The final day of The Great Escape in Brighton kicked off with the annual Aussie BBQ, a travelling roadshow of Australian musicians at festivals like this and SXSW. You’ll be able to look into our archives to see all our coverage of these wonderful events over the years.
There were nine musicians on stage with Brisbane’s Inland Sea. That could not have been a cheap voyage. Luckily for them, they sounded damn fine, so it was well worth it, string section and all. “The Only One” ended the set. Due to Mario hurting his back, The Killgirls cancelled last minute, so we had an extended wait for the two piece rock outfit Jackson Firebird, who definitely impressed the growing crowd. Four piece Red Ink were looking and sounding like a seasoned rock band; the lead singer holding plenty of gravitas. Chet Faker played to a packed room and though he impressed, it was definitely one of his weaker sets, which he was the first to admit. But he’s definitely exploded on the international stage.
Closing out the day were Sydney’s own Jinja Safari, whose meteoric rise locally seems to have translated to growing interest from the international community. They packed the room out and brought the sunshine along with them. “Peter Pan” sounded particularly great… always love that sitar. “Mermaids” ended their energetic set which included plenty of jumping around and saw the audience very much getting into it. Here’s hoping for big things from the group internationally!
Having a wander around the city after the set, we briefly caught an artist named Felix Fables who was playing in Café Nero. Back at The Dome, the Robbie Boyd Band was performing for delegates, with strings, acoustic guitars and songs about Neverland and Orion’s Belt. A sort of mature pop that sits somewhere alongside bands like The Whitlams.
With a cover on NME and enough hype to entice Nick Cave and Warren Ellis along to their show, the Alabama Shakes headlined (and intimate) event was quite possibly the must attend event of the week. With the line running around the block and then some, it seems that this was a justified expectation.
Though there are few things as disappointing as not getting into a venue, there are few things as rewarding as getting in after a long wait. And after an hour and a half, we were indeed lucky enough to be considered in the latter category. We made it in just in time to catch the majority of Splendour bound troupe Howler’s set, who were performing tracks off the recently released LP America Give Up. Their music got grungier, rockier and dirtier as the set progressed, with single “Back Of Your Neck” getting a fantastic reception – and deservedly so; it was the easy highlight of the set. There’s plenty to look forward to when they play Splendour and a few sideshows in July.
Alabama Shakes emerged to a heroes welcome, ready to impress in front of a packed out house, one of the festival’s final performances. When I first saw this band at SXSW I feel like I missed something. I just wasn’t that impressed. Maybe it was because I was far back, maybe it was because I was exhausted and looking forward to bed, or maybe they just weren’t having a good night. Whatever the reason, I can way without a doubt that the set I experienced tonight was the best set I’ve experienced from any new band this year – and I’ve definitely seen a lot. It helped, too, that their new record Boys & Girls had very quickly become my favourite album of the year, and given it was their final show of the European tour, they were definitely giving it their all, too.
Particular mention has to be paid to "Heavy Chevy", "Hold On", "Always Alright" and "Rise to the Sun", which were the highlights of the set. Lead singer Brittany Howard was flawless from start to finish, whether she was just on vocals, or also donning the guitar (she’s a phenomenal player), while the rest of the band keep things tight and professional.
I ended my festival checking out New York’s We Are Augustines, who we profiled during CMJ, making yet another splash in the UK, playing to a packed out Psychosocial basement. The crowd was manic, the lead singer’s head was touching the ceiling (I don’t think I’m going to be able to jump… you’re going to have to jump for me!), and the heat was causing the walls to sweat (not an exaggeration). This was the sort of rock show in a dingy basement you hear about in the liner notes of a band’s new album – the sort of legendary experience you never expect to witness yourself. I daresay this was one of those moments, a set that fans and the uninitiated will be talking about for a long time to come. The fans gave the band some momentum to work with, and they carried it from start to finish. An epic set, with highlights including "My Heart Keeps Pumping Blood" and "Book of James". The night ended in style with "Chapel Song".
What a way to end The Great Escape. I crammed so much amazing music into my three days here that I can’t quite fathom it. It was a superbly organized event, and the city and its people were