder they could move at all. Yet, with their punk presence, four-part harmonies and cynical lyrics they managed to occupy the space in a way that no band had so far. Their thunderous, psych-drenched noise drowned out the Amazon Stage, which dominated yesterday. These rambunctious rockers may have jolted the lethargic audience from their sun stupor, but it was their unexpected cover of Natasha Bedingfield’s Unwritten which had them solidified to memory. From guitars hanging in teeth to scaling rickety PAs, we can only imagine how insane their regular shows must be. 6/10

Following this sonic assault was bubble gum pop-punk Jalle, whose positive energy quenched the angsty embers left by THUMPER. Although the performance lacked zest, so it was easy to get lost in conversation with your pals, only tuning in when chat lapsed. 3/10

This wasn’t a problem for New Yorker’s Been Stellar though, who had queues circling the TGE Beach Stage. We naively believed “the tent is just there it’ll be fine”. But alas it wasn’t. Despite our attempts to worm our way in, every crook crammed. Every nook nestled.  No way was anyone making their way in there. But from the glimpses we could make, the floor was alive. Sonically, they reminded us of post-internet The Libertines, with a The Killers vocal style, with lyrics critiquing consumer culture and media mind games. Our one regret of the weekend? Being stuck on the outside of that tent. 7/10

After attending TGE for a few years now, we cottoned on to what venues host what genres. Because of this, seasoned patrons will rock up to a site for the opening back and remain there until the headliner, rather than traipse over Brighton in hopes of getting into a venue. The only downside to the festival – you can’t switch off and wander – it’s be there or be literally shut out. But we digress. Back to our point, weirdly the grime/drill venue of Brighton, Volks, becomes home to the darker side of rock, which has most Brightonians tickled yet confused. Kickstarting their line-up was the spell bounding Witch Fever, whose rhythm section attacked your very core. The Mancunian doom-punk quartet were bewitching as they harnessed haunting harmonies and mellifluous melodies in a hypnotic manner. Maybe it was poor sound quality, but we loved the way the vocals weren’t quite clear, that they sat so far in the mix it added to the ethereal atmosphere. But don’t let that fool you, these creatures take no prisoners. An embodiment of ‘fuck the patriarchy’ (a theme we’re noticing amongst most acts we’ve seen so far – and absolutely living for) with the sole purpose to scorch social expectations. 6/10 

In keeping with the mayhem Witch Fever ignited, Defects stole the stage with their walls of death and mosh pits. Admittedly a filler band to kill time, as our plan was to grab a drink and relish the last moments of the sun before CRASHFACE, we thank the metal gods that we stayed. Comparable to Stone Sour, their visceral, melodious choruses stole us, whereas the discordant, screamo verses had fists in the air. This was the band we didn’t know we needed until now. A band that had people booing when declaring their last song – a feat at a festival designed for upcoming artists. 8.5/10

Next emo pop-punk representatives, CRASHFACE, take to the stage, with their daredevil photographer balancing on shaky speakers to capture the perfect shot. Whilst this collision of pop-infused vocals and explosive riffs suited Volk’s vibe, the London duo would have been more appropriate as an opener, as the evening got progressively heavier with Witch Fever and Defects. But one thing we noticed here, as well as during Defects but didn’t want to jinx, was that Volks seemingly has a resident mosher. Starting a pit with Defects singer, Tony Maue, here he was again instigating frenzy once again, which was equally as entertaining to watch. Between this and CRASHFACE’s boisterous manner and unapologetic attitude, with singer, Charlie Hinton, climbing woozy PAs and spilling water so having to “drink tequila instead oh nooo” there was never a tedious moment. They’re frantic. Vehement. Downright chaotic. They’re modern punk at its almost finest. 6/10

Finally, headliners, Fixation, had us do a double take, as in a smoky room vocalist Jonas Hansen resembled Nathan Leone, leader singer of Madina Lake. From the iced hair and white shirt to the stage presence and vocal delivery, the similarities were uncanny at times. Or maybe that was just the liquor lens. Who knows? Either way, the audience was transfixed. With a My Passion, mid-2000s emo scene energy, the heavy angst was complimented perfectly by sweeter moments of vulnerability. Of course, our serial mosher struck again as Hansen asked, “who wants to mosh?”. He materialised front of stage in a matter of minutes. One guy even turned to his other half with a face-splitting grin, thrilled, christening him “hey it’s this guy!”. But if this proves anything, then its moshpits are for making friends, as, by the end, the unholy trio within the pit were clasped shoulder to shoulder. As cliché as it is, rock shows aren’t just about music, they’re about finding solace in this fucked-up world. And Fixation proved that tonight as the crowd screamed for an encore, which was unfortunately denied due to curfew. 9/10

As we stumble into bed at 4am after seeking out the late, late-night shows and acoustic sets, we set our alarm for ungodly am hours, and we wonder – how the hell are we going to survive a third day/night?

Written by: Corey Plant