Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Great Escape Festival Day 2

There were plenty of hungover gig-goers as grizzly as the weather when Friday came around. Daytime shows at Above Audio were sparsely attended, but that didn’t stop San Franciscan fourpiece, Love Like Fire, from playing a full-volume set of grinding guitar riffs and shouty vocals courtesy of frontwoman Ann Yu. James Yuill followed with his own especially enticing brand of bedroom laptop-pop, still managing to look incongruously the nerd even when surrounded by carefully styled Brighton geek-chic. By the time cheery Norwegians Casiokids took to the stage at 3pm the bar was full of the slow-to-emerge Escapers all hoping that some uber-happy Scando-pop could sooth aching heads. Entertaining haircuts aside, blissed-out saccharine songs were just too sweet for our ears, so we headed for one of Brighton’s many punter-filled pubs to find shelter from the storm in large pints of the best southern cider.

Evening entertainment kicked off at the Sallis Benney theatre, where the student cafe served fruit by the piece and cheap tea with portion packets of digestive biscuits, just like a student canteen should. Veils positively tumbled onstage at 6pm – frontman Finn Andrews breathlessly explained that they were “a little disorganised.” The New Zealanders are currently mid-tour promoting album Sun Gangs, and there was an urgency about the performance that Fin later put down to his being used to a ninety-minute touring set, rather than the standard festival thirty. “I kept thinking that thirty minutes is the length of an episode of The Simpsons, which actually seems quite long,” he mused to Gigwise backstage.

Micachu And The Shapes seemed much more comfortable with the rather stuffy industry crowd, chatting amicably with the audience between songs of meticulous pop chaos. One punter was overheard groaning “This music makes me feel so old!” To the contrary, it was very easy to see why Micachu has garnered such a high profile this year – who else could make catchy pop out of vacuum-cleaner samples and a battered, strung up acoustic?

Twilight settled into Brighton’s colourful lanes as Vivian Girls rattled the walls of the Pavillion Theatre with the kind of ballsy bitch rock that could incite impromtu violence against bras. Their set ended with a slick manoeuvre involving them each exchanging instruments without stopping playing – testament to their hefty use of distortion and pedals if nothing else.

Next door in the enormous school-sports-hall of a Corn Exchange, Club NME played host to a considerably younger crowd, who sat cross-legged in clusters on the laminated floor, waiting for neo-folk fourpiece Mumford & Sons. The effects of a day of free-flowing lager were becoming more apparent by the time the wholesome-looking band graced the stage at 11pm – and despite the fact that most of Mumford & Sons’ songs embrace subject-matter that tends towards indulgently melancholy, the venue erupted into zealous jigging and uncontainable grinning. It must have been the banjo (or maybe banjo-player Winston Marshall’s hilarious chicken-like dancing). They claimed it was the biggest gig they’ve ever played, and with an album on the way later this year, things are looking increasingly rosy for Mumford and his progeny.

Metronomy rounded off the night in their usual, infectious electro-vein, but with the added extra-excitement of a completely new line-up including Gbenga Adelekan on bass and one-time Lightspeed Champion drummer Anna Prior. Oscar Cash, on keys, was still affecting the robotic dancing and stylised pouting of Metronomy’s trio days, which made him look like a bit of a twerp, but the new band line-up was an resounding success, giving tired songs from album ‘Nights Out’ an unexpected vitality. If only the same could be said of the drunken punters who wobbled out into the night as the gig finished.

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