19 Things I Learned From This Year's Great Escape

WIth hundreds of the best new bands and a whole seaside to splash about in, it's not suprising that the Brighton festival has become the unofficial start to the festival season...
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WIth hundreds of the best new bands and a whole seaside to splash about in, it's not suprising that the Brighton festival has become the unofficial start to the festival season...

1-There’s 30 odd venues taking part across the city but it’s terrifically well organised.   I was fortunate to have a delegate pass, but most of my mates didn’t so I’d normally end up queuing anyway, and it was never too much of a faff.   I heard very little in-queue grumbling about the waiting; you want to go to a bigger band? Get there earlier, or go to Cornbury.


2- Hipsters on holiday are an amenable bunch, especially when they’re all wearing Hawaiian shirts and beaned off their noggins. It was a cuddles with strangers sitch most of the weekend.

3- The Ruen Brothers are brilliant.  We saw them play in St Bartholomew’s Church and though they seemed nervous to start with-understandable considering a Sony label boss I spoke to described their show as the day’s “hot ticket”- they soon warmed up and rattled through a set that was 2/3s ace, before dropping the aptly named “Aces” to finish.  They may be a bit in thrall to Roy Orbison, but Roy Orbison is fucking brilliant so let’s not give them too much of a hard time eh?  They had a tune they went “tell me what’s going on” and it sounded like Roy and Guns N’ Roses.  That is a combination of basically the best things on the planet.

4-  There's so much that's unfunny about this picture


5- The line-up was the right combination of super-new, quite new, Home-Counties new and not-very new.  In the latter-day camp was Billy Bragg, and though I didn’t get to his show at the Dome I spoke to a couple who had come to watch it for their anniversary.  They said it was one of the greatest gigs that had ever been played anywhere, which is pretty resounding.

6- Festivals are brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not a teenager anymore and I don’t care; it’s nice to sleep in a bed.

7- Saying that,  if you sleep in a tent, unless you’re actually dead you are up and out by 10, as is everyone else.  Here you can find yourself in the 2s and still done nothing but phoned 10 different people to tell the same “really funny” story from the night before.

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8- If Thumpers spent some time in a studio with the Naked And Famous producer, they could aspire to similar levels of ubiquity.  The same label boss from before watched them with me, and asked if I thought they were “dangerous.”  My answer referenced a magic carpet. He left after that.

9- Any disappointment we felt at Indiana’s show being cancelled due to sound problems was alleviated by King Krule at Coalition.  He might be 4 years old but sounds like a cross between Johnny Cash and Mike Skinner, and was totally engaging as he drip-fed us into his reggaebilly-rap world.  The crowd were reverential throughout; I was talking to my mate (quietly) during “Octopus” and a guy turned round to me and said: “mate, if you want to talk, can you fuck off to Swim Deep?”  Fair point.


10- Going too hard on the first night is not the one.

11- Brighton’s best pub for next-day drinking is the World’s End on London Road.  It’s only five minutes from most of the venues and is a proper boozer with a pool table, dart board and an excellent music policy. It also serves Texas-grade BBQ that’s had Jay Rayner pulling one into his napkin.  I had the 18 hour smoked brisket, and it tasted like you’d hope 18 hour smoked brisket would

12- Mykki Blanco is proof that Eddie Izzard isn’t the only person that makes cross-dressing look cool (see headline picture).

13: My mate described The Midnight Beast as making "fart-rap", so let's not dwell too much on the whats and whatevers of them being the worst band ever to blight this mortal coil.  However, it is worth bigging up their merchandising guys.  There were hundreds of girls screaming and gabbling when the band got off their bus, all of them decked out head to trouser in this.


14- The slightly older girls liked Embers.  It was hard for me to make too much of a personal judgement because the Mesmerist was packed and the stage was on floor level, but judging by the lines of ladies banked up the stairs doing the smiley-starey-head bob , the guys in the band will be soon be on first name terms with the nurses down their local clinic.

15- It is ridiculous how well most young kids dress today. The guys looked like mid 90s Woody Harrelson if he was in the The xx (trust me on this), while the girls all betrayed their love for their older sisters’ No Doubt records.   Maybe it’s the internet democratising our exposure to fashion (not to mention the world’s exposure to our fashion choices), maybe it’s because it’s cheaper to buy clothes than ever before; I dunno, but I do know that I dressed like Dean Gaffney at that age.

16- It’s easier to enjoy a gig when you go without preconceptions of whether you do/should or do not/should not like them: I made a decision before the festival began to go along with my friends’ band choices, and not try and dictate the flow of a group that pulled in more stragglers as the weekend went on.    Because of this I saw Chloe Howl.

17-  Chloe was great, playing beefy electro-pop that’s got enough bite to make her much more than just the next La Roux.  "No Strings" and "Rumour" set her out as futuro-megastar. Marry me, Chlo.


18- Allah-Las proved that they were one of the great sleeper successes of last year. We might be told from all angles that the world's going to shit in 2013, but it seems a lot nicer when you hear it through their 60s West Coast filter.   They make me wish I was still a stoner.

19- All festivals should be by the sea.

Follow David on Twitter- @Gobshout

All pictures  copyright of  Liam Lawrence