review and photos by DJ Shannon
My latest musical adventure took me to England. It had been a few years since I was there, so I had a lot to catch up on. New buildings for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Friends. The theatre. Museum exhibits.
I spent a Sunday attending Camden Crawl, a 3-day music festival. I finally checked out Dutch Uncles who played at St. Michael’s Church. I also saw some faves I’ve been playing on my Thursday night radio show: Kid Canaveral, Lucy Rose and Belfast trio And So I Watch You from Afar.
Next up was the Great Escape, Europe’s leading festival for new music set in the seaside town of Brighton, my second home. My fave festival I’ve attended since 2005.
I took the 50-minute train down from London after 5 days of seeing old friends and being a tourist. Rested up to see as many bands as possible.
With luggage in tow, I quickly got my delegate pass which would give me access to 3-days of live music,panel discussions, street gigs and secret shows. I walked right up to the front of the stage at Blind Tiger for the Canadian Showcase with Reignwolf (Jordan Cook). He kicked off his set solo and was later joined by his band. I was entranced from the first strum. He covered Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” which he performed at KEXP back in April. I had the chills during his entire performance but he put me over the edge with his version of that song.
After dropping off luggage and meeting my 12 Scottish and 1 South African housemates at our 5-level luxurious house, I ran off to see the Australian band Pond (for the 6th time) at the Brighton Dome, open up for Maximo Park. Their album Beard, Wives and Denim is my #1 album so far this year. Check out their live performance on KEXP from April 2012.
Then I ran over to see a few songs (including “LSD”) by Trippple Nippples hail from Tokyo. Three girls lead the electropop group with a crazy live show as I expected.
Zulu Winter were one of my top 3 bands to see and didn’t disappoint. Check out their album “Language.” Their new video for “Silver Tongue.”
Fossil Collective is from Leeds and features three former members of Vib Gyor. Their first single “Let It Go” off the EP of the same name is super catchy and I can’t stop singing it once I play it.
I ventured out early on Friday afternoon to hear a stripped-down acoustic set from Fossil Collective, while the sun shined through the club windows. So glad the weather held up.
I took a break from seeing bands so I could interview Alt-J (my #1 band to see) and then talk briefly with Dry the River in the Royal Pavilion Gardens. Watch for the interviews next week on KEXP’s blog.
I knew I needed to get to claim my spot early so I could have the best, closest view of Alt-J so i went a couple hours early. French Films from Finland were a pleasant find in my downtime. They remind me of The Drums and The Cure.
After another band played, Alt-J commanded the stage. I knew every song because I’m a superfan, listening to their debut LP, “An Awesome Wave” on a daily basis. The highlight of the festival for me. They played in NYC and LA days before Brighton, making their US debut and will be back sometime this year to win you over with their live show.
By the time I ran over to another venue, it was too late to see my long-time fave Scottish bands The Twilight Sad and We Were Promised Jetpacks and also missed Django Django, who I saw at SXSW.
Saturday, I woke up early and caught Australian band Pets with Pets at Audio followed by a Queen/Muse ripoff band called ME. I left after a couple songs. My bunkbed was calling my name.
That night I tried to go see Alabama Shakes but the line was around the block. Got to Psychosocial an hour before We Are Augustines took the stage, hugged the band and were turned away by security due to capacity. We called it a night.
Some bands I’d recommend highly that I sadly missed: DZ Deathrays, Willis Earl Beal, Jinji Safari, Beth Jean Houghton & the Hooves of Destiny, Slow Club, PAWS, Grimes, Milagres, TOY, Fever Fever, Gaz Coombes and Exitmusic.
Be sure to listen to my show tonight, on May 24, for more Great Escape bands. Last week’s show featured many bands as well. If you miss the archive, then check out my playlist for May 17.