Europe’s Leading Festival for New Music – works best if you can do lots of homework before on bands never heard of before, which if we are honest is most of them. Held in the perfect city for an urban festival. Stayed with my lovely cousins and without trying too hard I went to 16 venues and saw 39 bands (that I can recall…). Having a bike helped… So, here’s my diary of TGE Highlights:



Sounds Australia showcase in the Haunt, good unpretentious rock from the Upskirts, and more trendy 80s-style girl with synth (and Toto sample used well) Dune. Hjaltalin, cool slow powerful music from Iceland, featuring violin, keyboards, and the singing duo of Hogni and Sigridur, long haired male and great Adele-like female. And its sunny!

Girls Names, of Belfast, great hooks but a bit too laid back on record for me, Really smashed it live! Cure/New Order style, plus feedback. Wolf Alice very good too, arresting vocalist. Huge Qs for Tom Odell, and indeed any well known/hyped bands, one of the drawbacks of this otherwise great friendly festival (the other is virtually no info on the many cancelations and their replacements). However did make it into the Warren, one of the best venues with beer garden and lots of space once in.


A great line-up – Jeremy Loops, a SA singer/guitarist who uses…guess what…loops, to great effect with some really catchy sing-along tunes, all done with bags of charisma; Deap Valley, a real highlight, a female White Stripes from California, initially put off a bit by the cheap leather undies and hairspray, but they really rock! Came on to the sound of Led Zep; looks like Barbarella on guitar and the young Liz Taylor on drums, great blues voices and crunching riffs. Guitarist turned up in the moshpit for Parquet Courts too, much respect!





Brighton's awash with tiny venues with unlisted bands playing at PR parties. Better than the official festival gigs. Republic of Music showcased a cool outdoor show with Night Engine, powerful intense rock, Singer like a tall angry pale red-haired Bowie, passionate. Temples use a 60s psychedelic base to launch great pop songs. A touch of T Rex, not least with the singer’s hair. They all look like rock stars actually. It’s bound to help. And finally Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs, intricate new wave hampered by poor sound.


After a few run-ins with queues, find a huge church with plenty of space, a bar, and the ethereal Walls, like 21stC choirs of angels echoing down the aisle.  Next it’s Ed Harcourt and Ican finally see what the fuss is about. Poignant strong songs on piano, loops n guitar, won me over when he walked down the church acapella singing an anti-religion song, about singing in a church…


Finally a rammed pub for ‘secret’ gig from a sweaty Tellison and Irish punks Fight Like Apes, with manic synths and cascading speakers held up by the wild Amazon Siouxie–like singer, in shiny red hot pants; they end by crowd surfing to their own feedback.




 The day begins with a nice glass of cava from the Catalan Sounds showcase and chilled vibes from cafe duo Coach Station Reunion; bossa nova from Barca for the beach. A liquid lunch beckons... 

Mary Epworth and band do great folk rock and an amazing cover of Aphrodite’s Child's 4 Horsemen. Black Heart Rebellion –the Belgian Swans? A perfect band for Supersonic, Birmingham’s extreme music festival. Bells were rung, chains rattled – TGE described them erroneously as folk – more like black (t-shirt) doom soul. Excellent!


Then another highlight, Egyptian Hip Hop – not even on the festival bill, and, impossible to categorise. Jazzy, spacey but with added funk. Nightclub stoners, they wander into the crowd while playing but are very tight, great to dance to. I missed Cousins due to those queues but Irish punks Wounds were amazing, real old school, bleeding from all orifices. Singer looked like he’d been in a fight during the sound check. Arrows of Love if anything even more hardcore, deafening freak outs from the US singer n his scantily-clad band of anarchists - 2 boys, 2 girls, 1 great band!


Next to the Old Blue Last secret gig, where Mazes spice up their maths rock with definite hints of Led Zep and Americana! They did a cover by US country rockers Yellow River. Hoxton on Sea are on the razz and Deap Valley are in the crowd for Parquet Courts.


These lovely Americans have made one of the best albums of the year in Light Up Gold, a homage to the best 70s punk, and they rattled through their instantly recognisable ‘hits’ like Borrowed Time and Master of My Craft. The singer wore a Flux of Pink Indians t-shirt, how cool is that!


A near riot when their plug is pulled after just a handful of songs; same happens for Aussie rockers DZ Deathrays after about 2 songs, why? Never mind, we haul off into the night in search of fish n chips and the delights of the pier.



Kevin Hand

May 2013