A strange beast of a festival
Riz MC - The Great Escape 2012

The Great Escape can be a strange beast of a festival. Year after year hundreds of bands flock to the seaside in order to grab the attention not just of the punters who've paid good money to spend a whole weekend walking from venue to venue until their feet hurt but also a whole host of industry professionals.

What is undeniable though is that Thursday got off to a rotten start thanks largely in part to the weather. When you arrive at Brighton station the last thing you expect to see is mist across the countryside and drizzle but that's what everyone got and and it made the idea of queuing to get into a venue an unsavoury one. It's no surprise that everyone tried to find their nearest indoor venue at lunchtime. The Prince Albert was absolutely rammed for Porcelain Raft and College, for example.

The weather didn't pick up in time for the evening either and the gloomy skies didn't really make for an electric atmosphere. Still, there was some hype over Savages, who were only announced on the day of their Corn Exchange slot, but the big cavernous hall doesn't quite suit their brand of post-punk. However, there's plenty of promise on display. Continuing the theme of zeitgeist bands, there is huge demand at the Pavillion Theatre for a double-header of Toy and Django Django with arguably one of the biggest queues of the weekend.

Come Friday, the weather dramatically improved and the Brighton we all know and love – i.e. sunny – had emerged. Whilst Clash's very own stage at the Republic Of Music headquarters saw the likes of Pond giving their all, that was nothing compared to the seemingly spontaneous set by Riz MC outside the Waggon & Horses pub in Jubilee Square as he stood on one of the pub benches demanding to be heard. It's odd what a bit of good weather does.

There's no doubting though that one of the appeals of the Great Escape is stumbling across a band you don't know but really enjoy. Those who went to Digital early for Grimes, one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend, they would have been treated to a very decent warm-up set by Half Moon Run. Their brand of indie rock was very enticing and they picked up a lot of new fans in the process who seemed sad when their slot was cut short due to time constraints.

The Alternative Escape, the fringe event that runs alongside the main shows, was also busy as ever. It also can resolve some neat clash issues. Can't see the delightfully ramshackle Howler at their two evening shows? Just stumble along to the Latest Music Bar at 1:15pm at their own all-ages matinee show. There's also some more bizarre moments such as everyone clamouring to see a showcase from a former X Factor contestant (Aidan Grimshaw) and bands like The Computers playing in a laundrette. As you do.

Saturday ended on a high note with some mesmerising performances from Perfume Genius and Loney Dear at St. Mary's Church and a show-stealing set from EMA at the Pavilion Theatre as she twirled a disco ball whilst also wearing leftover Christmas lights. She was also one of the only artists that a) instigated a moshpit and b) turned the noise up to eleven.

This all doesn't even begin to cover half of what happened. Everyone has their own unique Great Escape adventure and that's possibly why it has people coming back every May.

Words by Max Raymond
Photo by Elinor Jones

Follow these links for photo galleries of Thursday, Friday and Saturday at The Great Escape.

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