The Great Escape, Brighton

4.00

The venues are unusual, the bands are often unknown. And there are more of them than you can possibly handle. But that is the excitement of this three day event: a chance to spot future talent Don't plan for any sleep, though. By night, 300 acts perform at 22 official and numerous unofficial venues across Brighton.

In the past, the Great Escape has been criticised for poor organisation; too many tickets sold, ridiculous queues, band clashes etc. So this year, handicapped by a broken metatarsal, the odds of seeing everyone I wanted, weren't looking good. However, helped out by a series of festival tweets and texts, I learnt of secret showcases, happy hours and free sushi. The highlight of day one was Wakefield trio the Cribs plus newest member Johnny Marr. They played an ingenious set of classics including "Hey Scenesters" and "Men's Needs". Other stand-out moments included NYC six-piece, White Rabbits and much-talked-about Surfer Blood.

Day two and I receive a text from Levi's, "exclusive show with the Futureheads – tickets available from the Levi's store". After the Futureheads' rooftop show at Audio, French newcomers Team Ghost and ambient dubstep pioneers, Mount Kimbie, wowed crowds at Revenge. The way this festival is set out demands decisiveness. Ellie Goulding, I Blame Coco and Hurts were all scheduled to perform at the same time. To silence the cynic in me, I opted for Hurts, who earlier this year featured highly in the BBC's sound of 2010, without ever playing live. How wrong I was to doubt industry tastemakers. Hurts were phenomenal.

Day three and first on the agenda, a secret performance from La Shark, at vintage clothing haven, Beyond Retro. This peculiar London outfit were the perfect accompaniment to the store's outlandish retro collections. Making a quick stop at the Dome, I witnessed 18-year-old Unicorn Kid send the crowd into an intense half-hour rave-a-thon. Last up, were North-eastern boys Frankie and the Heartstrings, whose front man almost combusts with charisma. After a few years' hard graft, the band are rightfully breaking into the public consciousness.

Unlike previous years, I avoided the queues for bigger names and concentrated on emerging talent. It turned out to be the best way to enjoy the Great Escape.

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