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REVIEW: The Great Escape, Various Venues -Brighton, May 8th-10th

Why is it that British people enjoy nothing more than a good queue? Our sense of fair play? Pah! Not likely.

It’s more to do with our deep rooted adherence to class structure if the Great Escape, famed for its lengthy queues, is anything to go on. Witness the scenes of hysteria and begging going on outside Amazing Snakeheads‘ show at the Hope on Friday night. The line of normal punters snakes (sorry) around the block, those at its head complaining that they’ve been there for at least an hour.

The delegate queue also moves at the pace of a lethargic snail, but as it contains industry types the sense of indignation and frustration is even more palpable. Meanwhile, various people considered even more very important, are whisked in in front of everyone else, although even the band’s label boss Lawrence Bell of Domino is unceremoniously refused a plus one.

Even better, as we’ll as being Britain’s top queuing festival, there’s also music on offer too. Amazing Snakeheads certainly justify the wait anyway, with a set that gloriously unhinged and utterly enthralling. Not for these Glaswegians the crossover success of labelmates Arctic Monkeys or Franz Ferdinard. Instead we’re treated to something that encompasses the shriek-psych of Suicide, the knuckleduster rockabilly of Gallon Drunk, the primal pounding of Joy Division and even occasionally the sax-soaked luxury of Roxy Music all rolled into. With a bass player who could be Begbie from ‘Trainspotting’s even scarier big brother. A nightmarish musical wet dream if ever there was onr.

Their triumphant appearance definitely puts some of the safer, more conventional indie band fodder into perspective. Ballet School at the Green Door Store boast a great singer, even if she should have the confidence to let her swooping voice do the talking and drop the Madonna-style vogueing and Debbie Harry bouncing. Her band sound tired and dated though, their Linn drum shudder and layers of goth guitar doing little to remain in the brain.

Mazes (Coalition) are equally unambitious, happy to retread The Las already retro steps, with the exception of one impressive spark when they hit 6/8 time and sound genuinely original. Charlie XCX at the Corn Exchange is even more depressing, sounding like a Belinda Carlisle tribute band and murdering ‘I Want Candy’.

And Brawlers may have all the posture, and moves of a hardcore band, but their set at the Bermuda Triangle comes across more like a laryngitis-laden Blink 182.

Gnarwolves who follow know what they’re doing, though. They inject plenty of dynamics into the hardcore sound, ggouing from sludgy Sabbath-esque grind to Dead Kennedys frenzy while making sure every word of.tgeir thoughtful lyrics come across. It’s one of the few times a crowdsurfing session seems an entirely logical response.

Elsewhere, it’s the least conventional acts that get everyone talking – rapper Lizzo and hip-hop crew Ratking, Berlin’s icy glitch experts Sea Change and Norway’s Deathcrush all break away from the norm and prosper by doing so.

Jon Hopkins‘ thumping live techno cum art film show is a suitably euphoric climax to Saturday night, and there are plenty of sweaty, happy faces in the Corn Exchange wishing the party would go on for another day. But this South by South Sussex veteran reckons a few more risks and a little more diversity might make braving the queued a little more worthwhile next year.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.