The Great Escape Festival is like a British version of SXSW. It’s the one festival where you’re guaranteed to stumble across the next big thing, see catch some already big bands in relatively small venues and generally have a good time.
I went to the first ever Great Escape when I was 18 and immediately fell in love with the block party idea of venue hopping with one wristband. The festival has grown since those days, and now you’ll need a plan of attack if you want to make the most of TGE. It’s less easy to venue hop these days, simply because it’s become that much more popular, but with a little planning and pre-thought you can still see the acts you want to.
The great thing about festivals of this nature is that there’s no main stage – you don’t have to sit through a set if you don’t like the band that’s on. You can head to the next venue and see what else is happening. TGE is at its best when you take a chance on a band you’ve not heard before. The first time I saw Friendly Fires was at the 2008 Great Escape.
The line-up this year is probably the best so far. Groove Armada, Chase and Status, Broken Social Scene, Delphic, Wild Beasts, Angus & Julia Stone and These New Puritans are at the top of the bill. There’s also plenty of up-and-coming acts that will be playing too, including Is Tropical, Everything Everything, Frankie & the Heartstrings, Chew Lips and White Rabbits.
Whichever venue you choose to check out, there’s someone pretty exciting playing each day. That leads to plenty of clashes that are sure to divide the festival-going masses.
TGE is an industry event too; a delegate’s pass lets you push to the front of the queue for venues, and you get access to the interesting seminars that run throughout the day. There’s a long list of speakers, ranging from people who work at record labels to music journalists, PRs and other media insiders. At £150 a delegate’s pass is still cheaper than the majority of British festivals, but a massive hike up on the £55 standard venue-only pass.
This year there is a bigger range of TGE tickets available than ever before: you can buy individual day tickets; a ticket for Friday and Saturday; a priority pass which lets you skip the queues or a single gig entry ticket.
I’ll be heading down next week for the launch party on Wednesday and running around Brighton for the full three days making sure I can report back to the Amelia’s site with a strong list of bands who wowed at this year’s TGE, and some tips for the bands to watch over the next few months.
- Festival Review: The Great Escape
- Festival Preview: Vieilles Charrues
- Festival Preview: Dot-to-Dot
- Festival Preview: Field Day
- Festival Preview: Truck