The acts not to miss at The Great Escape 2024

500 names on the line-up is frankly too many. Here’s our pick of the ones to watch at Brighton’s biggest annual new music festival

Things we wish we knew before going to our first Great Escape: Everything’s a venue. The queues start early. Brighton’s bigger than you think. Those seagulls mean business. 

More importantly though, we wish we’d had someone curate the line-up for us – since trying to see over 500 artists in more than 30 different pop-up stages around the city is obviously impossible. Follow the music into whatever pub, club, church, theatre, bandstand and hole in the wall you find and you’ll have an amazing weekend, but pick a few directions to head in and you’ll probably have a better one. 

We’ve already shone a light on the best Irish acts playing The Great Escape this year, and our own stellar New Music showcases are the safest stages to anchor yourself at on Friday and Saturday, but here are the other names we’ve circled on our own gig-planners.


Thursday, Three Wise Cats
Friday, Green Door Store

The Canadians’ indie folk offers suggestions of Belle & Sebastian’s winsome pop and Jonathan Richman’s wry humour. Unlike so many folky contemporaries, Ian St.Arnaud puts hooks on an equal footing with story, resulting in pop-minded tunes that stick in the head almost immediately. It’s unimaginable that they won’t become a very big deal indeed. MG


Thursday, Waterbear
Friday, Brighthelm

If you didn’t have a quirky, multi-hyphenate Faroese hip-hop outfit on your TGE schedule, why not? This trio are one of the most exciting new acts coming out of the Nordics, returning to the Brighton festival for the second time. JB

Molly Payton

Thursday, Brighthelm

If I shut my eyes and listen to Molly Payton, I feel like I’ve been transported back into a warm, hazy, sepia-toned memory. With hints of Joni Mitchell in her sound, the young Kiwi talent channels a wistful, folk-inspired nostalgia. And with recent support slots for Tom Odell, Beabadoobee and Arlo Parks, the world is starting to take note. If you love warm guitars and soul-stirring vocals, Molly Payton is one not to be missed. RK

Bon Enfant

Friday, Green Door Store
Friday, Dust

According to their bio, Bon Enfant are “best enjoyed with a flower in your hair and a sword in hand”, but don’t let that put you off. Here you’ll find Québécois pop, 80s synths, 70s glam and a lot of off-kilter art rock that’s been on a winning streak since the 2019 Canadian ADISQ awards. So probably better enjoyed with a Gauloises on your lips, a black turtleneck around your waist, some glittery boots on your feet and… sure, why not, a sword in your hand. PB

Gia Ford

Thursday, Chalk
Friday, The Old Market

A born storyteller, Gia Ford treats her work like an exercise in imagination, preferring to create characters and construct scenarios rather than oversimplify, but always cutting to the heart. She might write like a folk artist, but she sounds like the alt-pop sage of every Fleetwood Mac fan’s dreams. Step into her world. CD

Mackenzy Mackay

Thursday, Patterns Upstairs

Redefining the rules of pop, indie and rap, Mackenzy Mackay accumulated over 50 million combined streams in little more than a year and a half. Poignant songcraft, earworm melodies and an undeniable charisma can all be attributed to the meteoric rise of the Yorkshire-born, London-based talent. With nods to Ed Sheeran, Post Malone and the Arctic Monkeys, Mackenzy Mackay is a must-see live act. RK


Friday, One Church
Saturday, Dust

London band Ugly are something of an anomaly, drifting curiously from folk to jazz to jittery art-pop weirdness à la Talk Talk or Dirty Projectors. Songs such as ‘Sha’ are far from ugly and frankly gorgeous, though they’re sitting on plenty of unreleased material so look forward to seeing a band building their live sound in real time. JB

Moira & Claire

Friday, Green Door Store & Unitarian Church

These two young sisters have been gaining traction in their native Nova Scotia for both the soft glow of their harmonious folk-pop and their earnest and endearing personas. Their early set at Green Door Store will be a perfect stop to soothe those Friday morning sore heads. JB

