The Great Escape Lineup

The Great Escape Festival 2023 | whynow’s ones to watch

The Great Escape Festival is kicking-off this week. The Brighton-held event is one of the best tributes to new music going – and this year is no different.

Aside from the obvious big-name spotlight shows – which this year will include Maisie Peters, Unknown T and, a couple of weeks from the release of her second album, Arlo Parks – here are some of the top names you need to check out, should you be heading down to the south coast this weekend.


AntsLive

Antslive

Fast-rising rapper AntsLive showed earlier this year that a banging video still goes a long way. Showing him galloping on horseback in the Dolomite Alps, his video for ‘Number One Candidate’ wasn’t just a visual showstopper but was backed-up by the artist’s strong lyrical flow. Catch AntsLive – live.

When and where? Saturday, 13 May, 9:28pm – Amazon New Music Stage

Sophie May

Photo: Nicole Ngai

Sophie May

Sophie May began building a fanbase of devotees by uploading simple, heartfelt videos to her TikTok during lockdown. But in no way is she now simply associated with the platform alone – merely another ‘TikTok star’. Instead, with her dry wit and relatable lyricism, she’s fast becoming a need-to-know singer-songwriter.

When and where? Thursday, 11 May, 7pm – Waterbear Venue

Modern Woman

Modern Woman

Modern Woman have picked up comparisons to a diverse group of acts, including the likes of Sonic Youth, Kate Bush and Black Country, New Road. Based around the songwriting of frontperson and guitarist Sophie Harris, they’ve also garnered such respect for their live shows that End of the Road Festival felt compelled to launch a sister label to get their music out into the world.

When and where? Friday, 12 May, 5:25pm – MVT Stage

Prima Queen

Prima Queen

Formed by best friends Louise Macphail and Kristin McFadden – who met after Kristin flew over from Chicago to study in London, where Bristol-raised Louise was – Prima Queen offer soothing harmonies. That’s not to say they’re all nicey-nice. Far from it. Instead, their output draws on touching, real-life experiences to paint a relatable picture. Check ‘em out.

When and where? Thursday, 11 May, 8:30pm – Amazon New Music Stage

PVA

PVA

PVA have been part of South London’s burgeoning underground scene for a little while now, as former associates of underground label Slow Dance before eventually signing to respected independent label Ninja Tune. Their debut album BLUSH, released last year, is the culmination of all the hard yards they’ve put in and which they’re now reaping the benefits from.

When and where? Saturday, 13 May, 8:30pm – Chalk

Sam Akpro

Photo: Holly Whitaker

Sam Akpro

With debates swirling around the redundancy of genres, Sam Akpro is an artist who pushes such a notion. His most recent EP, Arrival, shows precisely why, as a moody, slinky four-track project that incorporates elements of punk, grunge, trip-hop and sounds that bear no point defining. Yet whilst his sound is widespread, his vision and aesthetic is evidently fine-tuned.

When and where? Thursday, 11 May, 7:15pm – Komedia Basement

STONE

STONE

If it’s a classic, no-frills, guitar-induced catharsis you want, look no further than Scouse outfit STONE. The rambunctious four-piece and Polydor Records signees know how to pack a punch when it comes to their live shows, and have had plenty of experience, recently completing a headline tour in April.

When and where? Friday, 12 May, 6:15pm – Amazon New Music Stage

Blondshell

Photo: Daniel Topete

Blondshell

After the release of her debut album last month, we might just have a new alt-rock queen on our hands. Blondsell’s self-titled record combined popular singles into a compelling whole and demonstrated that the LA artist (real name, Sabrina Teitelbaum) has a skilled instinct to know when to play it subtle and when to let it all out. And lucky you, she’s playing twice at The Great Escape.

When and where? Thursday, 11 May, 10:15pm – Komedia Basement;

Friday, 12 May, 9:15pm – The Old Market

The Last Dinner Party

The Last Dinner Party 

A lot of words have been written about The Last Dinner Party on the Twitter-sphere in recent weeks. ‘Industry plant’, ‘nepo babies’, you name it, people have tried to shoot them down. Yet whilst there’s seemingly no basis for any of it, these razor-sharp girls have evidently only focussed on one thing – music – which they do a darn good job of.

When and where? Thursday, 11 May, 8:30pm – Chalk

Antony Szmierek

A teacher by trade and musician all other times, Antony Szmierek has such a way with words, fashioning tunes that draw on the hum-drum of everyday life, that he’s been nicknamed ‘The Manc Mike Skinner’. Catch him, not in his native Manchester, but down in Brighton, reeling off the likes of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Fallacy’ (Lauren Laverne’s favourite song last year, apparently), and you’ll see why.

