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Live Review: Sounds Australia Showcase @ The Great Escape, Brighton UK

21 May 2024 | 6:34 pm | Melissa Griffin

A showcase of Aussie talent proves that guitar bands are not only digging their heels in but dominating the stage.

Elsy Wameyo - The Great Escape

Elsy Wameyo - The Great Escape (Credit: Bree May O'Hagan/Sounds Australia)

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Brighton Beach: famous for its pier, Pride festival, and lanes full of quirky stores and worldly cafés – and the annual host of the UK’s biggest up-and-coming musical showcase, The Great Escape.

The sun unfortunately does not greet the hordes of musicians, industry delegates and music lovers descending on the seaside city like it has over the past couple of weeks. It’s overcast for the festival's final day, but the heat still clings to the punters crowded under tents along the shore.

This year Sounds Australia put together a showcase featuring emerging Australian artists across three stages on the famed pebbled beach, and one thing was made abundantly clear to the packed crowd: guitar rock has always been our forte. Of the acts showcasing, at least seven rocked the various stages with guitar-driven tunes, including Brisbane powerhouses Full Flower Moon Band and Platonic Sex, cult metal group Battlesnake, trad-rockers The Southern River Band, and Melbourne artist ENOLA with their deep, post-punk infused music.

The Belair Lip Bombs helped kick off an afternoon of guitar bands after alt-rock sweethearts Platonic Sex’s performance. With their earnest lyricism, characteristic post-punk guitars and danceable beats, the Frankston-based band had no trouble winning over an early crowd. The four-piece performed tracks from their 2023 debut album Lush Life in a tight and succinct set.

Tongue-in-cheek trad-rockers The Southern River Band brought an unmatched energy to the stage next, earning plenty of laughs in between lush and loud songs for frontman Cal Kramer’s typical Aussie banter. There was no easing into it for the crowd from the band that epitomises ‘all killer no filler’, when Kramer let the thoroughly warmed-up audience know what they were up for, “Now that we’ve blown off the cobwebs let’s do some fucking dancing.”

Throughout the day there were of course moments of levity from the heavy, with a sprinkling of indie-pop and folk to be found on the Pirate Studios Stage in between tents. Four-piece smol fish won the hearts of their audience with honest and relatable lyricism, while ARIA award-winning artist Forest Claudette drew a crowd with their fresh R&B sound. Hip-hop also made its way to the stage through award-winning Kenyan/South Australian artist Elsy Wameyo, who captivated the crowd with the help of her Kenyan backing band 254, before her appearance at London’s Pitchfork Music Festival later in the year.

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Closing out the showcase became a friendly battle between mates Full Flower Moon Band and Battlesnake. A full tent on both ends of the site, the crowds certainly showed up for both bands and although Brisbane rockers FFMB joked about competing with the noise, the attention of the tent was focussed solely on frontwoman Babyshakes Dillon and her crew from the start. Performing new single Devil, alongside older favourites such as Trainspotting and Roadie. The band will soon be rounding out their UK tour ahead of the release of their third album Megaflower, out July 19.

Another year closes on Brighton’s The Great Escape festival, with a showcase of Aussie talent proving that guitar bands are not only digging their heels in but dominating the stage.