Among the innumerable ranks of bands who will be worth seeing, here are some of our highlights for the weekend.
With just one week to go before one of the country’s densest three days of music, it is coming time to begin the immense task of trying to plan for The Great Escape. We know, these plans are made to be broken. It is one of those festivals where you can do little but follow your nose and rely on the occasion to deliver. Among headliners Arlo Parks, Maisie Peters, Unknown T and The Pretenders and alt royalty in-waiting The Last Dinner Party, there are a deluge of incredible acts that you want to see and many more you will discover that you have not even heard of yet. Here are our picks of 10 to try your absolute best to go and see, but we’ll forgive you if you don’t manage to catch all of them.
Akpro’s music sounds like nobody else. The Peckham born-and-raised writer and producer dropped his third EP, ‘Arrival’, last month, the latest in a series of mould-breaking releases. Fusing influences across guitar music, jazz and hip-hop, his open-mindedness spills into a constantly unpredictable live show.
Official Shows: Thursday, Komedia Basement, 7.15pm
Hot off of tour dates supporting Aldous Harding and H. Hawkline, Low brings her irresistible piano balladry to TGE. Ingenious lyrics bounce between raw candour and lighthearted humour as they circle around her experience of transition. Her live persona can envelop you, combining the sultry, melodramatic and downright weird. Come and sample debut EP ‘Transatlantic Sugar’ in the wake of its release next Tuesday.
Official Shows: Thursday, The Hope and Ruin, 6.45pm; Friday, One Church, 3.15pm
The relentlessly badass MAY makes a welcome return to the live circuit around the release of her outstanding new single ‘PHONE ME’. Having debuted last year with ‘LUCKY’, she quickly won hearts with unique outfits and a set of twisted experimental pop, reminiscent of peers Jockstrap in its unrestrained assimilation of a range of styles and ideas.
Official Shows: Thursday, TGE Beach Stage, 1.55pm
The fast-talking, fast-rising post-post-punks have a busy schedule at the festival, supporting recent single ‘The Snitching Hour’. After their storming Lafayette headline last week, these are set to be buzzing occasions. They are the perfect band to electrify the night deep into the small hours and have appropriately been handed two post-midnight slots.
Official Shows: Thursday, The MVT Stage, 3.30pm; Thursday, Komedia Basement, 12.15am; Friday, Chalk, 2.00am
The casually provocative and effortlessly inventive cumgirl8 are essential to catch before they leave the UK to return to their native Manhattan. Having graduated from the Shacklewell Arms to Moth Club in a few short months, their singular evolution of post-punk into fingerprint-smeared DIY pop is irresistibly grin-inducing.
Official Shows: Thursday, Volks, 8pm
The Leeds group fuse the nighttime thrills of clashing guitars and bouncing bass lines with the poetry of the mundane, illuminated by the kitchen light. Having produced one of the most exciting debut EPs of 2022 in ‘Polyawkward’, the band have since featured in the Speedy Wunderground singles series with ‘Song About Love’, and we can’t wait to see what comes next from them.
Official Shows: Thursday, Horatios, 10.15pm; Friday, Fabrica, 3.30pm; Friday, The Old Market, 7.15pm
The righteously furious punk trio behind the ingenious ‘Help Me I’m Gay’ have established themselves as one of Brighton’s crowning exports of recent years. Expect a stomping reception when Lambrini Girls come tearing through the festival.
Official Shows: Friday, Chalk, 8.30pm
HoH favourites Lilo bring their charmingly thoughtful indie Americana to TGE this year. Having produced one of our favourite EPs of the year so far, ‘I Don’t Like My Chances on the Outside’, we’re looking forward to a gap in the hectic swirl of the festival schedule to indulge in their mellow majesty.
Official Shows: Friday, Fabrica, 7.30pm
The Scottish dance band bring the power of punk performance to their forceful brand of dance music. Poetic outbursts give way to base rhythmic instinct and the crowd goes wild. When the spirit of the festival strikes and it comes time to break a sweat, there is no better way to do it.
Official Shows: Thursday, Paganini Ballroom (The Old Ship), 9.15pm; Friday, Charles Street Tap, 7pm
The vaunted new band arrived fresh on the London scene from their native Liverpool at the tail end of 2022. It’s a now-familiar trope: a murmur growing into a buzz, a Lou Smith video as the only place to hear their music, and fabulous style to match. As our recent feature on the group noted, this band are something special and worth catching in their incendiary nebulous face.
Official Shows: Saturday, Zahara, 12.30pm