Most promising TGE set of the day: Slaves @ Coalition
Best new song of the day: George The Poet – ‘Search Party’ @ The North Laine
Best discovery of the day: Rat Boy @ The Haunt
Best TGE moment of the day: The Vaccines’ new single ‘Dream Lover’ @ The Haunt
My second day in the Mecca of new music proved even more bewildering and frantic than the first, mainly on account of the scramble to find my way into an in-demand late-night surprise gig by The Vaccines. But find my way in I did – read my review of the peppy rocker’s show below. Elsewhere, my second day in Brighton for The Great Escape was full of a lot of outstanding new music, a little bit of awful music, and enough Doc Martens to kit out a millipede. I also saw a seagull savage a woman’s fish and chips outside the Pier – the thug life is rife in the South.
I kicked things off in Brighton Dome Studio with a show from PINS, four women from Manchester who write ferocious post-punk art rock. Polished, bold and scuzzy, the severe haircuts and fiery delivery of Faith, Anna Lois and Sophie will be channelled into their soon-to-be-released debut Wild Nights. The queues outside an at-capacity venue for PINS’ show is a good indicator of big things to come. A partial cover of ‘Girl Just Wanna Have Fun’ to close their set got the full approval of the Brighton crowd, who then all seemed to move as one mass to the next hyped show of the day from Flying Colours.
Upstairs in the dingy live space of The Hope and Ruin, Flying Colours at least seemed to be enjoying themselves. The sound system and balance were dreadful, so the best we could do was look on and watch the four vacant players bash at their instruments passive aggressively. The group specialises in a certain hollow grunge rock – think The Horrors when they find an empty milk carton left in the fridge – and their generally impenetrable performance of some pretty standard compositions was one of the more underwhelming corners of the weekend so far.
Onwards and upwards to Brighton’s North Laines, where the increasingly prolific George The Poet was scheduled to play a smaller acoustic version of the headline set he delivered to the Corn Exchange on Thursday night. George’s brand of blending high politics with low culture has been turning plenty of heads since the start of the year; the danger with such material – as proven by Scroobius Pip and Plan B – is that it tends to age rapidly and go stale disappointingly quickly, by the very nature of protest songs. Yet George’s music exhumes its potential for longevity. He played just 3 songs to bustling pub The North Laines, including hit single ‘Cat D’, and closed the set with ‘Search Party’, a new song that ‘lays out the manifesto’ of his music. It’s a piece of genius rap writing, and one examines his intent for writing and releasing songs; George is a politician for the modern age, armed only with great lyrical flow, some informed ideas and a platform. Listen to him.
Next I checked out the now widely-renowned punk duo Slaves, who played the best Friday gig to an at-capacity Coalition. The moshers were out in force as Laurie and Isaac rattled through a set of their hits, including ‘The Hunter’ and ‘Feed The Mantaray’, featuring, as always, a crowd-surfing human mantaray. As Isaac stripped to the waist and Laurie surfed the crowd with an inexplicable amount of skill for one essentially helpless, I appreciate that Slaves’ success lies in their two industrial, utilitarian bodies, churning out no frills, purpose-made rock like man-machines. This is juxtaposed with a vaguely unsettling but hilarious little-boyishness that makes them seem intermittently like two full sized Chuckie dolls. Most importantly though, their music is out-of-this-world good.
Over in The Haunt, teen Jordan Cardy, who goes by the name of Rat Boy, was busy pedalling his own grimy street rock, a la Jamie T and early Arctic Monkeys, to a packed out crowd that included Radio 1’s resident hipster Phil Taggart, who seemed to give Jordan his approval. Rat Boy is undoubtedly worth checking out – do it before he becomes huge and starts getting drafted in for sterile support slots in half empty arenas. This said, he made the perfect precursor for The Vaccines, who took to the stage shortly before 1am to power through a typically energetic set of their biggest, best and newest songs.
Enduringly awkward frontman Justin Young collided with lead guitarist Freddie Cowan, fell over and broke a guitar neck during ‘Bad Mood’, but recovered quickly and even managed to pull off a successful crowd surf accompanied by his guitar during ‘Norgaard’ (an even more impressive feat considering the song is 1 minute 39 seconds long). All in all, it was a victorious set from a band, whose music is always mercifully fun and completely devoid of self-conciousness, that we direly need back in our playlists.
Look out for my third and final day summary of TGE tomorrow. Over and out.