LIVE (Photos): The Great Escape Festival 2018

The Great Escape kicked off UK festival season in sun-soaked style last weekend, and it’s taken us a few days to gather our thoughts on the prolific 3-day event, renowned for championing new music. Spread across multiple venues in Brighton, we managed to catch some of the brightest talents in between sunbathing on the beach and consuming our body weight in fish & chips.

Irish beauts Pillow Queens kicked off proceedings with their packed set at The Prince Albert on Thursday afternoon, setting a high standard for the rest of the weekend, before Scottish alt-rockers The Ninth Wave blew us away at Horatios at the end of the Pier. They had three shows by the sea, so they definitely made waves.

Soccer Mommy

Gracing the brand new Beach House stage were Snail Mail and Soccer Mommy, and both performed to big crowds with their catchy slacker-pop anthems. We saw out Thursday in spectacular style at The Hope and Ruin with our favourites Queen Zee. Their packed set included a cover of Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Bonkers’ and their usual crowd-pleasers ‘Boy’ and ‘Sass Or Die’.

Queen Zee

We partied a little too hard post Queen Zee, so Friday was pretty hazy until our favourite rock-pop duo REWS blew our hangovers away with their set at the Beach House. We caught this duo in 2016 at The Speigltent and since then they’ve signed to Marshall Records, released their debut album Pyro, and have started sharing their singles in America. These girls are exceptionally talented and always entertaining to see live.

REWS

We had high hopes of catching Bodega, but the queue outside The Haunt was longer than the equator, so we took off in search of venues supporting The Alternative Escape. We caught some of psych-rockers Strange Cages before calling it a night.

Saturday started off with Canada’s Partner, who were a complete joy to watch live at The Walrus. We caught some final rays of sunshine and had our last portion of chips before heading over to Sticky Mikes Frog Bar to catch Copenhagen’s Nelson Can, who were ultra-cool all clad in white. We spotted Brighton’s ARRX on the barrier watching them too. Electronic one-woman-wonder Elsa Hewitt was the last act we caught in Komedia before the festival was over. She hypnotised us with her well-crafted electronic sounds.

Our photographer Jon Mo was arguably the most productive man in Britain over The Great Escape weekend and he managed to catch all the bands we didn’t (aside from Dream Wife, who unsurprisingly packed out The Beach stage to capacity.) Check out his incredible shots below. Brighton, we’ll see you again in 2019!

Audiobooks

Brooke Bentham

Chroma

Hatchie

Jealous Of The Birds

Stella Donnelly

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

INTERVIEW: Queen Zee

“I could do a Morrissey…” threatens Queen Zee, as we sit outside of Hackney’s Sebright Arms chatting before the band’s headline gig at the venue that evening (April 26th). Zee’s referring to The Smiths’ front-man’s recent controversial interview in which he makes more weird and divisive statements for seemingly no reason. I know it’s an idle threat, but Zee’s dry wit puts me at ease. I begin by asking Zee about what they’re expecting from the show that evening.

“The great thing with Queen Zee gigs is that you never really know what’s going to happen. Sometimes we turn up and it’s absolute mayhem, and sometimes we turn up and people are ballroom dancing. You can’t predict it, and that’s what I love about it”

It’s this unpredictability that drew me to the band in the first place. I saw them support Marmozets on the 2017 UK tour at The Garage, and I was blown away by their ability to get the crowd stirred up in to a mosh pit with their songs ‘Boy’ and ‘Fly The Pink Flag’. Their combination of pop-punk anthems and activist attitude has laid the foundations for a community of fans to unite and celebrate in style and safety when they attend Queen Zee gigs. I ask her whether fans approach Zee after shows.

“We do have some fans who prefer to message us after the gig on Twitter which is always nice, but I make a point when I’m on stage of saying “come and say hello”, because I love sharing and I see Queen Zee as a collective, not just as an extension of my ego or as my project. I like people getting involved. People have been customising their clothes and getting tattoos…”

I Zee that I saw a fan had posted a picture of a “sass or die” tattoo they’d had inked in honour of the band on the Queen Zee social media accounts. I then asked Zee about the flipside of this, the trolling they’ve experienced on the band’s posts on International Transgender Day Of Visibility (31st March). I ask if shouting back (which Zee always does) takes its toll, or do posts like the one about the tattoo make things easier to deal with?

