The inside story on Brighton’s Alternative Escape

The inside story on Brighton’s Alternative Escape

A festival within a festival — While you’re in Brighton for The Great Escape, don’t miss out on its free and rowdier little brother: The Alternative Escape. We spoke to festival manager Kevin Moore to find out more.

The strength of The Great Escape festival is in the diverse spread of bands and venues, which sprawl across Brighton. But as you’re rushing around this weekend, you might find places with the most popular acts fill up fast. That’s where The Alternative Escape comes in… a free event that runs alongside with the main festival and showcases hundreds of new and emerging talent all across the city.

To get the lowdown on what it’s all about, we had a chat with the festival’s general manager, Kevin Moore.

So Kevin, how would you describe The Alternative Escape?
It’s a festival within a festival that runs concurrently with our core programme. And this year we have almost three hundred artists performing. A lot of the bands that play are Brighton-based too. They’re all wonderful so it’s great to help them reach their potential and hopefully see them graduate to the core programme in years to come.

And how exactly did The Alternative Escape get its start?
The festival’s founders knew lots of people who wanted to get involved, but the core festival only had limited space. So a lot times they were turning away great partners or bands, because they literally didn’t have the time and resources.

Those promoters then went off and put on unofficial shows for the thousands of people who were descending on Brighton for The Great Escape. But we wanted to keep on eye on everything that was going on in the city, because we felt like it might get a little out of control. So we offered to include these shows as an extension of our festival and it’s developed from there.

What makes The Alternative Escape stand apart form its big brother?
We book The Great Escape, whereas The Alternative Escape gives a chance to emerging promoters, agencies and record labels to put on a show. We work with a lot of people who don’t regularly present showcases, so they don’t have the promotion and production expertise, but they have got the artist connections. So they’ll come to us with a line up and we’ll work with them to provide a venue, PA system and engineer, and just generally help them run the show properly.

How are the venues chosen for The Alternative Escape?
When we are booking venues for our core programmes, we know pretty much which artists we have in mind. But with The Alternative Escape, we look for a venue that can be flexible and encompass a wide variety of acts. We pick venues that aren’t synonymous with any specific genre of music, then try and guide people to an appropriate venue for their act.

This all seems like a lot of work…why is it important to keep it free?
A lot of the bands are on tiny labels or may be unsigned and this is the best way to showcase that talent. So we keep it free, because sometimes people from the industry only pop in to see a band for 10 minutes and as soon as you put in a pay barrier, they might skip that venue and miss out on something amazing.

So as it grows, where do you see The Alternative Escape going in the future?
It’s very organic and the quality of art is evolving… so we don’t really have a huge amount of control over it. As long as the festival continues to develop then The Alternative Escape will expand alongside it and who knows, one day it might even outgrow the core programme.

Our top picks for the Alternative Escape are….


Strong Island Recordings X Pie & Vinyl
15.00-23.30 @ Bleach

London In Stereo X Fear Of Fiction
19.00-23.00 @ Latest Music Bar

Les Enfants Terribles X Spindle Magazine
12.00-22.45 @ The Mesmerist


Island Records presents Island Life
19.00-23.00  @ The North Laine

12.30-16.15 @ The Fishbowl

Alcopop Vs Big Scary Monsters
13.00-04.30 @ The Pavilion Tavern


MAMA Presents
12.00-20.00 @ Horatio’s Bar

The Playground
12.00-16.00 @ The Mesmerist

Fire Records x Teen Creeps & 66 Production
13.00-23.00 @ The Basement