We were back at The Great Escape Festival running around Brighton catching some of our favourite female, non-binary and LGBTQ+ artists in new music last weekend! Spread across multiple venues in the city, the festival showcased an eclectic line-up of talent, and our Features Editor Kate Crudgington and official photographer Jon Mo were there to capture some of the highlights of the prolific three day event.
Of course, clashes, queues and timing issues meant we inevitably missed some artists – including Lambrini Girls, Brimheim, Cristale, Grove and Jessica Winter – but we did catch a glimpse of Courtney Love standing outside of Chalk on the first day of the festival, so that kind of made up for it? Read on to find out more about the shows we did manage to catch…
Alt-Pop is thriving via Sans Soucis, ARXX, Seraphina Simone and SPIDER
Alt-pop comes in many genre-blending guises and we saw it flourish in the form of four very different artists at the festival: Sans Soucis, ARXX, Seraphina Simone and SPIDER.
Catching Sans Soucis‘ set upstairs at Patterns on the seafront was a superb way to kick off our Great Escape experience. Having been fans of the Congolese-Italian songwriter and producer since they released their debut album, On Time For Her, back in 2021, it was a joy to watch them thrive on stage in spite of the technical difficulties that delayed the start of their set. Opening with the infectious warmth of ‘I’m On’, Sans Soucis filled the room with their lush vocals and genre-blending, glitchy-yet-melodic sounds.
We’re running out of ways to articulate how talented Hanni and Clara aka ARXX are. Playing their biggest hometown show to date at The Beach stage, the Brighton duo blasted their energetic blend of alt-pop and rock right across the pebbles. Their between-song banter is equally as entertaining as the rest of their performance. Whether they’re having their “Dua Lipa moment” on ‘God Knows’, getting the crowd to chant along to the anthemic ‘Ride Or Die’, or explaining that the youthful crowd on their recent tour with Yungblud didn’t know who Cher was – ARXX are masters of their comedic and musical craft. Having been long time supporters of this dynamic duo here at GIHE (they’ve headlined our gigs and been guests on our radio show) our hearts were swelling with pride as we watched them shine under the spotlight.
Providing something totally different, London-based songwriter Seraphina Simone delivered her bittersweet musings on love, obsession and growth to attentive fans in Patterns’ basement. Performing songs from her melancholy-tinged EP, Milk Teeth, Seraphina’s sounds shimmered across the venue, aided by drummer Sophie Galpin’s tentative beats. (Self Esteem fans will recognise both musicians, as they’re part of Rebecca Lucy Taylor’s touring band).
A real highlight of the weekend was watching Irish alt-pop polymath SPIDER openly enjoy storming around the stage at The Green Door Store. Playfully taunting the “industry guys at the back” to move forward and dance along to her high energy alt-pop anthems, the songwriter and producer delivered anti-birthday anthems like ‘I’M FINE! I’M GOOD! I’M PERFECT!’, the brooding ‘GROWING INTO IT’ and the defiant grit of ‘AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL’ with vibrant and infectious attitude. Passionate about instigating change as a young black woman making genre-blending music, SPIDER’s charisma shone through between her tracks as she spoke about not letting the industry or the voices on the internet diminish her successes. She was a joy to interview on our Soho Radio for our Great Escape Special show (listen back here) and we look forward to seeing what she does next.
The Future is here in the form of HotWax
Rumour has it that these three teens from Hastings were one of the reasons that Hole’s Courtney Love was in town. Together, Lola, Tallulah and Alfie aka HotWax are a captivating blur of energy on stage, delivering their heavy grunge riffs with impressive and authentic flair. We caught up with them for a chat before their headline set at The Lexington in London back in April (read here), but their packed set at The Beach stage excelled that performance. Highlights included their visceral new anthem about the contraceptive implant ‘Rip It Out’, the riotous ‘Treasure’, and the title track of their upcoming debut EP, ‘A Thousand Times’.
CLT DRP are a live force to be reckoned with
It was one-in-one-out when we arrived at The Black Lion to catch CLT DRP (pronounced ‘clit drip’) on Thursday night, but we managed to squeeze into the venue just in time to catch their set – and WHAT. A. SET. Blending punk vocals with idiosyncratic guitar FX and truly phenomenal drumming, Annie, Scott and Daphne commanded their enthusiastic crowd from the moment the first bead of sweat hit the floor. The Brighton trio played four sets in one day across town, but there was no hint of fatigue as they tenaciously ripped through tracks from their debut album, Without The Eyes, and finished with a knockout rendition of their latest single ‘Now Boy. It feels cliché to say it, but CLT DRP truly are a band that need to be seen live to be fully appreciated. Totally unique.
