Seven Performances That Defined The Great Escape 2019

From Aussie party-starters to an unexpected cover of 'Sk8er Boi'...

No two people experience the same thing at the Great Escape.

The festival is simply too big, too in-depth, with its multiplicity of new music options meaning that you can soak up a thousand different variations on its incredible line up.

As a result, it can be a difficult thing to review – after all, just how do you begin to summarise such a wide-ranging experience?

Clash has already rounded up a few key points about this year's event, and we close our coverage with seven defining performances from The Great Escape 2019…

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Confidence Man

Synchronised dancing, veils, and flamboyant clothing- Confidence Man didn’t fail to provide an utterly intriguing and intoxicating live performance. Like a coiled spring, the crowd were ready to go right from when the house beats rolled in after little anticipation.

Waltzing onstage, the main duo of the Australian quartet gleefully bounce around to the sugary electro synth lines. Their great gift is to be the most extraordinarily fun band, revealed in the ridiculousness of what they do. A drummer and synth player wearing tight black clothing and veils supplied the backing, while the front pairing of Janet Planet and Sugar Bones engage in extravagant moves and overwhelming costume changes.

Never once do they crack a smile as they remain to uphold their possessive personas. It was definitely the party of the year at TGE. – Lauren McDermott

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Self Esteem

Drawing influence from everything and anything, Self Esteem (aka Rebecca Taylor) generates energy and sass. Think pop culture alongside full-frontal, compelling lyrics and you’re on the right track. Appearing in a red suit with back up singers, Taylor took to the stage in Coalition with pure poise.

Effortlessly she balances her forcefulness with elegant and impactful production, that veers from bluesy experimentalism to psychedelic soul. Singing over sparse, clattering drums, her calm, indicating verses, catch your attention like an enchanting spell. Successfully conjuring up a dramatic and direct sound, her exciting set was a joyous gathering. – Lauren McDermott

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All the way from down under, Melbourne soulstress Kaiit was one of the top acts from this weekend. With evident influences from Erykah Badu and Jill Scott, she emits her own sassy flavour which is a large contrast to her sweet dainty talking voice. With highlight songs such as ‘OG Luv Kush’ and ‘Natural Woman’, this Aussie homegirl is about to begin her British Invasion. – Debbie Ijaduola

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Unknown T

It’s still stunning to see how a 19-year-old can control a crowd as well as Unknown T did. With his breakout hit ‘Homerton B’ and other bangers blasting through the speakers at The Arch, he had Brighton Beach in the palm of his hand amping them up further into the night. – Debbie Ijaduola

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Conan Gray

As the artist walks on stage, school tie wrapped around his head like a bandana, it becomes apparent that the majority of this crowd are not here by accident. Screaming ensues, and when Gray kicks off the set with ‘Generation Why’, at least 20 people down the front appear to be singing every word back at him.

Not only is the ensuing mania littered with great pop songs – highlights include ‘Crush Culture’ and a frankly sensational cover of Avril Lavigne’s ‘Sk8er Boi’ – but a flair for dramatic eye rolls and crowd interaction that make the New Yorker’s future stardom seem something of an inevitability. – Matthew Neale

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The Visual

It’s been a great year for Dutch acts at The Great Escape, but with all the attention gathered around the indie-rock antics of EUT and Pip Blom – as well as Clash’s EU tip Rina Mushonga, who also puts in a belting set over the weekend – it becomes all too easy to miss some of the scene’s subtler pleasures.

Playing downstairs at The Walrus, Amsterdam’s The Visual are one of the surprise success stories of the Brighton event, primarily powered by the soulful melancholy of singer Anna van Rij's voice. Mesmerising. – Matthew Neale

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Anna Calvi

The Fender Next stage brought some big hitters together with brand new talent across the entire weekend, including sets from Our Girl, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs and more.

A company indelibly linked with the guitar, Fender's decision to book Anna Calvi was a masterstroke, with the Mercury nominated artist delivering a set of near operatic intensity. Technically stunning, it serves as a reminder both of her power as a live artist and the sheer depth of her catalogue, with the set moving from taut, emotive songwriting through to dense walls of noise. An imperious moment from a truly singular artist. – Robin Murray. 

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Photo Credit: Lauren McDermott

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