When and where? Thursday, 11 May, 1am – Patterns Downstairs

Billie Marten

Billie Marten

Whilst The Great Escape is all about shining a light on some of the best emerging talent, to say Billie Marten falls in that category is a slight faux pas. The British folk singer not only boasts a loving (and lovely) audience of fans, but has four albums to her name; the most recent of which, Drop Cherries, released last month, is a tender, wistful record that she’ll no doubt be playing from this weekend.

When and where? Thursday, 11 May, 8:15pm – Komedia Basement

Bricknasty

Bricknasty

Having recently signed to UK label FAMM, which is also home to the likes of Jorja Smith, Enny and Maverick Sabre, Bricknasty traverse RnB, neo-soul, jazz, psych, and many a sumptuous sound in between. With their debut EP, INA CRUELER, set for release on 7 June, which pays homage to the Dublin suburb of lead singer Fatboy’s hometown of Ballymun, get yourself down to see why they’re generating such a buzz. Not once, but twice.

When and where? Thursday, 11 May, 1pm – Prince Albert;

Friday, 12 May, 1:15pm – Jubilee Square

Heartworms

Photo: Camille Alexander

Heartworms

Another Speedy Wunderground signee, Heartworms (real name Jojo Orme) offers ferocious post-punk energy, with her lyrics inspired by poets like Ezra Pound and John Keats, and an aesthetic that draws on her fascination with military history. (The singer-songwriter even announced a collaboration with Airfix earlier this year, to launch her own scale model plane starter kit). She’ll be playing two separate occasions at TGE this weekend.

When and where? Thursday, 11 May, 10:15pm – TGE Beach Stage;

Friday, 12 May, 10pm – Charles Street Tap

DanDlion

DanDLion

DanDLion might have production credits with the likes of Little Mix, Tom Grennan and Dermot Kennedy already under his belt, but it’s being in the spotlight by himself where he really thrives. In truth, he’s quite the showman, with the performative air of a young Jay Kay from Jamiroquai. Catch him while you can.

When and where? Thursday, 11 May, 8:15pm – A L P H A B E T

Girl Scout

Photo: Martyna Bannister

Girl Scout

Stockholm’s Girl Scout have been growing accustomed to featuring on many a ones-to-watch list (although we just missed them out on ours for this yearförlåt, Girl Scout). The four-piece might have spent several years studying jazz together, but their sound lies firmly in dreamy indie-rock.

When and where? Friday, 12 May, 9:30pm – Prince Albert

Moreish Idols

Moreish Idols

Following the recent release of their latest hazy EP, Lock Eyes and Collide, which also came out via revered London-led label Speedy Wunderground, Moreish Idols will be hitting up the Brighton festival. Expect a genre-less approach to their experimental, fuzzy art rock.

When and where? Thursday, 11 May, 6:15pm – TGE Beach Stage

Amie Blu

Amie Blu

Amie Blu’s exceptional voice lives up to the songstress’s surname: her output is replete with devastatingly beautiful songs that you can afford to feel a little blue to. Her vocal and lyrical maturity belies her 19 years of age, and she’s certainly not one to be missed – not at The Great Escape, nor beyond for that matter.

When and where? Thursday, 11 May, 7:15pm – A L P H A B E T

Gurriers

Gurriers

Having watched Dublin five-piece Gurriers at Ireland’s Other Voices festival last year, I can safely tell you these lads know how to give it some welly. They might only have three songs publicly released, but that doesn’t stop them from playing a raucous set – and when they play murky tune ‘Top Of The Bill’ you too will find out why.

When and where? Thursday, 11 May, 3pm – Prince Albert;

Friday, 12 May, 7pm – A L P H A B E T

Lila Drew

Lila Drew

Lila Drew’s debut album All The Places I Could Be, released last year, was a diaristic outpouring of her years between 18 and 20 when she wrote it. Now a little older, and a little wiser (even if it is hard to top some of the moody, wise-beyond-its-years pop on the record), Lila is evidently just getting started. And you can catch her at The Great Escape, before she inevitably hits the big time.

When and where? Thursday, 11 May, 9:15pm – Komedia Studio

Louis Culture

Louis Culture

As a member of South London collective Elevation/Meditation, alongside the likes of p-rallel and Finn Foxell, Louis Culture is another on this list who’s certainly more than a mere ‘rising star’. With the release of his melodic sophomore album, When Life Presents Obstacle, last year – the follow-up to 2020’s Smile Soundsystem – there’s plenty for Louis to delve into when he takes to the stage at the Brighton festival. Which is all the better reason he’ll be playing twice.

When and where? Friday, 12 May, 12:30pm – Fabrica;

Friday, 12 May, 9:30pm – Patterns Upstairs

Now, of course, this list is not exhaustive. And there’s some other exceptional, well-known names, including ENNY, Ethan P. Flynn, Hak Baker and more. The best part is simply turning up to whatever floats your boat, even taking a venue at random, and not quite knowing which artist will surprise you. For more information and the line-up in full, visit The Great Escape website here.


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