Brighton’s The Great Escape Festival is one of the most exciting dates on the musical calendar. The UK’s answer to America’s SXSW, it sees over 400 artists hit the South Coast, alongside some of the industry’s biggest players, in a huge knees-up celebration of everything music. This year sees some huge names like Little Simz, Foals and Confidence Man travel down to Brighton, as well as some of the most diverse artists in the world, to hit some of the finest venues in the country.
Here, we’ve highlighted some of our most anticipated sets of the weekend from some of the best up-and-coming talent the festival has to offer.
Where?12:20pm at Komedia Studio Bar on Thursday, 20:15pm at The Haunt on Friday, 1:20pm at Ditto Stage – TGE Beach on Saturday.
Why?One of the most exciting artists to emerge in the last year or so, Brisbane-based Emerson Snowe makes self-described “Romantic Freak Pop” that is immersive, evolutionary and incredibly euphoric. Playing three sets across the weekend, in both big and small venues, his off-kilter pop demands to be seen.
Essential tune: ‘Human’.
Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard
Where?1:30pm at Latest Music Bar and 7:00pm at Volks on Thursday.
Why? With two singles under their belt – the foot-stomping ‘Double Denim Hop’ and irrefutable new single ‘Late Night City’ – Welsh outfit Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard have announced themselves as a glorious throwback to the beautiful days of glam-rock. One of this year’s buzz bands, for sure, both of their sets are sure to be rammed.
Essential tune:‘Late Night City’
Where are they playing? 2:30pm at Three Wise Cats (Casablanca) on Thursday.
Why? One of our favourite bands of recent years, Brighton band Thyla have built themselves a reputation as one of the best live outfits in the country right now. With an EP of music now under their belts, too, this is sure to be a stunning homecoming for the gloomy quartet.
Essential tune: ‘I Was Biting’
Where? 12:15pm at The Dive Bar – Beach Site on Thursday, 3:30pm at Queen’s Hotel on Thursday, 10:15pm at Three Wise Cats (Casablanca) on Saturday.
Why? Having featured their single ‘Double j’ on our Fresh section, where we called it “a captivating slice of indie rock that reminds us of The Big Moon with its euphoric chorus and husky vocals”, London’s Lazy Day are one of the best guitar bands around at the moment. With a brilliant EP released since then, their three sets across the weekend are sure to be an utter delight.
Essential tune: ‘Double j’.
Erika de Casier
Where?7:30pm at Hideout on Thursday.
Why? We’ve fallen in love with Erika’s lo-fi R&B meets hip-hop ever since her debut single back in 2017. Like Lauryn Hill’s glamorous Miseducation meets a more modern twang a la Arlo Parks, we’ve been waiting to see her live for a very long time. Her set at Hideout on the Thursday is without a doubt one of our most anticipated sets of the weekend.
Essential tune: ‘Do My Thing’
Where? 8:15pm at The Walrus on Thursday.
Why? Brighton’s Zooni blew us away with their debut single ‘Pany’. Describing it as “beautifully-crafted alternative indie” in Vegan Fresh #17 we can’t wait to see how their art-pop sound translates into the live sphere.
Where?11:15pm at Fabrica on Thursday.
Why? Dan D’Lion’s modern take on pop is not only brilliantly unique, is wholesomely and excellently unique. Steeped in mystery thus far in his early career, and shying away from the live scene until recently, we can’t wait to catch his late-night set at Fabrica.
Essential tune:‘~treading water~’
Where?1:00pm at Patterns (Downstairs) on Friday.
Why? Not only does Emiko’s music ellicit a beautiful aura of soothing soul and oozing R&B, but it’s also one with a message. Described by the artist as a way of ‘Bringing people from wide and far together to experience something so special that words alone can never truly encapsulate the feeling.’ it’s an ideology we can all get behind. With a set taking place early on the Friday, we can’t wait to see what Emiko has in store.
Essential tune:‘R U Down?’
Where? 2:15pm at Three Wise Cats (Casablanca) on Friday.
Why? A member of our Class of 2019, VC Pines has gone from strength to strength this year. Having just headlined London’s The Lexington, as well as dropping his delightful debut EP on Fierce Panda Records, we can’t get enough of the former Carnabys man. His set at Three Wise Cats is not to be missed, and we can’t wait for the artist to further prove how deserving he was of a place as one of the most exciting artists in the country right now
Essential tune: ‘Garden of the Year’
Where?1:45pm at Hideout on Friday and 9:15pm at Horatios on Friday.
Why? For our money, Squid’s ‘Houseplants’ is the best song of 2019 so far. A taut, wirey number that takes noughties post-punk’s aesthetic and brings it bang up to date, it’s a dirgey blast that sounds like no one else in the world right now. We can’t wait to see it spat into our face in a tiny venue by the prolific quintet
Where?6:15pm at Coalition on Friday.
Why? Potentially the most unique band in the UK right now, WOOZE take the MTV aesthetic donned by the likes of DEVO and place it alongside the beautifully bizarre harmonies of Sgt Pepper-era Beatles. If that’s not enough to make you excited then we simply don’t know what is. A favourite of ours for a long time now, their electric set is sure to be the talk of the seafront.
Essential tune:‘ I’ll Have What She’s Having’
Where? 10:30pm at Queens Hotel on Friday, 1:15pm at One Church on Saturday.
Why? French quintet Le SuperHomard’s debut record Meadow Lane Park is one of our favourite releases of the year so far. A sophisticated pop record that recalls the sunnier times of the 1950s to the 1970s it was born to be heard in the sunny shores of Brighton. Bands like Le SuperHomard, too, are exactly what The Great Escape is about.
Essential tune: ‘Springtime’
Where?6:30pm at Jubilee Square on Wednesday.
