GIGsoup’s Jamie Muir takes a look at the popular seaside festival and some the artists who’ve performed on the various Great Escape stages
Mass excursions to the Brighton seafront have a notorious history. Whether that be with the parka-drenched hedonism of Phil Daniels and his Quadraphenia cohorts, or the pulsating Beach Party celebrations that defined Fatboy Slim’s entire career, there’s something special about the air down in Brighton. Every year that’s none more obvious than at The Great Escape, systematically ushering in and showcasing the best new music talent from around the world into three days and nights spread across the cities nooks and crevices. Many have tried to replicate the formula, but there remains only one iconic new music event, offering an insight into the bands and figures set to light up music libraries over the next 12 months, all gathered in one (extremely windy) place.
From the confined and intimate surroundings of the Green Door Store, to Coalition’s cavernous aura all the way to Concorde 2’s iconic stage, it’s a city that lives and breathes creativity and the next curt-edge fresh moment. There’s a reason why the entire music industry shifts and moves down to “London-on-sea”, offering an experience and plethora of new music gathered in one place like no other alongside a detailed and insightful programme of talks, speakers and discussions.
Over the past 10 editions, we’ve witnessed the birth of some truly global superstars, and taking a trip down memory lane is the perfect way to prepare yourself, for 2016’s unmissable class of music shifters.
It’s hard to picture North London’s finest in anywhere but a mesmerising arena and smashing every record under the sun, but in 2007 Adele got that very first break at The Great Escape. Turning a packed out industry crowd at Concorde 2 into a hushed and tearful mess, it was an insight into the superstar she was destined to become, and the moment where hype became a reality.
In the year in which “For Emma, Forever Ago” first burst across the world with its raw love-scorned tales of heartbreak, Bon Iver took to the seafront for an unmissable, intimate show at The Great Escape. Now standing as a cult icon and one of the most respected musicians of the modern age, the grainy footage of that night shows a man on the cusp of greatness, and a first glimpse into the soul of a modern great.
Remember when Ed Sheehan was a sofa-surfing, hoodie-sporting troubadour who played hundreds of shows up and down the country making next to nothing? Well on the cusp of breaking into the global superstar that he now is, Ed rolled into The Great Escape for some phenomenally intimate live shows and the above session – showcasing why his universal tales have taken over the world to the point he can sell out three nights at Wembley Stadium!
Hailed as the saviours of rock by many, 2014 was the year of Royal Blood. After taking over the airwaves and decimating venues on their path to greatness, they kick-started their iconic summer with an intimate and sweaty showcase in their hometown at The Great Escape. Shaking The Haunt’s structures to the core, it was a moment where the hype became a reality and they realised that they were about to leave their Brighton base for a global onslaught on the eagerly anticipating rock masses.
If there was one genre that defined 2015, it was Grime. Breaking records, invading the charts and embracing a new wave of wordsmiths, it was the soundtrack of an entire generation collectively standing together with an untouched sound of the streets. At The Great Escape, it all came together with an iconic headline show from Septa & JME (alongside support from fellow game-changers Stormzy and The Square) with a defining night that cemented Grime as the most exciting genre in British music. Where they go from here is anyone’s guess, but there will always be that special night on the coast.
Arguably the most exciting British band of recent times, Wolf Alice are now an all-conquering BRIT, Grammy and Mercury Prize nominated act, with debut album “My Love Is Cool” an untouchable collection of forward-thinking and invigorating alternative rock. Back in 2013, they were slogging away in a sea of anticipation, and this emphatic performance of “Fluffy” at Coalition’s murky arches demonstrates just why they were destined to seize the hearts of thousands.
Yet, despite these illustrious moments of new music cross-over and iconic trail-blazers, its in the future where The Great Escape lives and breathes, and after 10 years of sensational moments 2016 is once again the start of an entire new waves of exciting fresh music. Already boasting standout spotlight shows from Oh Wonder, Songhoy Blues and Stormzy, an unrivalled new music lineup includes Spring King, Clean Cut Kid, Beach Baby, Elf Kid, Eagulls, Frances, GIRLI, Formation, Lady Leshurr, MONEY, Let’s Eat Grandma, Transviolet, The Big Moon, VITAMIN, Porches and many many more including familiar favourites such as Mystery Jets, The Joy Formidable and Band Of Skulls.
Unwavering and always ahead of the curve, The Great Escape will once again welcome thousands to the Brighton seafront for another year of genre-defying new music, set to invade music collections around the world.