Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett
The Great Escape sees festival season kick off proper with every spare bit of space in Brighton quickly turned into a platform of some description.
It wasn’t all queuing, deciding on how many times we could reasonably get away with making a joke about stick of rock/rock bands (we settled on just the one, but more on that later), swearing at some of the clashes (we’re still not over Dilly Dally vs SWMRS) and talking to people about the weather (“alright, isn’t it?”), we also saw some great bands. Here are the best bits.
Summer, eh. Anything can happen. Full of endless possibilities, sky-high day daydreams and splitting grins, every year it comes with a burst of excitement. It doesn’t even matter if you set off to see the world and only end up seeing the field down the road, the whole thing feels like an escape and Woahnows capture that perfectly.
Not only is their music as sunny as it gets (The first few rows of The Hub picked up a tan during their thirty minute set) but they channel that desire for something better. For something more. You’ll hear about summer a lot over the next few months but know this; it started here. It started in a tunnel on the Brighton seafront with Woahnows blasting out ‘Life In Reverse’.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the back room of The Green Door Store as the sun sets outside or a basement in the early hours of the morning, Diet Cig are always a whole bunch of fun. Infectious and inescapable, they’re the perfect cure for the blues (and any other colour that isn’t rainbow-doused joy).
Constantly excited and loving every moment, their mood is bounced around the room and finds a home in the uncontrollable smiles plastered across the face of every person present. Those scrappy little songs have quickly developed into so much more and the love affair with Diet Cig shows no sign of waning.
Dilly Dally are great at taking vitriol and making it shine. Tonight, that fuels their whole set as technical problems mean Katie Monks gets electrocuted by her microphone every time she steps near it but, the show must go on. One quick fix later, the band are more determined, more fiery than ever.
Throwing their all into every scratched vocal and snarling melody, tracks from ‘Sore’ are more powerful than ever. The venue is packed and despite it being the busiest time of the day, not a single person’s eyesight leaves the band, let alone pushes out the venue to see what else is on offer. There’s a danger to Dilly Dally but it’s comforting to know that the band are never anything less than superb. (and we didn’t make a joke about them being shocking, so well done us.)
Last year we saw Cassels play for the very first time at The Great Escape. Hyperbole limiter on full, we were blown away. Gangly, awkward but with so much to say and the tenacity to actually say it, there was more than a spark of brilliance pinging between the Beck brothers.
Twelve months later and they’ve done it again. Their ideas are now fully formed and backed by the confidence to take a moment to explore them however they’ve lost none of the musical flex that keeps the pair constantly moving. With a new record done and songs about the abuse of power and falling apart at the seams already causing a lump in the throat and a fire in the belly, Cassles are only going to build.
Last year Black Honey were still a mystery. A few great tracks and rumours aplenty, the shows felt like you were being let in on a huge secret via a side door.
Following twelve months of heavy touring and their excellent ‘Headspin’ EP, the secret’s out. Black Honey are ace. And they don’t care who knows it. After their third show in as many days comes to an end, they ride their equipment-loaded wagon back from the end of the pier like a carnival celebration, inviting everyone to join them. The shows are just as triumphant and just as inclusive, so tell a friend. Black Honey are here to get your head in a spin.
We’ve said it before. We’ll say it again. Milk Teeth are brilliant and somehow, they keep going from strength to strength.
First came ‘Everything’s All Right’. Then ‘Your Old Man’. Then ‘I Don’t Wanna Wait’. Partybaby were three for three with absolute bangers but, nine months after their first introduction, it’s still very early doors for the Californian two-piece. Not that anyone told them.
With a set full to the brim of joyful party-ragers, a fully-realised chemistry and a presence screaming out for bigger things, Partybaby aren’t a band just feeling things out. They know exactly what’s next and (with an album finished) we don’t wanna wait either.
Festivals are full of bands with a great live show. Lights for the camera and plenty of action, it’s fun to escape for half an hour but afterwards, the real world slowly comes creeping back. Muncie Girls take a different approach.
Confronting real life with charm and poetry, their music is an encouraging push forward and their live show takes that connection and makes it gold. Singing until voices blow and the weight of the world feels a little less impossible to handle, Muncie Girls play the long game. Cathartic in the moment and affecting for the course, no one can hold a torch to what this band do.