Simple Things 2015 is just around the corner, and with it a flavourful variety of acts in this year’s lineup. Sunny Baglow takes a look at the best of this year’s festival.
It’s that time of year again, folks. What is it about Simple Things that makes it such a sainted celebration of Bristol’s music scene? While this year’s festival boasts a rich assortment of local talent (check out Giant Swan and Oliver Wilde!), a variety of the bigger names at this year’s festival serve as a humble reminder of Bristol’s importance within the UK gigging community, as a place filled with a vivid cultural history where both the revered and the rising stop by to play shows both little and large. Make sure to branch out, see new acts, and support the scene, but for now, here’s a handful of this year’s must-see artists.
Vessels’ signature marriage of electronics and post-rock embodies all the key elements of what Simple Things such a beloved festival in the Bristol gig calendar. The Leeds five-piece are worth seeing if not only for their astonishingly imposing live setup, boasting stacks upon stacks of percussion, vintage synthesisers, MPCs and guitars (a friend of mine hilariously recalls the band’s difficulty in fitting all their gear on the comparatively tiny stage at a gig at Start The Bus some years ago). Having caught their set earlier this summer at Arctangent Festival, the band’s move away from guitar-based moorings into more danceable electronic beats with their 2015 record Dilate further seals their place as one of the most nebulously entertaining festival acts in the UK.
I’m 99% sure Colin Newman has dealt some kind of Faustian deal with Mephistopheles, because it’s such a singular, unique feat of human strength and creativity that Wire have managed to stay so fresh and unequivocally sharp for almost forty years. Since their inception far back in 1976, Wire have laid the foundations of punk, post-punk, and art rock, while at the same time shattering and rebuilding them time and time again through sheer instrumental brilliance and obscure lyrical wit. Wire’s touring regime is still as relentless as ever, having played Bristol numerous times in the past few years, but for those who have yet to catch these unsung artisans of rock n’ roll magnificence, you owe it to yourself to devote your attention to experiencing that single-handedly created modern rock music. This is not up for discussion.
One of the most polarising bands in recent memory, and reluctant poster boys of the new wave of American “post”-black metal. Liturgy’s signing to Chicago experimental label Thrill Jockey was either (depending on your allegiance to “traditional” metal) a troubling or a triumphant indicator of the band’s continued endeavours to break away the shackles of black metal and stretch it far beyond its boundaries. While Liturgy’s live performances were for a while endangered by the departure of their monumental percussionist Greg Fox (who has since collaborated with Ben Frost and Kid Millions), being replaced by a feeble drum machine, Fox has now fortunately returned, with the band’s live performances now operating with more rigid, angular compositions, with their ever-expanding penchant for the avant-garde earning them a fitting place on the Simple Things lineup.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Oh boy. This is a big one. The last time the mighty Godspeed You! came to Bristol was half a decade ago when they graced the Anson Rooms, now spectacularly sizing up to the grandeur of Colston Hall for their headlining spot as Simple Things opening performance on Friday evening. Touring in support of their fantastic new record Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress, Godspeed’s live experience is renowned for offering about as much atmospheric, cinematic, and emotional transcendence that you can fit into a concert hall. It’s both contemporary classical and rock music tethered by the reigns of punks. It’s an audio-visual experience. Efrim Menuck plays his Les Paul with a screwdriver. It will probably make you cry. It’s Godspeed, man. I shouldn’t even need to sell them to you. Just trust me on this.
Skepta & JME
Well, duh. Simple Things is no stranger to buying into a little hype for its headliners, and this year is no exception. In fact it’s pretty much the most hyped headliner in recent years. Grime kingpins Skepta and JME are by far the two biggest names in the UK music scene right now with their ferocious breakout from the grime underground. With that same success slowly bleeding to an international level with Skepta bringing the #SHUTDOWN hype to the US, this headliner could very much be some top bragging rights in the near-future. Trussss me daddy.
All words by Sunny Baglow. More features can be found at his author’s archive. You can find more writing by Sunny at his blog, Death Of An Absurdist. Sunny can be found making bad puns on Twitter as @sjbaglow.