The Great Escape Festival 2015 Round-Up Review

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The dust has settled after The Great Escape Festival brought thousands of bands, music-lovers and industry professionals to Brighton last weekend. Now, the city returns to normal (or as ‘normal’ as half of The People’s Republic of Brighton & Hove can ever be…). Reviews of the 400+ featured artists are aplenty with virtually all of the UK’s music publications having some staff present. Most of the pieces are timely with many tweeted out almost instantly but having left it several days to log down my thoughts, I’ve realised that many bands have already escaped my memory. If a gig from last Thursday night is already a distant memory, it’s really not worth writing about. So here are the moments that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon – for both the right and wrong reasons.

Thursday 14th May



Day One was off to a late start as I didn’t collect my wristband exchange until the late afternoon. I still managed to catch a fair few bands but there was only one who I want to see again – The Hearts. No band was bad and in fact, some were fun but it was only the Welsh Alt Scribe favourites who truly captured my attention.

The singles ‘Lips’, ‘Celebrate’ and the recently Radio 1-endorsed ‘Run Free’ sounded as powerful as they do in their studio recordings, but it wasn’t just the familiarity that gave their set the edge as their unreleased songs sounded just as strong on first listen. Considering that this show was presumably the first time most, if not all, of the room had seen The Hearts perform, there was a fair amount of foot tapping and casual dancers which, in terms of TGE’s generally aloof crowds, should be considered a huge compliment.


The weather heavily dampened the festival spirit. It rained and it poured which meant a bedraggled look and an umbrella permanently in hand. I may have arrived far too late to catch Fickle Friends but, although I’m sure they put on a great show, I’m glad I didn’t have to join these fans waiting outside.

Sorry if you are trying to come see @ficklefriendsuk the que is rather big!!!

A video posted by Mark Bennett (@markbennett1892) on

Friday 15th May


My first day of The Great Escape felt like it was missing something. I couldn’t work out exactly what it was though. I partly blamed the very poorly designed app but then I realised I had also forgotten to sign up for the festival’s text alerts.


A few hours later and I’d almost forgiven HTC for their sponsorship of the incomplete official app due to their fantastic Secret City Sessions. Suddenly, I was ignoring the app and relying on an old-fashioned SMS to tell me where the next ‘secret’ show would be. Thanks to their texts, I saw Ellie Ford magically play her harp in jewellery boutique House of Hoye and Mike Dignam offering a very enjoyable acoustic sideshow in the hidden Bosco Theatre.

Highlights of the timetabled day included the Scottish folk outfit Admiral Fallow and Southend rockers Nothing But Thieves who both played to capacity crowds – one mid-afternoon, and the other at the peak of the evening.


The popularity of Friday’s bands may have boosted the atmosphere but it also massively increased the queues. After failing to fit in for Flyying Colours at the recently-refurbished The Hope & Ruin, I headed down to Coalition to catch Aurora but, due to a one-in-one-out policy, I spent the entirety of her set being blasted by the ice cold sea breeze. Brrrr.

Saturday 16th May


I’ve long said that The Alternative Escape can offer as much as its ‘official’ big sister, and 2015’s weekend proved that.

Beginning my day at Bleach, I saw the tail-end of Francisco The Man’s set in preparation for Animal House’s performance. Despite it being three in the afternoon, the Brighton-based-via-Australia Animal House put on a headline-worthy show – proof that even matinees can rock too!

After my ears had been blasted, I headed along to the Brighton Pier soaking up the sunshine as I walked. Navigating the swarms of tourists, I entered Horatio’s bar AKA the pier’s pub. Its décor and sea views make you feel like you’re on a ship and tucked away on-board was an all-day showcase of music. I caught American country-rockers Delta Rae and although the ‘secret’ show was so secret that it wasn’t as well-attended as it deserved to be, there was no denying the quality of their songs and strength of their performance. I was so impressed that at 10pm that night, I’d see them again at the Unitarian Church where the spiritual setting would lift their music further. Playing to a packed congregation, they would round-up my festival experience with a well-deserved standing ovation.


Lowlights? What lowlights? There was never a dull moment during the final day of the festival – there was, however, some rather strange ones. If the idea of being inside Shooshh sober isn’t confusing enough, imagine the Finnish Steve’N’Seagulls playing folk-meets-calypso covers of rock classics while wearing taxidermy hats. It was as weird as it sounds yet strangely enjoyable, which probably sums up the entire festival.

See you again in 2016, TGE!

Amy Jo McLellan
Amy Jo McLellan is the editor of Alt Scribe. She started writing about music in 2010 and has been dancing about architecture ever since. She became a featured blogger for Buzznet after winning their 2011 ‘Summer of Buzz’ talent search. Amy knows far too much about her favourite bands and describes herself as a “professional fangirl”. CURRENTLY LISTENING TO: Kids In Glass Houses, Dawes. SPECIALIST SUBJECT: The rise and fall of 'Emo' 2006 - Now.

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