The Alternative Escape – BSM vs Alcopop at The Pavilion Tavern [17/05/2013]

By Tom Aylott

Gnarwolves shot by Luke ST / Piano Slug

Brighton’s Great Escape Festival is the UK’s definitive showcase festival for established and up-and-coming acts, and probably the closest we have to Texas’ South by Southwest Festival. However, running alongside the paid-for events is The Alternative Escape, a chance for the smaller and more boutique labels and promoters to open their legs and show their class. We caught the showcase of two of Punktastic’s most beloved labels, Big Scary Monsters and Alcopop!, at The Pavilion Tavern on Friday. Here’s what went down, with times all correct to the minute, probably.


07:00 – There goes my alarm, off to work I go… Oh shit, it’s The Alternative Escape today and I forgot to turn off my alarm! Rejoice (but also feel silly)!

07:25 – I’m not going back to sleep, am I?

11:51 – All aboard the train from London Victoria to Brighton, with an essential set of snacks for stomach-lining. How much good Percy Pigs and Wasabi Peas really do in reality at this is still to be determined.

13:00 – Hooray! We’re in Brighton! It’s sunny! I can see the sea! Etc.

13:30 – First order of the day is to catch the majority of Jurassic PoP!’s set. Alcopop! founder Jack Clothier is performing solo, with a set dedicated solely to one of the greatest film franchises of all time. Lyrics announcing his disturbing desire for Jeff Goldblum, the Jurassic Park game for the Sega Mega Drive and a wonderful Ace Of Base cover entitled “All That She Wants Is An Alan Muldoon” comprise this funny and charming set. If you know Jack (#myboys), this could only possibly have come from him. He’ll be playing with a full-band soon, including a guitar player who has agreed to play in a raptor mask. We can hardly wait.

14:10 – Bermuda Ern are on next, and impressing thoroughly. Much like Troy McClure, Tobias Hayes has a number of projects “you may remember him from”, such as Meet Me In St. Louis, Shoes And Socks Off, Love Among The Mannequins, Shield Your Eyes and more besides. Bermuda Ern is one of his new projects after “breaking up” with SASO (how can one break up with oneself?), and it registers high on the “vibe counter”, with early-Nirvana influenced grooves retaining the interest of the steadily amassing early afternoon crowd.

14:12 – First beer of the day. Bottle of Peroni.

14:35 – Normally armed only with herself and an acoustic guitar, Katie Malco is up next, with a full band boasting the considerable talents of drummer Chris Rouse (Hold Your Horse Is) and bassist Jon Pearce (formerly of Reuben/Freeze The Atlantic). Katie continues in the fine vein of musical acts thus far, with her folk and indie rock-influenced melodies warranting a big reception from the Pav Tav’s crowd. She also duly presents a new song which has the first known “mosh section” of a Katie Malco tune.

14:46 – The sun has gone in and it looks pretty grey outside. Maybe shorts weren’t such a good idea after all…

16:20 – Well, things certainly got a little noodly there. Following on from the unique punk-pop (emphasis on the “punk”) stylings of Manchester’s Doctrines, BSM’s Axes then astonish the Pav Tav with their obfuscating math-rock. Playing cuts from this year’s fantastic self-titled full-length, the four-piece (who also make up the majority of pop-punkers Slow Science) excel in marrying stop-start dynamics and delightfully odd time signatures to a wide-screen, ambitious sound. If there’s any band I would compel you to see from today’s offerings, it would be Axes.

16:24 – Have to pace myself – though there’s been much to enjoy thus far, there’s so much more ahead. Better have a lemonade. Chin chin.

17:00 – God I missed The Attika State. Performing for the first time in nearly two years, the Bristolian pop-rockers bring a musical ray of sunshine to a changeable May day, delivering consistently and constantly throughout their set like they’ve never been away. Lead singer Rudy Barella cracks out his patented dance moves and the new songs they deliver today sound just as strong, despite being a little more on the melancholy side. Welcome back boys – play again soon. The dance floor misses The Attika State.

18:45 (ish) – Delta Sleep and Bear Cavalry are mere sidenotes to the discovery of Meantime London Pale Ale – any earlier conception of not drinking draught beer or pacing myself may just have been thrown out of the window. Delta Sleep are fairly competent in the “riffs” department, but their vocal is an insignificant mumble and the BSM newomers’ overall sound would benefit from a more forceful delivery. Bear Cavalry are a fairly mercurial band in the live arena – this is the fourth time I’ve caught the Hampshire indie rockers, and the split is fairly even between “great” and “underwhelming”, and unfortunately, this afternoon sees them fall under the latter category. However, Oxfordians Gunning For Tamar do not suffer a similar fate, and their set, primarily consisting of tracks from recent EP “Camera Lucida”, is simply nothing short of incendiary.

20:05 – As half of Brighton have converged on the Pavilion Tavern to watch hometown heroes Gnarwolves, it all gets a little much for yours truly and claustrophobia takes over (not to mention the impending need to line my stomach a little – chicken and bacon pasta from Sainsburys. It was dreadful). Such chaos was created that the event was in real danger of being pulled; the bar staff’s only answer to enthusiatic crowdsurfers was to throw ice and lemons at the revellers, and poke them with a mop. The ladies toilets (which have become unisex due to a blockage in the Gents) certainly bore the brunt of the DIY punk tornado, the scene looking not too dissimilar to the longdrops at Reading Festival. Lovely.

22:00 – After a couple of fairly nondescript sets from My First Tooth and Freeze The Atlantic – more due to their placing on the bill than anything else by the way… fragile folk-rock and fairly sluggish early Noughties-esque Brit Rock aren’t ideal for keeping the “party atmosphere” going – Stagecoach ensured things were brought back to the zeniths parts of today have seen, playing a riotous set to a packed-out crowd. Post-Gnarwolves, the bouncers are a tad overzealous and put paid to any potential merriment breaking out, but caution is thrown to the wind during set-closer ‘Good Luck With Your 45’, which sees bodies (mostly those of the band) flying everywhere. ‘Coach classics are played alongside tracks from recent debut full-length ‘Say Hi To The Band’, and each are met with rapturous response from tonight’s packed Pav Tav.

22:35 – God I need to sit down. Ooh, Crash Of Rhinos are playing! Still, not nearly as good as having a good old sit…

23:30 – Woah, feeling a little unsteady. Swaying a bit. Oh there’s Tellison! There are my mates too… Let’s shout the lyrics in each others’ face! Let’s order some Jagerbombs!

00:20 – Fight Like Apes are Alcopop’s newest signing and…oh God, my head really hurts and I have no voice and…but forget that, let’s have more booze/

01:30 – Johnny Foreigner on. Hope they play the one from the Budweiser ad…ha I am funny. Pint done. Tired. TAXI.

09:45 – Ow.