LIVE: The Great Escape 2022 (Photos & Highlights)

We were back at The Great Escape for the first time in 3 YEARS at the weekend, stomping around Brighton trying to catch some of our favourite women and LGBTQ+ artists in new music. 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 just some of the highlights of the prolific 3 day event.

Of course, clashes, queues and timing issues meant we inevitably missed some artists, including sets from ZAND, Ailbhe Reddy, Mykki Blanco, A.A. Williams, Witch Fever, Bad Waitress, Kills Birds, LibraLibra, PEANESS and Grandmas House, but we tried to get to as many gigs as possible on Thursday & Friday. Read about the performances we did manage to catch and take a look at our pictures below…

 

ARXX remain one of our favourite bands, both on and off stage

Whether it’s vocalist & guitarist Hanni casually saying “let’s break up this wall of men” as we moved towards the front for Fräulein’s set at Queens Hotel, or drummer Clara cracking up the crowd with her story about a seagull stealing her croissant during their own set (she’s a Brighton resident as well, rookie mistake) – ARXX truly are the definition of an iconic duo. Their set at The Hope & Ruin was so packed we couldn’t get in, but it was worth running up the hill to Brighton Youth Centre to catch them performing later on the same day. Full of their trademark riotous riffs, anthemic vocals and knockout percussion, the duo tore through renditions of ‘Deep’ and ‘Call Me Crazy’ as well as previewing their new single, ‘Couldn’t Help Myself’. We can’t wait to have them headline for GIHE again at The Shacklewell Arms on the 22nd July. (tickets here)

Fräulein are your new favourite grunge duo

Joni & Karston aka Fräulein blew us away when they headlined our first GIHE gig of 2022 back in January at The Victoria in Dalston. Since then, the duo have been playing across London non-stop and have been out on tour with The Mysterines and Coach Party too. They performed their brooding, captivating grunge sounds to a full house in the basement at Queens Hotel on Thursday afternoon, with singles ‘And I Go (La La La)’ and ‘Drag Behind’ being set highlights. They played a show on each day of the festival over the weekend, so if you didn’t catch at least one of their sets, you definitely missed out.

We are in love with Brimheim and her band

We had a lot of FEELINGS watching Danish artist Brimheim perform to a packed crowd at seafront venue WaterBear – and all of them were GOOD. Clearly loving every moment of her set alongside her equally enthusiastic band, she thrashed around with her guitar, enjoyably scowling down at her mic as she delivered her pitch perfect vocals. Performing songs from her debut album, can’t hate myself into a different shape, she thundered through ‘favourite day of the week’ and ‘baleen feeder’, her exquisite, confessional lyrics were given a new edge by her raw, more abrasive live performance. We cannot wait to see her live again.

The Irish showcase at Prince Albert is always a festival highlight

Year after year, the line-up for the Irish showcase at the Prince Albert continues to impress us. Even when we can’t physically get into the venue to see the bands (we heard SPRINTS sounding HUGE as we stood in the queue on the stairs) the atmosphere and the talent is always worth sticking around for. We caught Tolu Makay in her stunning sequin-drenched outfit on Thursday, performing infectiously fun tracks from her debut album Being, including ‘Me, Myself & I’ and ‘You Are Enough’. On Friday, we were front row for CMAT’s show (read more on that below) and to catch Kynsy live for the first time. Since the release of her debut single ‘Cold Blue Light’ in 2020, we’ve been keen to see her show and she did not disappoint. Accompanied by her band, she ripped through singles ‘Happiness Isn’t A Fixed State’ and ‘Elephant in the Room’, her voice sounding superb despite her saying she was “a little croaky” on the day.

Tolu Makay

KYNSY

CMAT is Queen

Despite their best efforts to make things work, CMAT’s band couldn’t play along with her due to tech difficulties, so the Irish pop sensation shrugged it off and performed a superb solo acoustic set instead. Armed with her guitar and her trademark white cowboy boots, she performed seamless renditions of ‘I Wanna Be a Cowboy, Baby!’, ‘Nashville’ and a “lounge version” of ‘No More Virgos’ with keyboard player Colm, all taken from her debut album, If My Wife New I’d Be Dead. A mix of stand up comedy and stand out vocals, CMAT’s sets are always a total joy to witness, and listening to other folks in the crowd sing along to ‘I Wanna Be a Cowboy, Baby!’ never gets old.

