Great Escape 2013: Mary’s initial impressions from Day 1 afternoon

By on Tuesday, 28th May 2013 at 1:00 pm

The first weekend I was in Britain on holiday in May, I spent covering Liverpool Sound City with John and Martin. Part 2 of my double music festival holiday, then, was to happen 2 weekends later, at the Great Escape in Brighton, my second time venturing to the seaside for emerging talent and burgeoning favourites. I had arrived 2 days in advance so I could get 2 good nights’ sleep in before John arrived, which was probably a good decision because we didn’t sleep much during the time of the actual 3-day event. While the day I arrived was marked by an uncomfortable driving rain and gale force winds that I was sure would blow off the roof of the flat we rented for the week, divine intervention happily allowed us to get away with no brollies or macs during the festival, which was a pleasant shocker to me after getting thoroughly soaked on the first day last year.

But our festival experience didn’t begin so well. I got a frantic text from John earlier in the day that his coat and keys had been nicked in a pub in Lincoln the night before. His train was late and he was pretty sure he was going to miss the one band he was so keen on seeing that first day, Brother and Bones, whom he’d discovered at the Great Escape 2011, and I was sad for him about that. I suspect he will describe the scene to you in his day 1 report, but I kind of envisioned in my head him running around like a crazy person in Victoria rail station, as he managed to not miss his train down to Brighton.

The next thing I knew, that afternoon I was shooting off from the Old Courtroom to meet him at the Hope on Queens Road to see Brother and Bones for the first time. This was entirely unplanned but looking back in hindsight, it was pretty appropriate for my first show at TGE 2013 to be at the Hope; I’d been walking around town that grey and miserable day on Tuesday and lost my hat somewhere during the walkabout, when I ambled down the Queens Road and suddenly it dawned on me what had been doing there a year ago previous. Seeing another band, the Crookes, for the first time.

Brother and Bones Great Escape live

However, I don’t know if it was a problem with the ventilation or what, as it certainly wasn’t hot Thursday in Brighton. But when it came time for the Brother and Bones set, it was hot, sweaty and gross inside the main room of the Hope. It compared highly unfavourably to the Crookes’ 2012 set for that reason alone; it was crowded then, but I don’t ever recalling having to wipe my sweaty forehead even before the band arrived onstage. But John has been banging on about B&B for a long time, so of course as editor I wanted to see what the fuss was about. He described frontman Richard Thomas as “a mad Jack Sparrow”. Ok. Looking at my photos now, I completely understand the description. Musically, the band is a kind of a strange mixture of Biffy Clyro and folk, and unfortunately not really my thing, so I couldn’t really gauge if this was a good set for them or not. Worse, I couldn’t breathe in the room – too many people + heat = disaster – so I had to beat a hasty retreat and leave John alone to enjoy them.

This gave me ample time to stroll comfortably towards a conference panel at the Komedia, or what is now being called Duke’s at Komedia. I should have known from the name alone that there was something terribly wrong. As I walked down Gardner Street, I could see a neon sign of stripey legs hanging from the side of a shopfront. What is that? As I got closer, my heart sank at what was before me. It honestly looked like a sweet shop had exploded, or maybe Nickelodeon had gotten their mitts on the place and decided everything needed to be day glo orange. Goodness. I saw some great bands in the spaces there in 2012 (Juveniles and JD MacPherson, just to name two) and I don’t know how obvious the backdrop is in this video interview, but part of the Komedia’s charm was that the front part when you walked in was a dive-y looking coffee bar, with wood trim that was well worn but loved. You could get a cup of coffee and a slice of cake and sit down with a book on one of the benches and be perfectly happy with such simplicity. The fact that it’s no longer how I remember it in my mind and they’ve turned into a cinema makes me a bit sick inside.

That said, I suppose for the coffee drinking, popcorn and cake eating public, the inside cafe upstairs is a relaxed, if oversanitised place to get a drink or a bit of food before a film. Me? I just went inside there to charge up my phone and pore over my 3-day schedule, and who should walk in but Everything Everything themselves and their entourage. I looked up from my papers and bassist Jeremy Pritchard smiled and waved at me, “Mary! Fancy seeing here. You all right?” It is moments such as these that make me think, gosh, how is this happening? This would never happen in my day job. Just too funny.

Everything Everything In Conversation panel

The band, ahead of their Thursday night headlining slot at Brighton Dome, were getting ready to be interviewed for an In Conversation panel with Xfm’s John Kennedy. I often have this conversation with other journos about why interviews go well – or terribly wrong. While sometimes it could be the fault of the interviewee, if they’re tired or entirely disinterested in the promotion, more often than not it falls on the interviewer to come up with the right kind of questions to engage and challenge the subject and maintain their attention but also to be able to tease out the information that you think your readers and listeners want. I think Kennedy did an admirable job in this case, but it also helped that Everything Everything themselves are generally funny, amiable chaps who are genuinely are glad for the position they’re in and the opportunities they’re given.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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