Disclaimer: This is a guest post written by author Jim Diesel.
May is upon us once again and our fair city is alive with every conceivable show under the sun as the Brighton Festival, Fringe Festival, Open Houses and The Great Escape all vie for your attention. It’s sensory overload, overwhelming to the point that you’d be forgiven for running to Devil’s Dyke for a moment of solitude and a Mr Whippy.
Still, I decided last Saturday to embrace the chaos and spend a long afternoon and evening within the splendid confines of Hotel Pelirocco for ‘Escape To Pelirocco’ – a day of live music which showcases some of the finest bands Brighton has to offer. Curated by SyncSquirrel’s Emily Dean ETP was conceived as an antidote to The Great Escape festival and is less concerned with out-of-town well-clad wannabes with well bad songs (I generalise but you catch my drift) but rather shedding a light on some of the genuine raw talent emerging from the city’s rich music scene. Now in its 3rd year (previous line-ups have included The Wytches, AK/DK and Grasshopper) ETP is really starting to make its mark as a Great Alternative Escape event.
Man Ray Sky kick things off in fine form offering up synth-laden alt-rock delivering hooks a-plenty along with the odd burst of shoegaze introspection that makes for a mesmerising set. Next up Clever Thing come roaring out of the traps hitting hard like The White Stripes on an amphetamine-fuelled bender by the seaside as Daisy and Rich trade seriously dirty riffs and vocals underpinned by a super-tight rhythm section. Did I mention the hair? Band no.3 are Sego – OK these guys are from LA (their management are Brighton-based) but they’re such an affable bunch that we won’t let geographical specifics get in the way. Their sound is slacker dance punk, all rough around the edges but with an ear for a tune; set-closer ‘The Fringe’ is a bona fide party-starter that cajoles the afternoon ETP crowd into action. The Boy Who Kicked Pigs commence the evening’s proceedings. Led by singer-songwriter Karl Bray this 4-piece look and sound like they’ve just been beamed in from somewhere in America circa 1972; the songs have an authentic sepia feel and are performed using acoustic guitar and upright bass along with a touch of lap guitar to boot. Karl’s stripped-back cover of Erasure’s ‘A Little Respect’ is the stuff of magic leaving the room hanging in a spellbound silence. Le Juki take the baton next and any band that can construct a drum kit from the contents of a freezer box (using said box as a bass drum) are OK by me. They display dizzying levels of virtuosity throwing stop-start rhythms, vocal gymnastics and prog flourishes together with wild abandon. By now the crowd are pretty well lubricated yet there’s a revered hush as the evening’s penultimate act Oktoba single-handedly captivates every soul in the room using just his guitar and voice. And so it’s down to Fable to close proceedings.
Fable is an absolute force of nature who effortlessly oozes star quality. Not only does her voice soar and swoop with ease but she’s a joy to watch too giving her absolute all to her performance. She’s a little bit Goth, very rock and clearly a good laugh too – “shall we channel dead people?” she quips before launching into a scuzzy haunting take on Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’.
And before you know it we’re sent stumbling out of the Pelirocco’s doors into the night safe in the knowledge that away from The Great Escape hype and industry schmooze Brighton’s home-grown music scene is in a healthy place and still very much thriving alive and well. Massive props to Emily for curating another top line-up, Hotel Pelirocco for providing the ultimate space (think your best mate’s front room with the added bonus of kick-ass cocktails) and all the bands and people who came – them vibes were good.
Now it’s definitely time to hit the hills for some peace, quiet and an ice cream.
Words: Jim Diesel.