Reviewed: Simple Things Festival
Simple Things provided the city of Bristol with a varying range of talented and extraordinary underground artists. With a spectrum of musical styles and performances coming together in the centre of the city, the day-and-night-long event is truly something to behold.
Ahead of the main event, the Simple Things organisers set up a talk with the minds behind legendary label, Ninja Tune. There was also a massive launch night featuring Metronomy at Motion, the night before.
Photo credit: ShotAway.com
However, we’re going to focus on the main event. This is something that any fan of underground music should witness. Featuring dozens of talented artists, on fourteen stages, from a plethora of genres, we found ourselves savouring every moment of the spectacle until the early hours of Sunday morning.
The day itself was grey, murky and sporadically raining, which is typical Bristol weather (I’m a native, I can say that). Nevertheless, there was that magic feeling of anticipation as we approached Colston Hall to kick everything off. We retreated from the cold outdoors only to be greeted by a live band playing in the foyer. It was at that moment that it clicked, they had set up an indoor festival. How perfect.
With stages set up in various rooms of the venue, it felt like a pick-and-mix of different musical styles and performers. At the very top, The Terrace had a set of decks setup by local radio station Noods Radio showcasing the best they had to offer with a guest appearance by Kahn and Neek ahead of their killer set later that evening. There was also the Latern, a small room that had a very intimate vibe to it and featured performers such as (Sandy) Alex G, Carla del Forno and other indie-rock connoisseurs.
Photo credit: Chris Cooper
The foyer had live music on entry that set the mood for people flooding in, with the legendary Richard Russell taking to the decks in the evening to provide some spellbinding tunes for those sheltering from the cold.
Meanwhile, the Main Hall had a collection of well-distinguished artists taking to the stage and entertaining the masses. These included the ‘Re-werk’ by Britain’s Paraorchestra who put their own spin on the seminal back-catalogue of Kraftwerk’s legacy. After that, the indie-electro group Wild Beasts played one of their final shows and then were followed by a surprisingly fantastic performance by Idles. Then it was the turn of the monumental trip-hop pioneers Leftfield doing their seminal album Leftism, to a jam-packed audience of fans basking in the presence of the iconic progressive house team.
Photo credit: Andrzej Zajac
The Island was home to the Firestation and Courtyard, where DJs and producers flocked for an evening of letting loose and shaking it all off. The DIY space had a kind-of makeshift aesthetic that provided a background for artists like Bihn, Tom Cottrell, and GAIKA to shine through. They were joined by the Skull Disco and Woe to the Septic Heart vanguard Shackleton bringing his own blend of dubstep, garage and techno.
The Bug then took over for a 7” wax attack. Then featuring Miss Red for some dub-jazzcore fusion. Shortly after, the Bristol heavyweights Kahn and Neek took over for a massive 2-hour long set. The basslines were classically dirty as the tripped-out venue was converted into a realm of smoke and lights.
Meanwhile, Bristol’s renowned venue Lakota had everyone up until the early hours. The giant of a venue had multiple rooms open to its excited partygoers. The Coroner’s Court was taken over by the world-famous Dekmantel Soundsystem, which was then followed by Shanti Celeste’s late-night set. Meanwhile, Sassy J put a spin on things before Roi Perez came to bring proceedings to a close.
Photo credit: Chris Cooper
This was also the place where Gramrcy could be witnessed first-hand. The German underground talent basked in the lights of Lakota’s main room and provided a soundtrack for his eager audience. He was then followed by Detroit techno legend Juan Atkins whose set sent us out of this world.
All in all, Simple Things festival is one of the most exciting, vibrant and forward-thinking festivals that can be experienced at the moment. They’ve managed to get themselves a reputation for showcasing the best underground talent around. Having looked at their past lineups, this year proves that the festival keeps going from strength-to-strength. We wait in anticipation for what next year has to offer.