Great Escape 2013: Mary’s Day 2 Evening Roundup

By on Friday, 31st May 2013 at 1:00 pm

Every time the recurrent thought of “oh, I’m not doing the Great Escape next year, it’s too mental” comes into my mind, something amazing happens while I’m in Brighton that restores my faith about the seaside festival. True, it tends to attract more of the ‘entitled’ crowd than Liverpool Sound City does; the first afternoon this year, I was pushed to the side by two uni kids who were whinging about something instead of actually watching the band on stage. But for the sheer random things that seem to only occur in Brighton and you’re in the music business, you can’t beat TGE.

Last year I got lost one morning, only to be hilariously greeted by the sight of Zulu Winter (who I’d met at SXSW 2012 2 months earlier) literally busting out of their van on New Road. Friday night this year, on the recommendation of Ed Blow of Dirty Hit, I ordered moules and frites at the Dorset and who should call my name but Henry Walton, guitarist of the same band, in town playing in his friend’s band for the weekend. It was nice to see an old friend, but really, I was chuffed that he remembered me! If you’re wondering, Zulu Winter is working on their next album, which is great, great news! (Another moment to savour during the weekend was Jon Higgs of Everything Everything saying, “my, you’re a clever girl!” when I showed him my day job business card; his parents are biologists, which intrigued this boffin editor.) But on to Friday night…

In general, I usually don’t have to worry about badge queues at SXSW, because the majority of acts I want to catch in Austin are indie and British and usually aren’t all that well known in America yet. This night, my idea of catching Marika Hackman at the Unitarian Church and swanning in quickly and easily through the badge queue didn’t go exactly to plan. And to be honest, had I not gone up to security at the back door and asked him if there was a separate badge queue, I think everyone queuing would have just stayed in their places, oblivious that there should have been some queue hierarchy. So always ask! After my enquiry, they decided not to have badge and wristband queues; no, they decided to have 3-day versus weekend badge queues. Not terribly fair either; I can see if I were English and had to work on Thursday, there wouldn’t have been a point in me buying a 3-day wristband, is there? Anyway…

Marika Hackman Great Escape live

I got inside, only to hear the last 2 songs of Hackman’s set. Once inside the church, I realised what the problem with the place was; the room they were using was tiny! I was expecting it to be as big as the main room of St. David’s in Austin, and it’s nowhere near that. Forget the size for the moment, though. Whether it’s divine intervention or not, every concert or set I’ve seen inside a church has always been acoustically brilliant, and Hackman’s set here was no exception. Considering what I’d read previously about her love for Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac, I was surprised to see her stood with her guitar and no other accompaniment. She looked a little scared faced with so many eyes watching her. However, talent won out, as she stood resolutely to deliver one after another of her lovely songs. The applause at the end was thunderous, and she bashfully exited stage left with a huge grin on her face.

From there, I decided to check in to one of my favourite venues from last year, Sticky Mikes’s Frog Bar closer to the water. Why? There was a rock/folk double-header like no other, that’s why: Story Books, who I’d befriended at this year’s SXSW, and To Kill a King, TGTF 10 for 2013 poll alums who I’d not seen live yet. While I was waiting down the front, I met two really sweet girls on either side of me who knew of both bands, and neither were bloggers or in the business – seriously, what are the odds, right? One was from London and the other had come over from Canada. Going real international.

Story Books Sticky Mikes Great Escape live

Both bands have a lot of band members so the question was, how was eveyrone going to fit on the stage? The space restriction did affect Story Books’ Kris Harris and his ability to truly rock out the way he likes to when he’s wailing, but considering what space he was given, he did an admirable job with his moves on tunes like ‘Glory and Growth’. I think ‘Too Much Like a Hunter’ EP opening track ‘Simple Kids’ is ranking up there with my favourite anthemic songs of 2013 and will become a classic; it’s got such a memorable chorus and a driving rhythm throughout, just so mesmerising.

To Kill a King Sticky Mikes Great Escape live

If you’re a To Kill a King fan and don’t fancy Bastille (me) or you waited too long to buy your top-up tickets to the Brighton Dome show Saturday starring both to them (my new friends from London and Canada), then the only option left was to see To Kill a King alone at Sticky Mike’s on Friday. I’m really quite glad I chose this show over several others, and I’ll tell you why: even though they’re not entirely folk, TKAK put on one of the most memorable sets of my TGE experience this year, feeling like the cross between a hoedown and a house party. You wouldn’t expect a band that puts out an album called ‘Cannibals With Cutlery’ to be so amiable and non-aggro, but Ralph Pelleymounter and crew quickly got the crowd behind them with their winsome brand of rocking out folk.

The main complaint I have about Sticky Mike’s basement –besides the low, claustrophobic ceiling and stupidly placed beams always in your sightlines – is that there is no way in hell you’re getting a mobile phone signal down there. So if you’re going to meet somewhere there, you better get your communications sorted and plans made before you descend. I was supposed to meet several people there, but couldn’t find any of them. I did however run into the brilliant Louise Minter of AMP Publicity, who recognised me from last year and gave me a free-t-shirt; how nice is that? And with that, I went home. Yeah, I know, going home before midnight on Friday night at the Great Escape is a bit of a copout, isn’t it? Sometimes exhaustion wins out, though. And trust me, resting up for my Saturday was entirely worth it!

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4 Responses

1:17 pm
31st May 2013

RT @tgtf: New post: Great Escape 2013: Mary’s Day 2 Evening Roundup inc. Marika Hackman, Story Books, and To Kill a King:…

[…] rousing set at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar on the Friday night of the Great Escape 2013 here, ahead of their appearance the following night at Brighton Dome with headliner and personal […]

[…] realmusik (see ‘Cannibal’ from 2013’s ‘That Iron Taste’ mini-album). Mary caught the end of her very popular show at The Great Escape last year, a very sparse affair with Hackman accompanied by just her acoustic […]

5:43 pm
23rd November 2019

[…] was behind all the construction work, I sadly learned the intimate, all-seated venue where I’d previously seen a magical set by Marika Hackman was one in, one out. So much for planning. Feeling slightly defeated, I decided to call it a […]

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