The Houndstooth 10 year anniversary showcase at St Mary’s Church was stunning
Arriving just in time to see Penelope Trappes disappear in a puff of smoke behind her keyboard at St Mary’s Church, we stayed in the ornate venue to watch sets from Icelandic songwriter JFDR and electronic artist Hinako Omori. All three musicians have released albums via the Houndstooth label, which boasts an eclectic and impressive roster.
JFDR‘s clear vocals, altruistic lyrics and tender instrumentation effortlessly filled the arches of the church. Sharing stories and musings between her tracks ‘Life Man’ and ‘The Orchid’, both of which are lifted from her recent album Museum, the musician was full of gratitude to be in Brighton playing to such an attentive congregation of listeners.
Hinako Omori‘s set followed and it was truly majestic. Heavily inspired by the physiological effects that sound frequencies have on the body and the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku (“forest-bathing”), Omori’s music seeks to understand and enhance the human condition in intricate and invigorating ways. Playing continuously for thirty minutes, the London-based musician delivered a combination of sounds from her debut album, a journey…, and her warm, expansive synths and soft, lilting vocals transported listeners into a state of calming bliss.
Guitar music is alive and well in the form of Whitelands, Coach Party, Human Interest & ĠENN
Whenever we read an article that claims “guitar music is dead” or that “guitar bands are a dying breed”, we roll our eyes and move on. Trust us when we say that it is alive and well, because we saw proof of it across The Great Escape lineup (including HotWax who we mentioned earlier)
We caught a glimpse of London-based shoegazers Whitelands at the packed Paganini Ballroom. Their hazy, melancholic guitar tones shimmered across the room, with latest single ‘Setting Sun’ proving to be a set highlight.
Isle Of Wight four-piece Coach Party played three sets across the weekend, bringing their grunge-infused cacophonies to a full crowd in the Komedia basement. The band ripped through their set, which included tracks ‘Micro Aggression’ and latest single ‘All I Wanna Do Is Hate’.
London post punks Human Interest poured their sweat and blood (literally) into a knockout set at Revenge. The four-piece delivered swaggering anthems like ‘Cool Cats’ and ‘Mixing Paint’ with impressive confidence, relishing the applause that the crowd granted them after each track.
We enjoyed the instinctive, brooding sounds of Brighton-based, Maltese band ĠENN so much, that we went to see them perform twice! The chemistry between band members Janelle, Sofia, Leanne and Leona was magnetic, as were Leona’s distinctive and powerful vocals. The band were also joined on stage by John Newton (vocalist and drummer of knockout duo JOHN) for a visceral duet during each of their shows at The Old Ship Courtyard and Zahara.
Problem Patterns are everything
Whether it’s Bev storming out into the crowd to shout in your face, Alanah staring you down with her intense glare from the stage, Ciara’s incredible bass face, or drummer Beth politely telling you to “fuck off” if you’re “homophobic, sexist, transphobic or racist” from behind her kit, there’s so much to love about Problem Patterns‘ live show.
Performing upstairs at the Prince Albert pub, the chemistry between the Belfast Riot Grrrls was a total joy to behold. Smashing through politically driven anthems like ‘TERFs Out’, ‘Who Do We Not Save?’ and ‘Y.A.W (Yes All Women)’, the four-piece switched between instruments and shared vocal duties throughout the set, not once losing the incredible momentum they’d built. Members of Fraulein, ARXX and The Oozes were all in the crowd beaming up at the grrrls as they thrashed their way through a knockout show.
We cannot wait for Problem Patterns to return to London to headline for us at the Sebright Arms on 17th November. Grab your tickets here.
We recommend you get tickets to see FLOSSING live ASAP
New York-based musicians Heather Elle and James Maclay aka FLOSSING were the final band we caught at the festival, and we were deeply impressed by their smouldering, angst-ridden sounds. Through their blend of pulverizing bass lines, experimental electronics and eclectic, heavy beats, the duo explore themes of self-acceptance, sexuality and the duplicitous nature of love and attraction. Heather – who has previously played in Bodega and The Wants – is truly mesmeric on stage. A disciplined yet expressive performer, their vocals buzzed around and resonated within the walls of the dark venue Chalk, especially during tracks like ‘Switch’. We didn’t get any pics unfortunately, so you definitely need to catch the band live next time they’re in the UK to witness it yourself!
Words: Kate Crudgington / @KCBobCut
Photos: Jon Mo / @jonmophotography