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  • Writer's pictureJO'B

Brighton Rocks 2 - back at The Great Escape 2024

Mrs JO’B and I are back in Brighton for our annual pilgrimage to this celebration of new music. We first went back in 2017, and have been back for 2019, 2019 and 2023. This is our fifth jaunt together and we are excited. But it’s a weird vibe this year.

Bright(on) lights

In the run up to the event, circa 100 acts have withdrawn from the festival in protest to the sponsorship it has received from Barclaycard. Barclays Bank now holds over £2 billion in shares, and provides £6.1 billion in loans to companies whose weapons are being used by Israel in the Gaza conflict.

In his Red Hand Files, Nick Cave was asked by an act who sought advice on whether they should play or not. Nick’s advice was “play”. I think I agree and each of those acts could have protested from the stage in a co-ordinated action. It would have had more impact. But that’s just my opinion. And I am now undertaking my own research into what Barclays are doing as a customer, so it has had an impact in this little part of SE3.

We miss a few bands that I really wanted to see but I respect their choice. And there are enough bands playing for it to still feel busy and fun. We message our friend Rich and soon hook up with him (and his lovely friends Paul, Peter and Oksana) and we are straight back into it. Through the weekend we meet up with Amanda, Chloe and Davy, lovely music fans sharing our new finds!

The festival is wristband access for punters to enter many many venues across Brighton, with delegates at a parallel industry conference getting first refusal to any gig. It’s SXSW but much smaller and MUCH cheaper (£70 versus $945, though that includes the conference element too).

There are posters mocking the festival across the city - one can’t help but feel these people are joyless bastards (though the poster is quite funny - SourGhostWriter being my favourite made up name). But if you could afford to make that poster, you could have spent that money helping people rather than mocking up and coming artists (even if some of them ARE Nepo Babies).

Anyway, we never see as many bands as we plan too (Mrs JO’B and I do like a nap!). But here are the 15 bands we saw or heard, in reverse order of greatness!

15. Chinchilla, UK

Frankly dreadful pop nonsense delivered by a singer wearing what can only be described as a cowboy outfit that could double up as bad pyjamas. She is a TikTok sensation apparently. This confirms my view that TikTok is nonsense.

We can only bear her set five minutes and bail to get away from her warbling She overruns by 10 minutes, which is appalling behaviour at a festival where bands have a 30 minute handover to get set up, while the previous band gets off stage, and then have a 25 / 30 minute set. This deluded singer, who seems to think she is the first person to ever write a song about a break up, is a selfish asshole. Quite awful.

Pip Blom, who have to follow her and only have 20 minutes to set up , are magnificent by comparison (see my number 1 of the weekend).

14. Bound By Endogamy, Switzerland

Possibly the worst band I have ever seen, but literally everyone in the venue is cheering at the end, so what do I know? I just saw a woman growling into a microphone while dancing like Kate Bush on ketamine, to a soundtrack of bad dub electronica. This was a Swiss showcase gig. I am now convinced the Swiss are weird.


13. Really Good Time, Ireland

“When will my wish come true” they sang…if singing in tune was that wish, then not yet it would seem… 

12. Southern River Band, Australia 

AC/DC pub rock shite (though I love the real AC/DC, just for the record). Part of the Australian showcase, Mrs JO'B (an Aussie herself) informs me it was legally required that all Australian bands sounded like this until Savage Garden won a landmark court case against the Government in 2005 that Australian bands didn't all have to play hard rock.

11. Rum Jungle, Australia

Nice enough, bit pointless? Pop surf rock. Been done a million times. It would appear it is illegal to be in this band and not wear a jaunty baseball cap. 

10. Rowena Wise, Australia

If you have travelled half way around the world to play at this festival, why would you spend a lot of time talking rather than playing? Some nice songs, a slacker Courtney Barnett - I was not indifferent to her new song Indifferent. But having played a decent tune, she then spent more time chatting, so we gave up and went back to see Go-Jo who was way more fun (see below).

9. Parliamo, Scotland

Being produced by The Snuts who are also co-writing songs with them, they have tunes and have a nice Primal Scream meets early Blur (Leisure) feel to them. The lead guitarist though can't help a bit of guitar solo masturbation and looks like he is in a different band. One song has a great Blister In The Sun vibe and they had a very good drummer. Worth another listen.

8. Darren Kiely, Cork, Ireland

Nice Irish singer from Cork, who looked a bit like my Godson Tom, so I liked him immediately. A good Mumford / Lumineers feel, will check out again. Charming.

7. Brockhoff, Germany

German band, with a definite Bad Bad Hats feel, with a bit of Heather Nova. They were good, really liked them, but got distracted as the gig was in a Church and there was a man in a pew who looked like a fucked up Renton from Trainspotting. I will give them another listen.


