It’s looking grim out there, like the veritable Ghost Town that The Specials so eloquently put it back in 1981 (albeit in response to the spate of riots at the time and rising unemployment). In terms of live music, it is grim. Beyond grim. Suddenly, after decades of uninterrupted live rock’n’roll, there is none to be had. Literally zero. Venues have shut their doors to live music, and as I write this the 50th anniversary of Glastonbury Festival is supposed to be happening. No festivals will be taking place for the foreseeable future. And while pubs are tentatively opening their doors, there will be no live music (the act of singing itself is deemed dangerous to other people’s health…) and probably not even piped music, as it is being guided that people need to be able to talk in normal tones and volume, rather than having to shout to get their point across.
“Brighton tonight, where it all began”, so said Dream Wife on Twitter before their homecoming gig at Concorde 2. Indeed the birthing ground of the group, having formed at Brighton University originally as an art project, the trio brought some art-punk magic to the iconic seaside venue. Playing their first Brighton headline set since the release of their terrific eponymous debut album, it’s difficult to describe Dream Wife as anything other than vital, fierce and political luminaries.
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.
Back for its 13th year, The Great Escape is the premier showcase in Europe for new music. Over three days and nights, Brighton is host to 450-plus acts playing over 30 venues, from around 20 countries. You won’t have heard of many of these acts, but quality and potential is the name of the game here. Along with a few fairly established names, the bulk of the bill is made up of acts who have shown their talent, and are on the cusp of bigger and better things. It is a fabulous opportunity to check out new music, covering almost all genres known to man. Alongside The Great Escape, there’s The Alternative Escape, which also features a wealth of stunning new talent, and The Great Escape Convention, where many of the music industry’s movers and shakers congregate to check out the talent, and do a spot of networking and deal making. For three days in May, Brighton truly is the place to be! To help you get a grasp of what is out there, we asked various Brightonsfinest contributors, along with some industry players, to give us the lowdown on who they are looking out for.
Last month, Dream Wife announced their biggest headline show to date, getting spooky at London’s KOKO on Halloween. The band have now added a full run of UK dates preceding the show, including a date where it all started, Brighton, 30th October, Concorde 2.
Alice Go, Rakel Mjoll, and Bella Podpadec formed the band out of an art project whilst studying at Brighton University. Initially, the idea was to form a band to give them an excuse to travel to Canada. Apparently this was to be a university project (you’ve got to admire their chutzpah)! One thing led to another, and voilà! Dream Wife are suddenly one of the buzz bands of the moment, helped along by the much praised self-titled debut album that came out earlier this year, their New York indie meets Riot Grrrl/post-punk consciousness a blast of fresh air.
Dream Wife are one of the most exciting live prospects in the UK at the moment. The former Brighton University students have been destroying venues up and down the country with their ‘Bad Bitch Club’. Whether they’re creating mental moshpits or turning London’s Scala into a prom from 80s America, they’re unpredictable and exciting. So, the question always was: can they translate that into a studio album? The answer is a definite yes. Dream Wife’s eponymous debut album is a reckless, audacious rollercoaster ride of a record that, so crucially, means something. Whether they’re exploring rape culture, girl power or a celebration of female sexuality, it’s a record that is as intense as it is important, as fun as it is profound and as powerful as it is contained.