So that's that: The Great Escape is over.
We've come back to work, our 'Out Of Office' has been turned back on, and the sea air has been replaced by London's fumes.
The music lingers on, though, and in one last ditch attempt to keep the Brighton flames a-burnin' the Clash team have picked out 7 Of The Best acts we saw at this year's Great Escape.
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One entertaining novelty at this year’s TGE: fervent Brexit campaigners on street corners blissfully unaware that they’re thrusting leaflets at passing bands who actively embody the joys of EU membership. Elifantree, for example, are two moonlighting Finnish jazz musicians led by a flame-headed vocal Valkyrie from Sweden whose dad is a Turkish ex-gymnast (OK so Turkey’s potential membership is currently a hot potato, but you get the picture).
Emboldened by the improvisational spirit of rock-jazz, Elifantree are an utter headspin of a band, particularly that force-of-nature frontwoman - Anni Elif Egecioglu – who whoops and soars and occasionally does a little dance at the keyboards when she remembers. “What have we become?” she hollers. Well, after hurtling off in all sorts of interesting directions – and even getting the slightly bemused audience members onside, eventually - they finish up becoming something akin to 80s soft-rock, slightly unexpectedly, even wielding an electric saxophone. Smooth. - Si Hawkins
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Like a mighty middle-finger to mad-eyed foreigner-hating Donald Trump over the border, Wake Island are a life-enhancing Lebanese duo formed in Montreal and named after a remote coral reef somewhere near Honolulu. Oh yeah, you can stick your Garth Brooks, or whatever Trump supporters listen to (Wagner’s Ring Cycle on a constant loop? Or is that too foreign?)
These two get the best crowd response your correspondent comes across all Great Escape, partly because of their crazy-buff synth guy, sweat-glistening on that rippling vest-clad torso as he leaps into the crowd mid-song and gives a lot of impressionable young punters a serious attack of the vapours. There is actual screaming. Tremendously energetic electro-pop fun, with thoughtful ethereal bits, the boys knock out a tidy version of Like a Virgin along the way too.
Trump would hate that mighty-middle-finger thing, by the way, what with his freakishly tiny hands. - Si Hawkins
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Potentially the most unmissable artist of the weekend, both musically and aesthetically, GIRLI pounced on The Great Escape on Friday (May 20th) with a fabulously mischievous set which dominated the end of Brighton’s famous pier. Walking out on stage with hype woman DJ Kitty in a bright pink, floor length wedding dress matching her hair and bundles of attitude, the pair tore straight into the youthful, beat bashing ‘ASBOys’.
Continuing the welcome sonic ruckus with social commentarial feminist anthem ‘Girls Get Angry Too’ the duo act out fight scenes, honing in on a playful delivery of an important topic. Many genres shine through in the songs throughout the performance, from dabbles in PC Music and punk to straight up pure pop. Even previously unheard tracks manage to charm the Brighton crowd with the singer’s confident, candid delivery helping to win them over. Refreshing and unique, Girli’s set was definitely a highlight from the weekend. - Shannon Cotton
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Being one of the busiest and most hyped artists of the weekend you could say there was a lot of pressure for guitar-wielding teenager Declan McKenna to live up to at this year’s Great Escape. However during his final performance of the weekend on Friday evening (May 20th) all of these expectations were exceeded. Declan delighted the audience by delivering a captivating, frenzied performance, proving just why he was deserving of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent accolade last summer.
From the gloriously glitchy synths of set opener ‘Brew’ to the jangling guitars on latest cut ‘Bethlehem’, the tracks could easily propel themselves into the stratosphere from the sheer energy exuded onstage by McKenna and his band in the live environment. Previous singles and set closers ‘Paracetamol’ and ‘Brazil’ are rapturously received by the Wagner Hall audience, denoting a feeling in the room that this rising star is on the cusp of huge things. - Shannon Cotton
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Bringing delicious, effervescent indie pop nuggets to the not-so-sunny seaside, Leeds lovelies Vitamin were the first band to perform at a showcase including fellow indie upstarts The Big Moon and the more established Mystery Jets on Saturday (May 21st). The four-piece are becoming renowned for making music that could easily soundtrack your summer, and it’s something that transpires live very well indeed.
Playing a mixture of old songs and new songs as well as an unreleased track, the performance becomes a perfect introduction to the lively quartet’s quintessential sparkling guitar riffs and funky bass lines – which is particularly striking on stand out single ‘This Isn’t Love’. Closing the set with recent Clash premiere ‘Waterfall’, its undeniably tropical introduction and smooth vocals make the setting of Brighton’s Corn Exchange at 6pm on a Saturday afternoon feel a lot more exotic than you might expect. - Shannon Cotton
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It's all about the voice, really. Sure, Rukhsana Merrise is already an adept songwriter, already a mature lyricist and an arranger of quite unexpected depth, but when it comes to live performance the voice either cuts through the crowd, or it doesn't.
Thankfully, Rukhsana more than rises to the occasion. Playing an intimate (but packed) show on the VEVO Stage she lets her voice soar into the heavens, a powerful, soulful performance, that is both welcoming and warm. Using a stripped down set up seems to benefit her, letting each song breath – and providing ample space for that voice. - Robin Murray
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The Black Acre aligned artist agreed to open the Clash stage, a brave move considering the early start – most Great Escape delegates don't get out of bed before 3pm, and even then that's only to pick up a lanyard and free drinks tokens.
Yet Connie was greeted by a huge crowd, who seemed to know the words to each song. Word has clearly spread about the vocalist, whose dexterous set was aided by a fantastic band, who added renwed elasticity to the studio material. A rare live outing for the singer, let's hope she doesn't leave it too long until her next visit. - Robin Murray
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