2018 saw the usual mix of legends and newcomers appear across Brighton. At one end of the scale, Patti Smith’s Brighton Dome show was an absolute treat. All those years of poetic, powerful messages channelled into one unforgettable evening. A legend of a different sort, Jarvis Cocker’s surprise and intimate Patterns gig was one of those moments that you just can’t miss – his mixture of Pulp standards, solo classics and new ‘Jarv Is’ material made it a huge step up from the usual Britpop nostalgia. However, as a live moment, Shame at The Haunt is unbeatable. The explosion of a band grabbing their moment with both hands, in a venue that became woefully too small for them in the period between announcement and performance, the intensity of that night was unbelievable. To see them playing in front of a few thousand in London a few months later showed just what a dizzying ride they had enjoyed.
It has been one hell of a year. From the influx of thousands of artists during festival season to watching many of our most-loved Brighton bands bloom into genuine world beaters, 2018 has been an incredibly successful year for music locally. Our Brightonsfinest writers now look back over the past 12 months to remember their highlights on record and in the live sphere as well as the ones we missed.
“For those that don’t know, we’ve got our first record coming out at midnight, so this is our album launch party” stated BODEGA frontman Ben Hozie as the New York post-punk quintet packed out The Haunt for the second time in as many months after their Great Escape show, which saw queues filing all the way around the corner of the venue. This performance, featuring a crowd made up of everyone from 15 to 50, confirmed BODEGA as one of the most exciting, most important bands making their way through the ranks right now. Their brand of post-punk not only feels vital, it’s also an incredibly fun slice of postmodernism that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
“It just seemed obvious that we couldn’t write a contemporary record without talking about life on the internet. It’s almost not even a critique, it’s just that’s literally what it means to be alive right now,” stated lead singer Ben Hozie about BODEGA’s debut album Endless Scroll. Indeed, modern technology, and humanity’s misuse of it, runs through the entirety of their brilliant debut album that recalls everyone from Velvet Underground to Parquet Courts, all the way to LCD Soundsystem, yet displayed with their own cartoonish, postmodern twist.
To paraphrase that Marmite film classic, the streets were alive with the sound of music! Over three long days and nights, Brighton did truly come alive as The Great Escape juggernaut rolled into town for its 13th edition. The festival for new music saw over 500 acts playing in 40-odd venues, representing countries from all around the globe. If you add in the The Alternative Great Escape, and the plethora of events and pop-up performances arranged off the back of TGE and AGE, you’re looking at closer to 1,000 acts in 80-odd venues. Yes, it was mad, but glorious. Helped along by some beautiful mid-May sunshine, somehow within all the chaos, Brightonsfinest were out in force, documenting, commenting, and enjoying what we like to do best. Watch live music.
So, brace yourself. If you were there, hopefully memories will be stirred. If you weren’t, dive into our thoughts about the state of new music, and check out our many recommendations.