here's who we loved at the great escape
Kicking off the festival season, Brighton's Great Escape was a grimy, punky, seaside delight.
Hailed as the UK's answer to SXSW, The Great Escape took over England's south coast once more this weekend, bringing with it a flash flood of musicians and industry types that overthrew Brighton's usual hen and stag do crowd. "Where's the festival?!" one of the former screeched at us on Saturday night. "It's kind of everywhere…" we not so helpfully but quite rightly informed them. From the iconic Dome to hotel basements, dingy pubs to church halls - Brighton was well and truly alive with the sound of music.
Not only was this weekend the usual celebration of new music, but also a four-day party rejoicing over ten years of TGE. And while most 10th birthday parties involve fizzy drinks, awkward games and a slice of cake to take home in a plastic bag, The Great Escape do things differently. At the helm of a line-up featuring Ibeyi, Gengahr, Tei Shi, Kali Uchis and Swim Deep, were the brothers Grime, JME and Skepta, taking a break from navigating the upper echelons of hip hop to show a sold-out Brighton Dome a good time. The rest of the roster also included the likes of i-D Class of 2015's Little Simz, Lapsley and Loyle Carner, who impressed all round. There were definite standout artists though, and this is a selection of our favourites:
Ho99o9 (pronounced horror, obviously) are the freakish offspring of hip hop, punk and metal, and we've fallen hard for them. Speaking with the New Jersey duo before their Noisey set on Friday, they drove home their belief in the importance of an energetic live show, fuelling rumours we'd heard of the impending madness. Featuring wedding dresses, beer-sharing performance art, barrier-jumping, a mosh pit and a whole lot of nakedness, they blew minds and speakers. Interview to follow.
SKEPTA AND JME
Saturday headliners and brothers in arms, JME and Skepta brought with them support in the form of The Square, Ghetts and Stormzy. Opening with That's Not Me, the cavernous Brighton Dome was full and positively buzzing. Joined on stage by Jammer, Shorty and a very enthusiastic female audience member/dancer for Too Many Men, the room was on fire as the grime Gods commanded there to be red lights and pits opened up in the crowd. Ending on Shutdown ("man's never been to Brighton when it's shut down…") BBK have proved once more that grime is not dead. It is alive and taking control.
Post Skepta, we moved rather fittingly on to Slaves, who recently covered the former's Shutdown. Playing last on the Vevo stage, Laurie and Isaac were hilarious and completely engaging: the ultimate entertainers. Shouting their motivational lyrics to a very industry (but completely obsessed) room, topless crowd walking a la Iggy Pop ensued as the boys brought their undeniable energy to their third and final performance of the festival. Bonus feature: crowd surfing mantaray. Read our interview with them here.
Having caught up with the super cool NY kids on the end of the pier for a chat and a beer, we were excited about their live show and we were right to be. Warming up the Corn Exchange, the foursome (fronted by Hedi Slimane muse, the stunning Julia Cummings) were completely brilliant. Performing their moody psychedelic rock with exactly the right attitude, these guys were mesmerising and wanna join their band. Interview coming soon.
Text Francesca Dunn
Photography Chris Bethell