For three-and-a-bit days every May, Brighton turns into a haven of brilliant music as enthusiasts, festival-goers, and buzz chasers flock to the coast for The Great Escape.
The annual musical pilgrimage showcases the finest emerging talents and established artists, offering a platform for discovery and celebration across diverse genres. From the pulsating beats reverberating through intimate venues to the infectious energy that sweeps across the outdoor stages, The Great Escape 2023 is an unforgettable journey through the forefront of the global music scene – by which we mean, “Did you see Big Wett?”
We sent our intrepid scribblers and snappers down to the seaside to capture all the best of the action.
Words: Abigail Firth, Ali Shutler, Jake Hawkes, Jamie Muir
Photos: Em Marcovecchio, Patrick Gunning
“Spoiler alert, it’s not quite the popping rocking set you might have expected; here’s another sad song,” announces Marika Hackman at the start of her first show back since last year. Ditching the band, Marika opts for a solo acoustic set so delicate you could hear a pin drop in the Old Market Hall. Previewing a couple of new tracks and covering Elliott Smith, it sounds like Marika could be taking a more stripped-back approach for album four. (AF)
Late last year, alt-pop duo The Let Go tentatively announced they were going to continue as a Cole Bleu solo project, but tonight’s show at Shoossh feels like an entirely new thing. Audio samples are used throughout the night (including Julia Stiles’ iconic quote, “I guess in this society, being male and an asshole makes you worthy of our time”, from 10 Things I Hate About You) to give this basement club a more theatrical feeling while the songs are pure pop wizardry.
Furious one moment, giddy the next, Cole delivers the shimmering ‘Heartbreakers’ with all the venomous joy it deserves, while a stripped-back ‘Homewrecker’ soon evolves into stomping catharsis before the ridiculously catchy ‘Is It Cool 2 B Friends?’ closes things out in triumphant fashion, taking influence from pure 90s pop and 00s alt-rock. Everything about this new era of Cole Bleu feels comfortable and deliberate. As Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons sing “You’re just too good to be true” as she leaves the stage, it’s clear Cole Bleu knows exactly what she’s doing. (AS)
Here’s a little peek behind the curtain for you, Dear Reader – the term ‘industry plant’ doesn’t really mean anything. Sure, hype doesn’t necessarily mean a band is going to be incredible, but it also doesn’t usually mean that the band in question are being propped up by a shadowy cabal of famous parents, industry money and Illuminati contacts.
In the case of The Last Dinner Party, it turns out the hype is because they’re really, really, really (really) good. Playing The Great Escape for the first time, they effortlessly fill the 500-capacity venue they’re playing at, with a queue snaking around the block, to boot. If they’re intimidated by the weight of crowd expectations, they don’t show it, chatting between songs and just generally making it seem like they were born to play bangers.
Theatrical and over-the-top, the band are the opposite of the dour post-punk which can dominate so much of the guitar music world. Vocalist Abigail Morris is twirling around the stage in an extravagant dress as she lays down ABBA-inflected harmonies, while the rest of the band follow suit in recreating an image of 1920s ballroom opulence. Debut single ‘Nothing Matters’ is obviously a highlight, as good live as it is on record, but we’d also like to give an honourable mention to the appearance of a keytar halfway through the set – truly the silliest (and therefore best) instrument around.
We’d predict big things for The Last Dinner Party, but everyone’s already done that, so instead we’ll just say this – believe the hype, and leave snobbish notions of ‘industry plants’ at the door. (JH)
Longtime fans of Dork may remember Glaswegian pill-punks VLURE blowing the roof off of our stage at last year’s Great Escape, and we’re happy to say they haven’t lost any of their intensity in the time since. Clad in string vests and shadowboxing at the audience, trance-flecked bangers like ‘Euphoria’ are enough to get even a tired festival crowd screaming along. Newer tracks ‘Cut It’ and ‘This Fantasy’ slot into the set perfectly, bringing a more euphoric flavour to the wall of noise that envelops the venue. If heading to Brighton is a breath of fresh, sea air, then VLURE are the equivalent of getting hit in the face by a tidal wave. (JH)
Nestled under the arches at Brighton beach is the worst-kept secret of this year’s Great Escape. Filling out the aptly-titled Shooshh are dodie, Orla Gartland, Greta Isaac and Martin Luke Brown coming together as FIZZ for their debut gig. With a setlist made up entirely of material from a top-secret new project they’ve been working on and a mission statement of having fun, that’s exactly what the four-piece and everyone else here are doing. Perfectly nonsensical lyrics, shouting in unison and tracks about the rollercoaster that is being ‘twenty something’, FIZZ are ushering in a new era completely different to anything the four of them have done individually; it’s about to go bang. (AF)
Everyone may be watching to see if The Last Dinner Party can follow up their brilliant debut single ‘Nothing Matters’, but Venbee is facing a similar pressure. Their debut single, ‘Lowdown’, went viral. Follow-up ‘Messy In Heaven’ went even more viral. Latest track, ‘Gutter’, is all over BBC Radio 1. Of course, there are a whole lot of expectations going into their set. Venbee tackles them head-on, opening with a smirking track about being a one-hit wonder and telling the crowd they’re about to have a “fucking party”.