“Cis people will see these things online and be really shocked by that, but one of the main things for trans people is that you go through things like that every day anyway, it’s just not always online. I actually love people trolling, it’s my favourite thing. I know that I have offended them, and that my existence offends them – and I think that’s brilliant. I don’t want those people to like me, I don’t want them to come to our shows if they’re that bigoted.

Going back to the tattoo though, I absolutely love that. I think it’s bizarre that people would do that. It blows my mind. We played this huge punk show in Liverpool last year, where all the DIY punks get together as a collective and play to about 300 people. We played that and my guitar broke, so we just had to play cover songs, and after that the fan came up to me and showed me the “sass or die” tattoo – and that was the way we ended 2017: it was absolutely amazing. I loved it”.

I broach the subject of mental health too, as this is also an issue Zee speaks openly about online. I ask if she has any advice for other bands who find themselves feeling mentally drained whilst on tour.

“The big thing for me was that I was originally really anti-meds. But actually, just starting on meds has totally changed my life and I feel so much better for it. I don’t want to be ‘pro-meds’ – whatever your stance is, it’s your stance and that’s totally fine – but I would advise people to come to their own decisions, and don’t close your mind off to it. Especially if it’s something that could potentially help you.

General advice and stuff for bands is to eat well, sleep well, and look after each other. It’s dead simple. When we first started touring it was like “Yeah! We’re on tour, let’s go out every night!” and you end up being destroyed by day ten. You get physically ill too.

The thing that made me really ill whilst touring though was that the band consumes your life, so it takes away your social life and even though you’re with your best friends in a band, you don’t see your family, or your other friends, or your partner. And on top of that you’re constantly tired, so it all adds up. I would advise keeping in contact with friends as much as you can. Get your friends to come to shows in the different cities that you’re touring, which is what I’ve done on this tour. A bit of life outside of the band whilst you’re all on tour is great, and it will stop you killing each other.

Our band is formed of five of the most annoying individuals ever. Our bassist is obsessed with meme songs, so on the way here we were listening to Toto – just Toto. It’s funny to start with, you’re like “you’ve played ‘Africa’ a few times, okay” and then he played another Toto song, and another one, and another. He played them for the entire journey – which was an hour. He’s lucky to still be alive. So yeah, no Toto songs on tour…

After establishing a strong “No Toto” rule, I ask if Zee can remember the first time they crowd-surfed or got involved in a mosh pit at a gig, as both of these things always occur at Queen Zee shows.

“The first time I crowd-surfed was as Queen Zee. I never had the guts as a little queer kid to get down to the front and do it. I can’t remember the first time I moshed really, but I was always in to punk and thrash bands so I definitely moshed at those gigs. It was very macho though, so I didn’t feel very welcome in to any of that and there was never really any girls in the pit. So it’s great now when we play shows that I see a mix of girls and guys in the mosh.

I highlight what a great achievement that is, to have created the safe space that Zee felt was initially lacking at gigs.

“That’s what it’s all about. People know at our gigs that we won’t tolerate any nonsense either. We stopped a show in Nottingham on this tour because our bassist Frankie’s Mum got punched in the face. It was the last song of the set, so I was like “if you want to move about, this is your chance to do it!” and this guy thought it was a great idea to just to swing round in to me, hitting Frankie’s Mum in the face in the process.”

I point out that of all the people that could’ve happened to, what are the chances it would be the Bassist’s Mum?!

“I know! I was like “you need to leave, now”. Luckily she was okay, she actually loved it! Mosh pits are weird though. We had a gig in Birmingham the other day, and the crowd for the support bands were quite young, maybe seventeen year olds? So they were really kicking off, and I thought I’d jump in because you know, it’s only kids – but I just got beaten up! I’m too old. I’m twenty-four this year, and I came out of that mosh bruised and feeling like a fifty year old”.

I ask Zee what new music they’ve been listening too, as GIHEs are always interested in new music recommendations from our favourite bands.

“There’s so many on this tour that we’ve played with. A band from Cardiff called CHROMA are amazing. We shared a stage with them at Reading & Leeds last year and then we’ve played with them on this tour, and they always blow me away. Their songs have a really cool Death From Above type vibes to them.

