Taking place as standalone gigs inside The Great Escape festival, the spotlight shows have always been a chance to see some of the finest artists gracing the big stage. Throughout the years, the likes of Mist & Mostack, Slaves and Skepta have played the ‘headline’ shows and the first Spotlight artist for next year’s edition has been announced.
Brighton band Youth Sector have impressed us in the latter stages of this year, particularly with shows supporting Childcare and Bloxx. Showcasing a brand of spiky, noisy post-punk brilliantly fused with mid-00s indie and late-90s pop-punk, the band have exhibited an impressive formula with tracks such as ‘Automatic’ and ‘Dig it and Repeat’.
The return of Slowdive back in 2014 was as surprising as it was triumphant. Surprising due to the waning popularity of the band – and the entire shoegaze genre – the Reading quintet have relished their return to the forefront of the now burgeoning genre. With their fourth, eponymous album now under their belt – the record dropping last year to critical acclaim – the band have rightly taken their place as one of Britain’s best bands. Their Concorde 2 show, which was a special warm up for a huge support slot with The War on Drugs at The O2 the night after, proved that their niche appeal is now developing into something much bigger. An immensely tight live band, who sound as good on the night as they do on record, Slowdive’s shoegaze goodness brought a hypnotising nature to the 600-capacity venue.
With a fusion of wild shrieking psych-tinged guitars, as well as a laddish swagger you’d expect from a Madchester band, Husky Loops are almost crafting an entirely new genre for themselves.
A pop band steeped in the modernist pop of Sampha and The xx with a more heavenly slant, the duo performed an elegant, euphoric and intrinsic take on electronica.
Local live music promoter and record label, Love Thy Neighbour, have just announced they’re bringing back their excellent Tryptich Festival this January to brighten up the coldest and most miserable of months.
The loss of Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar at the end of this month (31st December) will, no doubt, leave a hole in the Brighton music scene. A venue loved by promoters, musicians and punters alike, the end of its life deserves to go out with a proper bang. Thankfully, Brighton promoters Neat Neat Neat are on the case with their second ever Christmas party also turning into a farewell party for the beloved venue on Middle Street – and boy have they recruited a stunning line-up.
Truly one of Brighton’s finest, Black Honey have gone from strength to strength since their inception. 2018 was, without a doubt, their greatest ever year too with the release of their immense debut record and a very special show at Brighton’s Concorde 2. This gig was a celebration of the group between both the band and their adoring fans and a huge statement of just how far they’ve come as a band. From outings of their early, desert-rock-inspired singles ‘Madonna’ and ‘Spinning Wheel’, to their innovative takes on disco and funk with album cuts ‘Midnight’ and ‘Crowded City’, the band have become an incredibly well-rounded machine and their Concorde 2 show was testament to this.
You can’t deny that record label Heist or Hit, home to Her’s, Honey Moon and Pizzagirl, doesn’t have a type when it signs its acts. Those three in particular make dreamy, soothing indie-pop music and, in the live sphere, are terrifically funny and entertaining. Pizzagirl, also known as Liam Brown, displayed this superbly with his headline set at The Hope & Ruin. Made up of brilliant pop songs, a superb sense of occasion and amazing stage presence, Pizzagirl is wickedly talented and an excellent live performer.
With genres explored such as Northern soul, disco and big brass sounds as well as the very best of neo-soul, hip-hop beats and the UK’s flourishing jazz scene, Funk and Soul Weekender has become a favourite over the years. This year marks the beginning of the festival’s expansion, moving to a brand new location on Brighton Beach, and the line-up is an absolute corker.