An annual showcase of the best new and upcoming music around today, The Great Escape should be a fixed mark on your festival calendar. Taking place in Brighton over three days and nights, it is the gateway to festival season, and an initiation into the must-hear music shaping the contemporary landscape. It draws a hugely eclectic crowd owing to its commitment to represent anything and everything that influences – or rallies against – tastes and trends, and as a result The Great Escape is renowned for being a festival of sublime, incomparable atmosphere.
Steve Lamacq has called it ‘the Cannes of the music world’, and this year, The Great Escape is celebrating its 10th birthday in style. With 400 acts across 35 venues, there is quite simply nowhere else like it for fans of the innovative, eclectic and pioneering. For 2015, organisers have pulled out all the stops, booking some outstanding established names to complement the roster of new talent on display. Ahead of its coverage of the festival, Nouse Music takes a look at the big and small names worth circling, highlighting and triple underlining on the festival schedule, to make sure you get the best out of The Great Escape 2015.
Thursday 14th – Day 1
Model Aeroplanes – 12:30, Brighthelm
Scottish-born Ben, Grant, Kieran and Rory open the ‘Showcasing Scotland’ stage with their peppy, buoyant indie-pop on the first day of TGE – they themselves describe their sound as ‘fun, fresh and honest music you can drink cocktails to’, and single ‘Club Low’ – previously featured in our ‘On The Radar’ series – could quite comfortably find its way to becoming a summer festival anthem. They’ll no doubt be itching to play their new song ‘Deep In The Pool’ alongside a collection of other promising singles that channel the free energy of Two Door Cinema Club into the rough charm of The 1975.
Lapsley – 19:30, Coalition
Merseyside-born purveyor of minimalist, airy electronica Lapsley is one of 2015’s most hyped new talents, and rightly so. With fans in high places, including Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, Lapsley has found a resonance with lovers of the music of The xx and London Grammar, and is likely destined for an equally sparkling career. She’ll be bringing her refined live set to Parklife and Electric Picnic this summer. Lead single ‘Falling Short’ will bring some welcome polished edge to Brighton’s underground seafront venue Coalition.
George The Poet – 20:45, Corn Exchange
Poet/rapper/activist/all-round hero of a guy, George Mpanga puts his Cambridge Politics education to very different uses to Nick Clegg. When he isn’t writing brilliant quasi-protest rap music about the state of modern Britain, George uses his talents to lobby government, write poetry for Sky Sports voiceovers and even make television that helps young people digest the impenetrable world of politics. Songs ‘Cat D’ and ‘1,2,1,2’ exhibit the spectrum of his rap and hip-hop ambitions, which take in energetic, angst beats and free flowing, contemplative spoken word. As a Sound of 2015 shortlister, George is undoubtedly set for big things, and he’ll be bringing his bravado and charm to the Corn Exchange on Thursday night.
Other not-to-be-missed acts performing on Day 1 of TGE:
Rory Indiana – 14:15, The Hope and Ruin. Gnarly alt-rockers with energy in abundance.
SOAK – 20:30, Wagner Hall. Ethereal vocals and tales of fragile life.
Jack Garratt – 0:30, Wagner Hall. Bold, inventive indietronica and an excellent beard.
Friday 15th – Day 2
Rag’n’Bone Man – 21:30, Corn Exchange
With a voice that’s far less scary than you’d expect, long-time Bastille support act Rag’n’Bone Man is blazing his own distinctive trail across Britain’s small venues and festivals. His music is habitually dark and strangely sweet yet sombre, and a succession of releases has cemented his place among pioneers of genreless genius like Bastille, Yeasayer and Wild Beasts. He describes his sound as ‘hip-hop soul blues funk’. It’s something like that. Catch him at the spectacular Corn Exchange on Friday night.
Real Lies – 22:00, Green Door Store
Real Lies have just released an effervescent, retro spoken-word number in the form of ‘Seven Sisters’, the latest in a series of cool, collected and deftly composed pieces of swelling electro-pop. They’ll be bringing their sound to the delightful Green Door Store, where some of the most promising upcoming acts will be showcasing their music across the three days. It’ll likely be a packed show – Real Lies also have a lot of hype on Radio 1 and have been steadily amassing a fan base for a number of years now. Catch the guys bringing some much needed old-school dance vibes to the Friday night line-up.
Django Django – 0:00, Corn Exchange
One of the big shows of the festival will be delivered by the always superb London foursome, who are riding waves of critical and commercial success in the wake of the release of Born Under Saturn, the sophomore follow-up to 2012’s Mercury nominated self-titled debut. They’ll be bringing their quirky indietronic brilliance to a no-doubt packed out Corn Exchange late on the Friday night, and will probably be raring to air some of their newer and shinier material. The masters of light and shade are the kind of act made for TGE, and they’ll surely be delighted to fill the late-night headline slot with their distinctive psychedelic stylings.
Other not-to-be-missed acts performing on Day 2 of TGE:
AURORA – 15:30, Hub Stage. Swelling, emotive synth pop with guts.
Slaves – 22:00, Coalition. Snarling punk rock duo with bags of charm and showmanship.
The Cribs – 00:30, Wagner Hall. Indie rockers and all-round live music legends.
Saturday 16th – Day 3
CC Smugglers – 13:30, Spiegeltent
Regular attendees at a plethora of iconic British folk festivals, CC Smugglers are steadily breaking into the mainstream and winning over swathes of broken-hearted fans of the fading folk revival. Described by themselves as ‘a Rag-Tag British 6 Piece Busker Band’, the band will seem comfortably at home in Brighton’s downright incredible Spiegeltent, undoubtedly one of this country’s coolest and quirkiest bohemian venues. Expect infectious accordion, bellowing trad lyrics and a lot of strings as CC Smugglers take to the stage early on the Saturday.
RHODES – 20:30, Spiegeltent
If by the Saturday you’re feeling the strain of having traipsed around the whole of Brighton for three days, it may well be worth settling down for a day of superb new acoustic music in the Spiegeltent. Following on from CC Smugglers later in the day is the touring buddy of Ben Howard, Nick Mulvey and Sam Smith, the sublimely talented RHODES. Another one with a commercial radio backing, the young acoustic troubadour has a significant support base with almost 30,000 likes on Facebook, and has been busy playing all over the country on his first headline tour this last month. This is definitely a show to head down to for a chilled start to your Saturday night, and one that will no doubt see your heartstrings heartily tugged by RHODES’ swooping, delicate melodies.
Shamir – 20:45, The Haunt
Las Vegas’s Shamir Bailey is another TGE artist to have featured on Nouse Music’s ‘On The Radar’ series, when he turned heads back in late 2014 with the wickedly good ‘On The Regular’. He’ll bring a whole load of dearly needed sass and bubblegum pop to TGE’s Saturday night, and will no doubt offer some relief from the swathes of guitar heavy music across the three days. Undisputedly poised for huge things, Shamir is a ready-made artist, as gutsy and self-assured as he is talented at making really excellent, intelligent pop. Shamir won’t be one to watch – you’ll have a harder job avoiding him in the coming months.
Other not-to-be-missed acts performing on Day 3 of TGE:
Keston Cobbler’s Club – 22:30, Spiegeltent. More hearty, inventive folk fusions.
Spector – 21:45, The Arch. Euphoric, intelligent indie rock delivered with a wink.
BAD//DREEMS – 14:30, Concorde 2. Proper, grimy, Libertines rock.