There’s a band from Nottingham called Babe Punch who play Riot Grrrl-esque punk stuff, and they do a really good cover of ABBA’s ‘SOS’. Salt Bath are another Cardiff band who play really cool queer punk stuff. They’re my big three”.

Now it’s time to talk about plans for the summer. I ask what festivals Queen Zee will be playing at, and if there are any festivals Zee would like to attend just as a fan.

“I hate music…”

It takes me a moment to work out whether Zee’s joking or not…

“No seriously, when we play a gig or we’re watching support bands I’m like “Ah music is great, I love it!” but when I’m at home I never listen to music. I’m chilling the fuck out and watching Netflix, I’m not going to any festivals as a fan! After seeing the inner-workings of festivals as well, it changes your perspective on things. It’s always so stressful trying to get from point A to point B in a field, which you think would be simple but it’s the most difficult thing.

But, having said that, we’re playing quite a few festivals in May. We’re playing The Great Escape, Sound City, Live At Leeds, Neighbourhood and there’s more on the horizon too. We’ve got some time off on June & July to do some more recording though.

To make the idea of Festivals more bearable, I ask Zee what her dream Festival line-up would be.

“Dream headliner would be Me, with a support of Me and just before that it would be Me. Doing slightly different stuff though, maybe even a ‘Toto’ covers set? I dunno, I’d probably give the headline slot to someone who really deserves it.

I have really bad music taste, I love classic rock like Twisted Sister. I’m obsessed with them, and I know I shouldn’t be, and I know it’s bad. Everyone else in the band has really cool music taste like Pixies and Neutral Milk Hotel and I’m like “okay, does anyone like Scorpions?” I’d like to see The B52s, I don’t even know if they’re still going?

I mention that Cindy Wilson of the B52s is doing her own solo stuff now, so that might have to wait.

“I’d resurrect ABBA! To be honest, it’d probably just be loads of little bands in a sweat-box venue. Oh wait – I’ve got my dream headliner – Judas Priest…I’m obsessed with them.”

Little did we know at this point that the next day ABBA would announce they’re releasing new music. It’s as if Zee has a sixth sense. To end our chat, I ask Zee what three words they’d used to describe Queen Zee – aside from “sass or die”…

“Tortured Scissor Sisters…”

Fingers crossed that’s what Zee calls the band’s debut album.

Thanks so much to Zee for answering my questions!

Catch Queen Zee at The Great Escape at The Hope & Ruin (10:45pm -Thursday 17th May)

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

GUIDE & PLAYLIST: The Great Escape 2018

The Great Escape Festival kicks off in just 7 days time (17th-19th May), and we’re ready to tread Brighton’s pebble beach, chomp on some chips, and trek around town trying to catch the best new music acts.

The prolific 3-day event is renowned for championing new music from all genres, and their female-friendly line-up (which Mari celebrated in her recent article about women & festival lineups for Trash) features some of our all time favourite bands. Dream Wife, Queen Zee, REWS, Pillow Queens & Amaroun will all be strutting their stuff by the seaside over the course of the weekend, but we’re excited to discover some brand new talent too.

In alphabetical order, these are the artists we’re keen to catch at 2018’s Great Escape Festival. Scroll down to our Spotify playlist to get better acquainted with them, and make a note of their stage times too…

Audiobooks
Playing at: HORATIOS – 3:30pm Friday 18th

Art School Girlfriend
Playing at: THE WALRUS – 8:15pm Friday 18th

Amaroun
Playing at: THE WALRUS – 8:15pm, Thursday 17th

Amyl & The Sniffers
Playing at: PRINCE ALBERT 11:10pm – Friday 18th & BEACH HOUSE 12:50pm – Saturday 19th

Benin City
Playing at: PAGANINI BALLROOM (THE OLD SHIP) – 11:15pm Saturday 19th

Brooke Bentham
Playing at: PATTERNS (UPSTAIRS) – 6:15pm Friday 18th

CHROMA
Playing at: LATEST MUSIC BAR – 12:45pm Thursday 17th

Deep Throat Choir
Playing at: SALLIS BENNEY THEATRE – 10:15pm Saturday 19th

Dream Wife
Playing at: BEACH CLUB – 8:45pm Thursday 17th

Elsa Hewitt
Playing at: KOMEDIA STUDIO BAR – 11:45pm Saturday 19th

Flohio
Playing at: EAST WING (BRIGHTON CENTRE) – 6:15pm Thursday 17th
KOMEDIA STUDIO BAR – 3:30pm Saturday 19th
SHOOSHH – 9:30pm Saturday 19th

