Live review: The Great Escape 2017 - A celebration of all things bright and buzzy

The Great Escape has long been known as the British equivalent of SXSW. Taking place in Brighton, the annual celebration of all things bright and buzzy returned to the seaside for another year of new music thrills and beach chills. 

Kicking off day 1 with a visit to North Laine's Komedia, Sydney's Middle Kids take to the stage and cast a spell upon the swelling audience with their bewitching tracks. The formidable trio are in great spirits and on the cusp of achieving even greater things. In between songs, lead singer Hannah Joy tells the crowd "This is the perfect stage time. On at 1pm, in bed by 8pm." 

Joy also recalls that her first introduction with Brighton was at the hands of Pride and Prejudice, before the trio launch into debut single 'Edge Of Town' and sound as confident and polished as ever. Remember Middle Kids; they're going to be huge. 

Photo credit: Jon Mo @jonmophotography
The pummelling rain outside leaves little room for beach chills, however we head over to Bleach to catch band of the moment Anteros. The four-piece raise everyone's spirits with their chaotic live show and the electrifying atmosphere leaves the impression amongst the industry-heavy crowd that Anteros have got an exciting future ahead of them. 

Photo credit: Jon Mo @jonmophotography
As day turns to night, Brighton's very own Yonaka perform at Patterns. Taking to the occasion brilliantly, the four-piece appear amongst a flurry of riffs and righteous hooks that manage to squirm their way under the skin. The band's recent single 'Wouldn't Wanna Be Ya' brings the energy in the room to full flow, whilst the lead singer's Theresa Jarvis' vocals make a real impact on the packed-out crowd.

Photo credit: Jon Mo @jonmophotography
Reading quartet The Amazons have more than earned their stripes and tonight's slot at The East Wing feels almost like a victory lap. With their self-titled debut album just mere days away from being released, the excitement and euphoria surrounding their performance is at fever pitch. 

Inciting madness wherever they tread is in their repertoire and 90% of their setlist this evening is instantly recognisable. The Amazons have the potential (and the tunes) to become the next big British band. 2016 belonged to Blossoms but The Amazons have already claimed 2017 as their own. 

Photo credit: Jon Mo @jonmophotography
Another band who are making a huge impact on the industry is Fickle Friends. Hailing from Brighton, the five-piece continue to keep the buzz alive in The East Wing for the duration of their extended set. What feels like a homecoming show is shared by both the band and the crowd and they receive one of the best crowd reactions of the weekend. 

After recently wrapping up a tour supporting The Kooks, the transition to bigger stages feels seamless and completely within their capabilities. Recent singles, 'Hello Hello' and 'Cry Baby' are live set staples, whilst the crowd goes absolutely bonkers for older material such as 'Velvet' and 'Swim'. A perfect finale to signal the end of the first magical day of the festival - Fickle Friends deliver a colourful and polished set that will stick in the minds of the many who attended for quite some time. 

Photo credit: Jon Mo @jonmophotography
As day 2 dawns, the rain has eased off and the sun has finally emerged. Down in the darkness of The Arch, Anna Straker captivates all who hear her sultry tones, making it seem almost impossible to turn away from her trance-inducing set that exhibits her undeniable talents. It's not long though before a secret set is announced and word starts to spread.

"It's Gorillaz and Klaxons!" people shout excitedly, "I wonder if Damon will be there" remarks another. As we make the trek up to the Jack Daniels stage to join the seemingly never-ending queue, it soon becomes clear that it's YOTA (Youth of the Apocalypse) who are performing and were formed as a side-project between members of the aforementioned bands.

After a 40-minute wait, the band reveal they have only been together for just over a week and immediately roar into life, showing us what they're made of. The crowd are fully immersed from start to finish of YOTA's debut show, whilst the band themselves are greeted with complete and utter jubilance. 

Upon making it to day 3 of the festival, we realise that The Great Escape is as much about endurance as it is discovering new music. With that in mind we decided to slow it down a notch and catch an intimate performance from singer-songwriter Bess Atwell in the Unitarian Church. 

Photo credit: Jon Mo @jonmophotography
Atwell has previously earned comparisons to Fenne Lily, who appeared at last year's event and First Aid Kit, however this afternoon's set really saw her come into her own. The atmospheric showcase drew in a demographic of all ages, whilst many remained outside as the venue quickly reached capacity. The set also featured a particularly moving cover of The National's 'This Is The Last Time'. 

Over at Patterns, Brooklyn's Yoke Lore tears through his hits including 'Hold Me Down', 'Only You' and new track 'Good Pain'. The blissful melodies and addictive choruses sound even bigger and brighter than on record and the jam-packed crowd dances any and all inhibitions into oblivion. The musician himself appears entirely in his element and the setting is one that really allows the tracks to fully shine. 

The Great Escape 2017 may have started on a sour note with the repellent weather and the disaster that was the Slaves Pier Party (the less said about that, the better), but it quickly bloomed into one of the best festivals the organisers have ever put on and it looks set to continue to evolve in future. Until next year...

Words Lauren Wade

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