The Great Escape – Brighton, Day One

May 22, 2009 by  

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Fish and Chips and kiss me quick hats aside, Brighton’s annual piss up by the sea, The Great Escape, has been steadily growing in stature over the years. Touted as Europe’s SXSW, it’s has become a haven for fans and new bands alike, as well as accommodating all those ‘industry’ types in the conference centre. It was a cold and foggy Thursday morning when we departed from Clapham Junction and headed for the coast. As we arrived in Brighton the weather hasn’t improved much and the swarm of indie fans we expected to see spewing out of the station are not to be found. A quick check into the B&B (complete with woodchip wallpaper), and we’re off on the obligatory search for the all important wristbands. With out to much fuss we sidestep the queue, well there were about three people, and with our mini venue maps were all set to go. With over 30 of the city’s venues hosting this weekend and parties going on until 8am there’s surely enough here to keep you entertained, especially for those who don’t fancy camping outside Kasabian’s gig the night before.

The weather and the sparse early morning crowds do little to lift the spirits, as we trudge back up to the top of Brighton to the only venue with anyone playing before 5pm, The Hope. After having are eardrums bashed in by a ridiculously loud P.A system abused by bands who seem to be set on making as much excruciating noise and loud screams as possible – seriously it was that bad – it was time to leave and find some more recognisable names to go and see. We force are way to the front in Po Na Na to catch a glimpse of New York’s fuzz-pop hipsters, The Pains Of Being Pure at Heart. With such an abstract venue for the gig, most of the sound is unfortunately lost on those not standing within five meters of the stage. Yet there is enough college rock tweeness to keep punters happy.

Having just seen the young upstarts, it was time to go and see the god of slacker college rock Evan Dando. As we gatecrash the photo pit in the cavernous Digital to get a closer look, it’s clear that Evan has seen better days and so has his guitar. Apart from the flat sounding and worn guitar he’s playing, Evan’s voice sounds as fresh as it did when he broke onto the scene in the late eighties. He rarely stops for a pause as he plays his way through a nostalgic set which includes, ‘Rudderless’ and ‘Drug Buddy’. Even with the sweat dripping from the ceiling it’s hard to tear yourself from such an endearing performance, but we must head of to see local boys done good The Maccabees.

Playing in their hometown, you’d expect massive queues to get into The Maccabees. Yet, outside The Corn Exchange we only had to wait about ten minutes before we were let in. Looking like a cross between an air raid shelter and a school hall, the venue was easy for us to navigate our way from the bar at the back to the stage at the front. Fresh of the back of the release of their new album they open with ‘No kind Words’, with a rumbling baseline filling the venue before the inevitable jerky guitar kicks in, It’s the sort of brooding musical intricacy that has seen them take a step forward. But it’s the old favourites that instigate the chaos of the pit. As the fans clamber on shoulders to get a better view during ‘Precious Time’, The Maccabess smile can be seen by the bar staff at the back. With a near perfect set finishing on current single ‘Love You Better’ we leave content and eager to see what tomorrow will bring.

By Chris Cummins

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

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