The Great Escape – Brighton, Days Two and Three

May 28, 2009 by  

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Friday brought the bad weather and the crowds. With yesterday being a relatively peaceful introduction to the festivities, today we were faced by the chaos of the ever growing crowds and the torrential wind and rain. With little time to spend outside, unless you fancied being battered by the elements, we headed straight for the shelter of the Ocean Rooms. As we sat and waited for the first band to start, we were startled as an unassuming woman from the crowd danced frantically around us, then she jumped on stage and started jumping around like zealot. It was not until the rest of the band began playing that we realised she was the singer form Duchess Says, another band whose sole mission it was to make as much noise as possible, but it kind of works when your singer is that crazy.

As we recovered from the sonic onslaught, The Brute Chorus took to the stage and delivered a much more channelled energetic performance. As we’ve now come to expect with the Brute’s James Steel is as energetic as ever, with sweat dropping off him as he continually runs in and out of the crowd, he has to be one of the most enigmatic front-men of the weekend. With a heady mix of the rockabilly of ‘She was Always Cool’ to the Surf Pop of ‘Hercules’, their set was the first glimpse of hope on such a miserable day.

With such dire weather conditions, a little strategic planning is needed to not fall into the trap of wandering around aimlessly in the torrential rain. So with a quick study of the map, we opted to try and catch British Sea Power who was playing round the corner in the Sallis Benny’s Theatre. As we arrived we were confronted by a long line of angry sodden faces that had clearly been waiting too long to get inside. With a little negotiation, based around our expensive camera’s aversion to rain, we managed to get pass the crowds and inside. We set up camp by the side entrance of stage and as we eagerly waited for the band, the waft of funny smelling smoke from the backstage area became increasingly pungent.

They arrive on the stage, which is decorated with an abundance of trees and ferns, in their usual unique style complete with wool dangling from Hamilton’s waist. Their set begins lethargically with a tired rendition of ‘Remember Me’, surely the result of having to play the song one too many times before. With Yan shying away from the vocal duties, their first few songs do little to excite. However by ‘No Lucifer’, he is back on vocals and with the soaring guitars and pounding drum beat the set begins to take off. During ‘Carrion’ the moshing commences and by the time they reach final song ‘Lately’, the whole venue descends into complete chaos. Guitarist Noble continually stage dives to the soundtrack of his trademark air raid siren, and then begins to rip apart the stage set up, tossing all of the trees and ferns into the crowd. With the music now descended into a loud din of white noise, proceedings are brought to an abrupt end as Noble switches of all the amps.

After a brief recovery from the madness of British Sea Power, we head off to The Corn Exchange to see Metronomy, complete with new bass player Gbenga Adelekan and former Light Speed Champion drummer Anna Prior. Their music is as beepy and futuristic as ever, complete with dance moves and pouts. However, there is a distinct lack of Telly Tubibes-esque belly lights; instead the band opted for much more stylish attire. However this doesn’t deter the young crowd, who seem to enjoy the new line up and set derived from album ‘Night’s Out’. As we leave the venue it is evident the rest of Brighton seem intent on partying throughout the night despite how much they wobble and stagger along the promenade.

As the clouds parted on Saturday morning, we felt revitalised by the morning son and once again headed off in search of more bands. Quickly we found ourselves in the overpriced Honey Club waiting for Sky Larkin. With punters being charged £3.90 a pint there didn’t seem much chance of a repeat of last night’s drunken antics. Sky Larkin tried in earnest throughout their set but were beleaguered by poor acoustics and a bad stage set up. Most notably Katie’s guitar kept giving up amidst problems with leads and amplifiers. The resulting set was too fragmented to make any impact and songs which usually sound great live, such as ‘Antibodies’ and ‘Beeline’, were just lost on the crowd due to the poor acoustics.

After the disappointment of Sky Larkin we went to see Brakes at Komedia. The venue was crammed with indie kids who were greeted by a typically raucous set from Brakes which included 30 second wonders ‘Comma, Comma, Full Stop’ and ‘Cheney’. As they began to warm up, they announced they had to cut their set short due to Little Boots arriving two hours too late, and consequently not being able to sound check yet. Without any songs from new album Touchdown getting an airing, the crowd looked very disappointed. It’s a sad world when an overrated pop star can call an abrupt end to a much underrated band’s set. As we left the venue, the queues to get inside were ridiculously long and with the news of Kasabian’s gig being full two hours before they were due to perform, most festival goers decided it was time to ditch the wristbands and go in search of what else Brighton could offer. Unfortunately, Saturday brought a disappointing end to a festival, which was enjoyable despite the weather.

By Chris Cummins


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