Part-SXSW, part dental-convention for the music industry, The Great Escape is first and foremost a chance to see some of the best emerging music from around the world play some of Brighton’s best stages, and before many will be watching for the Canadians to lead the way.
Across three nights, Brighton’s Green Door Store will transform into Canada House and showcase the best in new and independent music, with 18 artists from across the country. Here’s our guide to the highlights, province by province, along with a playlist of the entire line-up
Paper Bag Records-signed Art d’Ecco trades in a stomping neo-glam rock sound that has as much in common with the playfulness of Sparks as the heady stomp of Marc Bolan. New album After The Head Rush is due this June.
4pm at The Green Door Store, and 9.15pm at Latest Music Bar on Saturday, 14 May
Born in Ghana, West Africa, Mauvey grew up in the UK and Vancouver, signing with 604 Records for his debut mixtape The Florist in 2021, which showcased an upbeat, leftfield pop with flourishes of Childish Gambino, Michael Jackson, and Kanye West.
1.45pm at The Green Door Store on Thursday, 12 May
1.15pm at Latest Music Bar, and 8.30pm at Brighthlem on Saturday 14 May
The confident pop sound of JESSIA slots nicely next to the likes of Anne-Marie and RAYE. The Vancouver-based artist has been championed by Ryan Tedder and makes ragged, unapologetic pop with side of no-bullshit.
3.15pm at The Green Door Store and 8.15pm at Patterns Upstairs on Thursday, 12 May
As Keeper E., Halifas-based Adelle Elwood, make a glitchy, synth-flecked sounds that sits somewhere between Braids and Dirty Projectors. Her debut The Sparrows All Find Food was released during the pandemic via LHM Records, and she follow up with the bouncy 9-track EP thank u and please and don’t go earlier this year.
8.15pm at the Queens Hotel on Thursday 12 May
1pm at The Green Door Store on Saturday 14 May
Syrian-Lebanese Shanii22 was raised in Kuwait before making the move to Canada and has been building a strong profile in the Halifix rap scene. With influences as varied as Kanye West, Erykah Badu, and Ski Mask the Slump God, he’s making a sound that’s all his own.
1.15am at Komedia Studio on Friday, 13 May
1.45pm at The Green Door Store on Saturday, 14 May
Under the name Loviet, Nova Scotia-born Natalie Lynn makes nostalgia-tinged pop elevated by an alluring and colourful vocal – just listen to the rollercoaster anthem “Picture” from last year’s debut longplayer 777 for a flavour.
12.15pm at The Green Door Store on Saturday, 14 May
Captured Tracks’ latest signing JayWood is the project of Winnipeg musician & songwriter Jeremy Haywood-Smith. His sophomore record Slingshot drops in July, a self-portrait of the artist at his surface and his depths, merging fantasy scenarios, personal anecdotes, and infectious pop and dance instrumentals.
2.20pm at The Green Door Store on Friday, 13 May
8pm at The Green Door Store on Saturday, 14 May
Super Duty Tough Work channel a laid back spin on a East Cost 80s hip-hop sound, dirty jazz loops and socially conscious tongue-twisting bars. Following the release of their debut album Studies In Grey, they became the first Manitoba-based hip hop act to get a Polaris Prize nomination.
1.45pm at The Green Door Store on Friday, 13 May
4.30pm at Jubilee Square on Saturday, 14 May
Twin sisters Mercedes and Phoenix Arn-Horn riff off a sound with Softcult that’s somewhere between Vercua Salt and Bikini Kill but with more expansive dreamy sonics and one foot in the shoegaze camp. Big songs come to life with huge guitar drops cut apart with melancholy and urgency.
9pm at Volks on Thursday, 12 May
2.30pm at The Green Door Store on Saturday, 14 May
Toronto four-piece Bad Waitress released their debut album No Taste last year on Royal Mountain Record – a record that unites the more brutal moments of The Runaways with Thurston Moore sonics and the spirit of punk.
12.30pm at the Beach Stage on Thursday, 12 May
12.30pm at The Green Door Store and 4pm at The Hope and Ruin on Firday, 13 May
Jeremie Albino‘s Past Dawn EP – released last month – reveals a unique voice in modern Americana from the Toronto singer/songwriter. Bornand raised in the metropolis, a decade of working on farms outside the city and in Prince Edward County, gave Albino the the time and space to hone his songwriting skills – he’s the real deal.
2.30pm at The Green Door Store on Thursday, 12 May
9.30pm at the Unitarian Church on Saturday, 14 May
Wild Rivers‘ take on pop finds its sweet spot through the vocal-play between Devan Glover and Khalid Yassein paired with timeless songs that tap into the same vein as Adele and Sam Smith. The trio – completed by guitarist Andrew Oliver – released their second full-length record Sidelines earlier this year after a sell-out US tour in the autumn of 2021.
4pm at The Green Door Store on Thursday, 12 May
8pm at The Prince Albert on Friday, 13 May
Saskatoon veterans Slow Down, Molasses have dropped five superlative records over a 15-year career, with an intelligent – and noisy – blueprint for acerbic indie-rock that doesnt pull its punches. Last year’s Minor Deaths is a frenetic, jerky eight-tracker that welds energy to agression and was supposed to drop alongside a UK tour in 2020 until Covid happened.
12.15pm at The Green Door Store on Friday, 13 May
8.15pm at Three Wise Cats (Casablanca) on Saturday, 14 May
Sister trio The Garrys describe themselves as “surf-rock doom-wop” and there is some trace of the same late sixties melancholy channelled by the likes of The Beach Boys and Mammas and the Pappas in their harmoney-laden sound. It’s woozy, disconcerting and brilliant.
1pm at The Green Door Store and 9.15pm at Jubilee Square on Friday, 13 May
Magi Merlin was raised on classical music and grew up with a genre-agnostic approach to music – she listened to anything and everything, eventually finding her sound through an inventive take on R&B and neo-soul. With some of the same swagger and inventiveness as our very own Shygirl or Bree Runway, she’s and ascending star in the Canadian music scene.
2.30pm at Patterns Downstairs and 10pm at Zahara on Thursday, 12 May
3.15pm at The Green Door Store on Saturday, 14 May
Montreal-based Ethiopean rapper Naya Ali found her path in music thorugh a love-affair with the East Coast bad boy great. Dropping out of a promising career in marketing, she’s released two incredible collections of music, with last year’s Godspeed: Elevated moving her sound away further away from the pop stylings of 2020’s Godspeed:Baptism (Prelude).
12.30pm at Patterns Downstairs on Thursday, 12 May
3.15pm at The Green Door Store on Friday, 13 May
Calgary’s Samantha Savage Smith hooked up with Chris Dadge – known for his work with Alvvays and Chad VanGaalen – to make new this year’s Fake Nice, her third longplayer. With a sound that’s anchored in mid-noughties indie, it’s brought up to date by a fluid approach to instrumentation and lack of pretension.
12.15pm at The Green Door Store on Thursday, 12 May
Enigmatic crooner-led The Bobby Tenderloin Universe are “committed to creating a community based on unconditional love and unity” according to their mission statement. There’s a self-titled debut from 2019 and they’ve toured with Orville Peck and contributed to a Best Fit compliation two years’ back – but that’s about as much as we know.
1pm at The Green Door Store on Thursday, 12 May
7.30pm at The One Church on Friday, 13 May