The Great Escape 2014 ... Saturday Night's Alright
The Great Escape Hub
´╗┐Every year in May Brighton opens its doors to new bands from across the world for three solid days of gigging, discovery and general revelry. Welcome to The Great Escape ...
Circumstances meant we were reduced to Saturday only for this year's Great Escape and the day dawned inauspiciously with the rain hammering down relentlessly on Horsham town. A further soaking as we changed trains at Three Bridges did little to raise the spirits but as we finally hit the coast, things began to look brighter and on the walk down to The Old Steine from the station we were greeted by the sun peeking its head through the clouds with the hint that it may well decide to put its hat on later in the day. That hope was fulfilled as we exchanged our tickets for wristbands at the festival Hub (above), grabbed some breakfast, parked ourselves on extremely wet chairs and sat happily as the sun proceeded to dry us out as the first bands opened fire in the neighbouring tents.

Preparing for the day we had listened to about fifty prospective bands on-line with growing disappointment and had decided pretty much to wing it apart from two very firm dates with Dublin's Girl Band. One other act we did quite fancy, though, were Canada's Powder Blue, so we strolled through the sunshine up to The Blind Tiger (sadly now under threat from the city's noise police) which was featuring a host of Canadian acts throughout the day and were extremely glad we did as the Saskatoon four-piece (below) were terrific, fusing some extremely clever drumming and nicely Spartan bass with some reverberating guitars and throbbing keyboards to create a pleasingly edgy rock sound with no end of pulling power. There were records on sale and we were tempted to stay, chat and buy, but still weighed down by luggage we decided to head off to our hotel to check in, our walk gladdened by the fact the potash heaven of Saskatchewan could now boast more than having the nineteenth busiest airport in Canada.

Powder Blue at The Blind Tiger
Rested, dusted down, full of Mexican food, sangria and half a flask of whisky, we found ourselves queueing in the extremely brisk wind outside The Haunt, in the former bus station of Pool Valley, as soundchecks at the NME Radar stage dragged on way beyond schedule. Finally being allowed access we headed to the front to capture the first set of the day from the fabulous Girl Band who opened the evening's proceedings with a blistering half-hour set which only served to underline why they are one of the most important bands around today. In contrast to their last recorded offering, the 25-second 'The Cha Cha Cha', Girl Band's songs are in general lengthening and becoming more experimental, eschewing punch for a more sustained, if not exactly gentle, assault on the senses. As they begin to take on the mantle of a modern-day Wire, they also continue to evolve on stage with guitarist Alan Duggan finding the time and space to thrash about without losing the slightest grip on his raft of effects pedals, Daniel Fox rubbing the neck of his bass with his Gaviscon bottle as much as with his fingers, and Adam Faulkner ably demonstrating once again that he is a fucking great drummer. The band are playing to their biggest ever UK audience, with The Haunt completely rammed, but singer Dara Kiely (below) looks completely calm this time around as he mumbles, sings and screams his way through a quite devastingly beautiful half hour of sonic mayhem. "I kissed Sam Cooke. Now he won't fuck off-ering me stuff ..." Quality.
Girl Band at The HAunt
Set over, we fight our way through the masses (never easy when The Haunt is crowded) to head down the coast and past the pier to Audio. We re-stock on spirits and enjoy a set by Blaenavon which is way too mature for three seventeen-year-old kids from Hampshire and throws out echoes of the brilliant Money, before it is time for Girl Band's second outing of the day, this time a completely different forty-five minute set to round off the night's proceedings. Having ended at The Haunt with their twenty-five second masterpiece, the band open with 'The Cha Cha Cha' this time around and as they play the audience gets livelier by the minute with plenty of bouncing around going on by the end of the set. This time we are treated to 'Heckle The Frames' which was missed earlier in the day, along with the traditional and ever popular cover of Blawan's 'Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage'. It's another top performance with Adam Faulkner even managing to play on while tightening up his drums at the same time.
Girl Band at The Hunt
Girl Band at Audio
It has been an interesting day. In truth, the prospect of the bands on offer hadn't thrilled us as they had done at Southsea the previous Summer. We know we missed out on some good bands on Thursday and Friday, but if the Dublin noisemongers had not been playing, we doubt we would have bothered coming down at all ... and that would have been a shame for such a prominent local event. As it was we were mightily impressed by two new bands and added two more notches to our GB bow so, all in all, we have to judge it a successful Saturday. Here's hoping for good things next year by which time Girl Band could quite possibly be ruling the world..

 

Words and pics Adam

Girl Band live at The Blind Tiger
Girl Band Live
A Witness Live in Islington
Reviews Jan-Mar 2014
Reviews April-June 2014
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