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REVIEW: The Great Escape Festival 2013, 16 – 18 May

Posted on Friday, 7 June by

The Great Escape Review

Showcasing a plethora of fresh talent, rivalled only by SXSW, Brighton’s three day Great Escape is one of the greatest festivals for discovering new music in the world. The variety of this year’s line up was no less impressive; ranging from the production-heavy Australian Iggy Azalea, to explosive instrument-lead sounds of London-based Three Trapped Tigers. So with the TGE now in its seventh year, did the festival hold up its impeccable reputation?

The first act to have a performance of notable quality was Nordic Giants. As Thursday evening began to settle, Nordic Giants’ powerful light and film show accompanied the instrumental music wonderfully to make a magnificent amalgamation – the local band left triumphant. Over at the Brighthelm Centre, How to Dress Well proceeded to put his crowd into a coma with his breed of electronic soul. Singles from his most recent record prove to be the highlights of a set that featured an unplugged encore of new track ‘Blue’.

Juxtaposing that, over at over at the Noisey stage, was Brooke Candy’s drunken, incoherent performance, both un-engaging and incredibly frustrating. Playing each track with the nonchalance and disinterest of an artist 30 years her senior, Brooke Candy is truly the biggest disappointment of the weekend.

As the first evening’s events begin to draw to a close, No Ceremony played a strong set to a seemingly disinterested crowd. The band did their utmost to generate atmosphere in Komedia, but their attempts were in vein. Nonetheless, the set was a solid performance of electronic and indie infusion and the band proved why they’ve gathered such a strong following in recent times.

On Friday afternoon, Ed Sheeran confidant, Mikill Pane plays a sweaty gig in Brighton hotbox, Fishbowl. Reeling off hits such as ‘Little Lady’ and ‘The Return of Mr. Pane’, the show was well received, only a few tracks dropping below Pane’s relatively high standard. ‘Little Lady’ deserves particular highlighting, being incredibly emotive and engaging. Mikill Pane is an artist with a lot of potential it has to be noted, but with sub-par tracks such as ‘Dirty Rider’ located in his repertoire, there’s still a long journey ahead for Mr. Pane, the aforementioned track particularly absent in character and quality.

Later on in the evening, dazzling performances from rap starlets Iggy Azalea and transgender eccentric Mykki Blanco stole the nights eye. Before Iggy came beckoning, those brave enough to enter Audio were treated to devilishly raw and intriguing dose of rap from Mykki Blanco. With a personality or persona that would make Lil Kim blush, Blanco’s performance is simply fascinating. More will be heard and seen from the camp-rap extravaganza that is Mykki. Those patient enough to stand in the mammoth queue for Iggy Azalea were rewarded with a performance that possessed an exuberance and enigmatic energy. Unmistakable highlights being ‘Pu$$y’ and ‘Work’ as the makeshift venue, The Warren, exploded in to life, the foundations left shaken to the core.

As Friday night traveled down the path of completion, there appeared to be a clear change in the tide of this year’s seaside festival; hip-hop dominating the list of hyped artists. In the past, the key unmistakable underpinnings of The Great Escape had been indie music, so it does prove testament to the organizers for billing music that is both current and topical.

Not to say TGE has lost it’s indie edge, as radio friendly 1975 prove on the final night. Lyrically brilliant, incredibly simple tracks such as ‘Sex’ and ‘Chocolate’ shine in the bands tight set, both songs encapsulating the bands energy and character. Adored by Radio 1 DJs and a cult following already amassed, it’s unlikely the band will be playing in a venue of this size many more times. Bands such as the 1975 and Deep Valley play commanding sets on The Great Escape’s final day, but Saturday afternoon – and most definitely night – belonged to one man, David ‘ Ram Jam’ Rodigan MBE.

Flying the flag for reggae and all that’s fun within music, David Rodigan has been the lifeblood for a genre which has been one of the most integral parts of black culture as well as British culture, for probably longer than a sizeable selection of the Great Escape’s audience have been alive. At the Concorde 2, Rodigan made the festival his own, leaving new bloods such as Toddla T to look on in awe at a man still on top of his game today.

This was the most fun to be had at The Great Escape and the perfect way to end an immaculate weekend’s worth of music.

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Liam Collins
21-year-old graduate from University College of the Creative Arts. Music correspondent at SQ Magazine, interviewing and reviewing some of the biggest and best acts in the land.

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