Uh, maybe not. If I disclosed actual events of last weekend I'm pretty sure my best friend and festival-partner-in-crime would subject me to a slow and excruciating death. So, in place of any revelations, have a fully detailed round-up of all the bands we witnessed at The Great Escape 2012 (in between getting into trouble, of course) This review was first published over on Killing Moon Limited, which is a totally excellent Internet-ary destination for music stuff. They were too busy drinking and doing important music industry stuff to actually watch any bands, so they let me loose instead. What a mistake to make...
[Live: TGE12 - The good, the bad and
the just plain fucking loud]
So, as promised, here’s the full,
review from Killing Moon’s Georgina Langford. Quite frankly, we’re
amazed at the attention to detail Georgina’s managed to bundle in
to this bad boy, especially as we have it on good authority (i.e.
from her) that she pretty much partied at least as hard as we did
whilst marauding a far greater range of venues than we did. In fact,
she’s only bloody gone and seen the bands that truly we intended
to, as we so often do, but got sidetracked on several occasions.
We’re just going to go ahead and blame time for this one. We wish
we could account for every antic, every amazing live act, every
mental music industry figure, and every bar receipt that we
appropriated over those three fateful days but we just can’t. The
fact is, this is one of those festivals where there is just so much
cool shit to do, and as a result the ironic temptation is to simply
park yourself in one or two locations on any given day and, y’know,
just sit there. AND DRINK. But not Georgie. No, not her. She took one
for the team. She was mobile. She was nimble. She was keen. She took
coherent notes. It goes a little something like this…
Everyone knows College right? Or at
least, we all know A Real Hero, the insanely good track he created
for the Drive soundtrack. Which everyone also knows is the greatest
movie soundtrack of all time (fight it out amongst yourselves,
alright.) It seems the entire festival contingent decided it would be
a great way to start proceedings by cramming into the Prince Albert
pub to witness David Grellier's unique brand of electronica including
his signature song. We were essentially attempting to rave at 3pm in
the afternoon, in the upstairs room of a pub with the curtains half
drawn. After the set, which was unfortunately lacking any visuals
(Grellier apologised in a very humble, very French way for this, then
proceeded to DJ about seventeen times across the festival to make up
for it) It was going to be a very good Great Escape.
Thursday at Fitzherberts was a joy and
delight. One Inch Badge were staging an Alternative Escape showcase,
including the raucous, pysch-pop-rock sensation that is Pond.
Apparently, they are just about to release an EP called Hobo Racket,
which judging by the enjoyable noise they were making, sounds about
Time to confess...this particular
reviewer had been headed straight for the Lower than Atlantis show at
the Loft when it was cancelled, leaving a gap in the schedule. Such
is the beauty of TGE, by simply following the sound of some nearby
live music, I stumbled across White Arrows. These American boys were
not impressed by having to play in a freezing cold courtyard, but
despite not being able to feel their fingers, they particularly
impressed an ever-growing crowd with a final song, aptly titled
Fireworks By The Sea. The gorgeous sound of their surfy/lo-fi
electronic psychedelia echoing through the streets was enough to make
us feel like the sun was shining, even if it really, really was not.
Violet @ The Haunt
This was always going to be an
interesting one. Violet might be a new-ish band, but lead singer
Pixie Geldof has already got a loyal band of both lovers and haters.
I attempted to chat to the girl herself beforehand, to get her take
on what it's like to be a frontwoman in an industry crying out for
the next Shirley Manson, but I got an ice cold Geldof brush-off.
Nice. Purely on the basis of the set, it's obvious that Pixie has a
great voice; it's stronger, huskier and more interesting live than on
record, complimenting her romantic, emotional lyrics. 'Put your hands
on my ribs/Under my shirt/Put your hands where my heart is/Because
that's where it hurts'. Not bad. The music was good it's just a shame
Ms Geldof can't be a little more real.
Peace frontman Harrison Koisser was
clearly, clearly having something of a Marc Bolan day, swaggering and
swaying in a fur trimmed suede coat as they played the NME Radar
stage. They've certainly got the whole 'rockstar' thing down in
between the songs, which are a mixture of amazingly varied drum
beats, droney/melodic vocals and unnervingly frequent uses of the
word 'float' - honest to God, it's in every song, unless that's just
the Tuaca talking - the banter went along the lines of "well,
that was deep as shit." They are either going to be heroes or the next
Viva Brother: let's hope it's the former.