Lido Pimienta is a L.E.G.E.N.D.

Full of her stunning vocals, metal-esque screams, sharp wit and strong pro-choice vibes, award-winning Colombian-born, Toronto-based artist Lido Pimienta had the crowd dancing, cheering and laughing along during her set at Jubilee Square. Performing tracks from her 2020 album, Miss Colombia, including a flawless rendition of ‘Eso Que Tu Haces’, Pimienta cracked jokes about the Queen’s Jubilee between songs and made valid comments about the importance of respecting women’s reproductive rights. Her charisma, euphoric live energy and candid comments will remain embedded in our memories for weeks to come.

We want to join Softcult

We’ve been looking forward to catching Canadian twin siblings Mercedes and Phoenix aka Sofcult live since the release of their debut EP, Year Of The Rat, in 2021. Informed by their experiences of sexism and objectification as young women in the music industry, the pair performed their bittersweet grunge-pop anthems to a packed crowd at Volks, with songs ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ and ‘Gaslight’ providing an empowering and cathartic moment to push back against toxic masculinity.

We want to scream in tune like Lucy from Projector

Brighton band Projector have always impressed us with their live shows, but their set at The Tempest Inn on Friday evening truly excelled all other times we’ve seen them play. The four piece smashed through a set full of visceral alternative noise, with bassist & vocalist Lucy’s cord-ripping screams absolutely decimating our ear drums (in the good way), especially during the band’s latest single ‘hell in my head’.

Like most major UK festivals, The Great Escape has room for improvement

Whilst our experience of The Great Escape was a positive one, we know that’s not the case for everyone who attends or plays at the festival. We saw a tweet from artist Billy Nomates explaining that there was “no water no towel no buy out no rider [and] a microphone that doesn’t work” – therefore she couldn’t perform to the best of her ability at her set on Friday night.

We also saw a tweet from the band PEANESS, rightfully lamenting the lack of opportunities for artists playing the festival to have access to complimentary food and drinks, whilst delegates are often bombarded with these invites. It was both disheartening and comforting to see replies on these threads that echoed similar sentiments, especially as artists (particularly female artists) are often labelled as ‘unappreciative’ or ‘difficult’ when they highlight these issues. It’s not fair that people’s experiences of the same festival differ so vastly.

There are plenty of artists, promoters and PR teams working towards a better and more equal music industry – we met and saw some of them at The Great Escape! – but until everyone is on the same page, we will continue to elevate the conversations that challenge the unfair “norm”.

In terms of its line-up, 2022’s Great Escape really did feel like one of its most diverse and entertaining yet. But there’s always more to learn, more work to do both on and off stage, and more reason than ever to speak out when you think you’re being treated unfairly. Respect to the artists who were bold enough to do so this year.

CIEL

BERRIES

Gen & The Degenerates

Words: Kate Crudgington / @KCBobCut
Photos: Jon Mo / @jonmophotography

PLAYLIST: September 2020

It’s been another testing month, filled with more government Covid-19 “rule” changes and unwanted opinions on social media, but we’re determined to keep our spirits up by listening to some of our favourite women and non-binary artists. September’s GIHE playlist is filled with an eclectic mix of alt-pop gems, frenzied guitar anthems, indie tunes and alternative new sounds. Take some time to scroll through our track choices below, and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist at the end of the page.