Backed by a drummer and a guitarist, every song hits hard, from unreleased cuts like ‘CPR’ and an upcoming collab with Rudimental (‘Die Young’) to a drum and bass reworking of MIA’s ‘Paper Planes’. Venbee dials it back for ‘If Love Could Have Saved You’, another unreleased song that tackles mental health, before a ferocious take on ‘Messy In Heaven’. “This is probably the only song of mine, you know,” she grins. Even if that were true, no one in this room will forget Venbee’s name anytime soon. (AS)
At The Great Escape, it’s all about seizing the time you have and making sure you leave a lasting impression. In Dream Wife‘s case, the 30 minutes they have to play with at midnight on Friday is the sort of daring challenge they turn into an unstoppable celebration with ease and one that has a rammed Chalk crowd hungry for more. Aiming squarely at ripping apart the rules, they pack their set with hit after hit – sweaty intensity and soaring hooks galore that has moshpits and flinging bodies moving from start to finish. Holding nothing back, beloved favourites like ‘Hey Heartbreaker’ and erupting new cuts like ‘Hot (Don’t Date A Musician)’ are welcomed with equal adoration and by the time their set comes to an end, you’re left in no doubt. Dream Wife seize the moment, and what comes next, on tonight’s evidence, is sure to be their greatest chapter of all. (JM)
Seasons change, but the best nights out always come back to us here at Dork, Dear Reader. As the buzziest bands and industry whispers sweep Brighton for The Great Escape, the Dork’s Night Out takeover rolls into town, heading to Horatio’s at the end of the pier.
It may be the opening slot, but Slaney Bay carry themselves with the confidence of a band already set to seize those headline billings in years to come. Blending grunge-tinted goggles with an undeniable knack for soaring pop hooks, it’s a fully-formed realisation of every dreamy riff and late-night US college road trip that takes you on a journey impossible to jump off. Their latest single, ‘Move On’, is a real statement of intent. With all the hints and flavours of glorious ambition, as a kickstart to the evening, there’s no cocktail better. We’ll see you back here when they take on the big leagues.
Already making a name for himself across ‘socials’, Victor Ray is a revelation with the sort of universal heart that ties things together. Going from busking to a big deal in no time, his set is an eye-opening peek at a future world he’s forming in spectacular fashion. Likewise, the world of HANNES bubbles and twists in a glorious milkshake of joy. With open and raw lyrics meeting jazzy lo-fi takes on pop, R&B and everything in between – it sets the tone nicely for a night that’s just itching to point to the artist you need to keep an eye on.
Shutting down Brighton Pier. That’s what comes when English Teacher take to the stage, as a go-to sign that things are getting quite big indeed. As crowds manoeuvre to catch a glimpse, the hype is real for a band whose infectious yet punchy sound has become a go-to home for those looking for their next favourite act. The shutdown is justified, with cuts like ‘Song About Love’, ‘R&B’ and ‘Polyawkward’ lighting a fuse again and again. Coming into their own, it’s a set that flies with ambition and takes every step up as a justified reason to take one more. What’s brilliant is that it feels impossible to predict what they will do next. Now that’s a band worth shutting down a pier over.
