Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Great Escape - Day Three Saturday 19th May 2007

Day that's what they call synergy (probably). After seeing 17 bands over the first two evenings I was determined to step it up a gear and try to hit 30 over the whole fest. How did I do...are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin...

Artrocker (the magazine) were putting on an afternoon of...well...artrock. So, after an all you can eat Indian buffet lunch (pretty much my first proper meal for two days) we hit the Kabuki club (I think this is Japanese for an activity that involves a young lady and lots of excited men...who express their excitement all over her...hey, it wasn't my idea...). We got there just in time to see Rattatag. Can't remember what they were like and can't find a track by them to refresh my ailing brain. But I do recall tapping my foot a lot. Which can only be a good thing unless I have some form of degenerative affliction.

Die! Die! Die! (I think they want us to die) were up next. All the way from NooZeeland too. Drumming reminded me a bit of Joy Division, singing a bit like Placebo. Lots of leaping about and spunk...back to that nasty Kabuki business again.

BIB...the singer reminded me of a cross between Ian Curtis and Borat, the guitarist wore a red string vest. That gets them 6 points for coolness straight away. The music had a distinct New Order-ishness to it in places, but then they go and play Tear Up The Streets, which is all grrrrrr! I became really fond of BIB during their set and purchased my first CD of the weekend...most of Brighton's 'record' shops have now turned into boutiques or places that sell veggie Y-fronts. It's official then...BIB are great.

As are Tiger Force. Shouty electro boy/girl combo. They sound a bit like being locked in a loo at a metal gig with two teenage lovers who have just discovered that young love ain't all it's cracked up to be and that blazing rows are just par for the course. Which is good.

Shrag. Despite sounding like some kind of vile 70's carpet they were yet another great 'artrock' find (this was rapidly turning into a great afternoon). Post punk (I bet you were wondering when I was going to roll out the old post punk thing again weren't you?) five piece with a girl that looks like the one that was in Bless This House with Sid James. They have a track called Mark E Smith too...but it's not as good as Talk To The'll never indulge in sextalk (whatever that may be) with a lady again.

Finally (for the Artrock afternoon anyway) we entered the land of MIT. Japanese/German electro with cow bells. Everyone likes cow bells. After 3 hours of solid artrock you start to go a bit bonkers but even now, in the comfort of my porno loft, I'm still experiencing a gentle tingle listening to MIT. A German Foals with knobs on. Das ist very jolly good indeed.

With the clock ticking and the number of bands under my belt standing at 23 it was going to b a busy (and late) night that began with another dash across town to join the queue at Pressure Point (a 250-300 ish venue on the outskirts of the city. We got there at around 6.45, doors opened a little after 7.30...the first real queueing we'd had to do throughout the entire Festival (the point of highlighting all this will become clear later). First up were Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip. For the uninitiated Le Sac and Scroob are a late 20's two piece. Le Sac 'plays' an Apple Mac, Scoobius Pip raps. Scroobius Pip has an impressive beard and a slightly nerdy Essex boy accent. They have attracted a lot of attention for the track Thou Shalt Always Kill. They were, without doubt, one of the highlights of the whole festival. I was kind of expecting 'the hit' to be the only track worth listening to, but old Scroob has a winning way with lyrics (listen to Angles if you get a mo - the English version of Eminem's Stan?) and an even better live 'stylee'. Using the periodic table to illustrate a song was inspired and, like Jeffrey Lewis, the Pip loves flip charts, making the whole gig seem like a lesson in cool. As with Eternal Erection on Day One, purists will probably hate it, but balls to 'em. DLS vs SP are ace...not 'just a band'.

Whilst trying to recover from the majesty of Dan and Scroob (how many different ways can you write their for all the family on a wet Sunday afternoon) I was clobbered around the head, heart and unmentionables by the mighty, mighty, mighty (god they were mighty) threesome Bonde De Role. Straightoutta Brazil, they rap in a mix of Brazilian, English and gibberish, backed by a mash up of all sorts of tracks (including Europe's Final Countdown...nice), pounding basslines, funkin horns, old skool electro...the whole kit and caboodle (with extra caboodle thrown in). The act is sex soaked, lots of groin grabbing and crotch thrusting, attempts to pull down each others pants...sweat, spunk and rock n' roll. I've not been able to witness CSS live yet, but I imagine they have a similar impact on UK audiences...muchos booty was shaken let me tell you.

Kate Nash next. Slightly more delicate in the flesh than on whatever you listen music on these days, but still glorious. Elements of Lily Allen and Regina Spector but a bit sweeter than both. She played an acoustic version of Caroline's A Victim (my personal fave track) that perhaps hints at her future direction being more traditional than I first expected (the recorded version of Caroline is all electro and shouty). It's early days to watch.

