Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Great Escape 2012 - Tips for First Timers

It's almost time for the Great Escape Festival - my annual fix of musical discovery and quintessential Brighton jollity. This year I have completely failed to do any prep and find out what bands I might want to see (despite having access to Digby's handy Spotify playlist), which almost makes it more exciting, and means I have absolutely no preconceptions.

WATP, The Great Escape

It also means I can't offer you my hot tips for which bands are a must-see. But as a seasoned Great-Escaper, I can offer any first-timers some hints for getting the most out of the festival experience.
  • Don't ever queue. However much you want to see a band, there's always something else great going on elsewhere and queuing wastes valuable gig time. Even if it is a band you have wanted to see for ages, they will no doubt be touring again soon anyway, and queuing is not cool.
  • Enjoy the rest of the Brighton Festival. If you suffer from gig fatigue at any point, pop into some Open Houses to cleanse the cultural palate.
  • Use the free text update service. This hasn't been heavily promoted in recent years, but is a great way to find out about schedule changes and secret gigs, as well as helping you avoid gigs where there are queues. Apparently there's a smartphone app this year, too.
  • Always go to secret gigs - they can be the best kind of atmospheric happening and you might get to see some really exciting bands on their way up. We saw Foals in 2007 at a packed out, high-energy performance at the end of the pier and it was one of the best gigs of my life.
  • Don't forget to eat. Sometimes it feels like there's so much on offer that to spend an hour eating out is wasteful, but you must fuel up for moshing and trekking from venue to venue. I recommend Moshi Moshi and Pho as great, quick-but-not-fast-food central pit stops.
  • Take a notebook - because you will see a lot of bands and you won't remember who they were otherwise. 
  • Don't be put off by the venue. There are some real dives on the Great Escape circuit, but if the band is good enough, it will be a great gig. I saw Low Anthem in 2010 at the seedy Ocean Rooms, and they blew the walls off.
  • Enjoy hipster-spotting. Every year, all the hipsters in the world (or at least from East London) descend on Brighton for the Great Escape, with their resplendent ironic hairdos and over-sized retro specs. It is a feast for the eyes and an inspiration. If you want to join in and be one of the gang, visit Beyond Retro to stock up on vintage clobber
  • Don't shout stuff to your friend during a quiet folky gig (or any other gig for that matter), or I will punch you in the face.
That is all. Have fun. Say hi. Tell me how you got on.
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