Preview for The Great Escape 2012

Now that South-By-Southwest has been and gone, it's time for the UK to open its festival doors and this year's Great Escape achieves such a feat with diligent style. Now in its seventh year since the inaugural event in 2006, The Great Escape has firmly established itself as Europe's leading festival for new music. Situated in the glamorous seaside surroundings of Brighton, this year's line-up is bigger than ever before, showcasing over 300 artists across a total of 27 different venues over the course of three days and nights from Thursday 10th to Saturday 12th May. Also featuring numerous panel-led conventions hosted by various luminaries from within the music industry such as BBC 6 Music's Matt Everett, legendary producer Trevor Horn and Membranes frontman-cum-Stone Roses biographer John Robb. On top of all that, expect a smattering of secret shows, impromptu club nights and label showcases while this year's event also brings with it an Alternative Escape line-up to rival the official one.

The Great Escape

Having sifted through this year's bill, Contactmusic has put together a list of ten must-see artists from the festival itself and five not-to-be missed acts set to appear at its Alternative sister event.

1. THE NATURALS: Hailing from Bristol, this guitar-orientated four-piece make transient shoegaze tinged mathrock that wouldn't sound out of place in Reading circa 1991 or Washington DC a decade later. Recent single 'Concrete Sea' was reviewed on these very pages where we declared The Naturals to be "the sound that dreams make in the dark".
WHERE: Green Door Store.
WHEN: 1315 Saturday 12th.

2. WHEN SAINTS GO MACHINE: Having released one of 2011's best records in the stunning 'Konkylie', the Copenhagen based trio bring their unique brand of dark electronica to the South East coast. Be sure not to miss them, as their set promises to be one of this year's "I was there" moments.
WHERE: Digital.
WHEN: 2045 Saturday 12th.

3. PALMA VIOLETS: As A&R scrambles go, these four Londoners have created a flurry of such activity in recent months culminating in a recent six-figure deal with Rough Trade. Mixing Bunnymen style guitars with chilling synths a la Ultravox or OMD, you'd be best advised to get there early or prepare to be disappointed.
WHERE: Komedia upstairs bar
WHEN: 2015 Saturday 12th.

4. ODONIS ODONIS: Continuing the trend of recent great Canadian musical exports are Toronto's Odonis Odonis, who mix dark industrial noise with a blend of incisive melodies coined from both 1960's beat noir and the lo-fi sounds of C86. Having recently released their second long player in under twelve months ('Soft Boiled Hard Boiled') on Fat Cat Records, their early evening show promises to be eventful to say the least.
WHERE: Coalition.
WHEN: 1915 Friday 11th.

5. ECHO LAKE: London dreampop ensemble Echo Lake created a buzz last year thanks to the release of debut EP 'Young Silence'. Displaying a maturity far beyond their years, comparisons to the likes of Slowdive, Broadcast and the Cocteau Twins weren't far off the mark. Now with long player 'Wild Peace' ready to go and a year's worth of live shows under their belts, expect to be blown away in a fug of melancholic haze.
WHERE: Green Door Store.
WHEN: 0030 Saturday 12th.

6. CHILDHOOD: Nottingham's Childhood may have only been together for the best part of a year, but they've already gained a reputation as being one of the most distinctive new bands in the country during their short existence. Fusing melodies akin to early Creation Records stalwarts The Jasmine Minks or Felt with a sturdy approach to classic songwriting, they've already attracted a wealth of interest from labels on both sides of the Atlantic.
WHERE: Life.
WHEN: 2045 Saturday 12th.

7. THE SOFT: Contenders for the title of youngest band at the entire festival, Bury St Edmunds trio The Soft have also barely reached double figures in terms of shows played. However, that didn't stop former Long Blonde Kate Jackson stumbling across them earlier this year, imploring all and sundry to check them out. Now's your chance!
WHERE: Digital.
WHEN: 1915 Saturday 12th.

8. ZEBRA AND SNAKE: The Finland music scene might be more renowned for producing metal bands like HIM or Lordi, but this Helsinki three-piece have other ideas. Taking their inspiration from the likes of John Maus or Ariel Pink and channelling it through a series of stadium sized productions like a stripped down Arcade Fire, their grandiose pop is a surefire winner.
WHERE: Green Door Store.
WHEN: 0045 Thursday 10th.

9. HAIM: These Los Angeles girls create a heady mix of Talking Heads influenced tunes with a dose of Fleetwood Mac's insightfulness wrapped in a post-millennial sheen rendering them impossible to resist. Heavily tipped since the turn of the year, expect to be surrounded by a raft of industry movers and shakers here.
WHERE: Psychosocial Basement.
WHEN: 2145 Friday 11th.

10. EIGHT AND A HALF: Dave Hamelin and Liam O'Neil are perhaps better known for their previous work with Canadian quintet The Stills. Now, as 2/3 of brand new Toronto based outfit Eight And A Half, expect a deluge of soulful chamber pop and folk oriented lullabies for what will be one of their first ever UK shows.
WHERE: Komedia upstairs bar.
WHEN: 2015 Thursday 10th.

Of course for those wishing to stray off the beaten track, the Alternative Escape has thrown up a selection of gems. Here's our picks from the best of the bunch:

1. THE CHAPMAN FAMILY: Stockton-on-Tees most vehement noise poppers return to Brighton with a new line-up and EP ('Cruel Britannia') in tow. Expect a dark feast of brooding intensity.
WHERE: Latest Music Bar
WHEN: 2345 Friday 11th.

2. SHINIES: These hotly tipped Mancunians have created an industry buzz of their own in recent months, recalling the heady rush of Idlewild circa 'Hope Is Important' along with the pulsating adrenaline rush of Husker Du or Dinosaur Jr. Avoid at your peril.
WHERE: The Hydrant.
WHEN: 1600 Thursday 10th.

3. SPRING OFFENSIVE: Kind of like post rock but with an added, unexpected twist. This Oxford five-piece meld twisted, subversive melodies with deft lyricism that brings to mind the likes of The Dismemberment Plan or Death Cab For Cutie.
WHERE: Life.
WHEN: 1900 Friday 11th.

4. STEALING SHEEP: Formed at the Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts in 2009, this three-piece have already been compared to The Coral and Warpaint, mixing darkly orchestrated melodies with subtle, folk entrenched harmonies.
WHERE: The Hydrant.
WHEN: 1730 Saturday 12th.

5. EAGULLS: Having emerged on the scene two years ago, this Leeds five-piece sound like the bastard offspring of Big Black and Dinosaur Jr sprinkled with a heavy dose of The Cribs. Still surprisingly unsigned, expect it to get nothing short of messy during their frantically energetic set.
WHERE: The Queens Hotel
WHEN: 1830 Friday 11th.

While merely being the tip of a fairly enormous iceberg, these represent only a tiny fraction of what's on offer at this year's Great Escape.

See you down the front!

Dom Gourlay

Official Site -