The Countdown begins!
16 artists we’re exited to see at The Great Escape 2016
After a massive blow-out celebrating its first decade of existence, this year The Great Escape turns the grand old age of 11. It still remains the closest thing Britain has to a SXSW. The best place to see the next big thing before they blow up, or find a new cult favourite amongst more established and well-loved bands playing.
We like to think last year we gave you the most comprehensive view of the festival possible, covering over 100 bands between us. Unfortunately we still haven’t assimilated into a Borg-like hive mind, so the number for each of us was a bit lower. This year we’re planning to give you more in-depth coverage than ever, by letting you know about the artists we’re most excited to catch. We’re then going to hone in on them in our Spotlight interviews and New Music Q&A’s as we countdown to the festival.
If there’s one problem with The Great Escape, it’s that there’s so much music on offer, and so much of it entirely new to you, choosing who to go and see can cause a bit of anxiety. Resulting in you eventually giving up completely and choosing a band based on a funny name (Strong Asian Mothers anyone?). So to help you out, we’ve decided to kick things of with 16 picks from the festival’s line up so far. To make your decision process that little bit easier. Expect to see some of these acts and many more being featured in the coming weeks leading up to the festival on this very website. On top of that, look out for more information about our Alternative Escape show, where on 10th May we’ll be taking over the One Church for the whole day, giving you ten amazing acts, picked from both the core programme and Brighton’s local scene. And it’s totally free! Don’t say we don’t know how to treat you.
New Zealander Aldous Harding makes folk music in its most raw and bleakest form. Gothic imagery of death, lost love and religion make for an emotionally uncompromising listen, but there’s also beauty, maybe even hope, buried amongst all the darkness.
A certain to become a household name in years to come, this chap comes over from Auckland, New Zealand. Perhaps one of the greatest summer time songs yet to be heard on a large scale is ‘Railway Lines’ – a song that takes in the optimistic, sun kissed happiness of Kurt Vile or The War On Drugs. It looks over its shoulder at nostalgic teen days and really acts as something of mémoire to not just Anthonie but you too. This man and his band will be great to see at The Great Escape.
Headlining the BIMM stage this year will be this duo of noisy northerners. They’ve made Brighton their adopted home and we’re more than happy to accommodate them. This is bristling punk rock that is far noisier than two instruments should be allowed to be.
Out of all the endless bands with beach in their name, these guys are in at least the top three. The indie-pop four piece met while studying at Goldsmiths and have shown themselves to be a bit of a dab hand at a number of different sounds and genres on the small number of tracks they’ve gifted the world. ‘Limousine’ is carefree sounding surf rock and ‘Sleeperhead’ adds some driving post-punk rhythm, while ‘Ladybird’ is a more forlorn and shoegaze-tinged piece of dream pop. They put it all together effortlessly to make something totally their own.
The Great Escape has always been impressively on point in its selection of world music artists. This year we’re being treated to an entire spotlight show at the Old Market. Giving us some of the best musicians from the broad array of sounds that make up the continent of Africa. One of the highlights of the last year's festival, Songhoy Blues, are joined by fellow Malian musician Fatoumata Diawara and Cameroonian Blick Bassy, both of whom now find themselves living in France. Fatoumata is one of world music’s brightest new musical exports, using her gifts to sing about her connections to her ancestral home.
After studying at Leeds College of Music, Yorkshire native Holly Macve moved to Brighton. It was here Simon Raymonde, the label boss of Bella Union, discovered her at an open mic night and was blown away by her ability to command a room. Expect to be equally spellbound by her haunting folk songs when she plays this year's festival.
The Island Club
A group of young, up and coming Brighton-based lads whose future is as bright as the sunny, washed out melodies they can produce. Clever, groovy riffs come together with sparkling disco production, touches of psychedelia and soulful lead vocals.
Kero Kero Bonito
What makes The Great Escape so special is the sheer amount of music on offer. From the more commercial acts and future chart toppers to the stuff right on the margins. Kero Kero Bonito somehow manages to be both. Fronted by a bilingual rapper, the three-piece make pop music at its most eccentric. Taking up the uncanny valley superficiality of other electronic mischief-makers like PC Music and the cartoony and bubbly aesthetics of J-Pop, it's as fun as it is weird.
You might think you’ve heard everything psych-rock has to offer at this point but then you probably haven’t heard the music of Khruangbin. Blending surf, soul and vintage Thai funk from the 60s on their smooth and groovy début The Universe Smiles Upon You. One of the genuine must sees over the three days.
With big, brash synthesised rhythms and unnerving vocals scattered over the top, these are a must to see. The Helsinki trio are now 4 LPs in, having just released III Pt.2 recently, they take from electronica and merge it with the hypnotic rhythms of psychedelia leading for a sound that is completely immersive. It takes from the likes of Suuns, The Vacant Lots and Beak >. There are experimental plays with washing throbs undercut with motorik beats and an unnerving live display. Fingers crossed they put them in a small, intimate venue as they are likely to cause quite the performance.
Let’s Eat Grandma
Let’s Eat Grandma are Rosa and Jenny, two precocious young talents who became instant best friends when they met at the age of 4. They’re now just 16 and 17 respectively. They’re an astoundingly mature act (minus the name) and the small amount of music they’ve put out so far is totally singular in its sound. On ‘Deep Seat Text’ they combine austere electronic drums, a deadened organ sound and ghostly vocals. Let’s Eat Grandma are making music more unusual and interesting than most artists twice their age.
Another band that really excite us with their curious blend of trip-hop and electronica, it takes from the more recent Massive Attack stuff with hints of Atoms For Peace thrown about for good measure. Interesting soundscapes are generated from this band that are pretty fresh on the music scene; curious baselines pack in groove that dance around with a swarm of processed beats on top and big guitar noises – the type that could make Kevin Shields weak at the knees.
Hailing from Athens in Georgia, US quartet Mothers make delicate and vulnerable indie with interweaving guitar parts. It’s a bit like if Angel Olsen or Cate Le Bon had a predilection for math rock. Their debut album, with the literally minded title When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired, came out at the beginning of March and is already one of 2016’s overlooked gems.
After catching them at Green Door Store at the beginning of March, this band have been on repeat with their catchy as hell single, ‘You Look Like Something I Killed’. They pack in a sound that has roots in Television, Ought and Lou Reed; it’s the smoky, baritone voice plastered with angsty guitars and four to the floor, pacy drumming. A certain to fill much bigger venues soon enough with their charismatic stage presence and rock’n’roll ethic. They pack in a real uptight, tense atmosphere – something that is exceptionally compelling to witness at gigs. It puts you on edge and hypnotises you within their captivating rhythms.
Massive sounding indie rock with dubby synths thrown into the mix for good measure, The Wholls have garnered a loyal following of enthusiastic fans on the back of an electrifying live show and good old fashioned hard graft. Radio domination is inevitable so catch them before they’re absolutely everywhere.
We’ve already been making a big fuss over these guys on this site. Both for their unique racket – equals parts modern pop and grunge – and exhaustingly energetic live sets. If you still haven’t managed to catch them live yet then that’s your loss. Be sure to make amends by getting down the front when May comes around.