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Festival review: The Great Escape 2018

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The sun shone down on a whole host of incredible new talent at this year’s Great Escape Festival in Brighton. Music fans packed up hostels and Airbnb’s, the industry’s finest and fiercest stormed the pubs, and over 450 acts filled the line-up.

Year by year, the small seaside town of Brighton is packed to the rafters with the biggest and brightest from the world of music. And as The Great Escape continues to develop its reputation as the showcase festival for burgeoning artists, more and more countries scrambled to promote their talent.

Spreading across almost five days, over 20 different venues played host to nations such as Scotland, Holland, Russia, Korea, and Chile. Bustling networking events decked out with battered mars bars (thank you, Scotland), free drinks and ample chatting space gave the nations’ representatives a chance to show off their hot talent and promote their individual scene. Day-time showcases gave the spotlight to the artists, putting an eclectic mix of music and culture at the forefront of the festival.

Pip Blom @ Dutch Showcase, Komedia

Thursday was lit up by performances from the Scottish Showcase, hidden away in Horatio’s bar amongst the whacky and wild attractions of Brighton Pier. A brave performance from The Spook School saw a charismatic drummer rip off his shirt mid-set to show us all his skilfully placed nipple tape. Elsewhere, quirky female-fronted bands Dizzy and The Beaches brought a slice of Canadian action into the mix, boasting hooky choruses and infectious pop sounds.

As the evening wore on, London-based rappers Ms Banks and Novelist blew up the East Wing with quick-fire, opp-crushing lyrics and mature stage presences. Label mates with The 1975 and rising pop stars Pale Waves booked up Horatio’s despite the later 11pm start, while The Japanese Breakfast brought sensational synths and tropical flavour to the dark, dusky underground bar at Komedia.

Friday was a mammoth task. A jam-packed schedule set the day off to a flying start and with showcases from Holland, Scotland, Switzerland, Canada and Austria (to name but a few) we certainly weren’t short of things to do. A particular highlight included chart-rising alt-rock band Bodega who tingled spines and electrified hearts at The Haunt. Over at Komedia, security was running a one in, one out policy for delegates scrambling to catch the best of The Netherlands.

Pitou @ Dutch Showcase, Komedia

Back-to-back performances with 15-minute gaps saw sexy pop duo Day Fly throw some Frank Ocean-esque lyrics atop 80s synth-pop deliciousness, quickly followed by a standout performance from 5-piece Dutch band Pitou. Any set that features chilling, choir-boy vocals, scorching hand drum beats and an accordion is a winner in my book. Into the early hours of Saturday, French electro-duo Polo & Pan took to the Great Escape stage for a second time, electrifying a previously drowsy crowd with voice synthesizers, sub-marine samples, and intoxicating dance flavour.

Saturday was a slow burner; restaurants and cafes saw swathes of hungover punters, industry hotshots, and artists getting their fill of eggs benedict and strong coffee. Australian band City Calm Down aided recovery with smooth, winding tones and Megan Nash carried tired and weary bodies with her saccharine sound. It didn’t take long for things to pick up again, with Welsh rock band Trampolene channelling debut Arctic Monkey’s anthemic rock and the thumping drums of Stereo Honey reverberating throughout the Fender stage.

It was an incredible weekend filled with sunshine and quality tunes. Perhaps one of Brighton’s best to date.

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