The Great Escape 2016 festival picks (part 1)

The Great Escape festival returns to Brighton & Hove from Thurs 19 – Sat 21 May 2016, with over 450 performers offering the very best in undiscovered talent and live music. Here we take a look at some of the artists you definitely won’t want to miss.

The Great Escape
Photo: Edward Cooke

Ariana & the Rose 

Ariana & the Rose is the kind of artist we can believe in. The New York native’s current aesthetic draws from performance art, cult cinema and legendary pop icons, as well as channeling the avant-pop stylings of artists such as Björk and Florence + the Machine.

A narcotic brand of left field pop, it’s as hooky as it is intriguing with a diverse medley of innovative yet heartfelt synth anthems.

D Double E

The Great Escape
Photo: Theo Cottle from Crack Magazine

If you’re a fan of grime, or you want to find out what the recent hype is all about, this performance at The Great Escape is one you do not want to miss!

D Double E is one part of Newham Generals crew alongside Footsie. As Grime scene veterans, they are among the most respected underground acts in the UK today, having consistently forged new styles and concepts throughout a career spanning three decades.

Released to much critical acclaim in April 2009, Generally Speaking was the platform that launched the Newham Generals into orbit. Its exciting fusion of Grime, Electro, Rave and Hip Hop attracted new audiences and Newham Generals were soon performing at festivals across the globe.

With her audio-visual approach to creativity, she’s an artist who is as active behind the scenes as in front of the camera, a trait which puts her in good stead as she prepares to unveil her new EP to the world and cement her as being one of the hotly tipped favourites to win over tastemakers and music media alike.

Elle ExxeThe Great Escape

With three singles under her belt, electro-clash starlet Elle Exxe has just released her debut EP with a music video for Home with You, which premiered on FAULT Magazine.

Elle Exxe has been causing a stir in the pop scene in London; recently headlining Koko where she enchanted the audience who were engrossed by her explosive performance. A performance that included cheerleaders, a giant cat head and a hand-crafted giant strobing X.

Beach Baby

The Great EscapeThis four piece alternative pop band stem from Dorset, Sheffield and Athens, appearing as the perfect combination for a dreamy post punk, grunge, 60s sound. After a successful show at Coalition at last year’s Great Escape, the quartet return to transport you back to their blissfully care free summer sound. Beach Baby’s overall style could be compared to the likes of Wolf Alice, or JAWS, one of their first singles Ladybird perfect for a warm evening on the beach with Limousine EP and new single Sleeperhead definitely worthy of a listen.

BlossomsThe Great Escape

You may have heard the name whispered around music venues and magazines, but have you listened to Blossoms? You should. The quintet of school friends formed in 2013 in Stockport, releasing their psychedelic pop riffs to the world. With comparisons to The Doors and Arctic Monkeys, Blossom’s have found their own idyllic sound somewhere in-between. 2016 has seen the release of their third EP At Most A Kiss; expect synths, organs and catchy melodies.

Sly JohnsonThe Great Escape

For those looking for some funk and soul, look no further than French artist Sly Johnson. Beat boxer, rapper, DJ and singer…a man of many musical talents sure to get you grooving. Also known as The Mic Buddah, Bubu, Sly Jizzy, DA BEATBOXOLOGIST, TAGi (the French dude), Sly Johnson holds an EP and album The Mic Buddah to his name, a variety within each release. Present on the French stage for 15 years, Sly Johnson is sure to bring something a little different to this year’s Great Escape.

The Great Escape
Photo: Rob Mulder

Clean Cut Kid

Making their way down to Brighton from Liverpool, Clean Cut Kid are a four piece band who have already been championed by DJs like Huw Stephens and Annie Mac, as well as being heavily featured on Radio 1. Tracks like Pick Me Up have driving choruses that seem infectious even after just a brief listen, whilst songs like Twenty Years From Now provide more introspective moments, yet still continue the momentum from their pacier music. Their upbeat indie sound seems like the perfect soundtrack for a (hopefully) sunny Brighton evening.

The Great EscapeNadia Reid

New Zealand’s Nadia Reid may originate from a country on the other side of the world, but her mellow music seems almost designed for a Brighton gig. At home she’s been claimed as one of the country’s most profound young songwriters and her music certainly has depth; its folk and country combination seems reminiscent of a dreamier and more laid back First Aid Kit. At times Reid may seem melancholy, but songs like Reaching Through provide a pick me up without damaging the meditative vibe of quieter tracks such as Call the Days. Be ready for an evocative performance from this 23-year old performer.

The Great EscapeLet’s Eat Grandma

Browsing the bands at this year’s Great Escape, Let’s Eat Grandma grabbed our attention because of their fairytale-esque band name. This name captures the otherworldliness of their experimental music, which only seems more pronounced when you discover that the two performers are only 16 and 17 years old. Whilst their gig won’t offer much of an opportunity for a dance, their meandering music is more than intriguing enough to make up for this.

Oh Pep!The Great Escape

Oh Pep! are ‘musical explorers’ whose thousands of miles of travel has informed their music. But when stationary their music has journeyed across the airwaves of Australian radio in their place, and they’ve already been awarded awards and accolades aplenty. Tracks like Travelling and Big Strong Man seem full of restless enthusiasm and the range of instruments used – fiddles, double basses and mandolins all make an appearance – adds to the energy of the band. Their folk/country sound instantly evokes summer adventures, so seems perfect for a festival like The Great Escape that is all about exploring Brighton’s venues in the May sunshine.


Photo: Scarlett Carlos Clarke
Photo: Scarlett Carlos Clarke

Skinny Girl Diet

One of the many bands taking the riot girl genre into the 21st century, Skinny Girl Diet seem to epitomise the brash and unshrinking feminism that’s inspiring today’s young women. Their music is angry and not ashamed to be so. Tracks like Wasted Smile can muse calmly on the vapidity of society before screaming their backlash in the chorus, whilst Fix Me is a more sustained and beat-heavy song. Seeing a Skinny Girl Diet gig seems the perfect way to enjoy some innovative new British music, whilst simultaneously venting your rage against the patriarchy.

The Great EscapeTim Vantol

Tim Vantol may have begun his career in the Netherlands but in the last year alone he has played at 150 different festivals across the world. He arrives in Brighton for The Great Escape with a set of optimistic acoustic tracks, sharing the intimacies of his life on the road with his audience. The title track from his new album If We Go Down, We Go Together! seems to epitomise his music, finding and inspiring hopefulness with his simple guitar-based music. His songs are gentle, yet heartfelt and it’s clear why he’s gathered fans across the world.

By Lucy Pegg, Summer Carroll, Elissa Flynn

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