Episode 2: The Friday
Day two and most of Brighton was
starting the day with a light breakfast of approximately six Nurofen.
We know how to party hard in this town. But despite our bleary eyes,
there was more important band watching to be done...after we had
managed to crawl out from beneath the security of our duvets. The
Friday of Great Escape 2012 was all about the strategic queue, and
that strategic queue was for one act and one act only, and that act
The Canadian wunderkind rocked up to
the stage looking like Marilyn Manson's niece all white face paint,
goofy smile and an anarchy t-shirt. Despite having just about every
industry exec in the room while she played, Grimes seemed to be havig
even more fun than we were; the girl sure knows how to bust some
moves, if those moves are those of a malcoordinated whelk. Bless. In
all seriousness, she opened with Genesis to adoring cheers, bounced
through the brilliant Be a Body and finished her 25 minute set with
a big, big version of Oblivion. Very few people left that show not
enraptured by her nerdy goodness. Come back soon Grimes, Brighton
wants to be friends.
Oh Eva Spence, what planet are you from
and where did you learn to do that? The girl who can scream just as
well as the rest of the hardcore boys was on fire on Friday, for
their second show of the day (their earlier secret headline set at
The Loft was really not very secret. At all.) Their schizophrenic
musical styles and Eva's interchangable scream/sweet singing voice
was just what the doctor ordered for a bunch of Brightonites needing
to wake up fast.
This band, previously reviewed here on
KM, are usually epic. They have a violin on stage, ffs. The Corn
Exchange was surprisingly packed out for a band still on the rise,
but whether or not it was due to festival fatigue, Dry The River
couldn't quite hold the crowd's attention. Something was missing and
it meant their set didn't really happen the way it should have done.
Let's hope they sort themselves out fast because this is a band with
a lot of talent and potential.
Day 3: What day is it again? The Saturday
Woah. Day 3. We might have had two
hours sleep (after the sun had already come up) but it was time for a
Fact: gigs in shops are always weird.
When a band is setting up in the shoe department of UO it's hard to
know what the protocol is - everyone is trying very hard to ignore
the customers who are wandering through the crowd clutching new
purchases and wondering what the hell is going on. Especially when
what's going on is the startling, statuesque Norwegian goddess, Karin
Park. One of the absolute gems of Great Escape 2012, Karin was hotly
tipped by Dan le Sac and most certainly lived up to the hype. Her
powerful, crystal clear voice sounds both supernatural and strong,
while her brother David puts his rock background to good use with
some heavy drumming (as well as playing all sorts of synths etc using
his other limbs. As you do) While she sings, plays keytar and a mini
electric piano, Karin is all black lines and long limbs, her angular
movements contributing to the all round inspirational experience.
There have already been comparisons drawn to Bjork and they are
completely justified - speaking to Karin after the show, she's a
fascinating human being, hyper intelligent with the belief that
imperfection is beautiful and that sometimes we have to expose the
most ugly sides of ourselves in order to be honest with what we
create. Look this woman up.
Yes, the very same. Aiden 'X Factor
boy' Grimshaw has been causing music journalists quite the hassle, by
defying the classic talent show mold to come out with some pretty
decent songs. He was obviously determined to impress, with eyes wide
and fists clenched as he showed off an impressive vocal range on a
series of Hurts-esque contemporary, dancey, synthy songs. There was
definitely a little Patrick Wolf melodrama thrown in for good measure
- but while his voice was both impressive and the music world's away
from the usual X Factor crap, there is always going to be the faint
linger of the Cowell spectre. Is Grimshaw for real? It's hard to tell
- but try telling that to his already massive army of fans. He's
going to be all over the place by the end of the year.
Onto something a little more straight
up with the best-named band at the festival. These five Leeds boys
make the kind of gutteral garage punk that gives you faith in guitar
music - they've got the requisite 'don't give a shit' attitude too,
but one that seems genuine. Not many bands finish their set by
telling the crowd they have pouches of tobacco to sell. "We
ain't got no merch, so have that instead."
Things got a little less shambolic but
still pretty raw with the arrival of Milk Music. Big riffs and some
INSANE drumming meant this grunge rock outfit made a very good
impression. The vocals are a little...but y'know, no-one really needs
to be able to sing to be in a band.
Now this is how you do it. Australian
duo DZ Deathrays grabbed the NME crowd by the neck and caused as
close as we were going to get to a full on riot - the noise the pair
of them make is the closest any of us are going to get to seeing The
White Stripes ever again. Thrash pop? Maybe. The biggest riffs of
TGE12? For sure. DZ Deathrays should be huge, but they are probably
partying too hard to either notice or care - GO AND SEE THIS BAND
That'll be all until next year
Brighton. We might just have recovered by then. JEAH!
