The Great Escape, a four day festival escapade on the Southern coast with over 500 artists performing across 30 venues. Having already reported from the UD stage, in Part 2 of her coverage, Elsa Monteith gives us the low down on the best of the rest…
Festivals never came naturally to me. I’m an introvert – I find solace in calm and quiet spaces and steer clear of overwhelming situations. I’m the one to duck out of the mosh pit before the drinks start flying, and the cautious spectator who asks for earplugs (always a good call, folks).
For all the sensory admin that comes with live music, I can’t seem to take myself away from the dim sweaty caves we pay such a premium price for. I live for the dull thud of the bass, and the fizz of the treble, the thrill of being an early admirer of a soon-to-be-big underground artist, and the £8 I just paid for a double gin and tonic. It’s all part and parcel of a wider cultural experience, a shared love of music and the sheer joy that comes from human connection and a crackling PA. The Great Escape festival was a remedy to my need for this feeling, a tonic of new music and emerging artists with their sights set on being the next big thing.
My initiation to the festival was timely, joining the early birds at the hub of Jubilee Square for the first live event. Welcomed by a group of onlookers heady with Seltzer (apparently the tipple de jour), The Great Escape kicked off with an impressive series of performances, headlined by Brighton punk icons Lambrini Girls. As the night wore on I braced myself for a weekend fully immersed in a broad spectrum of music, with a schedule chock-a-block with names both old and new.
The joy of The Great Escape is the breadth of genres; from punk to hyper pop, and blues to house, the common denominator is just; “newness”. I discovered names I wasn’t familiar with, and revisited artists that have been on rotation. My standout performances included UD’s Komedia showcase of grime pioneer Scuti and soul singer songwriter Amie Blu, whilst South London rapper Deema took to downstairs at Patterns with a knockout rendition of “Hashbrown” followed by BXKS, performing one of my favourite tracks of 2021; “Must Feel”. They were all next level. Ten out of ten. Can’t fault them.
Tems’ spotlight show was on my must-see the moment I saw the lineup. Her feature on Wizkid’s song of the summer “Essence” speaks to her ability to compel an audience onto its feet, and to keep them moving for the next ten tracks. Her presence was vibrant, her outfit sensational, and her voice ephemeral – I would see her again in a heartbeat.
I closed my Saturday with a solid 21,000 steps under my belt, and a rekindled appreciation for the underground scene. There’s something about “new” music that speaks to the “future of”. There’s an excitement, and an anticipation of “what could be” – an industry tuned into music that makes you move, listen, and think. The Great Escape makes space for artists at the vanguard of new music, and I’m already looking forward to the next.
Elsa Monteith is a Brighton based writer and broadcaster working in and around the arts and on the radio waves. Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org