The rush and crowds only continue to swell when Lime Garden take to the stage to close out the evening. Brimming with the sort of feverish excitement that comes from being one of the best new bands going, their set tonight is an electric disco ball of everything that makes Lime Garden so special. Putting fun front and centre, the likes of ‘Clockwork’, ‘Bitter’ and ‘Marbles’ bounce and thrive like the greatest club in town, while early track ‘Surf N Turf’ is a fizzing punch of sugartastic energy. Distinctly unique and continuing to bubble with potential, it’s a hometown show that signals just how unstoppable they are. For a moment that defines The Great Escape 2023, there’s no need to look any further than this celebratory party at the top of the pier. (JM)
Nieve Ella has only played 14 shows with her band before today, and her show at Brighton’s Revenge is plagued by a string of technical issues that would derail even the most seasoned of artists. Nieve smashes it, though. Leading a crowd singalong to Shania Twain’s ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman’ as way of a warmup, her set starts properly with ‘Blu Shirt Boy’ before ‘Fall 4 U’ and ’19 In A Week’. Nieve’s debut EP ‘Young & Naive’ flirted with rock’n’roll but live, she and the rest of her band embrace scuzzy guitars and big riffs. It turns the introspective heartbreak anthems into energetic, upbeat moments of celebration while recent single ‘Big House’ and upcoming track ‘His Sofa’ continue down that glitzy indie rock path but with even more confidence. (AS)
Nell Mescal justifies her own hype at Jubilee Square on Friday afternoon, playing a sublime set of sadbangers, all beefed up so the live versions match her impressive vocals. Despite a few technical hitches, she undoubtedly brightens a dismal day, even if she says she doesn’t really write love songs or happy songs. Any assumptions that she’ll be a twee singer-songwriter or another bedroom pop artist are out the window; she even drops breakout single ‘Graduating’ from the set list, instead filling it with unreleased material that brings out her true powerhouse potential. (AF)
Watching Caity Baser live is like when a bottle of fizzy pop has been shaken up, and you can’t stop it bubbling everywhere when you open the lid. Bouncing out to a packed tent at the Amazon New Music stage, she delivers viral hits ‘X&Y’ and ‘Pretty Boys’, along with more tracks from her recent EP, with more energy than a full pack of Berocca. Her on-stage candour isn’t far removed from her TikTok videos, introducing her band by asking which Doritos flavour they’d be and updating the crowd on her schedule for that day (she’d even made time for a nail appointment); it’s bestie vibes only. With a full band performance of her newest track and Joel Corry collab ‘Dance Around It’, she levels up to the top tier of the new pop crop. (AF)
Sounding like a beefed-up Blood Red Shoes, SNAYX pinball around the stage as they blast through a frenetic twenty-minute set. Menacing synth lines set them apart from the competition, and it’s when the shouting makes room for this electronic touch that everything really clicks. Newest single ‘I’m Deranged’ highlights this perfectly, a step up into something genuinely quite special for a band that have just won themselves a room full of new fans. (JH)
Back from the US, STONE take to a packed stage down on the beach with the sort of uncompromising riffs that aims squarely at the big leagues. Recent single ‘Left Right Forward’ perfectly captures their swagger-soaked presence, with a live show that’s grown and grown since those early days. Jet lag be damned, as lead singer Finn dives across the stage, cuts jokes and delivers powerful speeches that come to define just what STONE is and what they can be. Slick yet uncontrollable. Thrilling yet assured. It’s everything you want from a modern band already carving their own world and welcoming everyone into it. Triggering moshpits and hands-in-the-air devotion, it’s a searing set. STONE aren’t here to mess around; they’re here to take over. (JM)
Equal parts meticulous and reckless, Jessica Winter has mastered the peaks and valleys of her live show. An icon in waiting, she emerges in her trademark trench coat and huge glasses, firing through her set of emo dance bangers and fluctuating between carefully choreographed jerky arm movements and wild hair flipping. Her voice is nearly permanently in its higher register, almost hitting whistle notes in the theatrical ‘Funk This Up’ and ‘Choreograph’. It’s a performance that cements her place as one of the most exciting underground pop stars on the rise. (AF)
We love a bit of chaos here at Dork. Enter Lambrini Girls, playing a hometown show to a room that’s packed to the rafters. Lead singer Phoebe Lunny punctuates the set with shouts out to ‘gay legends’ and a demand for any TERFs to leave the gig immediately, all while blasting out a wall of noise so loud that it can probably be heard in the next town over. ‘Help Me I’m Gay’ is a sledgehammer to the brain which has even the most hungover people in the room jumping around. Further down the line, Phoebe is standing on the bar in just her underwear, whipping half the crowd into a mosh pit before crowd-surfing into the middle of it all. If it sounds like A Lot, that’s because it is – in the best possible way. (JH)
The weekend’s most wholesome vibes can be found on Friday night at Brighton Dome, where the first of The Great Escape’s Spotlight shows kicks off with Maisie Peters‘ headline gig.
