Mutations Festival – Hansen Hall, Portslade – 23rd February 2019

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.

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Toy – Patterns, Brighton – 19th February 2019

Despite building up a loyal following in the UK, Toy never quite reached the potential that it looked like they would back in 2012 with their self-titled debut album Toy. Their show at Patterns was in support of their fourth record, Happy in the Hollow, which we described as, “A wild ride through the darkness of psychedelia in just about every way, it’s a delightful journey that changes at the drop of a hat”. As huge fans of the five-piece, and certainly their latest album, this was an inanimate and almost lifeless performance from the Brighton band.

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Thyla – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton – 16th February 2019

One of NME’s top 100 essential acts of 2018, indie-rock four-piece Thyla have been making waves in recent years. As well as having some great tracks on their newly released debut EP, the group have also allegedly built a “sterling live reputation”. With this knowledge, I was very excited to see for myself just how true this statement was when visiting The Hope & Ruin for their headline show, which included support from LibraLibra and La Lune.

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Louis Sterling – Brighton Electric – 15th February 2019

The fantastic recording and performing space, Brighton Electric, gave us a night of immersive and authentic electronic live music, hosted and presented by Werkstatt Promotions in partnership with local music academy BIMM. This evening also had the noble goal of raising money for Brighton-based charity Grassroots Suicide Prevention. As well as this, it presented us with many fantastic upcoming electronic artists.

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Fur – Patterns, Brighton – 15th February 2019

How fitting that Brighton’s very own dream boys Fur would release their EP and play a very special Brighton headline show around Valentine’s Day. For the quartet are this generation’s quintessential romance band. The leader of a burgeoning scene of 50s throwbackers, also including the likes of Trudy and the Romance, Her’s and their support on the night, Honey Moon, Fur are one of the most exciting indie bands in the country. This show, too, was further proof of that, with the band bringing their debut EP to Patterns in some style. Magical and spellbinding, and witnessed by an enthusiastic and adoring crowd, Fur truly are infectiously affectionate.

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Willie J Healey – The Prince Albert, Brighton – 13th February 2019

It’s funny witnessing the difference 18 months can make. The last time Oxford singer-songwriter Willie J Healey played a Brighton headline show it was at a half-empty Green Door Store. Now, after switching from Sony to Yala! Records, as well as supporting Slaves around the UK, he’s one of the brightest indie sparks in the country. His headline set at a rammed Prince Albert – and, honestly, is there a better sight in the entirety of Brighton’s music scene? – was testament to this; no longer a breezy UK alternative to Mac DeMarco, Willie J Healey has developed into a varied talent brimming with indie joy and an added bite.

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Polyphia – The Haunt, Brighton – 10th February 2019

The genre-defiant, mostly instrumental group Polyphia gained a lot of positive traction in 2018 with the release of their newest full-length record New Levels New Devils. Their ever-growing popularity is by no means a fluke of any sort as the complexity and depth of their arrangements certainly has its wow factor. I was very excited to see how this would be presented in a live performance.

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Ed The Dog – Green Door Store, Brighton – 8th February 2019

Ed The Dog made quite the impact last year. With the release of his debut record Shame, as well as a much loved live performance at 2018’s Great Escape Festival, it seemed like a breakthrough for the artist was closer than ever. Taking place at the Green Door Store, Ed’s headline set would mark the finale to the first of a four-night series of gigs presented by Hidden Herd; the Sptlght series, which aims to raise awareness of some of the most exciting upcoming bands.

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Alfie Neale – The Haunt, Brighton – 7th February 2019

The rise of Dorchester-via-Brighton artist Alfie Neale has been a joy to watch. Through hard work and perseverance – as well as a truckload of talent – the youthful singer-songwriter has become one of the hottest artists in the South East. His Haunt headline show, however, was a revelation. Outing him as not only one of the most talented artists Brighton has seen for a long time, but also one of the most popular and charismatic stars Brighton has produced in years, it was an utter joy to behold.

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