When it comes to discovery, there’s few better events in the world than The Great Escape on the English seaside in Brighton. Now running for 12 years, the event thrives with its excellent curation of a couple of hundred bands from all over the world – with no less than 26 Australian acts making up that lineup. And likely the finest we’ve ever seen, I might add, with the vast majority ready, willing and deserving of conquering the world.
But while I spent plenty of time watching acts from Australia, that’s not who I was there to discover. So who did I discover across the three day event? Here’s a look at just four bands I found along the way…
LUNA BAY (London)
This London quartet – who were stunned when their Thursday afternoon set filled the Hope and Ruin to capacity – know how to make a catchy song. Tracks like “Hometown” and “Fire” were stuck in my head for most of the day, and would prove easy favourites on triple j back in Australia. Tracks like “Colours” and “Little Amsterdam” (their set closer) also stood out, while “Smoke and Mirrors”, with a stellar outro jam, was my favourite song of the set. Very much a band to watch.
BOY AZOOGA (Wales)
I’d been hearing a bit about this Welsh quartet in my travels around the country, and they did not disappoint. In the vein of The Beta Band, this group make addictive music with an experimental edge; tracks like “Shaking Like a Tambourine” and “Balls to Your Head” proving tracks you could either dance to, or bop your head in music nerd appreciation – there’s the promise of wide appeal here. At times, with their backs to the crowd, they act as a jam band, playing off one and other – but they’re doing it with such detail and intricacy that you’d never know if it was planned or not. They even descended into Rage Against The Machine level heights for a moment.
“Full House” was a particularly interesting track, and then they closed things up with “Coming For You”.
SOCCER MOMMY (USA)
OK, I finally got to see Soccer Mommy and I see what all the fuss is about. I don’t need to add to the levels of hype surrounding this band, and if I’m going to be honest, with the exception of a few moments (including some serious shredding at the end of “I Wanna Be That”), they’re not a terribly engaging live act. This is early days for the group after all. But you can’t argue with the quality of their music; it’s some of the best of the genre right now. It will be a joy to watch this band grow and develop as performers; and see how Sophie Allison develops as a songwriter. Exciting times ahead – don’t miss them at Splendour.
PEACH PIT (UK)
There were super cool vibes surrounding this band, both in terms of the minor buzz that was surrounding them at the festival, and how they came across on stage. Their music is quite consuming, filled with quality songwriting and some cool jams thrown in for good measure. Will be interesting to see where this group goes from here.
For more about The Great Escape, which happens annually in Brighton, head to their official website, www.greatescapefestival.com
Photo of Soccer Mommy by Shervin Lainez.