The Great Escape - Sneaky Surprises

With Bonjay, Deep Sea Arcade, Lucy Rose...
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Clash hit Brighton for The Great Escape 2011 festival. Read on for five bands who surprised and delighted our team of been-there-seen-it journos across the city's venues and events including The Vaccines, Bonjay, Lucy Rose, Deep Sea Arcade and Foster The People.

Lucy Rose

The spellbinding folk music of Lucy Rose had a basement full of people rapt from the off with her distinctive, saccharine voice. Vocally she reminds us of Laura Marling, with a little bit of Gemma Hayes thrown in for good measure.

Her youthful fragility is highlighted by the presence of her male backing band, which includes Bjorn Agren, formerly of Razorlight, playing slide guitar. Lucy’s banter between songs is charming and disarming. She breaks off mid-set to peddle some of her merch – tins of tea. No boring CDs or t-shirts for this girl.

Bonjay

Bonjay are rave sampler extraodinaire, Ian ‘Pho’ Swain and dancehall soul vocal vixen Alanna Stuart, who blast into our consciousness from the intimate beginnings of a hotel coffee table production desk on a tiny stage in the basement of the Queens Hotel reception.

An attention-grabbing, bass-heavy cover of TV On The Radio’s Staring at the Sun makes the gathered drinkers stop and stare, before things take a turn for the bonkers as Alanna starts to wind things up with some serious dancehall bashment on ‘Faat Gyal’. Bonjay left everyone quite frankly bewildered that electro, rave, dancehall and soul can actually fuse and sound ok at 7pm.

Deep Sea Arcade

DSA have to compete with the lure of a free barbeque in front of their venue but easily pack Digital out, despite the sausage fest.

On record, these guys sound like throwbacks to the 60s with their Beach Boys harmonies. Upcoming single ‘Lonely in Your Arms’ could well be a lost surf pop number from yesteryear rediscovered in the back of an LA record shop.

Their live performance, however, is altogether a more rock-tinged affair, throwing some baggy Manchester into the mix to offer an interesting blend of decade-traversing rock psychedelia.

Foster the People

Sitting somewhere in the middle of The Walkmen and Vampire Weekend, FTP give us a text book “new US band with an edge and pop tunes” performance with an exhilarating set.

Ambitious and assured with multiple instrument swaps, they boast an air of confidence that only an American band can truly deliver.

On record they may sound like MGMT, live it’s anything but: laconic, blissed-out hippy wanderings are the order of the day. They have some genuine hits too, but will it be enough to propel them high enough?

A pinch of fairy dust is all they need to ensure they aren’t the next Polyphonic Spree.

Words by Jason Bick, Laura Foster, Brian Murnin and Joe Zadeh
Photo by Ben Loom (Twitter - @stronglook)


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Discover more coverage from The Great Escape 2011 on ClashMusic.com HERE.

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