The Great Escape returned for another sun-drenched day of vibrant and exceptional new music on Friday, with some of the most exciting up-and-coming artists thrilling music-lovers around the city of Brighton.

The historic Brighton Dome Concert Hall hosted the first of the festival’s Spotlight Shows, in partnership with The Face, with its first act Gabriels holding the flag high for LA neo-soul, starring a sensational stand-out performance from vocalist Jacob Lusk. Shortly after, ENNY brought her unshakeable energy to the stage, complete with a full band to bolster her impressive bars. With the bar already set high, Nigerian rising star TEMS capped off the showcase, capturing the audience with her afrobeat anthems and purposeful flow.

Elsewhere, setting the tone for the day, Lynks brought their club-ready queer bangers to the Beach Stage before bookending the day’s proceedings with a sweaty 2am set at Chalk. Another masked performer provided one of the highlights of the day, as the enigmatic master of underground grime, CASISDEAD, took his incredible lyrical talent to the stage at Coalition.

Dora Jar is not short of industry buzz following a string of critically-acclaimed songs and an endorsement from Billie Eilish. She lived up to the hype, performing for an elated crowd at Brighthelm. The next generation of pop was well represented, with indie-pop darling Alfie Templeman charming the Komedia audience, showing off his songwriting chops and catchy hooks, and rising British singer-songwriter Claudia Valentina leaving the stage to venture into a buzzing crowd at the Gay Times showcase, hosted at iconic Brighton LGBTQ+ venue Revenge. The highly anticipated performance from Californian queer pop vocalist Rebecca Black drew in one of the largest crowds of the evening and saw her infamous jewel encrusted chain saw make a special appearance, with fans going wild as Rebecca closed her incredible set with a rendition of iconic viral hit ‘Friday’.

Meanwhile, Dublin-based singer CMAT brought her brand of country-pop to the Music From Ireland showcase at Prince Albert, and breakthrough artist Priya Ragu’s combination of electronic beats and upbeat R&B vocals provided the perfect beach soundtrack at the Amazon New Music Stage.

Festival favourite BC Camplight played to a packed crowd at The Old Market, where he was followed by post-punk party-starters Warmduscher, who worked the crowd into a sweaty frenzy in their traditional fashion. Fans of the new generation of alt-rockers coming through the scene were well catered for, with mosh-friendly sets from the buzzy duo Bob Vylan at Coalition and viral pop-punk sensation NOAHFINNCE at Revenge.

Legendary music publicist Barbara Charone was ‘In Conversation’ for one of The Great Escape conference keynotes, where she shared career advice with the next generation of industry professionals: “If you want to be a music PR, being liked is a really important thing and knowing about music is really important. If you just want to be on the guest list, this isn’t for you.” Reflecting on a career which has seen her work with some of the world’s best-loved artists, she also shared anecdotes about the likes of Foo Fighters, Lou Reed and Madonna: “People ask if Madonna has changed but she hasn’t. She was the same when she was unknown as she is as a global superstar.”

The conference strand of the day explored the intersection between MUSIC + VIDEO - how TV producers, gaming companies and movie studios source their music, and how artists can use video to promote themselves. In a session on influencers and how to engage audiences through TikTok, David Mogendorff, Head of UK Artist Partnerships at TikTok gave the advice: “Do the things that are authentic to you. It sounds cliché, but it’s never been more true.”

PPL, PRS for Music and PRS Foundation presented ‘On Track’, a day of conference sessions that included BBC Radio 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq in conversation with breakthrough group Yard Act. Other sessions throughout the day covered topics such as sync, the metaverse, and sustainability, all coming together for another day packed with buzzy artists and informative sessions as the festival continues at full pelt.

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