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The Great Escape - Various Venues, Brighton - 16th-18th May 2013 (Live Review)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013 Written by Adam Holden

One thing is certain about Brighton's Great Escape, with so much diversity in its music, everyone goes home talking about different bands.

Inherently having its roots in indie music, which overall from the city's point of view is comprehendible, the festival still boasts music from every genre imaginable, from every corner of the globe. Present this year were bands from Canada to Australia, New Zealand to Poland and from literally everywhere in between.

With sell out crowds expected over the three day gigathon, the only downfall to the festival is the queues, as most venues have limited capacity and can leave many fans upset at missing the artist they wanted to see, or even spending most of their time queuing to see that same artist.

Where this is an issue, the festival is till unique and is seen as Europe's answer to SXSW, a festival in America that showcases the latest up-and-coming music. And the UK answer to SXSW is most definitely the Great Escape (TGE), which provides spectacles and atmosphere that can be seen or felt by no other festival in England.

With a plethora of artists, thousands of fans flock to the streets hoping to see the future of music. This year's buzz bands included the likes of Chvrches, The Strypes, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Swim Deep, The 1975 and the comeback of the Klaxons – finally.

However, this year's buzz bands were in high demand and queues zig-zagged up and down streets, around corners and anywhere organises could push them. For most of these bands, they will be flattered that the hype was so huge, but surely upset that half of the fans who wanted to witness their new music couldn't.

However, there are over 350 artists present over the weekend, so unearthing new gems is just as pleasing as following the hype.

Nonetheless, Unknown Mortal Orchestra were a let down. Seen as an exciting three-piece from New Zealand that plays the best in new soul and funk. The girls were a let down and seemed overwhelmed by TGE.

Swim Deep were of a similar suit but despite being drowned by the sheer size of the stage, the boys eventually grew into their set and ended well. With many similarities to fellow Birmingham boys Peace, the boys will have to grow quickly if they are to follow the footsteps of Peace.

The 1975 were excellently poppy, and after having watched the two bands on before just to make sure we were present for the band, they were well worth the wait, especially the lead singer's voice who has drawn comparisons with Michael Jackson.

Even though the carpeted hotel ballroom that hosted The 1975 was only a stones throw away from Digital, where Chvrches were playing, the sheer demand for both bands meant there was sadly no way both were possible to see, although judging from the contingent who saw them, their synthesised electro pop went down well.

With a superb atmosphere that is propelled into the streets from TGE's revellers, the festival can be just as entertaining waltzing the streets, listening to the many performers who rock out from buses, open the back doors and project their music, or just even gambling on a band who are just about to finish.

Little Green Cars were evident to this, whose five-piece rock band were brilliant, showcasing excellent vocals and tremendous harmonising between all singers. Excellent folk-infused pop and what this festival is all about in terms of finding new music.

The Skints, who seem TGE veterans now, were as expected, amazing. With the crowd swaying to the sound of Ska and reggae, the drummer, who sings almost poetically is worth seeing alone.

Palma Violets, one of the more established acts of the three-day event, performed a special headline set at The Haunt at about 2am which saw stage invasions and pure chaos – in the most indie of fashion.

The Klaxons stole the show though. Whereas on one hand, they are not breakthrough artists, their six year enforced sabbatical from the industry lets them in on a technicality. Mixing nostalgia with new music, the guys left off where they started with their award-winning debut album, creating pure indie-rave.

Bastille were the big headline acts this year, however, it is the up-and-coming acts that are the backbone and ethos to this festival, which is what makes it so exciting.


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