The Great Escape 2018: 10 acts not to miss
Ahead of The Great Escape festival in Brighton, here are ten bands and musicians (including our pick of this year’s Scottish acts) that are a must-see
One of the biggest music showcases in Europe, The Great Escape festival in Brighton is the UK festival for new music. The annual three day event takes place from 17-19 May this year and will showcase more than 450 local and international emerging artists in over 30 intimate venues across the city. In addition to the huge line-up, the festival also features a convention programme of insightful panel discussions, topical debates, keynote speeches and industry networking opportunities.
To help you navigate the vast array of bands and musicians who will be playing over the three days, we’ve put together a list of our top ten must-see acts on this year’s bill, including our pick of the standout Scottish artists on the line-up.
Australia is the spiritual home of pub rock, and though this antagonistic four-piece from Melbourne formed in 2016 they possess the energy and coarseness that hallmarked the Aussie pre-punk movement of the 1970s. With their mullet haircuts, three-chord riffs, and frontwoman Amy Taylor’s sneering vocals, they’ve turned heads with their Giddy Up and Big Attraction EPs, and a debut LP to be recorded by fellow Aussies King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is currently in the works. Friday 18 May, Prince Albert, 11.10pm; Saturday 19 May, Beach House, 12.50pm
London-based duo Audiobooks have only played a handful of live shows to date, but word on the street is that their weird, sexy, ominous take on glam electronica makes for one hell of a performance. Evangeline Ling and David Wrench ooze an achingly art-school kind of cool that on lesser songwriters would make them seem like any other pretentious wannabe-electro outfit – but Audiobooks are the real deal. Friday 18 May, Horatios, 3.30pm
Fresh from an attention-grabbing show at this year’s SxSW festival, New York five-piece Bodega make the kind of socially astute, witty art rock that Brooklyn bands are renowned for. Part post-punk, part pop, part krauty-electro, they will most definitely appeal to fans of The Velvet Underground, Gand of Four, Parquet Courts and the like (their single How Did This Happen!? was recorded and produced by Parquet Courts‘ Austin Brown, FYI). Thursay 17 May, Green Door Store, 8:15pm; Friday 18 May, The Haunt, 11.30pm
Outlandish pop duo Bossy love – comprised of Amandah Wilkinson (formerly of mid-noughties outfit Operator Please) and John Baillie Jnr (ex-drummer of the now defunct Dananananaykroyd) – have made a name for themselves as one of Scotland’s most talked about emerging talents. Their frenetic, sweaty, exuberant live shows have earned them a cult following, and they’ve already been given air-time from the likes of BBC Radio 1Xtra, Beats 1 and Kiss FM. Thursday 17 May, Komedia Studio Bar, 11.15pm; Friday 18 May, One Church, 2.30pm
Rory Hamilton may be Belfast-born, but he certainly counts as an honorary Glaswegian thanks to his continued presence on the city’s dance music scene. Hamilton was the co-founder of the Feel My Bicep blog alongside Bicep’s Matt and Andy, and he has previously worked with the pair on a number of collaborative tracks. An Optimo label alumni, a key figure behind Sub Club’s popular Thunder Disco parties, and a DJ at the club’s renowned Subculture nights, he’s also booked to play Sub Club Soundsystem, ADE and The Warehouse Project later this year. If you’re looking for a dancefloor fix at TGE this year, Hammer is your best bet. Friday 18 May, Patterns (Downstairs), 11.30pm
As anyone who caught their blindingly good set at the Optimo 20 Festival last year will attest, Happy Meals are quite possibly the best live electronic act Scotland has to offer right now. Originally from Dumfries and Galloway and now based in Glasgow, Scottish Album of the Year-nominated duo Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook have crafted their own unique style of minimalist synth-pop (with an added continental flair, thanks to Rodden’s French vocals). Friday 18 May, One Church, 1.30pm; Komedia Studio Bar, 10.15pm
Amongst the usual proliferation of guitar bands, Hatis Noit is certainly a welcome point of difference. The self-taught Japanese vocal performer draws on everything from Western classical music and Japanese folk to Gregorian chanting and straight-up pop vocals, the result being a deeply avant-garde form of electronica. In March she released the EP Illogical Dance via the esteemed Erased Tapes label, which features Björk-collaborators Matmos. Thursday 17 May, St Mary's Church, 7pm
The chequered reputation of Fat White Family’s primary songwriter Saul Adamczewski may precede him – it was a heroin addiction that, among other things, got him temporarily kicked out of the band – but his new project Insecure Men, with Childhood’s Ben Romans-Hopcraft, is a surprising about-turn, favouring pretty melodies and dark brooding pop over the less tuneful, grimy output the Fat Whites are renowned for. Their eponymous album was a welcome return to form for Adamczewski, who after a stint in rehab is now clean and proving that you don’t, in fact, have to take a shit-tonne of drugs to write really good songs. Thursday 17 May, The Haunt, 9.30pm
When The Skinny spoke to the charismatic LUCIA back in January of last year, the singer-songwriter already had all the hallmarks of a star in the making. Since then she and her band have won more fans with their slick Best Boy EP that channels a hyper-cool mix of 60s girl group pop noir and guitar-driven grunge. They played at SxSW this year and are booked to appear at a number of festivals this summer. A group whose impressive songbook is almost outdone by their on-point sense of style. Thursday 17 May, Horatios, 2.30pm and Patterns, 7.15pm
Fun fact – The Spook School was a derisive name given to the trailblazing Glasgow Four (a group of artists led by well-known Scottish artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh) as a reaction to their work which at the time was considered too ‘ghoulish’ and unsavoury for the tastes of art critics in the late 1800s. The Spook School the band – a four-piece from Edinburgh – embody that progressive attitude in a 21st century context, with songs that address LGBT+ issues via power-pop and idealistic, politically-minded lyrics: their third LP Could It Be Different?, produced by Matthew Johnson of Hookworms, is a fine case in point. Plus, their live shows are really, really fun. Thursday 17 May, Horatios, 12:15pm; Saturday 19 May, Sticky Mike's Frog Bar, 8:30pm
The Great Escape takes place in Brighton, 17-19 May