With an apparent administrative cock up with dates to deal with, The Great Escape was a week earlier than normal, very soon after Easter and the Labour Day Bank Holiday. Would this have an affect? Would there be less sun and less people? Well, when you’re living in a highly changeable climate, but with the dark clouds of Brexit looming larger than ever, you’d be forgiven in thinking the party might not get started.
You simply cannot keep a great songwriter down. A founding member of Brighton based The Mojo Fins, Stephen (SJ) Brett has found his feet again, with a new band that includes Paul Pascoe on bass, Oddur Runnarson on guitar and Nick Van Vlaenderen on drums. This is only their third gig together, but there’s a natural chemistry apparent from the off, as they effortlessly gel as a unit.
Off the back of his fourth solo album Yawn, Bill Ryder-Jones returned to Brighton to treat us to a truly humble and intimate set of old and new favourites. Playing to an almost sold-out room at The Haunt, it was clear Bill had pulled in a number of his die-hard fans from the area. With an impressive back-catalogue and a packed-out room of people who were keen to listen to Bill’s every riff and word, it was bound to be a memorable night.
Following the release of their phenomenal debut album Errorzone, the hardcore five-piece known as Vein are a band that I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for. Their Code Orange-influenced style of furious hardcore, electronic distortion and other elements definitely had my attention and praise to the point where I would regard their debut record as one of 2018’s best albums. Therefore, I was very pleased to find out that Vein would cross paths with the people of Brighton at their Green Door Store show, with support from Higher Power and Narrow Head.
Dirty Hit is the label that just keeps on giving. Set up in response to the supposed lack of industry interest in The 1975 (oh how some must be kicking themselves!), it’s now home to the likes of alt-indie artists such as Marika Hackman, Pale Waves, and The Japanese House, aka Amber Bain.
Ploughing a distinctively folk favoured path since he signed to Domino and released Moving Up Country back in 2012, James Yorkston is now up to album number nine with the same label. That total doesn’t including the two recent albums of folk-world fusion music as one-third of Yorkston / Thorne / Khan, along with his recent forays into the world of prose, via his 2016 novel Three Craws.
With the early 2010’s shedding light on many two-piece bands, such as Royal Blood and Slaves, a far more underrated band came to the fore in the form of Drenge, consisting of brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless, blowing many a music-lover away in 2013 with the release of their self-titled debut album as well as a collaboration with Blood Red Shoes.
After the release of their latest album back in 2018 titled Bambi, the next step for indie champions Hippo Campus was obviously to commence a tour in celebration of the recent record. Thankfully for us, this tour would take the band to Brighton’s Concorde 2, a city full of great indie culture, which would have the pleasure of welcoming one of America’s finest bands of the genre.
Bridlington duo Seafret have, impressively, overcome being dropped by their label Sony Music Entertainment due to one thing and one thing alone: the enthusiasm and passion of their fanbase. Sticking with them every step of the way, the band have come through the other side looking bigger and better than they ever did before. Their gig at Patterns – their first Brighton gig since supporting Amber Run at Concorde 2 back in 2017 – was an excellent showcase of the progress the band have made and the extended love-in that has grown between the band and their fans.
Despite previously appearing back in 2015, the return of Mutations Festival feels like a brand-new festival. Now an all-dayer in a single venue rather than a multi-venue bash, as well as relocating to Portslade’s Hansen Hall and bringing Small Pond on board as co-promoters, it already felt like a whole new thing entirely. As such, there were certainly some teething problems on the day, such as a lack of facilities for such a large number of people, problems with the screens in the main room and, crucially, running out of pints way before its conclusion. However, there was certainly enough promise to keep Mutations alive long enough to become an annual tradition.