Thoroughly warmed up after finishing a massive tour of the UK and Europe, the Dome must feel quaint in comparison, but as a Brighton native, it’s a particularly special show for Maisie. Where the rest of her band chose Colorado’s Red Rocks and New York’s Madison Square Garden as their dream venues, it’s here where Maisie always wanted to play, and she sold it out with ease.
With that in mind, she comes out swinging. The set is an hour of back-to-back bangers, kicking off with recent hit ‘Body Better’ and rarely dipping in energy from then on. Pulling largely from her 2021 debut ‘You Signed Up For This’, she needn’t worry about her voice getting raspy from all the touring; the crowd fill in all the gaps word for word.
The record plays out far more dynamically live, the full-band production filling out the tracks so they match the ante of her newer material, particularly those standalone singles ‘Cate’s Brother’ and ‘Not Another Rockstar’.
Between the bangers, Maisie recounts Brighton moments from throughout her life – her first date, her first concert, you know the drill – and her connection with her fans runs deep because of moments like this. Down at the front, they’ve queued up for hours to be in those spots, draping banners over the barrier and screaming every lyric.
There are plenty of fans here with parents, this show likely being their first gig, much like Maisie’s was here when she was younger. In the middle of a festival full of industry professionals standing with their arms folded, seeing a crowd of (mostly) young women letting loose to an hour of sadbangers is a welcome change.
Closing the set with latest ‘Lost The Breakup’, and second album ‘The Good Witch’ just a month away, Maisie Peters looks set to be the biggest pop star to come out of Brighton in a long time. (AF)
Anyone for some Ibiza club classics delivered via Kilkenny, Ireland? 49th & Main may have exactly what you’re after. Boosted by a live saxophone, the group have the crowd in the palm of their hand, blasting out euphoric bangers punctuated with snippets of huge floor-filling dance tracks. Think Boiler Room if it took place on a kid’s TV show. (JH)
Keeping the energy up even though it’s gone 1am, HotWax energise the flagging crowd with driving bass lines and an almost funk-flecked sound which flits between punk, grunge, and something more melodic. The band manage to corral all of these competing influences, seemingly effortlessly churning out huge bangers one after the other. Now, of course, we’re never ones to exaggerate, but we’re willing to leave our oh-so-serious reputation at the door and call it now – HotWax are going to be massive. (JH)
The 2am slot at Chalk has become a bit of a Great Escape hallmark. As a day stacked with the most exciting new sounds draws to a close, weary bodies and buzzy energy culminate in one spot for a firework display of the highest order. This year, DEADLETTER put their stamp in the history books with a show and night that can only be described as ‘ridiculous’. With punk energy and swirling melodies, they’re a band born to play live. The likes of ‘Binge’ and new cut ‘The Snitching Hour’ are rabble-rousing bangers of the highest order, and as saxophones ring across the venue, one thing is clear. DEADLETTER are a band evolving and pushing modern punk and guitar music forward as an essential new gang in town. Count attendance to their next show as mandatory. (JM)
On her fourth show of the weekend, Australia’s Big Wett follows up a chaotic midnight show at Charles Street Tap with a midday offering at the Amazon New Music stage. To a crowd of mostly unassuming tired Saturday punters, she delivers a surreal set of her slut anthems. It’s not often you’ll see an artist waggling a dildo around in the air and shouting about her wet pussy before 3pm, and as outrageous as it is, it’s bags of fun. She proclaims she’s pretty unforgettable, which is absolutely true; good luck thinking about anything else for the rest of the day. (AF)
There are certain moments at The Great Escape which make the hairs on the back of your neck stand directly to attention. One of those moments, and potentially THE moment of the festival, is when Picture Parlour take to the stage. Their set sees a packed crowd mush themselves into the downstairs Zahara Bar, eager for a peek at a band already becoming the talk of new music circles and venues across London. Turning the club pitch-black with theatrical intro music, they burst through a 30-minute set that pours with ambition and an assured nature that they’re about to take over the whole damn show.
