Top 20 Picks of this year's Great Escape Festival

So, it's Thursday morning and I am so excited for the festival. As part of my planning I put together a little "Chris, get your bottom to these gigs", so here it is for you. My: "Get your bottom to these gigs":

Please note before you start: There are no spotlight shows in here, as they'll be huge anyway. These are your "best of the rest."

Zeal & Ardor

In his own words "I didn't just want to turn up with a laptop and nod my head", Manuel Gagneux promises a live band to recreate his new album "Devil Is Fine" which combines old Slave music with Black Metal. This really does promise to be a show to behold. You can hear the interview on my extended Great Escape special.

They're playing 12.00am Thursday at Patterns (downstairs) and 10.30pm at the Brighthelm on Friday.

Adam Naas

Maybe you prefer something a bit more soulful and poppy? That's cool, French sensation Adam Naas will definitely cater for you. With a stunning voice, a very relaxed attitude to all things media, and an admittance that he's "still trying to find my voice", this promises to be a very vulnerable and heartfelt set. He was also on the extended show.

He is playing 2 sets right next to each other: 6.30pm and 8.00pm at Wagner Hall on Friday.

The Big Moon

Playing Saturday night at 11pm at Horatio's (on the pier), I really like these guys. Their combination of melodic vocals and some good old dance sections promises to make this gig a rather special experience. 

The Amazons

More rock, I know. Don't worry, lots more to come down the list. So these guys are a four piece band from Reading (which is great for decent music with bars like Purple Turtle hosting some cracking local bands to hone their skills). They made sounds of 2017 as well as getting backing from some of the biggest companies in music. Could be a last gig to see before they really explode.

Playing at the East Wing 9:15pm Thursday.

Cosmo Pyke

Told you I'd stop with the rock. So this 18 year old is making some serious heads turn in the music industry. Young, with a definite style of funk/jazz/mild hip hop influences, this guy has talent pouring out of his ears.

Playing at the Prince Albert 9.30pm Saturday.


This Brighton based pop/rock band are an awesome little treat. They caused a buzz around the Brighton scene about a year and a half ago before leaving this highly insular world to bring their music to the rest of the UK and world. They played BBC 1's Big Weekend last year and sure are on course for big things. You can catch my interview with them on The Great Escape Special too.

Playing at Patterns Downstairs on Thursday at 8.30pm (they also give details of a secret gig in the interview but you'll have to listen to find out.)


Leeds based rock band, these guys seem to have a real ear for the melody. They grew up together playing with each other and in various local bands from the age of 14 meaning they've all really developed an understanding for each other. Well worth checking out their show. I also interviewed Aidan from the band on the Great Escape Special show.

They are playing at the Brighthelm Centre 2.30pm Saturday.

Nova Twins

Fancy some heavy beat all female punk/hip hop, almost Hadouken! with the volume turned up to destroy your ear holes? Yeap? Well these guys are for you. Massive sound and getting some great critical acclaim for their sound and shows.

Prince Albert 7.30pm Saturday.

Rejjie Snow

One of the biggest names at this year's festival. His aggressive lyrics are often softened by the soft nature of the backing making his music all about the stories told. I love him.

Playing at Wagner Hall on Thursday at 10pm. 

Faith I Branko

Now for something completely different. Faith I Branko (or the Faith I Branko quintet) are Serbian born musicians whose music is very Romany Gypsy but performed with such skill and high energy that these guys are guaranteed to be one of my highlights of the festival before I've even left the house yet.

Playing Jubilee Square Saturday 8.30pm.

Fil Bo Riva

Spending his youth developing his style in Ireland, Rome and Berlin Fil Bo Riva (or Fillipo) has a seriously intriguing voice. Definitely not to everyone's taste, but with a style born out of busking on the streets its sure to cause discussions and divisions, sometimes very much welcome. You can hear my interview with him on the Great Escape Special (Quality isn't great, soz).

Playing Queen's Hotel Thursday at 3.30pm and The Hope And Ruin 7.30pm Friday.


Don't be fooled by her cutesie appearance, she immediately evokes an element of Soko about her. Her voice is a delightfully delicate sound making the songs she sings about love, loss and friendship stunning to listen too. 

Wagner Hall Saturday at 6.30pm.

Kudu Blue

This Brighton 4 piece are self-proclaimed bedroom band whose mature sound floored me when I first heard it. Out of the 100s of bands doing the same "chilled keyboard sound with female voice" over the top, these guys are by far my favourite, not only because of their humbleness, but also with the real drive for perfection you can hear in their recordings. Big fan. You can hear my interview with them on the show too.

Playing The Hope & Ruin 2.30pm Saturday.


One of the other big names at this year's festival (proved by being in the spotlight show with Rag N Bone man) there is a real honesty to her music blend of soul, R&B and rap that I can't get enough of.

You can catch her at the Old Market 10.00pm Thursday and also at Rag N Bone Man's spotlight show.

Marika Hackman

Everyone seems to be raving about her, and I have to be honest I think she's good, but not great. However, with these kind of hype there must be some truth to it and the atmosphere will be fantastic even if, like me, you're not enamored yet.

At the Paganini Ballroom 8.15pm Thursday.

Tamir Grinberg

Now he seems to have had a huge amount of promise a couple of years ago before perhaps disappearing for a bit. I don't know why, his voice is a sexy, raspy roar delivering music with intense feeling. Considering he was tipped for big things at the age of 18, maybe now, at the age of 21, he is ready to fulfil his promise. Definite must see.

Playing Latest Music Bar Friday 10.00pm. 

Broken Witt Rebels

Brummy rock at it's best. "Shake me Down" (below) grabbed me when I first heard it and has quickly become my anthem for this year's festival. With a voice like Kings of Leon and a sound that any Britpop group in the 90s would be jealous of this is a band worth checking out.

Playing at the Hope and Ruin 12.30am Thursday.

Aldous Harding

This New Zealand born songstress has some real real talent. Horizon was one of the first songs I came across when researching the Great Escape, and as time went on and I heard song after song of similar sound I realised just how special a talent she is. Big fan.

Playing Paganini Ballroom 11.15pm Thursday and One Church 3.15pm Friday. (Tip: One Church is a STUNNING venue and will be a great shout for her.)

Sampa the Great

Sampa, Sampa, Sampa. What an artist. This Australian born rapper has clearly been influenced by her background in poetry and the spoken word and has such a stunning positivity and empowering quality to her music that she really is someone to keep your eye on this year. I interviewed her for the show, and was blown away by her kindness, honesty and humbleness. Due for great things.

Playing at Sallis Benney Theatre Thursday 10.30pm and Downstairs at Patterns 3.30pm Saturday.

The Charlatans

These guys need no introduction, they are the mother-bleeping Charlatans who are playing a NON spotlight show at The Haunt at 12.30am Friday night. YOU WILL NEED TO GET THEIR EARLY AS IT WILL BE PACKED. Obviously.

So there you are! Happy gigging everybody!