Great Escape Festival - South by South East

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The Independent Culture

Heralding the start of Britain's festival season, this year's Great Escape played host to 300 acts across Brighton.,/p>

Now in its fourth year, The Great Escape could be the little sister of the famous South by South West festival and conference, in Austin, Texas. Like its bigger predecessor, The Great Escape takes over the city centre with bands, 3,000 music-industry delegates from around the globe and speakers across 34 venues. This year's festival saw more than 12,000 fans per day in attendance across the events.

It was a triumphant homecoming for indie-rock band The Maccabees, headlining the first of three nights. Fans flocked to see the five-piece as they performed songs from their debut album Colour It In, including their single "Toothpaste Kisses" (with a catchiness that found it on a mobile phone advert), sparking a mass singalong, as well as numbers from their recently released Wall of Arms.

A surprise performance from Peter Doherty and his band Babyshambles on the seafront drew the masses to hear their short, six-song, set. Dressed in a winter coat, the star led his band through crowd favourites "Kilimangiro" and "Fuck Forever". In a typically shambolic performance, Doherty sprayed beer onto the crowd and managed to fall backwards off a monitor.

Post-punk old-timers Gang of Four closed the three-night festival with a thrilling set. That the band are currently celebrating their 30th anniversary didn't put their singer Jim King off strutting the stage with his shirt undone as they worked through their vast catalogue. Leicester rockers Kasabian played at The Brighton Dome, while fans crammed into Coalition to hear a hit-packed set from the Charlatans.

But, as well as showcasing the big-name favourites, the festival was also the place to be for catching rising stars. New talent Little Boots, this year's winner of the BBC's Sound of 2009 poll, was a highlight with her catchy synth-pop, as was the sassy VV Brown, playing her brand of doop-wop pop. Harrow's indie band Rogues proved they are ones to watch this year, as did the hotly-tipped Marina and the Diamonds, while singer songwriter Polly Scattergood treated the crowd to a selection from her debut album. And The Veils played from their critically-acclaimed latest album Sun Gangs.

There was also a hotly-antipated appearance from Mr Hudson, led by singer, guitarist and producer Ben Hudson, who has worked with some of the biggest names in hip-hop. Mr Hudson, who appear on Jay-Z's upcoming album The Blueprint 3, performed from their upcoming second album Straight No Chaser, produced by superstar Kanye West.

Industry speakers at the event included Radiohead's Colin Greenwood, journalist Paul Morley, poet Simon Armitage, post-punk star Jah Wobble and Feargal Sharkey, former singer of the Undertones.