The Great Escape 2013 - Thursday Review

Here we are again, home from The Great Escape, it sure has come around quickly! Three days of treating our bodies with the littlest respect (copious amounts of concentrated orange juice at breakfast aside) living, eating and breathing live music in Brighton's many venues and bars seems to have taken their toll on the many muso's and punters littering Brighton's streets and my Sunday Twitter feed was an almost universal story of suffering and hangover, back to the beginning of the weekend for this post though....

I arrive in town at around midday to find sky blue skies, it's a lovely day (and as so happens is the rest of the weekend with the weather forecasters well and truly proving their ineptitude) and I head straight to drop off my bag at the my hotel - a seafront location is perfect for dipping in and out of your room if you need to and cheap too as I booked in advance - preparation - it's one of the weekends key words. I'm lucky enough to know Brighton pretty well too so I don't suffer with any navigational problems all weekend (after working out where the renamed / new locations are).

Music, yes, that's what we were here for. After a quick pizza I start Downstairs at Komedia for Jenny Hval, a show which deserved more attendance - well some attendance - there were about a dozen people there at the outset of her show (the set was a last minute addition and didn't feature in the festival programme - seemingly the word didn't get out although the attendance improved as the set progressed). I'd not encountered Jenny before and wasn't really sure what to expect - I took her Norwegian roots and anticipated an ethereal, beautiful sound, I was wrong. Jenny is possessed with a stunning, haunting voice for sure and her half-monologue, half left-field experimental sounds take some adjusting to but once I had, I find myself enchanted by an unusual, inventive talent with an eerie half-folk, half electronic sound that commands your full attention. Time keeping at Komedia is like clock work and the set is swiftly brought to a close, a start to the weekend that should have been enjoyed by more.

I move on to the Breaking More Waves endorsed Laura St Jude at Dome Studio, the unnamed craft ale is expensive (£4.40) but sure tastes good as the young, Scottish singer plays to an attentive audience and another pitch black room. Laura reminds me slightly of a rawer, stripped-down Caitlin Rose, armed with a big, powerful voice and songs of stark desolation and alluring atmosphere Laura is clearly a name to watch out for and once she makes the natural progression and adds a backing band her sound will grow even more flawless.

I grab another beer - something which was bound to come back and haunt me later - and wait for Honeyblood, starting perhaps even a little early they bash quickly through a delightful selection of garage pop classics, a combo of fuzzy guitar and precise drum beats soon gets a wave of nodding heads and appreciative applause between songs. Holy Esque are next and I stick around, their shimmering soundscapes are impressive enough but I find the vocals a little to grating for my tastes and decide to reacquaint myself with the sunshine.

I was unsure where to head next and knowing some friends were sitting in a nearby pub I soon find myself quickly sinking a few too many ales and feeling a little sorry for myself. I decide a little power nap is the order of the day and disappear back to my room for half an hour before heading back out again for the evening session to see the first of my pre-festival 'tips' Curxes.

The pub setting with hastily assembled PA and a few pre-gig technical hiccups brings back nightmares of last years show, thankfully those don't happen and the sound is actually okay. Starting with their most recent track "Further Still" and with a Strangers member on electronic drum duty they soon rip and soar their way through their typically dark, ghostly set. Roberta's vocals showing little sign of the cold she's suffering with and the number of photographers in attendance are a sure sign of a band doing something right.

I head quickly to Latest Music Bar as Mt. Wolf are due to play soon, I find the previous band are still playing so I take shelter outside for a while and return to find the band having a few technical problems with their setup which delays things for a good while. When they start the room is busy and we are treated to a beautifully radiant set of subtle electronic pulses and stunning vocals, another band suffering with ailments that show little sign of such during their performance. The setting of their forthcoming Union Chapel gig will definitely suit them better but this dimly lit basement acts as a fine introduction to their live set.

I'm not sure who the band in between Mt. Wolf and Fear of Men are but they give me time to grab some food and head back to a prime position in time to watch Fear of Men at The Great Escape for the third consecutive year. It's easily the best set too, after being together for a few years (a couple of bass player changes aside) they've perfected their sound and tracks like "Seer" and "Mosaic" are delivered with an always sweet sheen. Their cover of "Pink Frost" and new track "Waterfall" equally compliment an exquisite half hour set. The absolute highlight of the day.

Now at this point I was meant to head to The Corn Exchange to see Melody's Echo Chamber, I'd no idea if there was a heaving queue or not and I found myself walking past my hotel where I am sorry to say at the age of 30, the sound of my bed was too much to resist after I'd been up since six am. So the first night of The Great Escape comes to an early conclusion, it's a marathon not a sprint after-all...