Our birthday falls on the Great Escape weekend every year, our opening weekend saw drum kits, mic stands and guitars destroyed. This years was a lot more civilised in that respect but the lineup was equally as devastating. We welcomed Drenge, Girl Band, Bad Breeding (returned), Menace Beach, Sunflower Bean and many others through our doors.
Brighton is one of the most forward thinking and liberal cities in the UK. If you can think of it, Brighton probably has it, and does it to extreme excess.I have been lucky enough to tour the UK, Europe and spend some time in America and call it ‘work,’ despite it being a glorified version of a road trip with my friends and keeping some accounts in order (that’s how I see it anyway). No matter where I have been I always love coming home. Brighton is a community, it’s a small place which sometimes can be claustrophobic but on the whole, you could never claim it’s a lonely place. Despite living in a city where it seems that every venue that so much as turns on its lights is shut down from a noise complaint, we are lucky to have such a prominent and leading music scene.That success is down to sheer determination and ambition. The word ‘DIY’ is thrown up, gobbled back down and regurgitated over and over again in modern music and a term that is too throwaway for what has gone on here. To put it simply, the bands are fucking great. The standard in Brighton is so high due to the level of competition, if you aren’t good enough you wont get heard. That standard extends itself to local promoters, illustrators, designers and photographers. This city is full of people that haven’t just accepted what is put in front of them, they think and they know they can do it better.One of the mainstays of this attitude is the Late Night Lingerie club night, held on the last Friday of every month at Sticky Mikes Frog bar and hosted by Eddie Goatman. Pretty much every Brighton band has played the stage, prominent illustrators have created beautiful posters and every budding band photographer has huddled into the basement venue to steal a moment in time to share with their friends. Too many bands have passed through the club nights doors to mention but if you find the time to head down, you will see a wall with all the names emblazoned upon it proudly.Despite losing some incredible venues, The Freebutt, Blind Tiger, Psychosocial, Engine Rooms and Bermuda Triangle to name but a few, the ones that defy the contractors and over zealous neighbours are Brighton to the core. The Green Door Store, The Albert, Sticky Mikes, The Hope & Ruin and Bleach are all striving alongside one another to support and nurture local talent while operating on the touring circuit.For want of being biased, Bleach is my workplace. I manage, book and design everything that passes through it’s doors. The name was created to remove its somewhat unsavoury past under previous ownership and management. In less than one year of existence we have had The Wytches open the venue and then launch their critically acclaimed debut album ‘Annabel Dream Reader’ with us. Bad Breeding played two of their first ever shows with us. Passenger perform an intimate album show, Splashh throw themselves back into the cities psyche, Rolo Tomassi return to prominence while Demob Happy, TRAAMS and Tigercub have rammed the place to the rafters for single and EP launches.
The show was also special for me personally as I launched the record label ‘Cannibal Hymns’ alongside the new label from Sam Gilbert of Hate Hate Hate named ‘House Arrest’. Cannibal Hymns is designed to be a singles development label releasing records by the bands I respect and have followed for a considerable amount of time. We want to do things in a unique way on the label, some releases will be traditional but others not so. We have some exciting releases coming up.
Brighton is truly becoming a place of musical export. The Wytches and Royal Blood have travelled the world in the past year with prestigious slots at CMJ and SXSW and gruelling tour schedules across the UK, Europe and the US. Black Peaks (formerly Shrine) and Black Honey look set to follow.So what of the future here? We are seeing the next generation break through, spearheaded by a group of friends that epitomise the purest essences of being in a band; fun, desire and necessity. Although they are all incredibly intelligent people I can’t imagine them doing anything else. Between them they have created an endless list of brilliant bands. The Magic Gang, Tusks, Our Girl, YRRS, Abattoir Blues, Sulky Boy, Hella Better Dancer, Breathe Panel, Birdskulls, BAYY and Manuka Honeys.
Some of these bands no longer exist, but that doesn’t mean their output isn’t worth checking out. They have even created a label to sit themselves under called Echochamp. The label launched at Bleach in March and will host a day of Great Escape mayhem on Friday May 15th there as well. If your in town, come down and watch them.I realise I have listed countless bands that will take a good few days to get through in the above and now I’m going to mindlessly throw a few more into the mix for you, Theo Verney, Gang, Morning Smoke, Big Society & Animal House all deserve your attention.To the outside it might seem effortless in Brighton, but at the heart of every success story is sheer bloody mindedness. These things don’t happen by accident, they happen because they have to.