The Sussex Music Festival presents Grungecase

Free Recovery, Echoes in Red and From Fire at The Star Inn,  Guildford.
5th April 2018.


Ahead of the main Sussex Musical Festival event on the 28th July 2018, raising money for the charity Young Epilepsy, we have Grungecase!


An opportunity to showcase local talent and celebrate the lives and music of Layne Staley (Alice in Chains) and Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), three bands took to The Back Room stage at the legendary Star Inn, Guildford’s longest running music venue and home to The Stranglers first ever gig.


From Fire open Grungecase tonight. Having seen their debut gig at The Star just over two years ago, when they were a more experimental instrumental three piece, they have now truly come into their own as a four piece with the addition of lead singer John whose deep, full, emotive vocals really broaden and elevate their sound whilst still allowing the dexterity and finesse of the guitar, bass and drums to breathe.
Described as an alternative rock band they are actually more interestingly hard to pigeon hole into a specific genre clearly channeling a range of musical influences and adeptly moving across different time signatures within a song, without losing the core of the music or indeed the audience. This is no mean feat and they are an impressive band to keep an eye on for sure.
“Scream My Name”, the fourth track played this evening, is especially strong with the band’s musicianship and prowess perfectly balanced and vocals soaring across The Back Room, and they close their set on a high with the track “Burning”, a real bass heavy creeping stomper of a song.


Echoes in Red then take the stage and announce they haven’t played a gig since last October. You certainly wouldn’t know it from this performance, which is taut but relaxed with the second half especially showing this Crawley based band hitting their stride.
They have the right balance of music and chat,  thoroughly entertaining from the start playing their brand of hard rock whilst employing vocal harmonies to great effect from lead singer Tim and bassist Pete.
The track “Wasted” opens like a hybrid of Nirvana’s version of “Love buzz”  and Nirvana’s own “Dive”, which is of course highly appropriate for this evening, but then segues into a different beast altogether channelling a heavier Tom Petty (which is a compliment) and then back again to the fuzz – very fun.
The interplay between the trio works well, their enjoyment of the evening clear, and they are impressively able to create a sound far larger than the number of players.


Free Recovery are the headliners of Grungecase tonight and rightly so; they wear their influences on their sleeves and in tonight’s case on their tees. These guys literally have grunge running through their veins.
Lead singer Jimmy is wearing an Alice in Chains t-shirt in honour of the late great Layne Staley, and drummer Dan is wearing a Kurt Cobain tee, in tribute of the date – the 5th April – sadly a day when both of these important pioneering musical frontmen passed away, albeit years apart.

Free Recovery’s set list tonight feels much more reflective, their new material really harnessing all the band members strengths. Having seeing Free Recovery on many occasions I have to say this is one of my favourite gigs of theirs; they are always tight but tonight also Free Recoveryfeels very fresh. New song “Leith Hill” highlights the fracking issues in the local area and the concern for current and future generations of the potential disappearance of this natural beauty spot. This is of course very important political stuff, but Free Recovery have also managed to turn this into a melodic banger, utilising vocals from both Jimmy and Dan, and with definite potential for audience sing along. I can definitely see this being more towards the end of the set list in the future as a firm favourite.
So yes, Free Recovery are more political and reflective this evening but the rock is still very much alive; Swamp Thing, one of the classics from their self-titled LP from 2015, is a stand out tonight. They mix it up well with old material, new and, appropriate for this evening, covers. Free Recovery are known for their fierce version of “Alive” by Pearl Jam. This is omitted this evening in favour of covers of Alice in Chains “Dirt” and Nirvana’s unplugged version of the Meat Puppets song “Oh Me”. Before “Dirt” Jimmy expresses concern of doing the song justice. He need not have worried. It works well.
The highlight for me however is their version of “Oh Me”, with perfectly pitched vocals and beautifully restrained and lovely guitar work from axeman Dave, paradoxically rocking frantic solos just a few songs later. On a Thursday night in Guildford it is a pleasure to hear this gorgeous song live and done with heart.


From Fire
 – Scream My Name, Burning
Echoes in Red – Good For You, Wasted, Animal
Free Recovery – Leith Hill, Swamp Thing, Oh Me, Dirt
For more information about the Sussex Music Festival please visit their website


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