After the reverie of the early acts, it was all getting a bit mellower and Mr Hudson & The Library took it down a notch further. They're an odd proposition really. Quite laid back in places, piano and vocals that reminded me of Thomas Dolby in his less synth moments...then there are some pretty reggae-ish moments, soul stuff...I guess you could call it a melting pot. It confused me a little, but not in a bad way. It was pretty hard following the SacMeister and his Pipness (there's another one) and Bonde De Role was at this moment that I realised I'd seen 26 bands in the last 60 hours or so. Like a kiddie in a sweet shop you get to a point where, even though you love choccie bars, you realise that you're in danger of either being sick or exploding. Mr Hudson coincided with this moment...not their fault, and the reason why I was perhaps less receptive to their music than I could've been. It was also very well performed. Again, this ain't a criticism, but after a lot of 'rawness', the polish just seems a little too clean. Listening back to some of their tracks again (in the cold light of day), they deserve to be one of the sounds of the summer. The Feeling of 2007. Mr Hudson is from dear old Birmingham too...which automatically gets him several brownie points. I'm looking forward to albums two and three 'cos I reckon they're one of those rare bands that could improve with age.

As the band finished the lights went on. S'funny I thought. 'Everyone out' shouted security, 'you've got to leave now'. Now, one of my other reasons for picking this venue for our last night were the triple bill of Spleen, Lethal Bizzle and Black Twang. We'd already had texts telling us that every other venue was rammed. So, if we did leave, that would be it. No more festival and an early night. Many of the audience were happy to leave. Several were not. We joined them in asking why we had to get out. It was down to the organisers we were told. The second part of the evening was a rap gig, people were queueing outside to get in, so we had to get out. If we wanted to get back in again we'd have to queue. Given that we were told there were '2,000' people waiting outside, this seemed an unappealing prospect. Now, I'm a pretty reasonable soul, but if you've paid £40 for your festival pass, queued for nearly an hour to get in and behaved yourself, being asked to leave when the headline acts are about to come on was, well, taking the piss. If people wanted to see the acts in question they should've got there earlier. I wanted to see CSS on Thursday night, I got there too late, so I left and went elsewhere. I didn't expect (nor would I have been happy) if I only got in at the expense of someone else being ejected. Things quickly got heated. One or two people were arguing quite forcefully. I chose the Gandhi approach an just sat down. Pretty much everyone else had left, security approached us and asked us to leave. We refused. 'If you don't, we'll call the police' came their response. Now this is what you call raising the stakes a little. Whilst the world is full of kiddie fiddlers, gun toting nutjobs and people (of all colours, cultures and religions) wanting to kill each other for no reason whatsoever we faced being arrested for paying for our tickets, waiting in a queue and giving all the artists on the bll so far our undivided attention and respect.

'Ok'. I replied. 'You do understand that the police will come and arrest you?'. 'Yes'. This stumped them a little. I think they were expecting me to start whimpering or something, but I felt fairly safe in the knowledge that I had done nothing wrong and that, if they did decide to waste police time, the boys in blue would merely eject me. Lady Baron didn't want to chance it, so I agreed to leave, shook hands with the various security staff who were towering over us and accepted that they were just doing their job. Slowly we wandered downstairs and loitered around a bit as one of the people who had been arguing rather more than us was still debating the toss. He eventually left. we were about to do likewise when the lady who seemed to run the venue came after us. 'Listen' she confided 'you're nice people, stand over there and you can stay in'. Hurrah! Gandhi was right all along! Listen world. Peaceful protest is the way forward. Put down your bombs and guns and sit down on the M25 for a few days. If 10 million people did that I can guarantee their demands would be met a lot quicker than any other means.

We had a nice chat to the security staff who, just minutes earlier, had been threatening to bang us up in the slammer and lovely people they were too. Just doing their job. As was I.

Right, back to the music. I like some rap, dislike other rap (mainly the inane 'yeah, yeah look at the size of my cock' variety). I'm not an expert, but I've enjoyed the few gigs that I have been to. So, tonight I wanted to catch a flavour of some of the best stuff around. Spleen was a great start. French rapper with a real jazzy feel (think a cooler Outcast). Shades of Omar in there too. My musical palate well and truly refreshed. Next up was Lethal Bizzle. Bizzle (like Spleen actually who has collaborated with CocoRosie) has recently hooked up with Gallows. I'm all for this cross genre stuff. Good music is good music. I don't give a damn if it's classical, jazz, metal, rap, Algerian folk...whatever. Anyway, Lethal Bizzle. Garage Rap that's as fresh and of the moment as anything you'll like to find, Bizzle Bizzle got the crowd jumping and we didn't stop. The next time someone gets on your tits go round their house and play the Dickhead chorus (the spoken word bit near the end of the track reveals Mr Bizzle to be an altogether sweeter man than you might expect) outside their house...glorious.

Finally, for the night and the festival itself, band/act number 30! Blak Twang. Mr Twang has been around for a number of years now and raps about loads of different issues...kind of a rap Billy Bragg if you will. He's clearly a deeply articulate and passionate soul and you can't help feeling that if if the government made him Minister for Youth they'd be far less trouble 'inna ingland'. Again he got the crowd jumping from start to finish and some of us ended up sharing the stage with him at the end (me doing that strange bobbing around thing that white guys do whenever they hear rap music...forgive me world).

And that, in a nutshell (albeit a bloody huge nutshell) was that. The Great Escape Festival...great by name and (all together now...) great by nature. Brighton...I will be back.

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