Wow, I've got a serious case of the post-Great
Escape blues. The best party town in all of England excelled itself this
weekend with enough live music, drinking and dancing to last us...at least
until next weekend. What's even better? The three stand-out moments from the
weekend all came from the females. Which I was thankful for, considering it was
only three days ago that Shirley Manson told the NME that "women are
disempowered in music". She believes that the music industry has gone
backwards in the terms of women being led by men, having songs written for them
and their images shaped, there's "a lack of female opinion out
there." Instead, she says "I've always loved the girls who are in
disagreement with mainstream." Something that this particular blogger also
feels (a little too) strongly about. So FYI Shirley - here are three girls
doing it their way.
First up: Karin Park.
She's incredible. Go and see her before she takes
over the actual world.
Karin is a statuesque Norweigan goddess who looks
like she's from another world and has a crystalline voice. (Seriously. That's
the very best way to describe it.) Imagine if Bjork and Robyn took Lisbeth
Salander under their wing, taught her how to make strange electronic sounds and
introduced her to a boy from a heavy metal band. That's just about Karin.
I managed to chat to her immediately after her
Saturday showcase - which weirdly, happened inside Urban Outfitters. Amongst
the shoes. the customers had NO idea what was going on; 'agog' doesn't quite
cover the look on their faces. Here's what Karin had to say.
On the most important women in music:
I think more more important
than just musicians, I look up to any strong women - writers like Anais Nin,
who was such an early feminist pioneer - the women who have been pushing
everything. The way certain women write music, write about their lives. PJ
Harvey, for example - she's always been making music about women, that maybe
doesn't represent their most attractive side, but we don't always need to be
When I first saw Lady Gaga,
in the beginning, I thought the most important thing that she has done is to be
brave enough to be ugly. She's actually really beautiful, but she was ugly on
purpose, because as women we need to show that side of ourselves too.
I think aesthetics are
absolutely important - it's just not always the most perfect or most beautiful
things that are the most interesting.
I think aesthetics are
absolutely important - it's just not always the most perfect or most beautiful
things that are the most interesting.
On her musical partner:
My brother and I have been
making music together since 2004, he came in after my first album - I needed a
drummer, but he also plays bass and guitar, he's incredibly creative about
trying out new set-ups. We don't use any backing tracks; if there is a sound we
want we find a way to create it live on stage. This is also makes him
incredibly annoying, he's such an instrumentalist that it takes forever for him
to set up on stage.
On their collaborative
He comes from a metal
background, I write most of the music because in the beginning it didn't work
out with us. Now though, after this much time, our musicality is getting closer
and closer. We are also more similar than we ever realised, and when you hang
out with someone 24/7 it's good because it's very honest, there is no need to
Sometimes I have tried to
write a song about 'this', but it never works. Normally instead the song just
becomes itself. I get the melody and the idea begins to form, sometimes I
realise what it's going to be about and don't want to write about that but I
have no choice, it's like I'm just helping the song to come together. David can
always tell if I have forced a song, he can hear that it doesn't work. I just
have to let it happen.
We have got something very
exciting lined up for this summer but I'm not allowed to say... [watch this
The next moment of sheer genius came courtesy of
Eva Spence, frontwoman of Rolo Tomassi, who for the uninitiated are one of the
greatest mathcore bands on the scene right now. Essentially, Eva can scream and
roar with the best of the hardcore boys - but she can also switch to a sweet,
melodic singing voice, in the same way the band switch between crazy heaviness
and weird, atmospheric sounds. Essentially, Tomassi are a band who you need to
experience live. Eva is one of the most incredible frontwomen around.
Finally - if you look really, really closely at
this godawful picture (thanks, piece of crap Blackberry), you'll see my homegirl
Grimes. (See all that black space? That was all people. People ALL wearing
press passes, however - regular civilians were not going to get in to this
stupidly oversubscribed show, because the word 'hype' doesn't quite cover it.)
The girl of my dreams got cheered just walking out to set up her equipment, her
face painted geisha white and her skinny frame draped in a dark blue military
coat. She was cheeky and smiling and not at all phased by the ridiculous levels
of anticipation in the room.