6. Tom Lark, New Zealand

Here from New Zealand, Tom plays acoustic guitar, backed by a great bass player and drummer. Reminded me of The Lemonheads. The drummer was very funny, regaling the audience with stories, including the fact that someone had thrown an egg at Tom that day, but it had bounced right off. Well worth checking out.


5. Been Stellar, NYC, USA

I really loved Been Stellar when I saw them here in 2022 and have since bought an ep. I was really looking forward to seeing them, but the sound was appalling (sort it out Great Escape and have words with the Charles Street Tap - if they want to be a venue again, this needs fixing).

Been Stellar being stellar (but for the crap sound)

Been Stellar were good though (especially their fab drummer). They have a real Ride meets The Strokes feel to them. They must be furious that they were listed in the Great Escape App as Been Steller. Someone in their management needs a slap.

4. Soft Loft, Switzerland

God, their singer looked miserable as she took the stage at the Swiss Showcase, but she cheered up as they got going, and she warmed up, relaxed and delivered some great, Cranberries-esque tracks. They are all jangly guitars, catchy tunes and warbly vocals. Well worth a spin.

However, we were quite distracted by the drummer who looks like a German 70s porn star, crossed with Mark Heap's character Jim from Friday Night Dinner. And the bass player had a man-bun. Unforgivable.


3. Go-Jo, Manjimup, Western Australia

We bail on Go-Jo before he starts as he is taking too long to get going due to technical problems. Plus he is wearing a pink suit, no shirt, has a mullet and a moustache. And the guitarist has man bun - what is wrong with people?

But we return when we are bored by Rowena Wise, using most of her slot to explain her songs. Thank God we did.

We walk into a real surprise, By now they have got going, playing great, fun guitar pop. His backing band are wearing matching suits and cut outs of Go-Jo's face on the back of their heads.

They are actually very good - pop with a little guitar shredding (but unusually not in a wanky way). Bands playing The Great Escape could learn from him - he introduced himself between every song, as lots more people came in - he was a real pro. He is ripped as well, espousing the joys of yoga, dancing and getting the audience to join in (no mean feat with this crowd).

His last song, Mrs Hollywood, is REALLY good and he completely won me over.

2. Full Flower Moon Band - Brisbane, Australia

Ok, so we saw Full Flower Moon Band twice. The first time was Thursday night, over excited and a little inebriated. We are smitten, seeing them at the great Hope & Ruin which has great sound and a buzzing atmosphere. Before every song, their singer introduces them with a deep vocal effect, just repeating Full Flower Moon Band (with the emphasis on Moon) - they sound weird but then deliver a belting Breeders-esque set. Their singer plays blistering guitars and wields her guitar as a prop as well as an instrument. We declare them brilliant and I order their album when we get home.

We see them again on the Saturday at the Australian Showcase. We are nervous that without beer, they won’t be quite as amazing, but phew, they are really good. They are unfazed when they have some technical problems, so the lead singer, who I now know goes by the name of Babyshakes Dillon, plays a track solo, which is fabulous. The techies and band members fix the problem, and then they belt through a set, even managing to finish three minutes early.

The audience scream for an encore, so they plough through a song in 3 minutes so they don't overrun. They are the complete opposite of the dreadful Chinchilla.

I am pleased I have bought their album, and whilst the Breeders comparison didn’t quite resonate as much second time around, it still rang true enough. Babyshakes Dillon is slinky, hip-shaking and plays a mean solo. Their bass player, Marli Smales, holds down the groove and it's all great fun. Definitely check them out, they are moving to the UK, so I will be seeing them again.

1. Pip Blom, Amsterdam, Netherlands

It's my fourth time seeing Pip Blom, and their fourth time playing The Great Escape (we first saw them here in 2018). They are brilliant, both on record and live. Despite the shoddy behaviour of the previous performer (the awful Chinchilla - I really can’t let that go, I am still hugely cross!), they set up in 20 minutes and hit the stage bang on time.

They have 30 minutes and use every one to maximum effect. They announce as this is a music festival for new music, so they are only playing new songs off their most recent album. That album, Bobbie, is a great blast of electronic pop (a move necessitated when their drummer took maternity leave). Though I miss their more Pixies style guitar rock, their new synth driven pop is amazing.

They power through the set, barely stopping between songs. The three cardboard shapes they use behind them creates a fabulous effect on stage as the lights bounce off each. It’s a cost effective way to really create a bigger stage show. Clever.

Pip is a bundle of energy as is her brother who switches wildly between drums, guitar, synths, vocals and swigging a beer when he has a moment. Class.

Pip Blom are rapidly becoming one of my favourite bands - check them out, anotehr band we first discovered at The Great Escape. Roll on 2025!

Stay safe, and if you enjoyed this, please subscribe (see link below), x

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