 

Noga Erez – ‘You So Done’
An emotionally charged offering from a resilient and uncompromising artist, Noga Erez’s latest single is accompanied by a stunning set of visuals directed by Indy Hait. The Tel Aviv based artist delves deep into the memories left behind by a toxic relationship, making this her most personal release to date. She’s yet to share something that we don’t collectively adore here at GIHE, so expect to see her name on all future playlists! (Kate Crudgington)

Eilis Frawley – ‘Stats’
The poignant new single from GIHE fave Eilis Frawley, ‘Stats’ offers a completely unique soundscape from the classically trained percussionist. Kicking off with an arresting drumroll, it quickly picks up the pace moving into bold, Krautrock-infused spoken word, as the lyrics see Frawley recite hard-hitting stats, highlighting the everyday injustices facing women today. Tackling issues such as period poverty, FGM, domestic violence and other vital issues, it’s a beautifully striking and necessary listen. A poignant protest song that you can dance to. ‘Stats’ is out now via faves Reckless Yes. (Mari Lane)

Æ Mak feat. Seba Safe – ‘i dance in the kitchen’
Embracing production duties for the first time on her new EP, how to: make a kitsch pop song to show the world, Æ MAK – aka Aoife McCann – made this record during the Covid-19 lockdown period with “100% childsplay and solo belly laughs”. This single in particular showcases her delightfully carefree, vibrant attitude when it comes to letting go of performance qualms and focusing on making music that makes you feel good. (KC)

HANYA – ‘Texas’
The latest single from Brighton’s Hanya, ‘Texas’ is propelled by a dreamy haze, as it flows with twinkling hooks and the soaring, effervescent vocals of front person Heather Sheret. With shades of the lush surf-pop of Real Estate or Best Coast, it’s a shimmering slice of exquisite indie-pop oozing a blissful tranquility and spellbinding ethereal splendour. The perfect soundtrack to soothe these post-summer blues. Of the track, the band explain: “‘Texas’ was entirely written and recorded during lockdown, experimenting with working remotely as a group. The track explores the startings of a relationship – the head-over-heels uncertainty, the self-doubt and the desire to know each other entirely.” (ML)

Daniela Andrade – ‘Puddles’
A definite September highlight for me comes from Honduran-Canadian producer and musician Daniela Andrade. The track is called ‘Puddles’, it’s self-produced and it has been reverberating around my head since I first heard it. If you don’t start swaying when you hear this, something is wrong. This track was announced alongside details of her new EP, Nothing Much Has Changed, I Don’t Feel The Same, which is out on 30th September via Crooked Lid. (Tash Walker)

Komang – ‘DEWI’ 
I cannot get this song out of my head! It’s excellent. It comes from Melbourne artist Komang and is her debut release, endorsed by a mentorship with the amazing Sui Zhen. Komang is a multidisciplinary producer, performer and vocalist who blends soul-based groove and echoes of traditional Gamelan to create vibrant electronic RnB described as “neo-soul meets Balinese mystic power”. This track is lifted from her forthcoming EP Mythologies, which is set to be released later this year. There’s only one way to listen to this song and that’s very loudly with your eyes closed. TURN UP THAT DIAL. (TW)

Nina Cobham – ‘Solar’ (Bipolar Sunshine Remix)
I love this remix by Bipolar Sunshine of Nina Cobham’s ‘Solar’, it’s so goddamn sultry. Makes me hold onto those dreamy summers of years gone by… (TW)

Seraphina Simone – ‘Hollywood $$$’
The latest release from one of my faves Seraphina Simone, a song shining the spotlight on the glitzy, gritty, ghastly Hollywood. In her words, “’Hollywood $$$’ is about the Lynchian, fame-obsessive undercurrents of tinsel town, with its sirens, starlets, leeches & letches. It’s about that world of smoke and mirrors – where nothing and no one is really as it seems, and the world of celebrity – where we deify or demonise people into these superhumans or arch villains. Kim Gordon mentions ‘tarantula LA glamour’ in Girl In A Band, and that sums it up perfectly I think – the predatory darkness under the glitz.” Amazing description, I defy you to not think of Mulholland Drive or even Selling Sunset (for my sins) when you press play on this. (TW)

ZAND – ‘Slut Money’
A defiant, savage pop tune that celebrates self-autonomy, body positivity and sexuality, self-described “ugly pop” star ZAND takes aim at slut shamers on their latest single. They deftly defy the haters on ‘Slut Money’ through a combination of gritty beats, sweet vocals and candid rap verses. (KC)