She went straight into Genesis before her backing
dancers arrived (possibly the only show at Great Escape that had that kind of
thing?! They were essentially a pair of her mates who she pays to jump around
on stage during her set, but, y'know, it works). By the time she got to Be A
Body she'd stopped checking if we could all hear her ok, remembered to plug in
her keyboard - good one Grimes - and the room went off to Oblivion. She's
just spectacular, in a weird, unassuming, individual way. She's having more fun
than anyone else as she jumps around behind her keys and you can't help but
fall in love with her.
Great girls aside, there were also some crazily
good guitar bands (step up, DZ Deathrays, Milk Music, Pond), many Tuaca shots
consumed and a DJ who looked like Will Ferrell with a light up LED jacket.
Maybe it was actually him? More on that later...
Wait, what's that? Great Escape 2012 wasn't meant to start until today? Well it seems Brighton got a little bit impatient for the festival to begin so the Alternative Escape kicked off proceedings with a surreal 'Made in Cornwall' show at Fitzherberts last night. There were Cornish flags all over the place, a fish tank on stage, pasties (why of course) and at least two thirds of the bands had Cornish heritage. Or something like that. Either way, the music was all good!
Walking in to a venue to see a young guy with an acoustic guitar is nothing unusual in Brighton, except for when said guy is the ex-drummer of hardcore band Throats, who were signed to Holy Roar and made a very big noise until breaking up last year. Tom Pitts kept the crowd amused with some sweet melodies and showed he is equally comfortable with a stripped-back set up as he is behind a drum kit. A fun way to begin proceedings. Later on, genuine, actual Cornish-ers Gnarwolves got everyone in a party mood with their own brand of hectic pop punk. There is no simple way to describe exactly what makes the Kernow lot so enjoyable - maybe the 10,000 views of this highly professional and polished video explains it better.
Last up were Brighton favourites Holland (or Hollad, if the chalk board was to be believed). Continuing a ridiculous run of packed out daily gigs around town - honestly, it's getting a bit silly now - this inspiring band lifted everyone up with their Mew/Minus The Bear/My Bloody Valentine style soaring riffs, Jason's melancholic vocals and eerie lyrics and just the biggest soundscapes to be found coming out of Brighton right now.
Their single Lovely Bones - completely unrelated to either the book or movie, nonetheless epic - is out now on Rolo Tomassi's label Destination Moon. And anyone who Eva Spence approves of is usually fine by me.
You know those books that eeeeveryone is
reading at the same time, like the Da Vinci code or Hunger Games? It
always puts me off reading them, weirdly. Aside from disliking
anything that makes us even more uniform, maybe a little part of my
brain freaks out, gets paranoid and imagines that governments are
using best selling books to flood us with propaganda. I definitely
need to start getting more sleep.
With music, I'm not a snob who believes
as soon as a band is popular, we can't like them anymore. I'd happily
leave that music critic stereotype behind in a dark alley. However,
when an artist is all over the shop, on every magazine, playlist and
one to watch list, sometimes it does feel like they are getting
shoved down your throat. Case in point: Grimes. Since last year,
blogs/mags/sites have been touting her as the best thing since sliced
bread, so naturally I felt wary. She just became part of our psyche,
as if she had always been there.
I felt like I already knew her and her
music, when in fact I hadn't paid it much heed. Until last weekend,
when on the back of her brilliant Jools Holland performance, I found
myself watching the video for her track Oblivion, and MY HEAD NEARLY EXPLODED.
This was true love. Coupled with a
sense of instant recognition, and relief. Fiiiiinnnaallly.
A young girl who shows it's really very
ok, admirable even, to be a massive geek.
Nerd head. Weirdo.
With her strange squeaky sounds,
ridiculous club-track beats and lisping, melancholic melodies, Grimes
has somehow managed to make one of the most brilliant albums of the
year. Even though, as she says herself, she's less of a musician,
more like a 'curator of weird noises'. Her live shows involve just
her messing around with her keyboards - this is music better designed
for listening to on headphones, although done right, they are also
some of the most danceable tracks since, well, the 90s.
Music: tick. What else makes Grimes so
frickin' awesome? (to use one of her own Canadianisms). Let's see -
the borderline hobo dress sense and naff plaited hairdo. She dresses
like she does because she doesn't like zips or poppers (they make her
feel trapped - and I thought I was paranoid). She's got symbols from
the Fifth Element, plus an alien, tattooed on her hand, and a fringe
that looks like she cut it herself. Her hair has been through various
shit colour incarnations, including pink/bleached/green with black
roots. Because anyone who dyes their hair crazy colours gets black
roots, that is just how it is.
