2012 was a good year, for me it wasn't quite the same vintage as 2011, that's partly my own fault for making a few scheduling errors across the weekend. The weather was good, very good on Friday and gorgeous on Saturday (if I wasn't in some dark, dark dive for most of the day that is) and the beer was of varying quality (highest marks go to The Fishbowl's 'Laines' and the Pav Tav's £2.50 EPA (although that didn't exactly taste great).
Other general observations see similar complaints to last year, the text / update service was arguably worse - there were a few unavoidable cancellations / delays and very few were actually announced in advance, it doesn't help to arrive at a venue to find it running an hour behind or worse the act you were after seeing not even playing. I know it's impossible to tell everyone around Brighton but a message via the text service / twitter / facebook wouldn't take more than a minute...
Anyway grumble aside, I arrived in Brighton at about half eleven on Thursday and headed straight to Blind Tiger, or Hector's House as it was formerly, formerly known and something impossible to remember last year. I find the stage has been moved and a lick of white paint makes the room feel cleaner and larger. The first act of my (and many others, for the room is pretty busy) Great Escape 2012 is Canada's Slow Down, Molasses, a band I'd not heard of previously but whose blend of alt-rock is quite pleasing, built around sprawling guitars and two drummers (though one did seem to just mirror the other) there are loud, thumping moments interlaced with euphoric choruses and also slow-burning, dreamier sections. The last track where the female keyboardist performed vocals particularly pleasing (says the blog writer with an obvious tilt towards female led indie/pop!).
I probably should have stayed there longer to enjoy more on the Canadian showcase but I was carrying my luggage and starving so menial chores of bag-drop and lunch take president before returning to music at The Hope, Berlin based singer Dillon is next, the show is rammed with queues outside but after three songs littered with technical problems and poor sound (and even worse beer) I decide I'd rather go somewhere else so I head to The Loft, where I bump into Breaking More Waves and Flying With Anna, Robin is particularly complimentary of the venues last act Giovanni.
Half Moon Run who have a few fans in the crowd but aren't really my thing, I stick with the Loft for Savoir Adore who are build as synth dream-pop and sound none of the sort, the female vocals are soft and harmonious but the band are loud, with rattling beats and shimmering guitars with a male, rockier voice taking primary vocals, I await their dream-pop album...
The pint-sized Nina Nesbitt is next, I stick around waiting for news about the reason I had actually come to the venue (Ren Harvieu - who's show was cancelled), I'm told Nina has supported Example on tour and it looks like it, the now quite busy crowd watch her quirky guitar led pop. It's pure pop though and doesn't really get me excited, the younger members of the crowd seems into it though and I'm sure there is a big future ahead of her, and perhaps somewhere an album for me as her voice is nice and she's got a good stage presence. I though head for the curry house, one of the staples of a Great Escape weekend in Brighton if you ask me.
Deaf Club, I like them, I like them a lot. I expected too as I've featured them on a few times here but sometimes the live show is a different kettle of fish altogether, Deaf Club though are highly polished, soaring, shimmering guitar soundscapes and Polly's commanding vocals engage a packed out crowd with the bands blend of dark, moody alternative pop. Definitely a band to keep an eye on,
Which is exactly what can be said for the next band Cut Ribbons, their guitar lines aren't quite as menacing but the Llanelli five piece manage to effortlessly create a whirlwind of stadium sized riffs with deep bass lines and two guitars which are complimented by thumping drums and wonderful dual vocals, star of the show is Anna Griffiths whose gorgeous accented vocals send lovely thoughts right down my spine. A wonderful start to the evening from two of Wales' finest new exports.
Savages, perhaps word hadn't got out too soon as the massive hall is only part full minutes before the four piece start. The empty space didn't help the sound in the venue and some of their thunderous beats and ferocious guitars seemed to echo around the hall rather than fill a sweaty room like my previous Savages live encounter.
Yet the four piece are still impressive, they've all got previous band experience by the bucket-load and it shows, they are all incredible at what they do, singling out one individual in this case would be unfair. Blistering through their set in no time at all, the much watched "City's Full" slays the crowd instantly, their intensity (or the audiences attention) doesn't let go throughout the set, Savages set of rhythmic post-punk tracks make them amongst 2012 best new acts, lets not get too carried away though and give them chance to release some music in their own time.
Hannah Cohen, my facebook had been covered with plaudits of her London show the previous day and my expectations were sky high. Hannah didn't disappoint. Primarily a solo show with the addition of piano for some tracks Hannah's gorgeous voice resonated across the room to an impeccable quiet audience, the best received perhaps the singles "Crying Game" and "Don't Say" and a cover of "Blue Velvet", beautiful throughout, it was Hannah who a turned to to send me to sleep once I'd returned to my bed (after three hours drinking in the fishbowl that is).
A fine end to a fine start to The Great Escape 2012. My Friday review will follow as soon as possible.