The Great Escape Festival is Europe's leading festival for new music. And it takes place throughout Brighton. So of course, I'm all over that.
Now, some of you may be thinking "What gives you the right to judge musical talent?". And to that I have two simple responses. 1) I've played music before and I listen to many genres. I understand and respect talent, even if it a song isn't my specific preference. And I have no problem admitting that a song has no talent to it, even though I enjoy it. I think that puts me at about level with anyone else who writes basic music reviews. 2) This is my blog and I'll say as I please.
Now let's get on with the review!
Echo & The Empress-
These guys really kicked off the festival well! I knew already that I really wanted to hear Echo, but I'm always impressed when bands sounds great live. An easy listening band with beautiful female vocals and your normal ensemble of acoustic, bass, drums, as well as keys thrown into the mix. But its the vocals that make this band really great. The lead singer has a great tone and the back up vocalist harmonizes beautifully. I'd happily see them again for another one of their sets. If you haven't seen then yet, you should definitely catch them before the end of the festival.
Unfortunately, The Upskirts had technical issues for between 5-10 minutes in their 30 minute set. And once that was fixed, their amps were way too high, so the sound was off. However, their music still sounded decent, despite all of the issues. A good rock band with an EXTREMELY skilled drummer. He is back up vocals as well and took lead on one of the performed songs. I would dare to say that the drummer carries the band; although, the guitarists are extremely talented and so it really doesn't give them the credit deserved.
What a happy discovery! We were waiting for Blaudzun to start and had some time before they began and iAM1 is one of the two bands that were at the venue before. I am so happy we saw them! Surprisingly good mix of indie rock/ acoustic with rap. And this is coming from someone who doesn't enjoy rap. Someone who thinks that most rap holds very little talent. However, this rapper actually raps about interesting topics, instead of just girls, drugs, money, and cars (which tends to be the typical rappers subjects). His British accent also helps with the rap, making it distinguishable from all the other garbage I've heard. The raps are intelligent and that is enough to deserve applause. But they also bring together such different sounds- which only works so well because each member is an expert in their musical field.
Velvet Two Stripes-
This was the second band we saw while waiting for Blaudzun's set to begin. A trio of rocking ladies with a nice and completely unique sound, but no variety. Every song sounded the same to me, so I got bored quickly. But, there were free sandwiches at the venue and that was pretty epic. I think if they weren't in a line up with such other amazing bands, I probably would've liked them a lot more. But sadly, they best thing about that set was the free food.
Blaudzun blew the others out of the water. A large band full of an orchestra's worth of instruments. The shear magnitude of instrumental talent is enough to be impressed. Put that together with music that is great to listen to and epic to be a part of, and you've got yourself a truly amazing band. Even if you don't like their style a true music fan, someone who appreciates talent, will enjoy them.
Terrible. I honestly am having a hard time finding something nice to say about this band. The lead singer/guitarist was okay, but the whole time we were there, it sounded like a sound check. In fact, they were over half way into the first song before I realized that they were playing for real. I honestly don't know what was wrong. I'm half-way hoping that they were on drugs because I have a hard time believing a band is THAT bad and allowed to play festival gigs.
Lala She was the first of our three solo acoustic acts to end the night on. And she impressed. Unique voice with a great tone and songs that you could relate to. I especially loved how friendly she was with the crowd and her welcoming stage presence. I seriously want her to be my friend.
See Me Now
I was excited to see Ryan before he even began, but then watching him play was an unexpected surprise. He is an absolutely amazing guitarist. Probably the most talented of the entire festival thus far. Absolutely loved the performance. He had a great stage presence as well and seemed like a genuinely friendly guy.
Even IfLewis was yet another that I was really excited to see. Since I only knew his music (and not what he looked like), I didn't realize until he was about to go on that I was sitting right next to him during the other performances.... Kicking myself a little bit about that! He was so amazingly good with lyrics that pull you in. I wish I could hear it again and again; I plan on listening again and again via his EPs. He also had great stage presence and was super adorable. He was really sheepish when applauded; didn't expect applause and seemed almost surprised to receive the positive feedback. I guess at this early in their careers, the artists don't realize how truly talented they are.
Great end to the first night!