[Photo Credit: Abigail Raymaker]
This past weekend, Brighton became a seaside version of SXSW as bands, music industry folk, and music lovers descended on the city's venues in search of the next big act. Over 400 bands played across three days, and though the Great Escape doesn't yet compare to the scale of SXSW, the chance to catch some rays by the water between acts remains a unique perk of the UK's biggest industry festival. Acts flew in from Canada, the US, Australia, and more to perform alongside up-and-coming UK acts to try and catch the attention of bookers, agents, managers, and label heads. Baeble got the chance to catch some of our favorite acts between sets for some fun portrait sessions.
These two brothers played at Horatio's on the end of the pier on Saturday, the final day of the festival. Their unique brand of dreamy pop is infectious from the start, but it isn't until the vocals kick in that Champs soar to new heights. Guitar parts drip with delay, and satisfyingly simple drumbeats and bass parts are embellished with electronic elements like the rough sliding riff that opens their latest single "The Garden is Overgrown." The combination of strong production and vocals is what makes Champs our favorite act from the festival. Though Michael and David Champion are brothers, their voices each have a distinct texture - even when joined in unison, something separates the two so that they never truly sound as one. The textures of their voices feel rough against each other, making the moments when they diverge into harmony feel refreshing. The ethereal quality of the vocals and the lyrical content is grounded by the drum and bass parts, creating a fresh sound that we cant wait to hear more of.
For Fickle Friends, originally from Brighton, the Great Escape is a sort of homecoming every year. After wrapping up a UK tour supporting the Kooks, they traded the sold out 10,000 cap Alexandra Palace (affectionately known as Ally Pally to music fans) for an intimate showcase at the Great Escape on Thursday night. Fickle Friends' bubbly pop feels blithely positive, and immediately brings energy to whichever room they're in. It makes sense that they're from Brighton, and it's too easy to picture them creating their music while living in this seaside town surrounded by sun, sand, and the chirpy holiday attitude that permeates Brighton.
JNTHN STEIN is a rarity in the electronic world - he is a classically trained multi-instrumentalist who plays and sequences every instrument on his tracks. He performs live with the Ableton Push, a bass guitar, keyboard, and live vocals. Undeniably talented and decidedly unique, JNTHN STEIN is one to keep an eye on.
Klangstof has carved their own niche in a music world saturated with electronic acts. The haziness of their music is immersive, carrying listeners backwards and forwards in time at different moments. Watching Klangstof live is entrancing, and the elaborateness of their sound feels multidimensional, evoking the futurism of space at times while presenting gripping nostalgia at others. The distorted vocals of "Hostage" and the haunting melody of "Sleaze" that seems to trickle down a scale only reinforce the surrealism of Klangstof's music.
Pace played the TIGMUS (This is Good Music) showcase over the weekend, filling a pub with their sunny pop-rock. Strengthened by vocals, the three-piece creates a perfect soundtrack to summer despite England still being a good month away from any semblance of beach weather.
Parekh and Singh
Coming all the way from India, this is the duo's first real set of UK shows. Parekh and Singh are what you wish was playing in every coffeeshop you've ever sat in. A captivated audience melted into their smooth blend of the Postal Service vocals, dream-pop synths, and gentle sprinkling of percussion via egg shakers and drum brushes late on Saturday evening.
This four-piece from London played one of the latest showcases of the festival on Thursday night at a venue next to the beach. Good-natured despite their 2 hours of sleep the night prior, they happily ventured down to the water for our portrait shoot before playing a beautiful set 30 minutes later. The band is busy with a US tour coming up - be sure to check them out to catch the nostalgic warmth of "Elodie" or the dolefully psychedelic "Turn" live.
This rock band from South Korea isn't wasting any time while in the UK - slotted to play Liverpool Sound City this coming weekend along with a handful of other UK shows, the Monotones warm up for the week ahead during a basement show around 1PM at the Great Escape. Frontman Hun Joe informs the crowd that their second show later that day, around 8PM, will be better because "we'll be drunk!" Still, they aren't so bad at 1PM either, rocking out in front of the neon "KPop Night Out" sign that hangs behind them. Their showcase, presumably sponsored in part by the South Korean government, is also supposed to promote the upcoming PyeongChang Olympics, but Hun Joe and the band are a little too cool for that, halfheartedly handing out stuffed mascot dolls to the crowd before returning to their rock n' roll.