So, we've had some time to let the dust settle on another incredible week of music on England's (mostly) sunny south coast. The Great Escape made its in-person return for the first time since 2019 a couple of weeks ago, while GoldenPlec made its first appearance at the festival since 2018.
A plethora of new acts have appeared over the lockdown period who were finally getting the chance to showcase their wares to industry folk from around the globe. More importantly, a lot of us were getting out first opportunity to catch 'em live in the flesh. GoldenPlec managed to catch 29 gigs over the three days, a lot of whom are Irish but here are five non-Irish acts that caught the eye (and ear) who we think need to make their Irish live debuts as soon as possible.
Industry festivals are an odd experience for the regular gig-goer. It's not often that bands get to put themselves in front of so many important industry members so, understandably, they're aiming to impress, which, sometimes means they aren't their usual genuine selves. For Fat Dog, however, who play on day one of the festival, this couldn't be further from the truth. Fat Dog were there to party. And party they did.
Some members dressed in just some red pants, others dressed as nuns, it's exactly what you'd expect to see at 2.15am in a small concrete-floored room under Brighton train station. As for the music, the band display influences ranging from Underworld to Little Big to The Streets, all melded together to form a truly unique relentless party-banger sound. Prepare yourselves.
Brighton's own Lime Garden play a number of sets over the three-day festival, with all of them being well received by all accounts, somewhat proven by the large crowd in attendance on the Amazon New Music Stage on Saturday. Brought together over a shared love for Courtney Barnett and Talking Heads, Lime Garden have spent the majority of their career in lockdown. However, such is the buzz they built during that time, that, as soon as gigs were allowed again, they were selling out shows faster than they could announce them.
Live, they are a tight-knit bunch with a solid sense of humour, often self-deprecating as lead singer Chloe Howard marvels at the fancy light show that playing a sponsored stage allows them. It's an endearing moment, showing that the band have just been happy to focus on the songs and let the show build around them. And trust us, the show is building.
We'll sprinkle this section with a little bit of honesty. We had no idea who Party Dozen were, where they were from or what they sounded like prior to their set at The Great Escape. We were there purely to make sure we got in to the venue on time for Fat Dog. What a bloody good decision. Arguably our highlight of the week (CMAT aside, understandably), Sydney two-piece hit like an unexpected roundhouse kick to the face.
Considering there are only two people on stage, Jonathan Boulet on drums and Kirsty Tickle on saxophone, Party Dozen make an incredible racket. Bass-heavy synths underpin the two incredibly talented musicians, particularly Tickle, who makes unexpected use of her sax by occasionally placing it over her mouth and screaming rather incoherent lyrics in to it. It's a complete and utter sensory overload from start to finish. Three times we were asked what their name was as the crowd filtered out. Spellbinding.
One of the best aspects of The Great Escape is that even if your band doesn't make the cut this year, there's a sibling festival running concurrently with the main event that regularly snaps these bands up and puts them on for free in much smaller, dingier venues around the town. Moreish Idols are one of those bands this year. Not quite ready for the industry, but absolutely ready to share their unique brand of punk in what is usually a basement jazz bar.
Signed to Dan Carey's internationally-renowned Speedy Wunderground, Cornwall's Moreish Idols bring an art-rock aesthetic to their brand of punk, one that helps them stand out from the abundance of post-punk bands that have cropped up in the last 3/4 years. Live they're still a work in progress but the musicianship on show means it's only a matter of time before they're tearing up stages at festivals across the UK and hopefully Ireland.
Our last act of the week was a fitting end to the festival. Liverpool's Pixey is a breath of fresh air. Signed to Chess Club Records (alongside Ireland's own Sinead O'Brien), Pixey is a songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist with bags of talent and even more charm. Primed for big things a few years ago, Covid-19 unfortunately halted her progress but if her 30-minute set at TGE is anything to go by, she's still on the cusp of something great.
Citing inspirations such as The Verve, De La Soul and The Prodigy sonically, Bjork, Kate Bush and. George Harrison lyrically, and Grimes for her jack-of-all-trades energy, Pixey's brand of indie pop is thoroughly engaging and we can't wait for her to finally get the chance to show the world, but more importantly Ireland, what she's made of.