Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Great Escape 2011: Day 3 @ Various venues, Brighton

14 May 2011

Newcastle’s Mammal Club display serious audacity one songinto their set. The lead singer tentatively approaches the microphoneand asks a clearly hungover crowd, slumped on the floor, if they’dconsider standing up. Begrudgingly and somewhat surprisingly, theymanage to. A risk at the time, it works in giving an incisive,remarkably tight rhythm-section some real legs. Their songs arefrantic, reminiscent of Battles and they assist in getting amoody crowd into something of a swing.

The near pitch-black Audio, not for the first time, succeeds inhelping to give an electronic sound a big impact. On this occasionit’s with Seams, whose excitable Gold Panda-esque set ofsongs gain serious momentum as the evening progresses.

Considering the impact of 2009’s Hospice, you’d expect TheAntlers to at least pay some sort of a respect to it during theirtime at the Concorde 2. Instead, they drive away at the very freshcollection of tracks from Burst Apart. Not only does this alienate apreviously keen crowd, it also removes any chance of the show enjoyinga sense of intimacy, so apparent on the group’s debut. Burst Apart isby all accounts a good follow-up but you get the sense that thoseattending were there to see a potential festival highlight, defined bythe songs on Hospice.

conquering animal soundGlasgow’s Conquering Animal Sound don’t so much play songs as evolving collages of noise, a stream-of-consciousness of melodies and textures, looped and phased like the patterning of dreams. Singer Anneke Kampman might be battling against a chest infection but this just renders the duo’s performance all the more fragile, their music-box and glitches aesthetic evoking Vespertine-era Bjork without the soporific chilliness.white denimCoalition is packed full and sweatily close, the floor sticky and the crowd largely inebriated. In short, the conditions are pretty perfect for Austin’s White Denim, now a four piece with a new album of brash, frenetic garage rock. They play for an hour but the set’s just a blur: Shake Shake Shake is in there somewhere, as is I Start To Run, but the band rarely pause between tracks and the pace never lets up. This is no bad thing: White Denim suit the club environment, their sound slightly sleazy and tinged with jazz, their songs shifting, fluid things to get lost within. They leave the stage and the house lights come on and everyone around is blinking and slightly languid, as though having just woken up from a strange and frenzied dream.AlpinesAt The Loft for The Deer Tracks, it’s several songs before it clicks that there’s a different band on stage. Blame the lack of sleep as it should have been obvious immediately: whilst the scheduled band sound like a permafrosted Mm there’s little understated about Alpines, massive beats and appropriately melodramatic vocals from singer Catherine Pockson. As The Great Escape winds down they definitely make an impression, even if a touch too much of their sound relies upon their MacBook.Factory FloorStubbornly refusing to concede the end of the festival are Factory Floor, a London three-piece who deliver brooding, punishing electronica to a capacity crowd at Concorde 2. There’s a lot of HEALTH in their sound, the same familiar pummel and throbbing temples, the same bursts of sudden, violent noise and shuffling, mechanised dancing. It’s engaging enough but a little numbing, particularly after three days with no real sleep.EMA, Horatio’s, Saturday, 8.30

You wouldn’t fuck with EMA or at least, not with their eponymous heroine Erika M. Anderson, the South Dakotan centrifuge in their brooding, industrial-grunge machine. Whether it’s the Cobain-esque hair, the way she swigs persistently at a near-empty whisky bottle, or the guttural snarl with which she snaps out her bitter lyrics, the whole package is plain intimidating. In the confines of a shoddy Brighton pub, the effect is magnified despite the paltry surroundings, EMA’s set is intense, explosive and laden with doomy, rock hooks that has half the crowd begging for more and the other half running for cover. The perfect reaction, in fact.

See. These. Now.

Yuck, Horatio’s, Saturday, 10.00

Yuck fail to endear themselves to the respectable patrons of Horatio’s. Despite boasting top billing on the NME Radar stage, their set is short on hits and long on unwieldy feedback. Where it works on the blurred-Strokes dirge of Get Away, or on the anthemic low-fi of The Wall the result is a glorious, mosh-filled, DIY-glee. Yet the quieter moments lack the sweetness of the album and mostly fall flat. Combine this with some ill-advised banter from Blumberg and Bloom seemingly jetlagged after a hefty stint in the US and there’s little left to excite. Disappointing.

  1. The Great Escape 2011:
    Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

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