The Verse’s Autumn Micketti reviews The Great Escape festival that happened in Brighton from 9th-11th May 2019.
Brighton was blessed with sunny skies and warm temperatures this past week as 500+ artists filled the pubs, churches, and tents throughout the town. Bringing their unique styles and new sounds to excited music fans. The opening of the festival saw thousands of locals and tourists alike queuing outside of places like Patterns, The Haunt and Prince Albert as well as exploring the tents set up on the beach that offered local beer, food and several stages. The genres at TGE ranged from classical to heavy metal with something for everyone. One could meander through town and come across their new favourite group without a problem.
I have experienced several music festivals throughout my life, but this was the first time I’ve been to one with an urban setting. Many festivals, like Glastonbury or Coachella, place themselves outside of town and create their own mini city. Allowing them to create their unique space from scratch. Since its birth in 2006, TGE has managed to weave itself into Brighton without feeling forced. One can see their favourite band, grab a drink at a pub or go shopping in the Lanes and head home whenever they’re ready.
My first step into TGE saw me at Patterns catching CAAMP’s first, and only, set. CAAMP hails from Ohio in the US, and I loved hearing folk music that brought up nostalgic thoughts of my home country. I found myself wishing that they had played longer and that I was taller so I could see them over the crowded room. I was lucky to discover several bands while bouncing around town during the weekend. My new favourite being Sons of The East. An Australian group that share similar sounds with Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers, while also having their own unique spin.
This quintet embarked on their UK & Europe tour this year and was extremely excited to be playing in Brighton before heading to London the next day. I had the chance to talk with Dan Wallage, their lead guitarist, who was ecstatic to be on the road and sharing their music with the world. Their EP, Burn Right Through, was released earlier last week and from their performance, it was easy to see that these lads are massively proud of it.
On the days when the weather didn’t cooperate it was easy to sneak into a pub or a church for a more intimate performance. Friday saw me escaping the loud beach site and heading to St. Mary’s Church to catch Alexandra Stréliski’s set. This classical pianist from Montréal released her second album, Inscape, last year and put on an emotional performance that radiated off the parish walls. It was a powerful experience sharing that music with all those strangers in that sacred space. Stréliski did not talk much besides explaining what Inscape meant to her and thanking the audience for sharing that space. Her set was only 30 minutes, but I felt as if I could have listened to her all night.
On the last day of TGE, I caught an amazing performance by Norwegian singer, Amanda Tenfjord, whom I had interviewed a few weeks prior. I kept thinking of that line from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “though she be but little she is fierce,” as I watched Tenfjord sing and bounce around the stage. At 21-years-old, Tenfjord is lively yet approachable on stage and was welcoming and grateful for the large crowd that filled her tent. Although I may have lost my hearing temporarily in one ear, it was totally worth it! Tenfjord and her band are overflowing with talent, and the crowd was loving it.
Throughout the entire weekend, I was blown away by the community that TGE has created over the past decade. Locals and tourists alike have been brought together to connect over music and what better place to do it than in Brighton!