Waking up with ringing ears and a pounding headache, the final day of The Great Escape 2014 dawned, and fortunately the rain had subsided and although the wind continued to be painfully strong, the sun was welcomed by both the hungover and exhausted. With possibly the strongest line-up of the three days, venue entry was competitive and timetables had to be carefully co-ordinated like a military operation. Thankfully, The Edge managed to navigate the streets of Brighton to witness some of the best acts of the festival.
Kate Miller-Heidke, Spiegeltent
Kate Miller-Heidke really is an extraordinary talent. Never before have I heard a voice quite like hers. Her set was full of intricate vocal acrobatics that left the audience dazzled by her ability. Technical vocal ability seems to be something that isn’t always present in acts nowadays but Kate really treated her voice like a true instrument. Her command was so precise that never once did she falter, not even when she sang notes so high I began to feel light headed. There was moment of pure genius in her set when she sang a cover of Eminem classic ‘The Real Slim Shady’. She playfully made the song her own, completely aware of the apparent ridiculousness of it all.
Years & Years, Corn Exchange
It feels like Years & Years are one of the most under-rated young bands of the moment, with throbbing, electronic R&B jams which are thoughtfully constructed and well executed. On stage, frontman Olly Alexander (He’s an actor, you might recognise him from Skins) looked to genuinely be having a fun time, and his excitable charm was part of what won the audience over. Performing recent singles including ‘Real’ and a cover of Sean Paul’s ‘Breathe’, Alexander exhibited an impressive vocal range, which paired with intelligent song-writing and production worked towards a prize winning combination. More time in the studio and a few more live performances, and Years & Years will be the band every organiser wants at their festival.
Suvi, Unitarian Church
Suvi, (not to be confused with Sivu) is a Finnish singer/songwriter. Blending orchestral elements with classic pop beats and synths, her set was beautiful and ethereal. The use of the violin gave real sophistication and a sense of the orchestral to her sound. The only slight drawback was it seems that her voice was not the main event. She became slightly lost amongst the crowd, with the violin and hard hitting beats taking centre stage. There were really beautiful moments, but it was a shame that at times she became a bit of a wallflower.
Charli XCX, Corn Exchange
Renowned as a maker of bouncy pop music, Charli XCX’s performance established a clear change in direction as she became less Miley Cyrus, more Joan Jett. While she still performed clean-cut tracks like ‘SuperLove’ and a cover of ‘I Want Candy,’ she thrashed around the stage and at one point, was writhing around on the floor, when playing newer material. ‘Boom Clap’ and ‘Allergic To Love’ still link over to her pop beginnings, but are deeply rooted into a scuzzy punk rock foundation. This bold move seems to be paying off though, because although it may be more niche, she was loving every second of her performance, effortlessly lapping up the attention she was receiving, and commanding the stage like she was born to be there.
Wet, The East Wing
Ambient guitar pop indie R&B thing; Wet are far easier to nail down on record than on stage, and this certainly adds to their appeal. The internet has been buzzing about this band for a few months now, and it was reassuring to witness them perform well in a live capacity. The laid-back trio appeared calm on stage, playing tracks from their EP with soft, beautiful vocals from front-woman Kelly Zutrau. Her soothing voice was complemented by the strum of a guitar and a delicate drum machine, but despite the lack of instrumentation, the tracks lost some of the sparsity which made them so unique on record. The space which made those climactic moments so much more intense felt a little less profound, in the box-like room, but Wet are still a very, very young band, and their talent is increasing by the day.
Etches, Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar
Due to a scheduling mix up I found myself seeing a band called Etches when I thought I was going to be seeing Khushi. Despite this I stuck around to see what these guys had in store, but I’m sad to say I was slightly underwhelmed. While they were pleasant enough they were just lacking that distinctive edge. There was one interesting moment when they covered the Marvin Gaye classic ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’ and added a dark and melodious twist but unfortunately there was nothing particularly memorable about this band.
Future Islands, Digital
Future Islands attracted possibly the biggest and most energetic crowd of the entire festival. I managed to squeeze in but was directed to the secluded upstairs section of Digital. While this meant I had an incredible view I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous of those stuck in right amongst the crowds down below. Future Islands clearly have a lot of Brighton fans. Their stage presence was electric and engaging and was truly fun to watch; these guys know how to work a crowd. Future Islands have a real sense of 80s nostalgia, putting on a set full of passion and energy. True performers.
Clean Bandit, The East Wing
It would be a challenge to find anyone who hasn’t heard of Clean Bandit after their astronomical chart success. So naturally there was a large crowd waiting to see the musical stars perform. Their set was packed full of catchy pop with undertones of classical strings, modernised by house beats. A real amalgamation of genres that creates a beautiful bundle of energy. The audience weren’t the only ones having fun. Clean Bandit did not stop smiling throughout their set, clearly having fun with the music they have created. Never before have I seen such furious violin playing. There really is no stopping these guys and I’m sure it won’t be long until they are dominating the charts all over the world.
Jon Hopkins, Corn Exchange
The Mercury Prize nominee was the largest closing show of the festival, and his popularity was such that the Corn Exchange was operating a one-in-one-out policy over an hour before the beginning of his set. For those that queued in the wind and rain though, the rewards were mesmerising. Like a galactic soundtrack to the beginning of the world, his hour-long set was immense and immersive. The heavy bass and tingling intricacies of the music was complemented flawlessly by captivating visuals on a screen behind Hopkins himself. Showing geometric, morphing, multi-coloured patterns, or tales of women in night clubs, the films worked with the music to contribute to a wider body of art. Adding to this, being able to watch Hopkins himself at work creating the sounds as the audience looked on, mesmerised, added to the multi-sensory experience. This was by far the most incomparable musical experience of the weekend, and that could be seen just by the audience reaction alone. Jon Hopkins displayed his mastery of the craft, marking himself out as one of the most talented and forward-thinking electronic musicians currently around.