Sunshine, clever technology and abundance of excitement marks the festival start with Soccer Mommy, Dream Wife and Idles and more.
The descending of the entire music industry upon Brighton once again, heralds the coming of The Great Escape festival - the UK’s equivalent to SXSW in Austin TX. Over 30 venues play host to more than 450 bands showcasing their talents across the 3 days of the festival. A conference runs in parallel which attracts over 3000 delegates, and seeks to demonstrate leading-edge thinking that is driving the industry forward.
Day one of the conference focuses on how the uses of data and AI are changing music businesses. Music technology is developing at a significant pace. From song recognition services such as Shazam, which led the way for music tech back in the late 1990’s, to Spotify’s market disruption then dominance, and their algorithm-powered suggestion features. It seems that music fans, and especially the industry are having to embrace new tech features faster than ever. Even A&R, which was the historical vestige of what’s ‘cool’ or creating a ‘buzz’, is now being superseded by analytical technology and deep learning platforms, that are able to profile the hottest new unsigned artists, even before the artists are aware themselves.
Flipping from the conference to the music, day one of The Great Esacpe also features some blinding performances. Boy Azooga
pretty much kicks off the music element of the festival, and despite the early timing, the Welsh band bring their characteristic energy to their set - the first of three in one day.
With such a wide range of artists and venues right across the city - the usual issue of gig clashes and optimal route planning arises. Many of the festival contingent however take the early decision to forgo needless meanderings and instead spend the bulk of their time at the beach club and bar - a slightly surreal gated venue just metres from the lapping Channel. Coincidently it also plays host to many of the hottest acts on the bill.
US Indie artist Lindsey Jordan aka Snail Mail
quickly demonstrates why she’s getting so much attention by dropping her indie guitar-heavy songs with mature accomplishment.
Following Snail Mail, another US indie songsmith
takes to the cavernous tented beach stage. Soccer Mommy
- also known as Nashville’s Sophie Allison is ready for the occasion by dropping her indie bedroom-pop jams to play the ideal atmospheric and chilled soundtrack to the beach side crowd - who's exuberance is still hard to quell.
The crowd begins to swell as the palpable anticipation grows for the next act in a trio of brilliant females. Dream Wife
is a powerful female trio
that formed locally when they met as students at Brighton University. The last 12 months has been a whirlwind of activity for Rakel, Alice and Bella, with global touring, a new EP, and support slots with The Kills. Plus signing to Lucky Number Records, and with an upcoming debut album in the works, their take on nostalgic, sunshine jams is the perfect sound for the time of the sun setting and the hazy, boozy, dancing crowd.
With the night time truly in place and the bracing English wind trying its hardest to cool proceedings, the crowd is showing no signs of their enthusiasm abating, with Bristol punk band Idles
bringing the day to a memorable end with their heavy guitar sound and crowdsurfing antics. With such a varied and brilliant first day, The Great Escape 2018 weekend is looking good.
Check out our pick of acts to see at The Great Escape 2018 here
Photos supplied by Borkowski Arts.