Leikeli47 – ‘Zoom’
I’m ashamed to say I’m extremely late to the Leikel47 party, but I’m so glad I’ve now discovered the gritty, brutal wit of the bandana-clad Virginia born rapper. Following 2018’s epic album Acrylic, last month she shared ‘Zoom’. Holding nothing back, ‘Zoom’ showcases Leikel47’s swagger and tenacity with its glitchy beats, catchy hooks and lyrical wit, with references to ‘90s boy bands and her roots in the DMV area: “I ain’t the type of bitch to do a lot of barking/ And only thing I need validated is my parking/ I’m from the back street boy, where it’s very rare to link/ And if you using the wrong note/ We’ll put yo ass n sync…” I just can’t get enough of it. And if you too are new to the joy of Leikel47, I strongly suggest checking out singles ‘Girl Blunt’ and ‘Money’. (ML)

Tolü Makay – ‘Don’t Let Go’
An understated, beautifully soothing listen, Nigerian-born, Ireland-based artist Tolü Makay gently reassures her listeners to let go of their fears through her smooth vocals, tender lyricism and jazz inspired instrumentation on this reassuring track. (KC)

SUSU – ‘Work Song’
New York based SUSU have shared this epic guitar tune that powerfully demonstrates the deep civil unrest that’s simmering beneath the Covid-19 pandemic in the USA. The band explain: “This song is for US – the disenfranchised, black, brown, minority, middle class, poor, trans, gay, and subjugated communities stepping down off the auction block, breaking the stranglehold; saying: ‘If a house gets in my way, you know I’ll burn it down.’ As Nina Simone once said, ‘An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times’.” (KC)

MOURN – ‘Men’
A rallying cry against toxic masculinity and street harassment, Barcelona-based MOURN’s latest single is lifted from their upcoming album Self Worth, which is set for release on 30th October via Captured Tracks. The song is an honest, cathartic purge of the distrust and anger many women suppress on a daily basis when they’re intimidated in public spaces. (KC)

Francis Of Delirium – ‘Equality Song’
Funded by Luxembourg’s Ministry of Equality to celebrate 100 years of women’s right to vote, Francis Of Delirium’s vocalist & guitarist Jana Bahrich penned this poignant track in the wake of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. It’s a powerful, necessary dismantling of the ingrained sexism and toxic masculinity that permeates society. (Just a heads up: there’s mention of rape/sexual assault) (KC)

Fightmilk – ‘If You Had A Sister’
The latest single from faves Fightmilk, ‘If You Had A Sister’ may be more sombre in tone than previous releases, as it oozes a swirling melancholy and heartfelt lyricism, but it loses none of the band’s trademark emo-tinged indie-pop goodness. Propelled by the gritty, raw emotion of front person Lily’s yearning vocals alongside scuzzy hooks and perfectly interwoven musical layers, it offers a shimmering reflection on life and loss. The band expand: “ … if there was ever a time for songs you can do ominous slow dancing to, it’s 2020.” ‘If You Had A Sister’ is out now via Reckless Yes. (ML)

Ailbhe Reddy – ‘Looking Happy’
Dublin’s Ailbhe Reddy has transformed the crushing sadness that comes with seeing your ex “enjoying” their life on social media without you, into a buoyant alt-folk gem. Lifted from her upcoming debut album Personal History, which is set for release on 2nd October, the track taps into the feelings of inadequacy we all experience when the FOMO unexpectedly hits us while scrolling through our ex’s newsfeed. (KC)

First Frontier – ‘Take Cover’
Having been creating music together since last year, South London duo Helena Poole (who has previously played for us at The Finsbury in her other band Macadamia Sluts) and Paul Stafford – aka First Frontier – pride themselves on choosing hope over fear and play over fight. Focusing on what we can control and devote positive energy to, debut single ‘Take Cover’ is propelled by scuzzy hooks and thrashing beats, creating a catchy slice of fuzzed-out garage rock, tinged with dark ‘80s nu-wave vibes and swirling harmonies. (ML)

