Great Escape 2013 – The warm up (Wednesday)

This weekend a few of the LTW team are dashing around the streets of Brighton in search of musical treats. Cath went down a day early to get in the mood…

The weather has spoken. Brighton in May is, as we mentioned in our preview, capable of just about any form of weather you can think of, but as the wristband exchange opens its doors and the first delegates line up for grainy photos there’s a near cloudless blue sky and warm spring sunshine over the sparkling sea. On a day like this Brighton is beautiful, a perfect welcome for the influx of musicians, industry bods and fans who for three days will turn the city into a sort of all-you-can-eat music theme park. Some, like the package of bands from across the Vistula appearing here under the gloriously Mail-reader-baiting name “Don’t Panic, We’re From Poland!” may be at their first Great Escape; others are veterans who have watched this festival grow from a sort of mini Camden Crawl by the sea in 2006 to the sprawling citywide convention of today. We love it so much we actually came down a day early, when a few fringe events opened their doors, and spent a nice couple of hours bouncing between pubs round the station as guitars and their owners scrambled for taxis outside…

Seem to be rock and metal based stuff in The Hope when we arrive; Ivy King (a band, not the bingo playing elderly lady the name implies) doing sturdy traditional hard rock followed by Arivmia – now that’s a proper metal band name! – whose basic blueprint is the grungier metal of the mid nineties but with some timeless squiggly riffs and a solid rhythm section echoing heavy rock’s earlier seventies heyday.

Emperor The Stag

Round the corner in The Prince Albert – one of my favourite pub venues in Brighton or indeed anywhere – there’s a party that seems to be called Southeast by Southwest, featuring – you guessed it – some local acts interspersed with visitors from Devon and Cornwall. Emperor The Stag are actually the former, despite a name referencing a celebrated 300 pound Exmoor deerwho may (or may not) have been controversially killed by licensed hunters in 2010. The band are very much alive and from Eastbourne, despite said town’s reputation as where people go to die, and they play the sort of soaring and heartfelt indie rock that would sit happily on either 6 Music or the younger end of Radio 2, with shades of widescreen, Last Broadcast era Doves.

The PJP Band

They’re followed by The Plymouth’s The PJP Band– no, no idea what that might stand for, any guesses? – who have a nice line in very energetic upbeat alt-pop led from the front by singer Patrick Pearson’s (ah, I guess his middle initial is J then?) ridiculously infectious little keybard riffs – and I’m a sucker for infectious little upfront keyboard riffs. As is 6 Music’s Tom Robinson who’s already got them on his radar. Reminiscent at times of the mid-00s pop/indie crossovers of the likes of Maximo Park, they have a real ace up their sleeve in the form of a great northern soul flavoured song about standing up for your rights that instantly turns the place – and a crowd that, at the front at least, is largely female – into a party.

Plasticine

Back at The Hope, the last band of this little warm-up is called Plasticinewho have a big 90s influence with tunes straight out of Britpop but a fuzzy edge more reminiscent of the American lo-fi scene of that era. Muically it’s nothing you’ve not heard before but singer Andrew is their secret weapon, with something of the young Pete Shelley about him. Might just be his hair. But no, there’s a certain slightly melodramatic flourish to him. And they’ve got a great powerpop song called ‘Worst’ where the guitars sound like keyboards, if you know what I mean. I’m not even sure I do.

Anyway, a great little curtain raiser session. One bed and one breakfast later the sun is out and we have bands to watch. Let’s do this.

Continues in part two…

 

All words and pictures by Cath Aubergine, more writing by Cath on Louder Than War can be found here.

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