Why?Anyone who reads Vegan Recordings knows just how much we love Alfie Neale. Producing a mixture of soul, hip-hop and funk, he’s mesmerised us for the last year. We can’t wait to see him open proceedings on the Wednesday at Jubilee Square.
Essential tune:‘Tongue Tied’
Where?2:30pm at Horatios on Saturday
Why? At this point, we’re scratching our heads as to why Bristol’s Swimming Girls aren’t one of the biggest indie pop outfits in the country right now. Not only have they supported Pale Waves on tour, but their singles have ranged from shimmering indie pop to Lana Del Rey-esque gloom. Simply superb, we can’t wait to get the gorgeous pop tones of Swimming Girls again.
Essential tune:‘Tastes Like Money’
Where?6:15pm at Queens Hotel on Saturday
Why?Despite not having her debut single to her name yet, Mia Blankson has impressed us in the live sphere with support slots for the likes of Amber Burgoyne. A gorgeously toned soul voice in the vein of fellow Brightonians Mia Milla and Francesca Fulmini, we’re going to jump at the chance to catch Blankson in action again.
Where?2:30pm at Jubilee Square on Friday and 7:15pm at Sallis Benney Theatre on Saturday
Why? If releasing one of the finest debut albums of 2019 so far wasn’t enough, Pom Poko are an exceptionally brilliant live outfit. Energetic, passionate and wild in equal measure, they’ve become one of our favourite live bands and we’re not going to say no to their exotic take on pop-punk.
Essential tune: ‘Follow the Lights’
Sink Ya Teeth
Where?8:15pm at Green Door Store on Saturday.
Why? Norwich duo Sink Ya Teeth’s debut eponymous record released last year was one of our favourite records for a long time. Bursting with brilliantly LCD Soundsystem-esque electro punk-funk, we’ve been waiting to catch them for a while. Their set at Green Door Store for She Shreds is sure to be all kinds of epic.
Essential tune: ‘Freak 4 the Kick’
Where?2:30pm at Komedia Studio Bar and 9:15pm at The Deep End (Beach) on Saturday.
Why?Potentially the most exciting live prospects in the country right now, Black Midi are a revelation and are surely set to be the buzz band of the festival. With brand-new track ‘Talking Heads’, which showcases a breezier and more jangly side to the band, dropping in the last couple of days, too, they look set to take over the festival in some style.
Essential tune:‘Crow’s Perch’
Where?2:30pm at Patterns Upstairs on Friday and 12:15am at The Hope and Ruin on Saturday
Why? Having described their single ‘Creature’ as “A wild ride, that builds atmosphere with ease, this European pop without the trash element. Refrained and understated, yet still worthy of mainstream plaudits, it’s a three and a half minute burst of joy from start to finish.”, we delighted that the German duo are making their way over to the UK for two shows at the festival.
Essential tune: ‘Creature’
Where?7:30pm at The Arch on Saturday.
Why? We’re suckers for gorgeous neo-soul and Olivia Nelson’s beautiful tones are more than enough to satisfy our needs. Her latest single ‘No Answer’ is a brooding slice of evocative pop that truly showcases Nelson’s mainstream appeal.
Essential tune:‘Smother Me’
Where?10:00pm at The Hope & Ruin on Friday.
Why?Another member of our Class of 2019 that are making their way down to the South Coast, psych-pop sextet Cousin Kula are a band that look set to be the next best thing. Their latest release, ‘Stacked’, is a gorgeous slice of dreamy psychedelia that distinguishest themselves from the heavier psych scene that has proved so popular.
Essential tune: ‘Working For It’
Where?9:15pm at Green Door Store on Thursday and 8:15pm at Sallis Benney Theatre on Saturday.
Why?With their debut album Until the Tide Creeps In… on the horizon, Penelope Isles have rebirthed as a psych pop behemoth. Like Deerhunter meets Radiohead, the likes of re-released single ‘Round’ and ‘Chlorine’ have all the makings of becoming the next cult classics. Their two shows at the festival are not to be missed.
Essential tune: ‘Round’
Where? 9:30pm at The Prince Albert on Saturday.
Why?Having supported Miles Kane across the country, The Mysterines were once shrouded in mystery. With each release, though, including their latest single ‘Gasoline’, the cracks beneath the surface are beginning to reveale one of the most anarchic yet polished rock bands this country has to offer.
Essential tune: ‘Bet Your Pretty Face’
Where?10:15pm at Fabrica on Thursday.
Why? Re-emerging with the brilliant ‘Saint Cecillia’, Brighton band MarthaGunn reminded us just why we fell in love with the band in the first place. A brooding and bubbling cut of pure 70s inspired bliss with lead singer Abi’s gorgeous tone simmering above it, it’s justification enough that MarthaGunn are a band worth checking out at The Great Escape.
Essential tune:‘Saint Cecillia’
Where? 11:00pm at The Hope & Ruin on Thursday.
Why? The first band to be signed to Blossoms’ Very Clever Records, Fuzzy Sun emerged as another brilliant pop with a gorgeous pop aesthetic. The likes of ‘Want Love’ and ‘Heavy’ are sure to sound absolutely brilliant inside the small Hope & Ruin room.
Essential tune: ‘Heavy’
Where? 10:15pm at Green Door Store on Friday and 1:00am at Latest Music Bar on Saturday.
Why? One of the best things about The Great Escape is all the brilliant exports that come to play the showcase. One such band is LA outfit Liily, who have impressed us with their frenetic and slightly anarchic take on Americana-tinged indie rock. Their 1:00am set at Latest Music Bar, especially, looks set to be an outstanding way to end the festival.
Essential Tune: ‘I Can Fool Anybody in this Town’