Okay so time to finish writing about my exploits at The Great Escape last weekend. As with Part One, I’ll run down some of my favourite acts in the order I watched them.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to see anywhere near the same amount of shows as the previous day. This was largely due to the huge queues wherever I went. Thankfully the one act that I did see had no queue at all and they made the day totally worthwhile.
Steve N Seagulls
A Finnish Hillbilly cover band has to be a winner right? Even though Hayseed Dixie has been there before (Hillbilly covers, not being Finnish), these guys were absolutely brilliant and their mammoth sized accordion player is one of my new favourite human beings.
I also caught some of Hector Bizerk, a Scottish crew who had been explained to me as a Hip-hop but, apart from the rapper, were pretty far left of that. This certainly isn’t a bad thing though, after all it seems to have worked out pretty well for their fellow countrymen Young Fathers. This is Hector Bizerk’s new single.
I was already off to a better start with the first gig of the day at the Prince Albert, which turned out to be a great pub run by one of the fellas from the newly reformed Leonard & Bubba’s Delicious Goo-Goo Cluster (who shall be rocking the Rusty Spurs for us at BoomTown this year). Despite the sun blazing outside and Thor stating, “the music I’m about to play is a little bit hectic for this time of day”, it was the perfect place to be as he rolled through a continuous half hour ableton blend of his tunes, adding in vocals and a little bit of trumpet along the way.
His tunes are so diverse I wondered which way the set was going to run but this was perfect, kind of like an eccentric Mount Kimbie. The closest I’ve found to it online is this mix he recorded for OkayAfrica.
Really liked this Canadian rap crew. My house mate wasn’t so keen so maybe it mattered that I was down the front, but I thought they had great energy between them and a sound that sat somewhere between De La Soul and Gym Class Heroes. I had to give extra marks to one of the rappers too, who kept getting so excited rhyming that he’d forget that he snapped his achilles tendon and was wearing a huge foot brace. He looked in a lot of pain at some points but also looked like he was having the time of his life at others.
Another quality act from Cape Town, he features on the Thor Rixon mix above and I’d forgotten that he had some great guest spots on LV‘s Sebenza EP on Hyperdub. It was his track Holy Oxygen that inspired me to go watch him though. I think I’ve probably posted it up here previously but I’ve put it above just in case.
Although it was a slightly slow start, after Holy Oxygen he kept the crowd energy levels up high and he definitely had the room onside, despite us failing massively at any of the call and responses that weren’t in English (he switches between English, Zulu and Afrikaans when he raps).
From there we checked out some of Yumi & The Weather‘s set on a stage outside in the street, but only really caught the end, then went to the end of Brighton pier to see By The Rivers support the legendary Zombies. Both great shows but BTR have had plenty love on this blog in the past and after 50 years in the game, plenty has already been written about The Zombies.
I did try to catch the Grime showcase but it was full apart from a couple of £20 sit down tickets, so we headed to try and watch Songhoy Blues and Awesome Tapes From Africa but hit another insane queue. Eventually we got in to see Seinabo Sey and Mapei. Although South Africa had the highest representation of acts I liked this weekend, Sweden deserves a special mention for both of those acts.
Although I only got to see her because the programme was running late and everywhere else was full, this lady turned out to be one of my highlights of the weekend. I couldn’t remember any of her tracks and even thought we were watching Seinabo Sey for half the set so didn’t know what to expect. The band struck up a Hip-hop beat and she came out rapping. Even if she’d stuck with that vibe I’d have been happy, she’s a great rapper but the only other time her rhyming skills came out was over Nas‘ NY State Of Mind beat. The rest of the set switched all over the place from 90s style anthemic Dance tracks to more laid back soulful numbers. The constant throughout though was Mapei’s skills as an entertainer, she was instantly likeable and obviously a born star. Eventually Don’t Wait kicked in as the last tune and I realised where I’d heard her before. It’s a fantastic track that I had stuck on a loop for the day some months back. Check the video above.
Although by her own admission she doesn’t move around as much as her friend Mapei, she doesn’t need to. With an awesome presence and a stunning voice all she had to do was stand there looking royal and sing to totally win the crowd over. I could definitely see both of these ladies doing well over here, a shame that I sent a friend to watch her support Lion Babe yesterday but the sound was awful apparently rendering the show unwatchable. I think artists should be able to sue venues when this happens and crowds should be able to get refunds, it’s honestly one of my biggest pet hates, especially here in Bristol.
So that was The Great Escape, turns out it was definitely worth the trip, even with the horrendous queues everywhere. Just as well I’m generally not looking for the same artists as everyone else or I’d probably not have seen any. The only other show I saw that night was The Maccabees, I thought I liked a couple of their tracks but turns out I was thinking of a completely different band. Ah well.