Music, Sun, Pints & Pals? The Great Escape 2022 Reviewed

After days of cloudy weather, the music industry was met with blue skies and sunshine as they descended to the seaside town of Brighton for The Great Escape 2022.


Taking place across the city’s countless music venues, The Great Escape consists of new artists from all around the globe and is the perfect place to see the next big thing play before anyone else. 

Introducing themselves as “bisexual vegans”, Joe & The Shitboys packed out the tiny seafront venue ‘Water Bear’, playing their first of two shows that weekend. Fearless, uninhibited and energetic punks from the Faroe Islands (a self-governing archipelago, part of the Kingdom of Denmark, thanks Google), Joe & The Shitboys are reminiscent of punk bands of the 70s, each song they play is fast, rebellious and in general around 1 minute long. 

They opened the show with “Shitboys Theme”, with lead singer Joe trying his best to get the music industry moguls, (easily spotted by a pint in their hand, a bored expression and an air of cynicism), involved in the set, waltzing through the crowd of the dimly lit venue, thrusting the mic into peoples faces and encouraging them to join the Shitboys revolution.

Fitting around 28 songs into a 30-minute set, the band’s punk ethos and tongue in cheek lyrics matched with Joe’s undeniable confidence makes for an incredible show.

Next up was post-punk three-piece Pozi, who despite severe technical difficulties, entranced the dedicated audience who stuck by them until the very end. Made up of a drummer, a bassist and a violinist, the three members took their simple set up to the extreme, creating an alluring sound using pedals, (including a violin pedal), impressive drum beats and soft, majestic vocals. 

With his long limbs broad shoulders and face tattoos, Canadian alt-indie singer Ekkstacy, cut a striking figure on stage at Brighton’s gay club ‘Revenge’. At the tender age of 18, the artist had already been through drug-induced psychosis, his parent’s divorce, and alcohol abuse, these experiences shaped the musician into who he is today. Wise beyond his years, Ekkstacy’s energetic performance and surprisingly soft voice conveyed his past struggles whilst demonstrating the better place he’s in now. 

At the end of the famous Brighton pier, Scottish band Vlure played at the bar and venue Horatio’s, their late set time (11:20pm-11:50pm), having no impact on the hoards of people who turned out to see them play. An intriguing figure took to the stage introducing the set, and welcoming people ‘to the world of Vlure’, a world that we soon discovered is full of 80s dance synths and industrial post-punk. 

Frontman Hamish Hutcheson snarled into his microphone, pacing up and down the stage, a red question mark donning the back of his bleached blonde head. Intimidating and fearless, but also approachable and welcoming. The 5 piece have gained a dedicated group of fans, despite limited track release, and this is just the beginning for them. 

On day two of The Great Escape, mildly hungover and sleep-deprived attendees gathered to see Brazilian singer and model, Alissic (real name Alissa Smalls), play in the early afternoon. A tiny, elfin girl, with a powerful, ethereal voice, Alissic put on a noteworthy set, ending with the latest single “Everybody’s Dead Inside”.

At the pop-up beach stage talented singer-songwriter, Etta Marcus had the whole audience wrapped around her little finger, playing alone with just her guitar accompanying her. Despite her young age, Etta’s songs create a sense of nostalgia and dreams of things that are yet to happen.

As night fell over Brighton, chaos could be found building in Volt, another of the hidden seafront venues. During their half, an hour set, party-punk rockers Crashface managed to achieve the impossible, a mosh pit in the midst of the music industry’s greats. Raucous vocals, and fast, attention-grabbing lyrics, matched with front man Charlie Hinton’s boldness created a memorable set and the first of the weekend to feel like a true punk show.

The third and final day of The Great Escape 2022 saw Essex punks False Heads play what seemed like a community hall. Maybe a slightly strange choice of venue for a band who are known for crowd surfing and ending their set with lead singer Luke jumping into the drum kit, but never less, they played a gnarly, heavy set, impressively filling out the large ‘venue’, with audience members piling in to see the trio. 

Back at Folks was New Zealand rock and roll musician Kelsy Karter best known for her infamous Harry Styles faux face tattoo, (a publicity stunt for her single Harry, about the musical star). Starting the set dancing around barefoot on stage, her sultry voice and enigmatic stage presence set the tone for this performance. Introducing themselves as Kelsy Karter and the Hot Trash, the theatrical essence of Karter’s music came out, each word and each move mapped out and rehearsed well in advance.

But this didn’t take away from the rock and roll ethos of Kelsy Karter’s music and persona, if anything it amplified it. With a mix of album tracks and a Billie Eilish cover thrown in, Kelsy ended on Liquor Store on Mars, playing the guitar for the beautiful ballad about heartbreak, whilst unable to hide her complete joy at how her performance had been met.

The last act that we saw over the festival was Fitzroy Holt, who played Saturday evening at the iconic Hope and Ruin, the first and only classic, gritty dive bar venue that we went to over the weekend. 

Lead singer Connor Brooks, formally of indie band The Surrenders, is a star in the making, with his charismatic stage presence, genuine love for the music he plays and incredible, breath-taking blues voice. A distinct mix of jazz, soul and blues, music seems to be second nature to Connor, as he told the crowd “we’re going to take you away from all the doom and gloom for a bit”. And that they did. Fitzroy Holt is made up of 4 members, and together they created one of the best performances of the entire weekend. 100% ones to watch. 

And that was The Great Escape 2022. A weekend full of music, laughter, sunshine, pints and pals, all accompanied by the beautiful backdrop of Brighton town.

Tickets are available for TGE 2023, hopefully, we’ll see you there!

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