There is an awful lot of music darting around Bristol. Bands are quite often spending longer on their posters than their demos or getting thousands of likes before they’ve found a bassist so it’s nice when a band like Idles look pretty cool and sound even better. They’d clearly been enjoying the day swigging a sparkling rosé and slinking off stage to get another can of Carlsberg but their songs didn’t suffer for it. They rocked the top deck of Thekla with a showcase of tracks like ‘Thieves‘ which carry a fantastic energy alongside a polished songwriting. It’s often deemed cool to know what you’re doing but Idles got the balance just right enough to sway the boat as you’d like. They are booked on the hipper-than-thou bill for Dot to Dot as well as dropping a tasty sounding EP this August. Contenders might need to do a tad more than look cool and nonchalant.
Grimes has had a hell of year. Dropping her third LP on the turbo-chic label 4AD, becoming Pitchfork’s poster girl and even launching a range of female anatomy themed rings. She pulls in the biggest crowd of the day at the O2 and rattles through a set predominantly from her latest offering ‘Visions’. You might expect such a en-vogue artist to abide to the lo-fi onstage tendencies of artists like The Xx but what you get from this Canadian firecracker is a bouncing between loop machines and laptops to be the post-modern equivalent of a one man band. She grins and dances around which makes the venue-filling crowd do a similar thing. Tracks like ‘Genesis’ and ‘Oblivion’ have a wonderful vacancy about them with a levitated production and spacey vocal which Grimes manages to capture brilliantly at this live show. People were hurrying out crediting the show as the best of the day, Grimes was a real surprise and she seems like the sort with a whole lot more up her designer sleeve.
Back on board and polyphonic beat makers Kwes put on a show that lacks the bustle and pace of his releases but tracks like ‘Bashful’ or the Nintendo-esque ‘No Need To Run’ still get a 2-step boogie in full flow. Kwes still seems to be in his infancy with a full LP yet to drop and hopefully before that time his gang of compradores like Ghostpoet and Micachu can all influence towards a fuller live set. The band were there and the songs sounded okay but it would seem Lewisham’s Kwes might need to embrace the fact that his songs make people want to dance, he could even capitalise on it.
Lakota became one of the day’s busiest venues with sets from the relentlessly promoted but shamelessly fun Shapes DJs as well as a midnight back to back set from Hudson Mohawke and the gleefully tacky and colossal Rustie. These two are not strangers to days like today where people are in a zone brought about by all sorts and are ready to move. The pair didn’t disappoint. The yellow Simple Things wristbands were up in the air as Hudson spun verses from old Dizzee Rascal LP’s and slapped it on top of turbo-bass beats. There is a dirtiness and character to the kind of electronic music these guys are making. Rustie’s ‘Glass Swords’ was a post-house masterpiece and HudMo (I think people call him that) has been shattering scenes since 2005. They are a safe booking, but a strong one as Sunday became Monday under a racket of heavy dance music at Lakota.
Ghostpoet was one of the more known bookings of Simple Things. His 2011 debut ‘Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam‘ was a hybrid of Roots Manuva, Athlete and Damon Albarn. He’s a performer who weights up all his tracks for the live show. The mellow and easy ‘Survive It‘ becomes a steady beat driven anthem and the closer ‘Cash and Carry Me Home’ is quite possibly one of the best songs of the day. It’s quintessentially British nature and hazy drunken production make for the perfect soundtrack to 2AM on a boat. He plays new material which sounds suitably akin to his previous offerings and shows that Simple Things isn’t all just laptops and loop machines.
As the night winds down, Factory Floor and Sqaurepusher seem to both astonish audiences both sonically and visually however the late night swan-song that Simian Mobile Disco were meant to offer becomes more of an, intimate show for a couple of mega fans who mark the end of a funny old day. One day festivals are hard to do, people are drunk by midday, they peak at 7 and bed time comes early but Simple Things didn’t do too badly. For a city so proud of it’s musical alumni, Bristol was well represented today. Grimes got the biggest crowd and deservedly the biggest praise but the day managed to showcase acts like Idles and many DJs who were able to prove that even with big bookings like Simple Things managed to get, the real fun stuff is still bubbling under the surface.