The Great Escape 2019: Scottish acts to see at this year's festival
- Arusa Qureshi
- 30 April 2019
Kobi Onyame / credit: Ryan Johnston
Taste-making festival's Scottish showcases to feature everything from punk to hip-hop
The Great Escape, Brighton's annual three-day festival of new music, is undeniably the place to be when it comes to finding the next big thing, whether it be future festival headliners or simply your next favourite band. This year's festival returns from Thu 9–Sat 11 May, with over 450 acts from all over the world expected to perform at 35 different venues around the seaside town. Every year, a special focus on particular national music scenes draws attention to the huge amount of talent coming out of countries beyond England, with showcases, networking events and receptions organised to emphasise the creative energy coming from these places. The ten emerging acts chosen to represent Scotland this year, with support from Creative Scotland, will be playing in front of top industry figures and music fans, with the intention of finding further support for their next steps in the industry. Here's what audiences can expect to find at this year's Showcase Scotland events.
Having recently supported Slaves on a European tour and their track 'Trickle Down' featuring on the opening theme to the Champions League semi-final, Glasgow band ALLIGATOR aren't likely to remain newcomers on the Scottish music scene for much longer. With a sound that recalls the buoyant Oasis-esque melodic indie rock of the early 90s, the band go one step further with heavily distorted guitar lines and anthemic choruses adding a punk edge to their energetic live sets.
One Church, Thu 9 May, 12pm; Queen's Hotel, Thu 9 May, 7pm
Singer-songwriter Aaron Smith doesn't currently have any music on streaming sites, which makes him all the more intriguing as a new act to catch at The Great Escape. Having worked with Lewis Capaldi's manager Scott Kirkwood, as well as some of the UK's leading songwriters and producers, Smith is destined for a fruitful future thanks in part to his stunning vocals and skilful songwriting.
One Church, Thu 9 May, 12.45pm; Unitarian Church, Thu 9 May, 9.30pm
Named as one of BBC Radio One DJ Huw Stephens' 'Tips for 2019', Glasgow trio Cloth's next steps look promising. Twins Rachael and Paul Swinton and drummer Clare Gallacher have been playing together as Cloth since 2016, and were snapped up by DIY label Last Night From Glasgow just last year. Their debut album is due later this year, but having already received high praise from the likes of Vic Galloway, Steve Lamacq and 6 Music's Tom Robinson for their latest single 'Old Bear' and 2018's 'Demo Love', the trio's lo-fi ethereal sound will no doubt find love across the Scottish music landscape.
One Church, Thu 9 May, 1.30pm; Queen's Hotel, Thu 9 May, 10pm
There's an 80s new wave and post-punk feel to Walt Disco's sound, with the fashion of Vivienne Westwood and the influence of bands like Orange Juice ringing clear in their melodic and stylistic choices. The Glasgow quintet's recent single 'My Pop Sensibilities' is a retro synth-soaked ode to expressing your true self, with James Potter's warbling vocals relaying this message with eccentricity and zest.
One Church, Thu 9 May, 2.30pm; Horatio's, Thu 9 May, 9pm
Glasgow rockers Heavy Rapids perform with the swagger and spirit of rising acts like IDLES and Fontaines DC, with a sense of urgency perpetually pushing forward their guitar-driven melodies. Having garnered attention from outlets like BBC Radio 1 and NME, the band are set to follow in the footsteps of acts currently revelling in the re-emergence of high quality rock, responding to a shared feeling of restlessness and discontent in their music.
One Church, Thu 9 May, 3.30pm
Highlands-based singer-songwriter Tamzene was initially discovered busking in Inverness, and has since played festivals across the UK and beyond. With her influences ranging from the soulful sounds of Nina Simone to the effortlessly cool R&B of Alicia Keys, her range has continued to evolve since those early days, shifting more towards the world of contemporary pop. Her last single 'Last Song' highlights this with its grand choruses and catchy hooks, working seamlessly together with Tamzene's expressive vocals to draw you in.
Queen's Bar, Thu 9 May, 2.30pm; One Church, Fri 10 May, 12pm
OK Button's debut single 'The Message' is a swirling reverie of understated electronics and swelling instrumentation. Between Amber Wilson's tender croon and soft whispers of 'you motherfuckers won't bring me down', the band attempt to bridge the chasm between gentleness and confrontation, their brand of dream-pop offering a sense of quiet discord. The Aberdeen trio might have a collective resume that includes work with acts like Bombay Bicycle Club and Morcheeba, but together, they provide their own interesting touches that separate them from previous projects.
One Church, Fri 10 May, 12.45pm; Fabrica, Sat 11 May, 8.30pm
Championed by everyone from Drowned in Sound to BBC Introducing, Glasgow indie-rockers LUCIA already boast a solid support base thanks to the success of their initial releases and commitment to touring, which has taken them across the world. The group's latest single 'Blueheart', which was out earlier this year, has an underlying grunge sensibility that melds perfectly with their soaring pop-rock soundscape, providing extra grit and tenacity.
One Church, Fri 10 May, 1.45pm; Coalition, Fri 10 May, 7.15pm; The Old Market, Sat 11 May, 8.15pm
Ghanaian-born Glasgow-based rapper Kobi Onyame has established himself as a key player in the Scottish music scene, with impressive support slots and releases already under his belt. His take on hip-hop merges his Ghanaian influences with contemporary elements of the genre, creating melodies that are full of warmth and energy. Onyame's 2017 album Gold was shortlisted for the 2018 Scottish Album of the Year award, highly praised for its use of West African sounds and rhythms and overall vibrancy, which he manages to recreate with ease in a live setting.
One Church, Fri 10 May, 2.30pm; Latest Music Bar, Sat 11 May, 9.45pm
When The Snuts released their debut single 'Seasons' back in 2018, there was a flurry of interest in how the West Lothian four-piece would go about following up its explosive indie rock energy. Luckily, their latest single 'Manhattan Project' follows through on the ambition promised early on, with the band's united charisma and confidence shining through. With sets at festivals like TRNSMT and Benicassim already on their CV, The Snuts are likely to be included on an increasing number of festival rosters going forward.
The Dive Bar - Beach Site, Thu 9 May, 8.30pm; One Church, Fri 10 May, 3.30pm
The Great Escape, various venues, Brighton, Thu 9–Sat 11 May. greatescapefestival.com
The Great Escape
Over 500 up and coming artists from around the world showcased across 30+ venues in Brighton. Running alongside the festival is a convention that features panels, debates, speeches and networking opportunities with industry insiders.