Girlhood
Playing at: DR. MARTENS STAGE – 12:45pm Thursday 17th
THE HAUNT – 7:30pm Thursday 17th

Goat Girl
Playing at: THE ARCH – 9:15pm Thursday 17th

Hatchie
Playing at: KOMEDIA – 12:50pm Thursday 17th
HORATIOS – 1:00pm Friday 18th
THE ARCH – 6:00pm Friday 18th

Hero Fisher
Playing at: QUEENS HOTEL – 1:30pm Saturday 18th

Japanese Breakfast
Playing at: KOMEDIA – 11:15pm Thursday 17th

Jealous Of The Birds
Playing at: BAU WOW – 9:15pm Thursday 17th
JUBILEE SQUARE – 2:00pm Friday 18th

Men I Trust
Playing at: KOMEDIA – 7:15pm Thursday 17th

Nao
Playing at: BEACH CLUB – 10:00pm Friday 18th

Nelson Can
Playing at: DR. MARTENS STAGE – 1:00pm Friday 18th
STICKY MIKE’S FROG BAR – 10:30pm Saturday 19th

The Orielles
Playing at: BEACH HOUSE – 2:30pm Thursday 17th
HORATIOS – 9:00pm Thursday 17th

Phoebe Bridgers
Playing at: KOMEDIA – 9:15pm Friday 18th

Pillow Queens
Playing at: PRINCE ALBERT – 1:00pm Thursday 17th

Partner
Playing at: GREEN DOOR STORE – 1:30pm Thursday 17th
GREEN DOOR STORE – 7:15pm Thursday 17th
THE WALRUS – 2:15pm Saturday 18th

Queen Zee
Playing at: THE HOPE AND RUIN – 10:45pm Thursday 17th

REWS
Playing at: BEACH HOUSE – 9:15pm Friday 18th

The Regrettes
Playing at: HORATIOS 11:15pm Saturday

Soccer Mommy
Playing at: BEACH CLUB – 7:30pm Thursday 17th

Snail Mail
Playing at: BEACH CLUB – 6:30pm Thursday 17th

Stella Donnelly
Playing at: KOMEDIA – 8:15pm Thursday 17th
UNITARIAN CHURCH – 7:45pm Friday 18th
DR. MARTENS STAGE – 1:20pm Saturday 19th

The Ninth Wave
Playing at: HORATIOS – 3:30pm Thursday 17th
THE HAUNT – 9:30pm Friday 18th
MARINE ROOM (HARBOUR HOTEL) – 10:15pm Saturday 19th

The Vegan Leather
Playing at: HORATIOS – 1:45pm Thursday 17th
STICKY MIKE’S FROG BAR – 8:15pm Friday 18th

 

Get your tickets for The Great Escape here.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

PLAYLIST: May 2018

Bin your umbrellas and bust out your sunglasses: May marks the beginning of UK Festival season! Whatever the weather, we’ve got a brand new collection of music to see you through the next month. Maybe you’re going to see Bjork or The XX at All Points East (25th May – 2nd June), or perhaps you’re treading the pebbles for The Great Escape Festival in Brighton (17th-19th May)? Either way, scroll through our tracks and listen to our Spotify playlist for new music inspiration…

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Zero’
All Points East Festival kicks off on May 25th with headliners LCD Soundsystem in Victoria Park, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs are performing on the same bill. They have four albums worth of gems to pick from, but I’ve chosen ‘Zero’ from 2009’s It’s Blitz! purely because I love watching Karen O parade through the streets in her studded leather jacket in the accompanying video. I’m planning to mimic her every move/cry when I hear it live (it’s my birthday, and I’ll cry if I want to). (Kate Crudgington)