Nadine Shah – ‘Ladies For Babies (Goats For Love)’
In the wake of another irritating tirade from “that” man-punk-band of the moment, I just wanted to take this opportunity to declare my love for Nadine Shah. Having released her immense latest album Kitchen Sink earlier this year, she completely blew me away when playing the BBC 6Music festival in March; one of the most immersive live performances I’ve ever witnessed, it’s simply impossible not to become utterly captivated by her unique charisma and the subtle, gritty power of her vocal delivery. I’d pay whatever it took to take her on tour with me… (ML)

Vanessa Richardson – ‘Spider’
This track is right up my experimental music street. It comes from Toronto/Montreal based Vanessa Richardson who is an experimental singer, songwriter and producer. I’ve listened to it non-stop since I heard it first, I love the loops, the deep vocals, the feverish percussion, it really creates this wonderfully dark intoxicating sound. Sublime. (TW)

Masma Dream World – ‘Theta’
This is the lead track from the upcoming album by Masma Dream World, the solo recording project of multi-disciplinary artist Devi Mambouka. Of the track, she explains: “From age 0-7, the human brain is in ‘theta,’ a state during which our minds can be programmed to believe anything. I became quickly aware of that programming growing up in the African country of Gabon, where, despite its Matriarchal roots, young girls are groomed to be wives and mothers only — there are no other options.” Mambouka wanted to create an anthem for these young girls, which developed into the otherworldly trip-hop song ‘Theta,’ driven by a deep sub-bass and kick drum. The lyrics, which are heard both forward and in reverse, translate to: “We are girls from central Africa. We are Gabomas!” Gaboma refers to a young hip Gabonese girl. As with the rest of her debut album, the music is designed specifically to awaken one’s power source from within, and it set for release on 25th September via Northern Spy. Incredible. (TW)

LibraLibra – ‘Listerine’
A step away from the usual high energy riotous cacophonies of the Brighton band’s previous releases, ‘Listerine’ reflects on lingering painful memories. Showcasing the incredible soaring splendour and versatility of front woman Beth Cannon’s vocals with an almost operatic force, the track oozes a glistening soulful majesty, creating a striking cinematic soundscape. With blissful twinkling keys providing the backdrop to Beth’s vocals, it’s filled with poignant, reflective lyricism as a raw, emotion-strewn power builds to a magnificent, immense anthem of self-realisation. ‘Listerine’ is taken from LibraLibra’s new EP, Hail Mary, out now. (ML)

Balraj Singh Samrai, Pandit G Gavsborg, Farah Amad Khan, Shanique Marie, Tunde Adekoya, Vikaash – ‘I should have hugged you tighter when we last met (Oh What A Joy)’
This piece was made in June of this year with the help from Opera North’s artist development programme, Resonance: The Lockdown Edition. Combining  music and spoken word to document life  during the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on  communities of colour, Samrai initially produced an instrumental which tabla player Vikaahsh Sankadecha added South Asian percussion rhythms to. Equiknoxx member Gavsborg then penned a poem for the track, and Farah Ahmad Khan added her own spoken word contribution. The accompanying video is so powerful and was made by the Rainbow Collective, go check it out and raise the profile of this track. This is documentary art at its best. (TW)

 

Track Of The Day: Tolü Makay – ‘Don’t Let Go’

An understated, beautifully soothing listen that encourages listeners to embrace hope, Tolü Makay has shared her latest single ‘Don’t Let Go’. The Nigerian-born, Ireland-based artist gently reassures her listeners to let go of their fears through her smooth vocals, tender lyricism and jazz inspired instrumentation.

Inspired by the likes of Erykah Badu, Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse, Asa and Labrinth, Makay first realised her talent for singing in church, and it’s a talent that continued to blossom as she embraced writing songs for herself. ‘Don’t Let Go’ sees her practising self compassion whilst navigating her “emotional transition from fear to hope.”

The track’s accompanying video was shot and directed by Fiona-Louise Ntidendereza on 16mm film, and shows Makay during some of her most relaxed moments. The visuals reflect Makay’s message of empowerment and self belief, providing a warm and bright insight in to the sounds on her forthcoming debut album.

Listen to ‘Don’t Let Go’ below and follow Tolü Makay on Spotify, Facebook and bandcamp

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut