Bristol is constantly reaffirming itself as a city of music. However, if there was any doubt of this, Simple Things 2016 surely cast this aside.
Unlike anything I have ever been to before, the festival picks you up and guides you through the streets of Bristol, taking you to an array of different venues. From the upstairs of a metal pub, with posters alerting you of upcoming events such as “Halloween Massacre 2”, to the comparable sanitation of SWX, with its polished railings and gaudy decor. Yet, it is this diversity of venue which allows music to be enjoyed in the appropriate environment. For example, Twin Peaks, with their loutish Garage rock, would not have been fit playing in the cleanliness of SWX. The lead singer even mentioned the venue during their set, comparing it to when they were “playing in basements”, early in their career. Perhaps a greater understanding of their energy was needed however, as the set had to be shut down early due to fear of the floor collapsing.
When speaking about the venues, it would be foolish not to mention Colston Hall. Acting as a mother ship for the festival this Bristol landmark surpassed itself as the musical hub. The stair cases and walkways mazed their way through the entrance hall, creating a tangible buzz. People and music were everywhere you looked, lining the banisters or the bars. With bands playing in the Foyer, there was a constant flow of energy that didn't allow the festival euphoria to fall.
As with every festival, a factor which can make or break the event is the people it attracts, and Simple Things did not disappoint in this regard. Perhaps it was due to the acts playing, or simply because Bristol attracts such a diverse range of people. I did not meet a single person who showed any animosity or aggression. which allowed the crowd to constantly connect through their appreciation of the music. One can’t help but think, if this event were to be held in London or Manchester, would the same tranquillity be achieved amongst the crowd?
Simple Things truly encapsulates the excitement of a festival whilst avoiding the mud and sleeping in a canvas oven. The fact you can experience such a variety of music, and still have the option of stumbling on exhausted legs down to Lakota, makes the festival what it is; a musical delight.
On a final note I must mention Death Grips. This extremely rare UK appearance was unlike anything I have ever experienced. If you were to combine a war zone with experimental hip-hop you would get a good idea of the Death Grips' set. With Mc Ride throttling his microphone for the entirety of his set, he squeezed out every morsel of energy he could whilst shaking his body in a fit like state. An experience of violent intensity and a set I genuinely feel honoured to have experienced. But still, I don’t think i will be putting Death Grips on my mum's Christmas list.
Review by George Mumford
Photos by Jacob Colman