The Great Escape Festival

Brighton, May 12-14

by Joanna Orland

A festival across 3 days and numerous music venues, encompassing a variety of diverse live acts along with a conference with music industry speakers and sessions; The Great Escape is staking its place amongst festivals. Best compared to such festivals as Canadian Music Week, NXNE, SXSW, CMJ and vaguely The Camden Crawl, Brighton is the perfect host city to such a festival, with numerous live venues at hand, beautiful seaside scenery, and everything within easy walking distance.

Overall an enjoyable festival, and a definite must for those just starting out in the industry to attend the conference sessions to schmooze and get ‘in-the-know’. Also a must for music lovers as those in possession of a wristband can see tons of bands from all over the world in the short span of 3 days.

We had a great time, only attending the festival for a day. We sadly missed some exciting stuff on the Thursday/Friday including DJ Shadow, Holy Ghost!, Friendly Fires and the like. But Saturday was full of its own gems. Including…


Hey Rosetta!

As part of the Canadian Blast showcase at TGE, Hey Rosetta! played a solid early afternoon set in one of the darkest venues known to man. The music is beautifully rich and this band is destined for international success, already having established themselves in their home country (and mine) of Canada. Their band set up and song style can be compared to other Canadian exports such as Arcade Fire or Broken Social Scene, with 2 guitars, bass, drums, cello and violin. Don’t expect a direct AF or BSS rip off though. Hey Rosetta!’s sound is certainly more east coast, (they hail from Newfoundland), and their songs stand their own ground. I’ve sung enough praise. Go check em out for yourself.


Also performing as part of Canadian Blast, this 4-piece band deserved a punch in the collective face. If you have such particular demands of your audio setup, make a list for the sound guy! Don’t go well past your set start time at a festival when you are clearly just knitpicking. I am an audio professional, and I know most of your demands were unjustified (lead singer lady, chill the eff out). Seriously, just write a list.

Anyway, the band nearly redeemed themselves with their first song which was very cool! I don’t know what it was called, but there were some lyrics about being ‘fucked up’. The lovely butch Korean girl on the keyboards has a better voice than the annoying lead singer who is pretty much the reason I dislike this band. Get rid of her and you guys are onto something with that first song.

Frankie & The Heartstrings
This indie band who are from somewhere near Durham (amazing accents!!!) played both The Great Escape Festival itself, as well as the concurrent festival Alternative Escape. We saw their performance at the AE in a tiny courtyard somewhere near the pier. I thought they were a brilliant indie band! Fun, energetic, sweet, funny banter and solid indie tunes. Nothing innovative, but does classic indie music really need to be? Especially with Gollum as your lead singer! Precious!!!


Clearly one of the more musical and technical of the lot of bands on at TGE. They played at one of the strangest venues, a hotel basement function room that looked like it was hosting somebody’s bar mitzvah. Musically, Stateless were flawless, combining Kidkanevil’s sampling with the angelic vocals of lead singer Chris James, amazing backup vocals by bassist Justin, and oh yeah.. good drumming too by drummer David. They obviously have a cult following as the crowd was rather intense, some sat on the floor for the ballads, and every single person at the gig showed their appreciation by the mesmerized look of awe in their eyes. And WHO is their sound guy – HAWT!

Those are the highlights from our TGE 2011 experience. We hope you enjoyed reading as much as we enjoyed attending.

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