The Great Escape
From Oscar Browne to Sarah Crean, here are the acts we saw at The Great Escape's First Fifty shows in East London
Last week The Great Escape’s First Fifty showcases began in the run-up to the Brighton festival’s return in May.
We know this because we had our name in bright lights above two stages at East London’s Folklore and Sebright Arms. If you managed to make the shows and any of the six acts piqued your interest, or if you’re just on the hunt for new music, get to know some of TGE’s hotly tipped names below.
A founding member of the revolving folk supergroup Broadside Hacks, Oscar Browne‘s moody and atmospheric songs have a little more autumnal grit and texture underfoot. His debut EP If Only is beautifully delicate and emotive with enough tempo and tone shifts to not feel too heavy. Expect to see him on many a festival poster in 2024.
Recent winners of the Sound of Young Scotland Award, teenage duo No Windows have garnered attention thanks to their unique DIY sound, which pulls from eclectic influences and blends dream-pop, punk, indie rock and shoegaze into the mix. The pair released their debut EP Fish Boy in 2022, preluded by just a handful of Spotify singles. Their First Fifty set at Folklore marked their first ever London show.
Welsh-born singer-songwriter Hana Lili began making a name for herself in 2021 when her tear-jerker ‘Stay’ soundtracked a suitably will-they-wont-they moment on Love Island. The track captures the poppy, R&B aesthetic of her vocals, and you’ll find a similar shimmering vibe on tracks such as ‘Solitude’, but since then her music has been fleshed out with a bit more indie-pop punch and kick, as on her 2022 debut EP Existential.
Hailing from Dublin, singer-songwriter Sarah Crean cites Japanese Breakfast and Men I Trust as key influences on her confessional indie-pop sound. Her 2022 release 02:00 AM was a TikTok hit, preluding a string of successful and equally vulnerable singles. Crean opened for Bombay Bicycle Club on their 2023 tour, and also supported BLACKPINK at their BST Hyde Park show.
Cork-born, Nashville-based musician Darren Kiely combines a passion for traditional Irish music with a love of modern folk-pop acts such as the Lumineers and Mumford & Sons. Beginning his musical education on the tin whistle at five, the singer and multi-instrumentalist now has a successful debut album (Lost, 2023) under his belt, and will embark on a European tour in May of next year.
Anna Friedberg has been a key player in the Austrian and German music scene for a while now, having won an Amadeus Austrian Music Award back 2009, as well as being a coach in the Austrian Eurovision team. Her all-female band Friedberg released their debut EP Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah in 2021, a very fun throwback to the dancey garage rock days of yesteryear. As latest single ‘Never Gonna Pay The Rent’ shows, expect chunky bass lines, tight grooves and reverb drenched melodies.