Running on a near deadly concoction of alcohol and caffeine which had replaced most of the life-sustaining liquids in our bodies, marks the final instalment of our festival review. But hey, it wouldn’t be The Great Escape (TGE) if we weren’t working the morning away, inhaling caffeine until our shift ended and it’s socially acceptable to start drinking. Then traipsing across Brighton in search of our next favourite artist until the sun rises and stumbling into bed three hours before it starts all over again.
With the sun blistering down, we found ourselves lost amidst colours as we squeezed ourselves down Jubilee Street. Being a sunny Saturday, locals and day trippers alike gravitate towards the seaside resort, and being mid-May, an assortment of performers line the streets causing clusters of passer-byers to stop mid-walk to watch. Which is wonderful, appreciation of the arts at its finest, until you have somewhere to be. Although tempted to stay by glimpses of street magic and tap-dancing punks, we eventually made it to Concorde 2 to catch no-holds-barred Cassyette. Step over Margot Robbie because there’s a new Harley Quinn in town. And she’s fiercer, louder and ballsier.
With a debut at Download’s pilot festival and just completing her first UK headline tour, this tempest not only blew the minds of her already established minions but had the patriarchal music industry mongrels’ slack-jawed at the back of the room. We simply couldn’t stand on the side-lines for this one. Instead, we strategically manoeuvred to the front of the crowd, using mosh pits, or “bit pit energy”, to our advantage. Being reviewers, we often find ourselves glued more to our phones to take notes rather than the performance itself, a frustrating occupational hazard. But Cassyette broke that. As the crowd resembled that of an actual rock show instead of an industry showcase, it was easy to get lost in the moment. Baring her soul whilst baring her teeth, Cassyette has you clinging to every beautifully tragic word and screaming at every frustration, making her our favourite discovery of the week. 9.5/10
We’ll be honest, we didn’t cram in as much as we had planned, as, after Cassyette, we were drawn to the beach for a moment of serenity. Basking in the sun with good friends and beer, it was easy to let the weather convince us into avoiding blacked-out venues. But it’s moments like these that define TGE too. Marking the beginning of the festival season and warmer weather, it incites comradery, serendipity, and eudemonia. Whether that be through supporting emerging artists or reconnecting with friends.
Finally dragging ourselves from this Elysium, we returned to Volks for Australian rockers PLANET. Sonically, the quartet felt like a sunset beach dream, or like an opening credit to a 90s teenage sitcom like The OC, with their catchy melodies but bittersweet lyrics. They oozed indie boy sweetness without the typical unflattering hubris – hello Gallagher brothers. Yet, despite the attempts at audience participation, the crowd were unresponsive. Probably sun sedated, with some being seduced by the beams creeping under the doorframe, making a not-so-subtle exit. Which was a shame considering the talent before them, it just happened to be poorly scheduled – feeling more like an end of the night come-down band than an opener. 5/10
Those who remained were antsy for a rock show. Cue Australian pop-punkers Yours Truly. There’s always one band you know at TGE, and this was ours. Nominated as Best International Breakthrough Artist at the Heavy Music Awards, the foursome were one of the most anticipated of the festival, filling the previously incomplete space. After tech issues in the form of dodgy in-ear monitors, the band blasted into their first track. But, by the second song, guitarist Teddie Winder-Haron announced “we’ll be back soon” as singer Mikaila Delgado still couldn’t hear herself. But with an undertone of bitterness that bordered prima donna, Delgado carried on as it “has happened now”. Being musicians ourselves, we understand the frustrations of sound problems, but their discourtesy left us apprehensive. Thankfully they delivered as they played hit after hit and Volk‘s infamous mosh-pit maker struck again. After a quick “hold my beer” he was instigating yet another round of chaos just three songs in. High Hopes was a particular highlight as we were able to actually sing along for the first time this week – another hazard of TGE. Overall, the vibe was pure, unadulterated fun, as OG and Renaissance emos united over songs about self-discovery and bittersweet memories. It was the rock show that was greatly needed after PLANETS. 7/10
Migrating to Chalk we caught Hastings punk rockers Kid Kapichi. Hailing Brighton as their second home, the quartet harnessed Brit-pop vocals with a hard-rock arrangement that had grunge kids flitting from moshing to bopping. Think Rage Against The Machine meets Arctic Monkeys, a fusion of explosive riffs and infectious melodies. While sonically phenomenal, from a live perspective a touch more of Queens of the Stone Age theatrics would have pushed them beyond, an area joint lead vocalist and guitarist Ben Beetham begins to embody. But a favourite had to be their acoustic, yet-to-be-released Rob the Supermarket which highlighted second frontman, Jack Wilson’s, melodious voice. The sweetness perfectly juxtaposed the politically driven anger of the lyrics, like that of The Clash, where they sing “don’t get excited you’re not invited to the party at no 10. It’s one rule for you another for them”. This most mellow fuck you that had the audience soon singing along. 7/10
Ending our tumultuous week was the white-trash Electro-Metal Instrumental group GURF at Waterbear. Described as ‘Math/Electro/Weirdo Metal’ and with a ‘come catch us at a gig for an uncomfortable night’ invite we were intrigued. We had to know what the hell that sounded like. Their set was a fury of angst, anger and destruction, which was somehow freeing. Their plethora of pedals made the stage look more like a science experiment and we’re surprised no one stacked over with the amount of seizure-like-head/body-banging that was happening. It took us a song or three and stepping back from the suspiciously swaying speaker to get into our new discovery, but when we did, we were itching to mosh, too bad the set ended shortly after this realisation. 5/10
And here we meet the bittersweet ending of The Great Escape. It may have killed us, but know we died happy, surrounded by incredible music and people. Now, where’s our bed?
Written by: Corey Plant