Led by the magnetic presence of lead singer Katherine Parlour, it’s a swagger-filled cocktail that leaves you wanting more. Drenched in ‘AM’ era Arctic Monkeys and gazing upon it all with late-70s kaleidoscope spectacles on, this isn’t a band wishing for your attention but commanding it. Romantic croons, Vegas glamour and raucous eruptions of sizzling riffs combine – 80s rock epics at one moment, psychedelic spins and punchy lines the next – with a band who put Zahara firmly into a playground of their own creation. The swooning ‘Moon Tonic’, the stop-in-your-tracks ‘Ronnie’ and the neon-sized ring of ‘Judgement Day’ are but three examples of a set that’s all killer, no filler. (JM)
Faroese singer Marianna Winter saunters onto the stage on a sunny Saturday and promptly announces her drummer is “a hungover piece of shit”. Such is life on the last day of a festival. Despite the sore heads, Marianna and her band effortlessly deliver a slew of polished, catchy pop songs studded with singalong choruses and earworm hooks, which have people singing along as if they’ve known the tracks for years. (JH)
Nestled away at the top of Brighton, the Green Door Store plays host to a three-day showcase of Canadian music. From the soulful pop of Storry and the dramatic post-rock of Ellevator through the fiery hip-hop of Mouraine to Yohvn Blvck‘s urgent drill, there’s a whole lot of brilliance on offer. Rebecca Lappa creates urgent indie pop that always looks on the bright side of things while Elle Froese‘s gorgeous folk is delicate but full of ambition. (AS)
After an early afternoon set on Thursday, Haley Blais returns to Brighton’s One Church on the Saturday for a gloriously beautiful set that’s as moving as it is joyful. Weaving between tracks from 2020 debut album ‘Below The Salt’ and unreleased new songs, Haley and her band give space for the delicate storytelling to ebb and flow, but they’re not afraid to get noisy either, with big country-rock breakdowns. “You guys are being very attentive,” she says to the mesmerised audience before reminding them that “God is watching” with a grin. Later, she hopes he isn’t because “this next song has a lot of swear words, and I want you to scream them back to me”. Released last year, ‘Coolest Fucking Bitch In Town’ tackles the discomfort of coming of age through heartbreaking lyrics and the occasional Gen-Z quip (“I want my therapist to think I’m cool”). Leading a church full of people singing “coolest fucking bitch in town”, Haley can’t help but crack up before doing it one last time. (AS)
Blusher set out to make escapist pop that feels like a fun night out with friends. The Aussie trio – Jade Ingvarson-Favretto, Lauren Coutts, and Miranda Ward – have clearly put the work in to create a world for people to get lost in, and they’re having fun doing it. Their live show features giddy dance routines, props and a whole lot of euphoria, while their songs channel everyone from Let’s Eat Grandma to ABBA to Charli XCX. This is their first time performing outside of Australia, but both shows (a late-night one in dingy club Zahara and an early afternoon slot on the beach’s New Music Stage) are flawless. Unreleased track ‘Hurricane Chaser’ ends in an all-out rave, while ‘Softly Spoken’ blends anger and catharsis before a twinkling cover of MGMT. ‘Dead End’ is a dreamy pop banger, and the big finish of ‘Backbone’ combines slick dance moves, electronic breakdowns and undeniable hooks to create the sort of triumphant song that could well see Blusher take over the world. (AS)
Pool Kids released their self-titled second album last July and haven’t stopped touring since. In the lead-up to The Great Escape, they played their first-ever international shows via a headline tour of the UK following a trip around Europe with La Dispute. By the time you’re reading this, they’ll be on their way back to America to support PUP and Beach Bunny. They play their first show in Brighton in the middle of a pub and, less than 24 hours later, take to the Prince Albert for a third. If they’re tired, they don’t let it show.
From the big riffs of ‘Swallow’, Pool Kids throw themselves into every song. On record, the angsty songs of frustration are twinkling and delicate. Live, though, everything is much more robust as Pool Kids set out to unite rooms full of strangers. There are nods to post-hardcore and math-rock within the big emo anthems, and the whole thing feels wonderfully cathartic. A gorgeous ‘I Hope You’re Right’ channels Jimmy Eat World at their most ambitious, while ‘Arm’s Length’ is reminiscent of gritty early Fall Out Boy. Still, it never feels nostalgic as Pool Kids take the best of that 00s emo scene and make it their own. They’re exactly the sort of band people will, and have, fallen completely head over heels for. If you missed them, don’t make that mistake again. (AS)
Do you want another one? That was the question spinning across Brighton as The Great Escape whipped through a final day of buzzing new talent being discovered at a festival weekend unlike any other. And well, it’d be rude not to. Everyone’s favourite Dorks teamed up with beloved friends and label legends Chess Club Records down on the seafront for a showcase celebrating a thrilling roster of talent. Is there any other way to close The Great Escape?
Trout opens the night with a dynamic and hypnotic presence that has everyone sliding into The Arch hooked. Ripped raw with explosive edges, that 90s grunge-meets-US alternative vibe is there for all to see with the sort of touches of magic that the likes of Sorry have turned into stunning cuts. Just the beginning with tonight’s show one of her very first, Trout is already a must-listen: watch this space; a future essential voice has entered the chat.
