Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Great Escape - Day Three

As Friday began, so did Saturday, in Wetherspoon's for a full on breakfast. I cannot imagine a trip to The Great Escape now with a bed and breakfast hotel, thereby missing their greasy goodness.
Day three of the festival turned out to have the best lunchtime shows with the most frustrating evening...

Our first venue of the day was The Warren. The Warren isn't simply an ironic name, it really was a maze to try and find, beginning with us turning the wrong way out of the pub and being halfway to the clock tower before we noticed. Having said that, it was a really gorgeous venue, a pretty garden in a courtyard, with a marquee erected to provide a temporary bar. There was a massive picture of a rabbit on a wall leading Nat to comment that it was just like something out of Alice in Wonderland. It was the nicest morning of the weekend, really quite warm and the courtyard was a suntrap, it was a shame to have to go inside to the pitch black to see the bands!

It was a Scottish showcase, the first band of the day was Paws. I had had Paws recommended to me by Jamie Skelton, however when I told him we had gone to see them and it was on his head if they were rubbish, he soon backtracked and claimed he'd only seen them under the influence of T in the Park... He needn't have been concerned though, they were very good. They are a 3 piece from Glasgow, lo-fi verging on punk but with a fair bit of melody. I have a feeling I may have missed them opening for Yuck in Leeds, which is a bloody shame...

They were followed by Bwani Junction. Nat knew of these and pushed for us to stay for them. I'm very glad we did as they were excellent. I will be listening to their album "Fully Cocked" soon. They put me in mind of Vampire Weekend although I am fully prepared to believe that they will only remind me of Vampire Weekend, nobody else... There are some Afro Caribbean influences, which I concede are thousands of miles away from where the Cape Cod band take theirs.

Now, we had a shift on to get to the next set, way over to Blind Tiger in a little less than half an hour to see the excellent Hooded Fang. I thought Mark and I were going to be the last two allowed in and as I looked back up the road, there was no sign of Chantal and Nat. I felt bad briefly but then remembered that we were only late because Chantal had left her bag in The Warren and we spent precious minutes fannying around getting it picked up! I did feel bad for Nat though, it wasn't her fault! It was ok though, they did both get in. Hooded Fang were a band that I really wanted to see, Canadian's with a couple of terrific albums under their belt, most songs coming in at well under 3 minutes. I didn't think that the sound was that good in Blind Tiger today but that might just have been that the vibe was a little understated in comparison to Django Django. They benefit from one of my favourite sights in music, a female bass player, they move so much freer than, say, John Deacon... Have a listen to "ESP", not a true representation of their sound but a belting good song.

From here, it went a but tits up. Across the road for a pint in the King and Queens then down to a beachfront bar to meet the rest of the gang and of course no trip to the coast would be complete without a chippy tea from a chippy recommended by my cousin Helen, Cheers Hels!

And then to Komedia to see the mighty Howler and the omnilistened Alabama Shakes. Like fuck we did. The one session that all 10 or so wanted to see but as we approached the venue, shortly after opening, the queue was already sizeable. We spent a good hour, queueing, barely moving. Some smug fucker came down the line to give us regular, tedious updates of how only 15 people had left the venue in the last hour and how we will never get in. The Dunkirk spirit pulled us through for a while but eventually we decided to sack it off, the group splitting once more into it's smaller factions. I knew it would be busy. The album has been pretty massive, they were just on Jools, the Corn Exchange line up was fairly underwhelming and Rev and The Makers had cried off with a stubbed toe or something, so there was going to be lots of displaced people and loads that just wanted to see them. I still believed that we had got there in plenty of time though. We found out later that people were still queuing 10 minutes before the scheduled end to the gig!

After a period of moping, including an cracking pint in The Victory we decided to go to bizarrely named Sticky Mike's Frog Bar to see Admiral Fallow. We would have seen them earlier in the day had we not seen Hooded Fang and while I really really wanted to see Howler and Alabama Shakes, I was pleased to be seeing Admiral Fallow. Their new album "Tree Bursts In Snow" has just been released and is a terrific listen. I love the way the male and female voice work together, just wish she'd smile a bit more! We were absolutely treated to an a capella version of "Four Bulbs", captivating and moving. By now, I was well and truly over my earlier disappointment!

Briefly. There was more to come. We reconvened with Mark after a quick one in the Waggon and Horses and tried to see We Are Augustines. Again, we got nowhere near.

I was determined not to let my main memory of this year's festival be one of disappointment. It was part of the reason for getting it into blog, to go back and remember all the great stuff. Yeah, Alabama Shakes probably should have been in The Corn Exchange and We Are Augustines was a bit gutting but it was still a bloody great festival.

I saw 22 bands in 13 different venues, 6 of them I'd not been in before. With my ticket price, it worked out at around 2 quid a band. That is some value! We'd had good weather, good banter and ace beer. I managed to stay, amazingly, hangover free. I had been more sensible than previous years but not at the detriment of having fun. We had done it on a better budget than ever before with 4 in the car and sharing hotel rooms for once. In summary, it was fucking ace and I can't wait for next year!

And to top it off, Mark got back to the hotel room, several hours after the sun came up with tales of an attempted bumming...

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