Janelle Monae – Pynk (feat. Grimes)
What a song, what a woman. The first note of ‘PYNK’ right the way through to the end is pure and simple PLEASURE. Janelle Monae collaborating with Grimes has delivered us a pure slice of vagina-pop, where the video is as important as the music. The description of which declares “PYNK is a brash celebration of creation. Self love. Sexuality. And p-ssy power!” Need I say more. (Tash Walker)

Amaroun – ‘Indecisive’ 
Written about emerging from a period of deep denial, ‘Indecisive’ – Amaroun’s latest captivating single – oozes a sweeping emotive power and heartfelt lyrical richness. And, as Jay Brown’s stirring vocals sing the perfectly relatable “I can agoraphobic, London can be overwhelming. Yes, I am addicted, I’ve learnt to live through all the noise”, it’s impossible not to be completely swept away by this dreamy sonic delight. (Mari Lane)

Elsa Hewitt – ‘Catvision’ 
My favourite festival – The Great Escape – takes place this month, and I’ve started putting together a list of artists I want to catch when I’m down in Brighton. The experimental electronic sounds of Elsa Hewitt have been swirling around my skull since I discovered her on the website, so I’m keen to hear ‘Catvision’ live when she plays at the KOMEDIA Studio Bar on Saturday 19th. (KC)

Alyss – ‘Envirus’
Producer and singer Alyss’ EP 3EARTH was released last week and it is gold. Taken from the EP, Envirus is dense in its electronic production, tribal in its beats and soulful in the vocals – needless to say the results are addictive. (TW)

Art School Girlfriend – ‘Measures’
Another artist I’m hoping to catch at The Great Escape, I’ve been soothed by the somber, subdued sounds of Art School Girlfriend. She’ll be playing at The Walrus on Friday 18th. (KC)

Rookes – ‘The Game And The River’
Having supported the likes of Stealing Sheep and She Makes War and set to play at The Great Escape later this month, Birmingham artist Rookes graces our ears with her new single ‘The Game And The River’. Filled with the stirring passion of her deep emotion-strewn vocals, it flows with twinkling folk-tinged melodies and a subtle, soulful splendour, making for a truly uplifting slice of heart-warming alt-pop. (ML)

LIINES – ‘Cold’ 
Manchester trio LIINES have been a long term favourite of ours, especially since blowing us all away their riotous, impassioned energy at The Finsbury a couple of months back, and so we’re beyond excited that their brand new, debut album is due for release on Friday! An immense blast of post-punk perfection, latest single ‘Cold’ is an epic taster of what’s to come. (ML)

Chroma – ‘Vampires’
Chroma were recommended to me by the marvellous Queen Zee (interview coming soon to the website!), so I’m chuffed that both bands will be in Brighton for The Great Escape. I’m excited to see Chroma in the flesh at Latest Music Bar on Thursday 17th – potentially my first gig of the festival! (KC)

Suzie Stapleton – ‘Negative Prophet’
Exuding a dark, brooding atmosphere, ‘Negative Prophet’ is Suzie Stapleton’s protest in an oversaturated world where the powerful feed on the powerless. As the immense power of her deep, raw vocals drift alongside reverb-strewn, blues-ridden hooks, it’s a majestic, and spine-tinglingly captivating, creation. We can’t wait to see Suzie headline for us at The Finsbury next Friday, 11th May! (ML)

Men I Trust – ‘Show Me How’
Canada’s Men I Trust first came to my attention when elusive electronic producer H1987 remixed their track ‘You Deserve This’. I love the reassuring nature of their psych-tinged, lo-fi indie anthems, and I’m hoping to catch them at Komedia on Thursday 17th for their Great Escape set. (KC)

i2m1 – ‘Illusion’
i2m1 is the solo recording project of Irene Carson from Colorado Springs. Starting back in 2015, it has since developed into a multimedia project featuring artist Graham Gale. Their second release Zoo is a collection of 20 songs, “one made for a year of my life..” Irene explains, which reflect her ongoing story. ‘Illusion’ is all synth-laden and dreamy pop – a big slice of me which has me going weak at the knees. (TW)

S4U – ‘Refrain ft JD Reid’
Refrain is the latest single from Londoners S4U featuring JD Reid, which is set for release on 1st June via Different Recordings. Low-slung R&B, and dark electro base all mixed together with some heavy 90s influences. Yes. Please. (TW)