The perfect tonic for any final-night tiredness, SOFY is a future indie-pop superstar in waiting. A triumphant celebration (coming just days after signing a record deal with Chess Club), The Arch is turned into a jubilant house party led by an artist who twists indie-pop into a jukebox of sugar-rushing fun, grounded in tales of modern life. Like going on a night out with your best mate if they could only communicate in indie-pop bangers – it’s a glorious mix of earnestness and dreaming fun in the veins of an Easy Life, Lily Allen or Swim Deep. ‘Egomaniac’ sees crowds getting low (no mean feat on Day 3, btw), ‘Strawberry Milkshake’ is unabashed vibes and the closing punch of ‘Big Talk’ is nothing short of smile-inducing magic. Yet it’s the stripped raw ‘btw’ that cuts through to new levels, with a level of openness that showcases SOFY’s beating heart of pure, honest emotion.
Whipping up a frenzy like it’s nobody’s business, Lip Filler are a sugar-rush jolt that revel in turning things up as far as they can go. Packed onto the stage, they bound with an energy that most bands could only dream of having, calling out that they want to see all the “6 Music dads get lairy”. It’s a glorious meld of ripping licks, infectious grooves, spinning electronics and an all-encompassing show that drags you right to the front of everything they’re doing. Broken guitar strings be damned, Lip Filler leave everything they have on stage, like a box of firecrackers being let off right next to a megaphone. ‘Haircut’ is a ridiculous alt-dance banger, while cuts from their self-titled EP, such as ‘Susie’, are bolting nu-rave stormers. Noting it’s their first-ever show outside of London, this is just the beginning. We’ll see you at the party.
It’s fair to say that we’ve been fans for Coach Party for some time now. With each release, their fizzing rock hooks and unstoppable drive for crunching new steps have become bigger and bolder – taking each stage and opportunity with both hands and refusing to let up. Yet, tonight as they headline the Chess Club x Dork celebrations as one of the final acts of the weekend, there’s a sense in the air of just how big things are getting. Taking to the stage, it’s a grandstand rip through their journey so far while looking ahead to their debut album ‘KILLJOY’. The likes of ‘Can’t Talk, Won’t’, ‘Shit TV’ and ‘Everybody Hates Me’ sound bolder and more unleashed than ever before, and newer cuts ‘All I Wanna Do Is Hate’ and ‘Micro-Aggression’ light up pogoing crowds and rowdy moshpits. When the slow-burning tones of ‘Sweetheart’ truly let rip, The Arch is left in awe of a band thriving, and as ‘FLAG (Feel Like A Girl)’ closes out proceedings, everyone gathered comes away with the same thought: Coach Party are a bonafide force of nature ready to tear up the scene in front of them. It’s a new era now, guys – and it couldn’t be any better.
It’s a Saturday night, and amongst the pomp of Eurovision, the chaos of The Great Escape and the usual weekend partiers is the immediate calm of Arlo Parks‘ spotlight show at Brighton Dome.
A Great Escape graduate herself, this show comes two triumphant years after her debut ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’, and before her second ‘My Soft Machine’ drops. Stepping out to an unreleased track from the latter, ‘Bruiseless’, her voice is flawless and never falters. With a stage setup minus all the bells and whistles, Arlo’s voice stands front and centre, making for an intimate show despite the size of the venue.
Arlo performs like she’s feeling every lyric she’s ever written; the rest of the room is feeling them too. Before playing the emotional ‘Black Dog’, she encourages the crowd to give into its catharsis, letting them know they should cry if they need to. It’s almost impossible not to.
Pulling from every corner of her discography, she performs 2019 single ‘Sophie’ and gives her debut performance of Phoebe Bridgers collaboration ‘Pegasus’, showing how far she’s come in the last four years, but reminding us she’s always had something special. Even those really early tracks had that magical ASMR brain-melting quality.
Much like at Maisie Peters’ show the night before, Arlo recounts Brighton moments from her career, noting that this comes as a full circle moment after playing her first festival show here at 17, running from college to make it to the beach stage for her set.
Before she undoubtedly levels up again, it’s really special to see Arlo in a venue like this. After closing the set with one of her boppier singles, ‘Softly’, everyone waits desperately for an encore that never comes. “All I can say is look forward to that one,” Arlo says after playing an unreleased track mid-way through the set. We absolutely will. (AF)