The Great Escape - Day One (13/05/2010)

Laura Bruneau | Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The Great Escape - Day One (13/05/2010)

Day one of The Great Escape festival 2010, and the first thing that hit you was the unending plethora of activities on offer. Branding itself as the SXSW of the UK music scene, TGE incorporates industry talks and schmoozing with a healthy dose of new and emerging talent from both Britain and further afield.

Admittedly, if you weren't a delegate, you could kick off your shoes, go for a paddle and eat fish and chips until 1pm when the first bands started up. But if you were fortunate enough to be in possession of a delegate pass then your day hit the ground running at 10:30am.

First up on the schedule was the opening State of the Nation address where PRS economist Chris Carey managed to sum up the financial condition of the UK music industry at record speed; it was like watching the energizer bunny on amphetamines and a caffeine drip. From what was a surprisingly upbeat overview of the year's growth and pitfalls, the talks continued until around 5pm on subjects ranging from 'clouds, streams and unlimited music' to the growth of the HMV monolithic brand over the last three years.

Interspersed with the meetings were ample opportunities to socialise with other delegates, network and consume an almost incomprehensible amount of free alcohol to oil the wheels of communication. Each party was run by different organisations, hoping to promote their company and often entice people along to showcases of fresh faced talent from around the globe.

Indisputably, the headliner on all the party people's lips that night was The Cribs. Some festival goers had traveled down to the sunny shores of Brighton solely for this one act. However, for those less fond of bad haircuts, attitude and over-hyped guitar chords, there were plenty of less packed and potentially less underwhelming experiences on offer.

Sharks, the Clash-inspired English punks, were just one of the more appealing alternatives. Though a little too preened and a touch too melodic, they had an essence of real, dirty, unapologetic 70s punk about them. It was akin to seeing one of the old punk bands back in their youthful prime, before they went bald with beer guts and accumulated too much common sense. Sharks are a group of dumb, young kids but that's what makes them rough and appealing because of their free, reckless abandon as they play; if a couple of them lost their haircuts they'd even look the part.

King Charles, who was playing in the Queens Hotel - a mere five minute frozen stroll along the seafront from The Volks where Sharks were performing - provided a far more gentle counterbalance to the raging hormones and fury of the punk set. Interminably cheery, King Charles might not be setting the world alight but he definitely knows how to put a cheesy grin on its face.

If you were one of those unable, or perhaps unwilling, to face the crowds swarming around The Cribs' set, a far more intimate affair was taking place a few streets away in the modest basement venue Jam. For those entranced by electro-pop and a decent beat, a double hitter of Ritch Kids and Ou Est Le Swimming Pool would have been the perfect way to close out the night from midnight till 1:30am.