Great Escape Festival day one

The Great Escape festival is the UK’s fledgling answer to SxSW Music. It is a three day event featuring 180 bands in 10 venues across Brighton as well as talks from industry luminaries throughout the day. I got myself a 3-day gig pass and yesterday evening got myself over to the Komedia for the start of a great evening.

First up were Belarus, a four-piece guitar band from Oxfordshire. They were really tight, with an epic sound which at its best came close to early Radiohead. The singer has a great voice, but not quite enough in the way of memorable tunes to walk away with (the single Standing In The Right Place was a notable exception). They’ll be compared to Snow Patrol and Keane, in both a positive and negative way, and might do well especially if they geet a few more tunes and bit more theatre.

Next up was Ralfe Band, the one group I was familiar with, and they didn’t disappoint. I love their quirky folk, which veers from hoe-down to psychedelia, and they have tunes by the bucket. The crowd seemed a little puzzled by it, but were certainly enthusiastic by the end of a criminally short 20 minute set (not the band’s fault).

I didn’t much fancy seeing the Feeling so I dashed down to Audio on the seafront to catch the start of the Tiny Dancers who were great fun. Essentially country, you could hear the Byrds, Neil Young and Big Star coming through and in a very good way. And the singer was just a bit nuts, which is never bad thing; I suspect he had something to do with the set design which seemed to be based on a 70s front room.

Finally came the Spinto Band who I’d never heard but I rather think I should have done. They are young – very young – and with youth comes energy, and these six lads certainly had that. They bounced around the stage enthusiastically, producing music that was relentless and infectious. You couldn’t help but smile. I’ve no idea if they can reproduce their sound on record, but I’m prepared to find out. A great finale and I can’t wait until tomorrow for more music.