The Great Escape 2013: Friday

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Tired from the day before, Friday dawned and it was time to head back down to Brighton’s picturesque centre for another day filled with some of the world’s finest new music. Here are just some of the bands and artists which The Edge managed to catch:

Night Engine, Above Audio

There aren’t enough words to do Night Engine’s set justice. Completely unlike anything else on the musical circuit at the moment and there’s something undoubtedly special about them. Front-man Phil McDonnell had an unsettling amount of intensity about him, wielding his guitar like a weapon whilst shouting and staring in to the audience; confidence literally palpable from his pores. But it was not unfounded because musically, Night Engine are it (whatever it is). Disco synths ran over the thudding drums and guitars that veered from rock to funk and back again. Think Iggy Pop, think David Bowie, think the 80’s and then mash them together with the current scene and that’s what Night Engine presented to give one of the weekend highlights.

The Family Rain, Above Audio

The Family RainAs predicted, Kodaline in Audio packed out exceedingly early and ended up amassing a queue of ridiculous proportions. So instead of heading down there as was my original plan, I stayed upstairs to catch family trio The Family Rain who ended up being much more my thing in the end anyway. Swaggering on stage with effortless coolness, their family dynamic bled out into their performance which immediately endeared me to them. Their blend of clean-cut rock was heavily infused with dirty blues riffs and delivered with absolute conviction—‘Pushing It’ especially showcased this, getting the room to nod along in unison as if transfixed. They also showed more modern indie leanings in tracks such as ‘Friction’ in which the guitar and bass made a catchy tune that I was humming for at least an hour after.

Velociraptor, The Haunt

This ramshackled bunch of Australians opened NME’s Radar showcase to a suitably carnage inducing start. With 12 members in total the stage was barely large enough to accommodate them and meant three to a microphone. Loud, brash and in-your face, once Velociraptor got going there was literally nothing standing in their way, be it drum-kits, other members of the band or amps. Cans of beer went flying and then quickly so did one of the singing repertoire, who then continued to sing despite being flat on the floor drenched in alcohol. Musically they were frayed, imperfect and, most of all, loud but being so fun who really cared that they weren’t flawless?

 Little Green Cars, Komedia DownstairsIMG_20130517_205206

Following their appearance in the BBC’s Sound of 2013 long list, Little Green Cars’ performance to a packed out Komedia (with a huge queue of fans waiting outside) was disappointing. Whilst the 5-piece exhibited excellent harmonies, none of the songs in their 30 minute set were particularly interesting, and even their single ‘The John Wayne’ lagged when performed live. Aside from their musical performance, they interacted with the crowd very little which made it a set that was extremely bland. There is talent in Little Green Cars but an apt description would be comparing them to Band of Skulls without the energy or charisma.

Jacco Gardner, The Haunt

Psychedelic is very much this seasons’ in thing; everyone is doing it… And that includes Jacco Gardner, the first of the back-to-back trio of psychedelica that The Haunt had to offer. With airy pop elements alongside the neo-psychedelica; it makes for soothing listening, lulling you into the enchanted world that Gardner vocally crafts. Unfortunately, Jacco Gardner himself lacked any sort of stage presence, looking more like a farm hand and orchestrating proceedings from behind his piano. Perhaps this is why he chose to have videos accompanying all the tracks as they certainly kept me more engaged with the performance—especially how closely matched the song and video content was.

Iggy Azalea, The Warren

Iggy AzaleaIn one of the most popular venues of the festival, Iggy Azalea walked out onto the stage in a white sequinned bra-let and patterned trousers. Rapping with ferocity, the highly anticipated performance delivered a lot more than expected with an excellent stage set up featuring a DJ and two dancers. However it was near the end of the set where the highlights came; whirling her blonde locks around in the air as she belted out hip-hop-pop masterpiece ‘Beat Down’ and her most recent single ‘Work’ which saw the already-frantic crowd turn into a frenzy of twerking and jostling.

Clean Bandit, Coalition

After a non-stop day of traipsing round Brighton, we end up in trendy, stripped-down, seafront club, Colation, to find that the acts are 40 minutes behind schedule. Contemplating on whether to leave or not, we decide to stay, forcing ourselves to keep our eyes open, and dear Lord, I’m so happy we did. Four-piece band, Clean Bandit, exuded such an infectious energy that the club was packed out with knackered festival goers within minutes. Featuring guest vocalists, they did a fantastic rendition of 2012 track, ‘Nightingale,’ followed by well-known and string-heavy ‘Mozart’s House’ which recently reached number 17 in the UK charts. An energetic crowd loved the instantly recognisable electronic sound of SBTRKT’s ‘Wildfire’ that the band covered flawlessly, and they finish with a risky but perfectly pulled-off cover of 90s hit ‘Sunchyme’ by Dario G. Clean Bandit is a musically-gifted project fuelled by a passion for experimentation and variation. Due to their winning knack for enlivening a crowd combined with their catchy tunes, I would definitely, without-a-doubt, see them again.

You’ll be able to check out The Edge’s review of Saturday at The Great Escape, tomorrow

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