Last weekend eased us gently into a marathon summer of music and drinking in the sun. In the way that Field Day successfully curates a summer’s day, Great Escape manages to sustain the pace for three. It is one of those festivals that appears to effortlessly cherry pick the crème de la crème of future big players in the game and scatter them smoothly across a plethora of spaces.
This year was no exception, and our favourites from the hundreds of bands, DJs and artists you could have seen will form the theme of this week’s Woody’s Roundup. First up for us was Twin Shadow. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Florida, George Lewis Jnr relocated to New York and worked at his take on 80s new-wave. This year has already seen him take the stage at Coachella festival in the States, as well as a stretch of European tour dates. If you catch him soon, keep a keen eye on the drummer; he makes the live show.
On a sunny Friday afternoon, we reluctantly squeezed into a pitch black sweaty studio to assess the live credentials of a band who have been subtlety bubbling away in blog world since last summer. Young Empires are threesome Robert Aaron Ellingson, Jake Palahnuk and Matthew Vlahovich from Toronto. They put on a lively, upbeat performance that really gets you moving; great fun and very Kitsuné. My other key observation was that their cheeky frontman doesn’t wear shoes, which in a way sums up their charisma as a band perfectly. You’ll probably have to go and see them to understand what I mean.
Now, how to describe Ghostpoet… hypnotic? Melodic? Going places? All of the above? I’ve heard the name ‘Ghostpoet’ dropped into conversation everywhere lately and he recently got a coveted Maida Vale slot on Rob Da Bank’s show – so he must be good. By far and away my favourite performance of the festival, Ghostpoet’s tone and rhythm gives a nod to the distinctive style of Maxi Jazz. In short, perhaps somewhat controversially, my feeling is that he could be this decade’s updated, grimier and dubbier answer to Faithless.
Saturday came around all too quickly and led us down the path to the depressingly named Irish alternative rock band, Funeral Suits. Now, don’t be put off by the idea of music to play in a mortuary – it’s not. Great Escape described their music as ‘a shared love of epic, distorted guitars, blistering harmonious pop, art and electronica’. As a guide, I would probably say take out the math rock rhythmic oddities of the Foals, add some more drums and turn up the bass, but keep the melodies that soar over the top of Cassius and you’re probably about there; really enjoyable and a much happier find than the rest of your “funeral suit” Google searches.
In the basement of Audio, whilst the sun was still shining, Becoming Real (a boy who has clearly grown up in a world that welcomed the beginning of dubstep) put on a best practice performance in the art of sculpting off-beat electro tracks on the spot with just a Mac, mini keyboard and a nano pad or two. He’s probably more of an acquired taste, but certainly one for fans of weird dubstep-driven electronica.
Last but by no means least, Foster the People closed the festival for us. ‘Catchy melodies and hammering basslines’ we were promised, an even bigger performance by the boys from LA we got. With enough instruments to serve an orchestra, these boys are coming to get you. I’m expecting to see them on stage at every festival this summer. It’s happy, it’s sunny and it’s got mass-appeal, but it’s not the same old story… Watch out for the lead singer’s dancing feet, they’re captivating. They do a pretty cool t-shirt too.
It was an impossibility to see everyone, but since I got back I’ve been scouring the programme for any gaps in my repertoire. I’ve got a habit of believing the hype, because more often than not it’s founded. In order to avoid short-changing you here, I’ve also made sure the likes of Little Dragon, Florrie, Black Devil Disco Club, Lone, Beat Connection, Gang Gang Dance, Polarsets, Charli XCX, The Holidays and Suuns are all represented in a ZIP too.
The Great Escape 2011 – part 1 [GE2011.zip1]
Twin Shadow – I Can’t Wait // Young Empires – Rain of Gold // Ghostpoet – Cash & Carry Me Home ft. Kano (if you don’t like Kano, I’d buy the original…) // Funeral Suits – Colour Fade // Becoming Real – Get Hype // Foster the People – Pumped Up Kicks (MNDR 4 – Track Remix)
The Great Escape 2011 – part 2 [GE2011.zip2]
Beat Connection – Silver Screen (Young Montana Remix) // Black Devil Disco Club – To Ardent ft. Nancy Sinatra (Grovesnor Remix) // Charli XCX – Stay Away (T.Williams Dub) // Gang Gang Dance – House Jam // Little Dragon – Feather (Fromwood Remix) // Lone – Once in a While // Polarsets – Morning // Suuns – Optimist // The Holidays – Moonlight Hours (Jonathan Boulet Remix)