The Great Escape 2011 - Thursday Review

The Great Escape 2011, my fourth and a few minor squibbles aside the best by far, three days of beer, music and more beer. The weather did us proud, it was a comfortably warm temperature which certainly helped with mobility around the lovely seaside city.

Thursday started with news of The Joy Formidable playing a short acoustic set at HMV, Brighton. So upon arrival it was pretty obvious that I'd be heading straight to that, I'd seen TJF do an acoustic set before at Puregroove a couple of years ago but this was the a lot more professional than that, plugged in, though over tight security measures and a rather English crowd meant an awkward introduction, but for the three songs (The Greatest Light / Austere / Whirring) TJF were putty in our hands, all this at 1pm too though I'm not quite sure we needed the ten or so security guards and barriers. For a band who've built up an incredible reputation around a blistering live set it's a total testament to the quality of the band just how great they sound acoustically. The band left to get Ice Creams and so do I...

Afterwards, I head to Above Audio and caught Dry The River, who've received plenty of positive reviews and to their credit they play to the packed crowd with enthusiasm and in an engaging manner that has a vast proportion hanging over their every word, but they weren't really to my tastes, though, the German lager was. I saw another band at the Festival Hub but the less said about that the better...

Food, drinks and a nap follow before the start of the evening shift, a trip to Audio to see The Soft Moon. Bathed in dark noise, with a frenetic industrial pulse the set was short and intense, Luis Vasquez certainly deserved a later, longer set - this music in a similar setting to audio's dark, grimy club merk at 2am would have been pretty special. I'll certainly be adding The Soft Moon to my 'live bands to follow' list.

It was then to Hector's House (now called something else rather forgettable) to make sure I am in the same building as The Joy Formidable were playing which means I have to miss Emika's set (the first sacrifice of many in a festival jam packed with quality acts), first on were PS, I Love You, I was actually pretty impressed by them, reminiscent of Japandriods the larger than life front-man was pretty talented on the guitar and also taking responsibility of a bass floor-pedal. The show was thirty minutes of ripping garage-rock full of intense guitarwork and grizzly, growling vocals; I enjoyed them a lot more than I was expecting.

Next up were Dutch Uncles, they've been getting hordes of admirers, I was not one. Hector's House was by this time completely rammed, I mean completely, people were packed like cattle throughout with no room to move hands or bodies or make their way to the bar. It had to have been way over capacity (which was strange as every other venue I thought was very conservative with capacity levels), it was a little annoying but I wasn't going to let it get in the way of the main event...

Pretty much on cue at 22.30 The Joy Formidable were ready to start, opening with Greyhounds they proceeded to raise the roof with a stereotypically fierce performance where as ever all three of them put every ounce of their blood, sweat and tears into the show. They seemed to really enjoy playing the tiny venue, Rhydian's pounding bass was causing vibrations on the floor below me as Matt beat the living daylights out of his drumkit, the repeated intensity of his performances is as ever one of the highlights. Ritzy knocked over her mic-stand twice on the small stage as she waltzed around during her extended riff-tastic grunge guitar solos - the 45 minute set encapsulated the word epic. The only problem being the close proximity of other eager punters meaning lack of mobility for a proper mosh that usually comes hand-in-hand with tonight's set closure, Whirring.
The Joy Formidable are back touring in the UK in October, it will certainly be at venue's larger than this.

After leaving Hector's I was faced with a three way clash, I originally went to the Corn Exchange to see what the Warpaint queue was like. It was incredible, literally hundreds upon hundreds of people waiting outside, so I decided on a trek to Green Door Store to catch Echo Lake, a band I've seen a couple of times in the last months.

After a long delay getting served a pint in the adjacent room I finally got to see the five piece in another thoroughly enjoyable set, their gorgeous, echoey noise fills the room as the band quickly rip through their set highlighting much of the groups brilliant debut EP. With droning distortion (sometimes perhaps too much) and reverb-heavy guitars crashing off the walls whilst Linda's nonchalant, dreamy vocals seduce the crowd I'm sure Echo Lake picked up a few new fans.

It was the sort of performance that led to staying for a beer afterwards, so that's just what I do before calling it a night on a rather lovely start to The Great Escape.