Festival Review // Simple Things 2015

by HannahSweetnam
HannahSweetnam
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on 28 October 2015 in Features

This weekend saw waves of alternative music lovers descend upon the streets of Bristol, stumbling blissfully from venue to venue in search of an eclectic mix of post-rock, math-punk, prog-rock, house and even dub sounds. And an eclectic mix they got, with performances from Penguin Café, Battles, Health, Lee Scratch Perry, Skepta and more!

Opening on Friday night with Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the mood was well and truly set for a gloriously noise-filled weekend. Held in the festival’s main venue, The Colston Hall, the uncompromisingly politicised eight-piece post-rock outfit played a stirring set of bursting clanks, clangs and orchestral accents, creating a drone of unrelenting noise, which you couldn’t help but be drawn into despite its dogmatic nature.

As a complete contrast, kicking things off on the Saturday in the Colston Hall foyer was a smoothly clang and clatter free performance from local artist Tamu Massif. In keeping with the electronic vibe of the festival, the singer embellished his honeyed crooning with catchy guitars and synthesised beats, worthy of the appreciative head-bobbing audience.

Meanwhile, Firestation began their line-up with The Blast DJs who settled the tone of the venue appropriately for the likes of Mike Skinner and DJ Funk. The juxtaposition between the daylight goings-on of Bristol streets and the dark corners and pumping music of the Firestation and Shapes courtyard felt slightly out of place outside of the camping festival scene. However, there we plenty of hard-core house lovers to embrace the surroundings, while other festivalgoers stuck to the calmer realms of Colston Hall.

At 4pm Arthur Jeffe’s highly anticipated Penguin Café took to the main stage playing both his own compositions and those of his father before him. From Celtic folk to avant-garde minimalism, the performance peaked with a tribute of famed ‘Perpetuum Mobile’ and Arthur Jeffes’ solo piano piece, written for his father. One of life’s great pleasures is to become completely absorbed in intensely inspirational music and this was one of those moments.

From then on in the line-up at every venue went from strength to strength. Gloriously dazzling 79-year-old dub artist Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry brought the 02 Academy to life with his phenomenal rhythms, multi-coloured leggings and laid-back attitude, whilst hilariously fun pop-punk throwbacks Gnarwhals stole the Academy 2 stage, with their mash-ups of 90s teen-rock hits.

Approaching midnight, Battles took to the Colston Hall, completely wiping the floor with their epic hammering melodies. The experimental rock group created a digital landscape of inescapable brilliance. Energetic, animated and entirely remarkable their powerful set saw them exchange very few words, with not a single word spoken in the first twenty minutes. The intensity of their performance was reflected in the enthusiasm of the audience’s rapturous applause and, despite being a festival, the band returned for an encore at the crowd’s request. Despite it being hotter than the sun inside the sweaty venue, later that evening Grime artists Skepta & JME, had a similar effect on the 02 Academy crowds. Packed to the rafters the aggressively excitable audience couldn’t get enough of the London-born brothers.

By 4am, if you were ready to party into the early hours the music continued with Factory Floor, Objekt, Futureboogie and more at Firestation, Lakota and Coroners. Whilst a small handful of performers at the festival appeared to take their appearances for granted, playing sloppy math-rock and loosing sight of pleasing their audience, the majority of gigs were above and beyond all possible expectation for one singular weekend. Both over-animated and glassy-eyed punters alike traipsed toward the various venues to lap up the final hours of Simple Things, whilst other partiers headed home to their beds, bringing the glorious festival to a rather spectacular end.

 

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