After a brief visit to The Haunt to see Flip Grater (pleasant enough but you get the idea after one song) and an even briefer visit to the Green Door Store for Fiction (average sounding indie-rock), Day Two of the Great Escape was kicked into life with the most jaw-droppingly brilliant gig of the festival so far with an incredible set from Seward at the Prince Albert. Double bass, banjo, heavy guitar, loops, samplers and all manner of percussion from bags of plastic bottle tops to a wind-up panda could easily have ended up as a great big mess, but this Catalonian four piece managed to take all these eclectic ingredients and weave them into a densely intricate sound which refuses to conform. Each song is a thick web of evolving melody and rhythm, which never fails to be surprising; clearly no one in the room understands exactly what is happening, but we all agree it is quite magical. The singer, looking like a bearded Forrest Gump has one hell of a voice on him, so filled with emotion that rocking about on his chair bellowing out his songs he really looks quite bonkers, and when he gets up and yells directly into the face of an audience member for thirty seconds, nobody is quite sure whether this is part of the act, or he has just flipped. The drummer spends most of his time making strange, atmospheric sound effects, rolling a toy train across a cymbal and gently stroking a chain of nutshells and occasionally dismantles and re-assembles his kit mid song. The cleverest part of this is the way the whole thing blends together, the wail of a theremin mutating into a double bass glide and then into a howling vocal amplified via a banjo pickup. The applause goes on for a good few minutes, but sadly there’s no place for an encore at the Great Escape.
Staying in the Albert, we get treated to another excellent Catalan Sounds gig, this time from Furguson, a melodic heavy punk band who take the usual guitar/bass/drums template and add a pair of synth players/sonic manipulators to the mix to create an excellent punky racket dripping with strange electronic noises. Next up are The Suicide Of Western Culture, a pair of hooded knob twiddlers who make darkly unsettling post electronica set against a disturbing backdrop of Spanish Civil War film footage.
By all reports, Slow Club at Shipwrights Yard were fantastic, and I could hear Rebecca’s voice belting out into Middle Street, but there was no way I was joining the huge queue outside, so I headed over to the Latest Music Bar for The Physics House Band, who were astonishing as ever, taking their insanely complex electro-math-prog-punk to new levels with the debut outing of their latest, apparently unfinished song, complete with ridiculously impressive guitar trickery.
After a break for some dinner, it’s on to Coalition for Odonis Odonis, one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing, and they didn’t disappoint, their garage clang being a perfect meeting of trash and genius. After a failed attempt to get into Alt-J and Django Django, I settled on the seemingly omnipresent Pond; the Tame Impala offshoot who must have played at least a dozen gigs throughout the course of the festival. The Corn Exchange was one of their biggest though, and they approached it with typically bombastic fervour. Nick Allbrook is a funny little chap; the rest of Pond look like proper rock stars, and then out comes the singer, a skinny blonde kid in a Kiss t-shirt, a good two sizes too big. But all preconceptions are forgotten as soon as the band starts up; the guy can really blast out a song and from the way he moves, he clearly thinks he’s Robert Plant. He’s all over the stage, falling to his knees, rhythmically convulsing on the floor, and even attempts a mini stage dive, and then mid-set he pulls a flute out of nowhere and gives us a little woodwind solo. Ludicrous classic rock, ridiculously over the top, but bloody good fun.
Next, on to the Pavillion Theatre for The Black Belles who look all nice and witchy but have little else to offer. Then, over to Sticky Mikes for We Have Band, although I’d prefer it if they didn’t. And then back to the Pavillion Theatre for Blanck Mass. A terrifying, trouser-shaking apocalyptic rumble; anyone who can dance to Blanck Mass is clearly insane, but despite the impressive power of this intense noise, it does get a bit samey after a while, and leaves you wishing that Fuck Buttons would just get on with it and make another record.
As the scheduled day draws to a close, it’s over to the Loft for a ‘secret’ gig from O Children. A fantastic slice of effortless post-goth pop, and a singer who is a good two feet taller than anyone else in the room. This would have made a great end to the night, but it’s the next band on that people are here to see. Now, the words “performance art” don’t exactly fill me with hope, and occasionally cause me to flee the scene, screaming in terror. Trippple Nippples were no exception, clad in animal print leotards daubed with cave painting cock and balls, cardboard crowns and face paints, they bounced around shrieking amid a relentless tribal pounding which got the whole room dancing, but by the time they got naked and started messing around with tomatoes I decided this was my cue to leave.
So all in all a fantastic second day, shame I missed Rich Aucoin and his giant parachute, Nordic Giants and their avian majesty, Princess Chelsea, Alt J, Django Django and Negative Pegasus, but I think I got my money’s worth.