It was impossible to go anywhere in Brighton (UK) this week without bumping into an Australian group; both on the streets of the city and within its venues. No less than 26 Aussie artists filled the annual The Great Escape Festival, which in itself isn’t an achievement – we’ve had a strong presence here for years. But it’s the level of quality of the acts that proved unprecedented. Add in the fact, according to the team at Sounds Australia who put on the Australian focused events, there were more Australian delegates than ever before, including a number of first timers, and it was ensured Aussies were out in force for the entirety of the event.
It kicked off on Thursday with the “Sound Gallery” event, taking over two rooms at Komedia. Folk quartet All Our Exes Live in Texas were given the honours of opening the event, their first of two official performances at the festival. The group impressed with their wit and quality material, taken off their debut LP.
Making his first visit to the UK, Alexander Biggs performed acoustically and beautifully with engaging, emotive music taken from his debut EP, Still You Sharpen Your Teeth. With dad jokes interspersed, of course. Recently touring with Stella Donnelly and Alex The Astronaut – both of whom played The Great Escape, the latter to a capacity room during Sound Gallery – he’ll be touring Australia with Amy Shark in August/September so look out for that.
Hatchie played as a quartet, also impressing with beautiful vocals and great instrumentation, Harriette herself on bass. The set ended with her ever popular, catchy single “Sure”, which brings up some Cranberries comparisons for me. Jack River – also playing as a quartet – imprsssed with songs like “Ballroom”, “Palo Alto”, “Dream Girl” and a track off her new album which is dropping next month, featuring a whistle sure to get stuck in your head soon enough. The soulful grooves of The Teskey Brothers got everyone moving, with the duo performing as a six piece with two horns, while Didirri playing solo on the guitar with favourite tracks like “Blind”, proving a confident and engaging performer. Trio Haiku Hands, meanwhile, who were the talk of BIGSOUND last year, got everyone squatting and brought a party.
It the culminated on Saturday afternoon with the annual “Aussie BBQ”, which took over two of the festival’s new beach stages, as the sun beamed down and a couple of royals got married, screened on a TV in the facilities (naturally).
The beautiful sounds of Teischa kicked off the show, while The Kite String Tangle played tracks off his new LP with a live drummer behind him, closing out with “Arcadia”. While Ecca Vandal (pictured) rocked out the Dr. Martens stage, Aussie Buzz act Amyl and the Sniffers packed out the indoor room, with a massive queue trying to get in to see the rock act impress – this writer included. Luckily Ecca and her supporting trio were putting on a spectacular early afternoon set outside, connecting well with the crowd – even if her sets are made for darker rooms. Stella Donnelly was next outside, impressing with her excellent songwriting and engaging banter, while Eves Karydas (formerly Eves The Behaviour) delivered her pop gems inside.
It’s worth noting looking at the names listed so far that females and non-binary artists made up 50% of the 26 Australians performing at TGE this year, a record for the event. This diversity continued as Odette performed beautifully with a two piece who really built up her sound into a festival worthy performance and Hockey Dad rocked it outside. RVG impressed with Romy’s howling, emotive vocals and great instrumentation, as City Calm Down filled up the indoor venues (which once again meant I was relegated to listen from outside the tent – impressive it was, nonetheless). Skegss did their thing and got a mosh pit started and buzz artist G-Flip played her 15th ever show to close out the event. New single “Killing my Vibe” went down a treat, as did “I’m not Afraid”, a new track with a whole heap of cowbell. While the energies were high throughout, Georgia briefly brought it back a notch for “Waking up Tomorrow”, a song about the heartbreak of waking up without someone next to you. Her breakthrough single “About You” closed things out.
If you couldn’t make it to The Great Escape, but happen to live in London, don’t miss today’s Aussie BBQ which will feature a number of artists who played The Great Escape, alongside other special guests like BATTS, Caiti Baker and Jack Carty. You can find out more about it all HERE.