Did I mention she's crazily beautiful?
The comments on any of her YouTube videos are a sight to behold;
confirmation that you don't have to look like a moron from TOWIE to
be considered attractive by both guys and girls. (Gay For Grimes - what's the betting the Facebook page already exists?)
She's got a penchant for industrial and
nu metal and isn't afraid to tell people that she still listens to
Marilyn Manson. I'm sorry, need I go on? In short, Grimes is living,
breathing, musical proof that geeky girls rule ok.
This video makes me love her more than
Oh my god not another blog post that opens with a comment about how shit the weather is...but seriously now. The little Noah's Ark joke that has been going down in the UK threw up something of a dilemma for me - I've got barely anything on my iPod that is vaguely cheery. Well hit me on the head and call me an emogothchild, but most of the music I own is angry/depressing/sad - not ideal when you are 'enjoying' a dreary commute or six.
So can we start pretending summer is somewhere, anywhere, on the horizon? It would be just swell if someone could inject daylight straight into my veins. Thanks very much.
The closest we can get to a little festival happiness right now is a dose of good old fashioned indie. Step up to the plate, Secret Son. Their classic rock n' roll sound and uplifting hooks will sort out the grumpiest of moods - they provide short, sharp doses of the kind of music that makes you want to drink whiskey, run around in a field and dance through the night with the people you love most. Or maybe that's just me. Vocalist/songwriter Thomas Greenwood has previously collaborated with Alex Winston, so if, like me, you became vaguely addicted to her album, give Secret Son a try. It's very different sound, but retains the same honest spirit. If anything, this band might just stop us all from overplaying El Camino by The Black Keys. Which is a good thing. Right?
Secret Son are releasing a new song on the first of every month, so here is their May offering - enjoy.
You know an obsession has reached fever pitch when even your closest allies are threatening to 'unfriend' (what a nonsensical faux-verb) you on various social networks if they have to read one more update about Jack White. I have no excuse to offer - I'm suffering from some sort of instant trigger reflex when it comes to posting/retweeting/talking about the latest news from my absolute hero.
Which is, clearly, the status I have to attribute to him. Judge me all you like, I don't care - in the words of a very wise woman (Patti White) "I'm a hero worshipper." But that's a whole other post.
In order to cure my all-consuming, fever pitch delirium regarding Jack, I figured I'd just blurt it all out in one post and then attempt a self-enforced radio silence. No promises, except I can but try.
So here it is - a few words, sentences, paragraphs on why the world needs Jack White III.
Does anything further need to be written about the White Stripes? Probably not, for the moment at least. So let's fast forward seven days previous to now, when Jack released Blunderbuss, his debut solo album.
It's virtually impossible to listen to this album without comparing it to any of White's previous projects, but I refuse to go down the route of 'it's more like this band or that band' and instead want to consider it as something that stands apart from everything else he has ever done. Ultimately, that is what makes this record so exemplary - it is a painful, honest musical description of what the bitterest of heartbreaks feels like. This is the story of a broken man, angry with love, women and the effect both have on life.
Somehow, Jack has managed to convert the feelings of anguish, hatred and betrayal that come from a burned-out relationship into something exceptional - a perfect articulation of emotion, which only he could do without slipping into dignity-threatening self-indulgence territory.
His musical expertise does not need to be elaborated on - although with this album, he displays his full spectrum of influences and passions, and they are reflected in the changing dynamics. In addition to the truthful lyrics, and outstanding way with his instrument(s) of choice, what makes Blunderbuss the ideal solo offering is the way it represents everything Jack stands for. He is a supremely intelligent man, with a fascinating knowledge and aptitude for design - this has been obvious since the White Stripes days - but now with Third Man, his record label, to play with, Jack is able to add his own personality to every aspect of his work. From the all-encompassing blue tones of both the music and the theme of all album artwork, to the fact that he is touring with two bands (one male, one female) and no set list, just shows that White is someone who believes in having a creative idea, stripping it back to its basic, simplest forms and using that to add something unique to everything he creates.
Add to this his way with words and you have a potential hero character on your hands. Jack White seems to not want to waste time on the unnecessary elements of life - even though he is a mega-super-rockstar now, he is still respectful, cautious even, in interviews. He reveals only as much as he wants to give away, preferring his music to speak in his place.
I have extreme levels of respect and admiration for this man. He is a superlatively creative human being.