Elle Darlington

Thursday, One Church
Friday, TGE Beach – The Deep End

Shades of Ariana Grande, Tate McRae and Sabrina Carpenter all come through in Elle Darlington, but sharp-shooting lyrics and a retro pop sound make the Welsh singer-songwriter an exciting find in her own right. With just a handful of Spotify releases under her belt she’s already tapped as one of the UK’s most exciting new contemporary pop acts – and her sparkly, 90’s-influenced singles certainly have the power to get lodged in your head. CD

Ellie Bleach

Friday, Fabrica

Somewhere there’s a faded Hollywood roadhouse that’s always open at 3am – Lana Del Rey is swaying in the corner, Angel Olsen is tuning a guitar – and Ellie Bleach is flicking though the jukebox looking for her next best character. Taking inspiration from everywhere good (smooshing sad girl indie with baroque pop and giving it a sense of humour), Bleach makes the kind of character-driven music you want to live in. PB


Thursday, Brighthelm

South London’s Solaariss is on a one-man mission to bring the saxophone back to R&B. Is there a sexier instrument than the saxophone? I honestly don’t think so. Is there a sexier genre than R&B? You can see where I’m going here… R&B and the sax belong together. Solaariss is on to something. But the sax is not all this talented multi-instrumentalist brings to the table. Blending jazz, gospel, indie, hip hop, and R&B influences into emotive compositions, Solaariss will always get you in the mood to groove. RK


Friday, Green Door Store & The Mucky Duck
Saturday, Patterns Downstairs

This Montreal band recently released their fourth album after a five year wait and instantly re-galvanised their momentum. Blending dreamy vocals with angular and jagged riffs, Corridor feel like one of the main focuses of this year’s festival. JB

Cut Worms

Friday, The Dome
Saturday, Prince Albert

Another of our favourite records from last year. Over his first two releases as Cut Worms, Max Clarke showed an impressive knack for combining twangy indie with the swooning 60s pop of Roy Orbison, but his self-titled third album was the moment it all truly came together. As atmospheric as it is infectious, Cut Worms’ music sits in its own sepia-toned universe. MG

Erin LeCount

Thursday, Pattern Upstairs

Erin LeCount is the new fairy princess of synth-pop. Think ethereal vocals, dreamy productions and a distinctly cinematic sound that will make you feel like the main character in a movie. With a melting pot of influences ranging from Kate Bush to Frank Ocean, a string of sold-out shows and a recent record deal with Good As Gold (the London label founded by producer Kurtis McKenzie – whose credits include Doja Cat and Selena Gomez), Erin LeCount is a name to familiarise yourself with. RK


Friday, The Old Market

Irish folk-rock trio Kingfishr blend the musical tradition they were raised on with stirring and occasionally devastating lyricism. Following a sold-out debut UK tour and support slots for Dermot Kennedy and George Ezra, they’re definitely ones to look out for at this year’s Great Escape – anyone with the opportunity to hear Eddie Keough sing live should, without question. CD

The Cavemen.

Thursday, TGE Beach – The Deep End
Friday, TGE Beach – Soundwaves

When you think of timeless music, you should think of Lagos-based duo The Cavemen (at least, you will soon…). Their self-described “highlife fusion” sound belongs in the 70s Afrofunk, highlife and hiplife movement of West Africa as seamlessly as it belongs on international stages in 2024 and beyond. Don’t miss your chance to hear their soulful vocal performances and Igbo lyrics live in Brighton. MS


Friday, Patterns Upstairs

Following a viral moment in 2022, singer-songwriter Highlyy is now racking up nearly 400,000 monthly streams on Spotify. From her very first release, the 19-year-old has showcased an incredibly accomplished sound, indicative of an artist with a strong musical identity who’s needed little to no time to find their feet. If that wasn’t impressive enough, she also sings in three languages. CD

The Great Escape festival comes to Brighton between 15-18 May. Find remaining weekend and day tickets here.