Simple Things festival has a reputation for music programming which is diverse, groundbreaking and the very highest quality.
2014’s edition upheld and enhanced that reputation featuring an outstanding line up of bands, producers and DJs including Mogwai, Death From Above 1979, Kode 9, Zomby, SOPHIE and The Haxan Cloak.
And that was on the Saturday after a Friday night which saw Caribouheadline the pre-party at Motion (read our review of Caribou at Motion at: www.bristol247.com/channel/culture/music/reviews/review-caribou-at-motion-bristol).
London three-piece Peluche, who played the Colston Hall foyer, are a band to look out for. Their soaring harmonies, intricate guitar work and sinuous bass lines make for a heady mix which cannot be ignored.
The foyer also hosted electronica band Eaux whose arresting blend of folk, dark, industrial electronica, Detroit techno, and avant-pop pulled a surprisingly large crowd for an afternoon gig.
In contrast to these cerebral acts, hip-hop beatmaker and DJ Onra’s foyer evening set was a triumph, straight up music to dance to and dance the crowd did to his well thought out mix of hip-hop and r’n’b.
In the main hall US r’n’b singer-songwriter Tom Krell aka How To Dress Well turned out a well crafted set of otherworldly r’n’b songs which affected to pull at the heartstrings. However, too much cheesy chat was distracting and some of the audience’s interest waned and they left to explore what else the event could offer.
The same could not be said for veteran producer and DJ Nightmares on Wax whose genre bending beats, breaks , house and hip-hop set was a masterclass in how to please a crowd.
The Old Firestation was the first stopping off point for serious dance music fans prior to Lakota opening. Headlined by veteran DJ Harvey it was buzzing at 7pm. The Shapes stage in the courtyard was rammed with techno fans. In the main space DJ/Producers Dark Sky played an immense set of percussion driven, garage, house and hip-hop influenced EDM.
Back at the Colston Hall it was one in one out for post-punk bandEagulls in the Lantern, however they suffered from a poor sound and wearing their influences far from lightly. And cult band Liars in the main hall mined the depths of post-punk angst they’ve been doing for years. Great if you’re a fan, not likely to convert anyone if not.
This was in distinct contrast to Bristol band Elder Island, drafted in to replace All We Are. They’d played earlier at Start the Bus to an appreciative crowd and by the end of their set at the Colston Hall had attracted an equally positive response. It’s not often you see a cellist in a band, even less often when she has a fantastic soulful voice and a tight as band playing the songs the likes of London Grammar would play if they weren’t so dull and predictable. Great cover of Oh My by Tweet too.
Headliners Mogwai are an unpredictable band. Sometimes their sets can be deathly dull, and people will fall asleep standing up listening them. Sometimes they can be one of the most intense and thrilling bands imaginable. Thankfully Saturday night was the latter. An astounding set, loud, very loud with enough of their ‘loud-quiet’ songs to please die-hard fans and newer, more melodic and less all out aural assault songs for everyone coupled with a beautiful light show this was music in which to immerse yourself and immerse themselves the crowd did.
Simple Things 2014 was a fantastic event, creating and curating an event which appeals to the hippest clubbers and to serious musos (the two are not mutually exclusive of course) is no easy task but the Simple Things team did it and did it well.