Friday, May 19, 2006

day one of the great escape

Okay, day one of the Great Escape, Brighton's newest and coolest music festival is now behind me, although it took retreating to bed mid-afternoon to get me in a state lively enough to consider writing up yesterday's excitement and consider the options for the night ahead.

Quick summaries, then - first band up last night were a band I've been looking forward to seeing, and, happily, they were also the best band I saw yesterday, so I can feel smug. Prinzhorn Dance School, then - who have, unbelievably, not got a myspace page; imagine! - were, ooh, thrilling, seriously good. Although that's not surprising when you consider that they've caused a bit of a buzz in an alarmingly short time. The sound is simple; a sturdy, primitive and relentless barrrage of kick drum and bass guitar with squalls of jagged guitar and occasional bullet sounds from the snare, combined with primal boy / girl vocals. It made me think instantly of the wonderful Huggy Bear, while the Fall inluence was equally obvious, and some the guitar solos could have come straight off Slanted and Enchanted (take a look at the design of their website if you want proof of that influence). All the songs carried a snarling menace and a stripped down focus which made them very appealing. The final song, meanwhile, worked itself up into a terrific Fall/MBV crescendo. Not sure I'll see a much better band this weekend, truthfully.

Next up - after a trek to the Ocean Rooms - were a band that we thought were Norway's Super Electric. Ooh, we kept saying, look how handsome and Norwegian-looking they are! And it's funny, isn't it, how Norweigan accents sometimes sound quite American? The music itself was cool and lots of fun. The temptation to explain them as four big kids having a tremendous amount of fun with a bunch of kids' toys is hard to resist, although there may be more artistic reasons why they pursue a sound - propulsive, kinetic patterns of squelches and clattering rhythms - with toy keyboards rather than samples and sequencers. How much they were improvising I'm not sure, but their dynamic, hands-on electronica was cheering and involving. Just a shame that the Ocean Rooms was charging fifteen quid for four bottles of Staropramen. Oh, and guess what, they were neither Norwegian nor Super Electric. They were in fact, Toronto's lovely Holy Fuck. Myspace page here, with a couple of cool tracks.

Next on the plan was to head up to the Pressure Point and catch the Rumble Strips, but we stuck around to watch a few songs from Buck 65 (myspace), also from Canada, before we moved on, and enjoyed his set so much that we knocked our schedule severely out of kilter. Rapping over his records and pausing only occasionally to do a little, very rudimentary, scratching, Buck was an appealing, friendly presence, telling wry jokes between tracks and insisting that we all sing along to a new song where the only word in the chorus is 'Dang'. Far more folky and fun than his frequent puff-pieces in Wire magazine suggest, he was entertaining, and I was sorry not to see the whole thing, but we were determined to hotfoot it for the Freebutt to see The Crimea (myspace), and we just about made it, too, although we only caught the last few songs, which were well executed in a slightly serious, slightly epic English indie rock way, and I wish we'd seen more, or seen the small amount we did see more sober. By that point though we'd been going for hours and there was no sensible alternative but to head home and start recuperating for the next day's action.

Which is why we spent twenty minutes at the 80s club at the Penthouse, revealing our secret and shared liking for the songs of Mr. Mister, and several incoherent hours back at the after-show party thing at the Ocean Rooms. Time passed. I remember walking home in the rain. That's day one dealt with.

Plans for tonight? Les Incompetents, Howling Bells, Misty's Big Adventure, Ladyfuzz, Battle and (yipee!) The Young Knives. Then, if my stamina can take it, either Serena Maneesh or The Gossip. If I'm not dead. That's the plan. Tune in tomorrow to see how awry it went...

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