This year the good people of Brighton’s Great Escape showcase Festival invited a little gang from Team LOUD WOMEN to go along and soak up the musical goodness, so Keira Anee and Claire Leach packed their cameras, and I packed my pencil, and off we went to the seaside!
Full photo stories on the LOUD WOMEN socials, and here are my highlights …
The Great Escape is a gut-busting buffet of new music – even a greedy gobbler like me feels daunted by the vast array of tasty morsels on offer. I pinpointed a few must-sees, and put myself in the hands of the festival gods (and, also, my far better organised photographer friends), and found some wonderful surprises along the way.
And one of such surprises was 7ebra, a twin sister duo from Malmö, Sweden – Inez on guitar, Ella on a selection of dreamy keyboards plus foot-triggered drums. I’m a big sucker for sister harmonies, and these twins voices really hit that sweet spot. Something about their blend of lilting voices in minor keys shot me straight back to the 90s – Bjork, PJ Harvey, Throwing Muses all conjured in the tightly packed room. I’d love to see these again.
From what I’d seen and heard online, I suspected outrageous NYC sex-positive post-punks cumgirl8 might be my new favourite band – and I was delighted to find they were indeed. Keira and I saw them at Volks, playing on a teeny tiny stage that barely contained the band’s humongous collection of pedals and gizmos, and gave them little room to perform. But wow what a performance! And what a band. Singing bassist Lida Fox (I might be claiming her as a sister) is a stoic, superglam Siouxsie-esque goth figure, flanked by punk guitarists Veronika Vilim and Avishag Cohen Rodrigues, the latter adding to her arsenal of pedals with a keyboard; and all of them powered by disco-dynamo drummer Chase. It’s always wonderful to see drummers putting themselves at the centre of a band, and Chase made it clear who calls the shots. Despite the teeny tiny stage, she emerged from behind the kit several times, to give the full kit a pounding from all angles, and their finale song saw her come to the front, take the mic and produce yet another box of electronic synth sprites. An electric performance from a truly unique band. Come back to the UK soon please cumgirl8, we’ll find you a much bigger stage for all your gadgets!
Upstairs at the Hope & Ruin, a triumphant home show from the supercool CLT DRP, and another packed room lapping it all up. Singer Annie is on fire – one of those performers you can’t take your eyes off. She’s like a dramatic shark, constantly moving, unpredictable and mesmerising. My attention is torn between her and amazing guitarist Scott. He contorts and shimmies and wriggles and makes the most entertaining faces while he uses his guitar, essentially, as an output device for the complicated supercomputer-like pedals that are spawning other-worldly synth noises, voices, and even a violin.
It’s just as well CLT DRP aren’t playing the same venue as cumgirl8, the power surge from the combined pedal load would kill us all.
Another happy accident was finding Al Costelloe and band playing downstairs at the Hope & Ruin while we were having a sit down and a cheeky vegan dirty dog. Both the dog and the music were delish. Americana-tinged indie, uplifting tunes, lush voice.
Another warm homecoming on Friday saw our fave gal pal duo ARXX filling Komedia with, it felt like, 1000-odd close personal friends. I must admit a got a little bit emotional watching these two adorable humans performing their hearts out for their loving home crowd. A joyful singalong with lots of dancing (and a ridiculous amount of flirting going on the crowd, FYI – who knew ARXX were such matchmakers?!).
ARXX’s songs are top notch, we know this. And their performance uplifting. But what really marks them apart as a live band are their epic stage bants. The Clara and Hanni comedy double act is a hoot – Clara the very Archbishop of Banterbury, Hanni her bashful sidekick. There’s a recording that every person must listen to at least once, of 45 minutes of hilarious between-song chat from Fugazi. I’d happily listen to similar selection of ARXX chat.
Time for a pit stop and Claire and I head to a pub for a bevvie – and a familiar face greets us behind the bar … none other than Annie from CLT DRP! She tells me that the previous day the band had performed four times, and here she is today working her day job, pulling my lime and soda. What a true superstar!
Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers
And the ‘Band Name of the Year’ award goes to … Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers. And these Australian punks are just as much fun as their name suggests. Their reputation precedes them, and a packed Green Door Store greets them.
Excellent songs, superb performance, the world’s smiliest drummer, and the top stage chat one expects from Aussies (we all particularly liked their “speaking British” bits – it’s not often the stage bants get an encore!) Another band I really hope make it back over to the UK soon – they’d go down a treat with a LOUD WOMEN crowd.
The cherry on my Great Escape cake was a brilliantly rowdy performance from the Lambrini Girls. Phoebe looked visibly shocked to see quite how big the turn out was for them at Chalk, but she an Lilly brought their A game. They were joined on drums by a borrowed drummer, I was told by someone in the crowd (I can’t seem to find their name but I’ll update this if I do because they really earned a credit – what a whirlwind!)* Singer and guitarist Phoebe was up to her most rotten mischief: beginning the set by chucking beer over the front row (cheers love); walking over the crowd to go sing standing on the bar at the side of the room; and hanging from the ceiling infrastructure. The crowd absolutely adored them and responded with boisterous responses to all their calls, and a rowdy circle pit … in which I found myself thrown into none other than Annie from CLT DRP, who’d just finished her bar shift – what a legend! (She and Phoebe are old buddies, and Annie even has her name tattooed on her, LOUD WOMEN fact fans!)
A triumphant weekend for our Brighton girls.
* edited to add that some LOUD WOMEN Facebook followers, Bob and Lucia, came up trumps with a credit for the amazing drummer – Lainey Loops from the band Snayx. Thanks for the tip!
There were many more brilliant moments at Great Escape – and the full photo sets will be going up on our socials!