Today marked the first day of The Great Escape in Brighton, England for 2015. Now in its 10th year, the festival was completely sold out for the third consecutive year - with both delegate passes and live music only wristbands flying out the door. The calibre of artists showcasing today proved why this was the case. Here are just some of our highlights from the first day of the event:
The day kicked off just after Noon with Klo kicking off the Sound Gallery event, showcasing six impressive Australian talents. Klo (Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam) certainly impressed the crowd with Chloe's stellar vocals and Simon's hypnotic soundscape.
Austrian band Bad Weed impressed at the Austrian Heartbeats Showcase at The Prince Albert, meanwhile, with jangly guitars and songs that sat somewhere between the worlds of The Ramones and Dune Rats.
Tora packed out the Sound Gallery event with their sweet jams, great vibes and excellent music. But we'd expect no less.
Our of all the bands I saw today, possibly no one commanded the crowd more impressively than Australian duo The Pierce Brothers. Kicking things off with e didgeridoo solo (which drove the crowd wild), the energy started high with guitar, drums and harmonica. The guitars were even used as drums (as shown above). They put their all into the performance and won over a room of fans, with tracks like "Overdose".
Fraser A. Gorman was accompanied by a two piece band to showcase tracks off his forthcoming debut record Slow Gum. A quirky songwriter in his nature, it's easy to compare him to another Melbourne based artist by the name of Courtney Barnett. With the same manager and record label behind him, you can expect those comparisons to continue. But his music is very much his own...
In the first act amongst the evening showcases, Canadian act JPNSGRLS had a line down the street to try and witness their much lauded performances. Indeed, it lived up to expectation - though given the small size of the venue, the above photo shows just how close I got to the stage (not very). There was plenty of crowd surfing by the end of the show, from both band and the audience, which featured a few new tracks amongst material from their last album.
French outfit Stal gave off some Passion Pit vibes and had people dancing...
New Zealand artist Louis Baker performed in the Queens Hotel and showed off some amazing guitar skills and an even more impressive voice. Fans of Matt Corby should check this guy out... and fans of great voices in general. Was very impressed.
Another stunning voice belonged to Soak, the Irish star on the rise, who was last at The Great Escape when she was just 16, having played a venue not unlike that of Louis. Now, she's one of the bigger artists chosen to play the massive VEVO stage during the festival - a success story of the event in the making. "Sea Creatures" was a highlight of the set as was "B a noBody".
Wow. Black Honey. This Brighton based rock group, fronted by Izzy Bee, were the most powerful and intense band I'd see all day - ending the set by smashing the crap out of their guitars and leaving everyone in the room wanting more.
The last great band I saw today was Pins. Hailing from Manchester, this all girl five piece gave birth to their latest record Wild Nights (released through Bella Union on June 9th) in the Californian desert - and their music certainly feels right at home there. Bringing together elements from bands like The Black Angels, Queens of the Stone Age and so much of the best music of that type from the last decade or so, it's great to see yet another band out there proving that the girls can rock it with the rest of them. But I hope you already knew that.
We mainly got a taste of their new record in the 30 minute set, though a few from Girls Like Us were also included. It has us all very excited about the new LP - and rumour has it the band may make it to Australia this year - well, that what they hinted to me in our exclusive interview. You'll be able to hear/read that soon on AU radio and the AU review!
Stay tuned for more action from The Great Escape, exclusively on the AU review. All photos by Larry Heath.