The Great Escape 2014 – Day 1

There were probably a fair few people waking up on Monday morning feeling rather fragile after Great Escape 2014. I certainly did. In all honesty, my memory of it is hazy to say the least. It is all kind of a blur of alcohol, queues, music, take-away food and lovely, friendly, very chatty people.
The weekend also had a major ulterior motive as well, an epic stag and hen weekend of cataclysmic proportions with well over 50 music, drinking and craic lovers. Music is something which brings people together, many of us meeting at various festivals, gigs and parties along the years. Friendship was the real reason our rag tag band of brothers and sisters made the journey to the coast for a weekend of debauchery though. A lot of which would most likely get this blog banned if written about, so let’s just keep it PG13 with a lovely photo of the coast.
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Putting the musical pieces together

This blog is about music though, so I tried to see some where possible, but if you’re looking for critically acclaimed music journalism, then you’re in the wrong place for the next few posts. In a Memento style I have gone through text messages, tagged photos, random memorabilia, receipts and alcohol stains to put together enough evidence to remember where I was, and provide a review of the best band’s and events of the weekend.
Given the scale of the weekend ahead I opted to ditch having a plan, and see where the gail force winds along the coast would take me. Good old Blighty excelled itself on the first day as well, with freezing winds and temperatures struggling to get over 10 degrees celcius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). Not the nicest weather to walk around a city in.
The Great Escape unfortunately does requires planning though to get the full benefit musically, as to be honest, there is just too much happening.  It just gets bigger every year and so do the queues. Tiny to mid-size venues host hyped up bands, meaning that you need to be quick on the draw to be guaranteed entry and avoid a wait.  Don’t get me wrong, we British love a good queue, but not for every band, surely?
Once everyone had arrived at the lad house, a purple coloured, oriental-styled banter-brothel for 28 (which ended up accommodating a lot more), we headed on down to Courtney Barnett at Komedia. Mission failed. The first rejection of the week was in the bag as we were turned away for taking a wrong turn IN THE BUILDING, and ordered to head back outside and rejoin the queue for a chance to get into the real room.

Brighton Coalition becomes our local

Feeling unbelievably dejected by the cold-hearted souls on the door at Komedia we decided to return to the abode for good times until there was a band we actually wanted to see. Brighton Coalition was the venue of choice for Drowners.  In order to avoid the queues we got their early, about 3 hours early to be exact, and got ourselves acquainted with a venue which would turn out to be one our regulars.
Jaakko Eino Kalevi were the first band up. A lovely, chilled out, electro-pop duo from Finland (TGE’s country of the year), who impressed the masses with their gentle inertia and the ethereal aura which they possess.  A good start to the evening.
Ballet School floated onto the stage afterwards with their alternative pop power. The music was nice, but failed to keep the attention as the 30 “stags” were joined by the 20 or so “hens” more interested in the entertainment behind the bar than on the stage. The liquidity of the evening was starting to pick up pace.

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Drowners up next. A band given a lot of hype by the barmy army in advance, and there were flashes of genius in amongst a frustrating amount of averageness. They make easily accessible indie music of a decent calibre, but like so many bands at the Great Escape this year it is nothing new. Generic “band on tour being cool” video included. If they find their own identity then they may be more than a flash in the pan.
There were rumours of the Klaxons playing at the warren after this, so we optimistically stumbled our way through the small side streets of the city, dwindling in numbers with every passing bar until we reached the huge one in one out that awaited us. Rejection number 2. With all hopes of squeezing one last band in dwindling as Albert Hammond Jr. came to end we surrendered to the circumstances and took a leap of faith into the Brighton night life, feeling slightly dismayed at the music, but generally happy as larry.

Read day 2 here: