Charlie XCX great escape

Festival review // The Great Escape 2014: Klaxons killed it; Kelis got caught out there

I’m a firm believer in festivals involving B &Bs, bars, and undercover venues. SO, ROLL UP GREAT ESCAPE. My fourth time at the festival, renowned for championing new music, with over 400 bands from across the world descending on Brighton for a weekend of gigs galore.

Billed in May, the weather is always consistent in its inconsistency; this year the rain managed to hold off while the wind reached gale forces: STRONG WIND HAIR WARNING! IT’S A FINE LINE BETWEEN NANCY SPUNGEN AND MELANIE GRIFFTH IN WORKING GIRL. CHOOSE YOUR OUTFIT CHOICES CAREFULLY.

nancy Spungen Melanie griffith Working Girl

The Great Escape festival always has a cool atmosphere and a slightly raw edge; the intimate venues based in and around Brighton give a secret club/ ‘kids in the know’ feel to the gigs. Hang about the seafront long enough and follow the cool crowd heading to the next hidden venue to see the next big thing.

It’s chilled, and not snobby or exclusive. However, disappointingly this year was the first time you could see the more corporate side sneaking in as the queues for the most hyped bands grew longer for Joe Public as the ‘delagate’ (industry/corporate) queues had full priority and left a lot of the genuine fans and followers out in the cold (stocked with a bag of tinnies, but still).

Still, the secret gigs were better than ever, as was the calibre of the headliners, so a good time (as well as an absolute shit tonne of rum) was had by all. Here are my high (and low) lights in my Great Escape 2014 festival review…

The Augustines

The Augustines headlined Thursday night at Concorde 2 (the XFM venue) and pulled a very credible crowd for a notoriously quiet first night, and were, quite frankly, phenomenal. Cool and charming with incredible vocals, foot tapping tunes, with just the right side of rock ‘n’ roll confidence from from New York frontman Billy McCarthy, who, let’s be honest is our newest crush (#gottaloveamaninahat).

The Klaxons Great Escape 2014

Then, despite Example headlining the first of the dome shows, the big news was the Klaxons announcing a last minute secret gig on the vevo stage at TINY venue The Warren around midnight. Clad in metallic shirts like the tinfoil gods of new rave that they are, the Klaxons smashed through classics like Atlantis to Interzone, Golden Skans, and It’s not Over Yet as well as new single There Is No Other Time.

It may be that they came on post midnight after a cocktail of beer, wine, rum and Jaeger; it may be the 300 capacity venue, it MAY be that this threw me back to my first ever real gig at KOKO, amongst an explosion of nu rave (oh! The Mighty Boosh slash casual neon accessorising),  or just the fact that they FREAKING ROCKED but hands down they were the best band of the weekend for me.

Though I made it to one secret gig (air punch) many more were missed, including Kaiser Chiefs and Peace on Saturday night. The NME stage at the corn exchange was a sure win over the weekend, with Philadelphia newbies Cheerleeder making their UK debut and Charli XCX (from Iggy Azaelia/ Icona Pop fame) KILLED IT HARD on the Sunday evening with a cover of I Want Candy (GENIUS) and her own belters Superlove and What I Like.

Charlie XCX great escape

Massive girl crush points for the leather jacket and Wayfarer combo and all girl kickass backup band. SWOONS. She might just be our new everything.

Headlining the Sunday night Dome show was Kelis. The act I was most excited and most disappointed with. SAD FACE.

New album, Big band, glittery dress? Fine. All fine. Sitting down most of the way through the set for no apparent reason? Bit awkward (felt a bit Friday night at Wetherspoons – slowly dragging a stool into the middle of the bar and making everyone congregate around).

Singing Nina Simone’s Good Life no less than THREE times throughout her hour and a half performance? interesting. NO BOSSY. NO CAUGHT OUT THERE. NO TRICK ME. WOAH WOAH WOAH WOOOOOAH THERE LADY.

kelis great escape 2014

OK, there was a rendition of Milkshake, though quite a subdued version, and she did manage to stand up for it (slow clap) but hang on.

Yes, I’m happy you have an orchestra and a floaty dress (that looks like it may have come from Amy Child’s boutique BUT WHO AM I TO JUDGE) and a new interest in cooking and you are happy and zen and ‘feeling good’ – we get it. But I miss shouty Kelis. Multi-coloured afro Kelis. The Kelis that brought all the boys to the yard (and that’s right) the one who’s tattoed on her arm.

kelis colourful afro hair

Well, I’m guessing the tattoo is gone, and unfortunately so has the mojo (I am not AT ALL suggesting that these two things are linked but I totally incorporated lyrics into this SO LET ME HAVE IT.) To be honest I just came out thinking (and, erm drunkenly ranting): Lazy cow! Stand up and show us you’re the boss, that you got my money. Said EH. Cos at the moment I kinda just think you’re a lukewarm jazz singer with a Disney princess complex. Sorry. (Notsorry).

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