Festival season is supposed to be over, isn’t it? The colder, autumnal nights which are gracing the British Isles in late October should put a stop to the festivals we know and love, suited to the hotter, summer months. But there is one simple way to get round that. Substitute the stages for indoor clubbing venues and… well that’s it really (as I said, simple). Simple Things is the multi-venued festival set in the beautiful city of Bristol. You hop from venue to venue feeling lucky enough to avoid the costly prices of festival bars by nipping into your local offie to down a red stripe whilst marching jollily towards the next club. Delightful. The iconic Colston Hall holds four stages, the epic Lakota Complex five, the Island three, and then different one stage venues dotted about too.
The diversity which the festival brings is immense with live performances dominating the day time and DJs finding their nocturnal home in the night. The variety of acts too means that people were always on the move, heading to the next act they “have to see!!” One of these acts was ABRA, the effortlessly energetic Atlanta singer whose PRINCESS EP brought lowlight R&B and scattered drum patterns to the sticky gloss interiors of SWX. Another of these acts was Charlotte Church. Who’d have thought that in the early hours of the morning you would find yourself peering over the stairs spiralling around Colston Hall’s towering atrium, where below you is the singer-songwriter in a wedding dress, accompanied by a band thrashing out a Nine Inch Nail cover. But this - the essence of the Late Night Pop Dungeon - was what took you by surprise, that sandwiched between the forward thinking techno of Karen Gwyer and Helena Hauff you could find yourself in such a well lit institution having the time of your life to R Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly.
Around this experience, the night was heavily DJ focused. The Firestation at the Island held a powerful trio of techno: Courtesy, Nina Kraviz, Boris. Courtesy blended beautiful transcendent beats with heavy hitters, extending her set until the giant that is Nina Kraviz eventually graced the stage to a densely packed out room. Nina did what Nina does best and rocked the foundations of the old fire station, an apt location due to Nina’s flaming selections. Needing respite from this melodic burn, we stumbled across Death Grips, of course not naive enough to know this was not the answer. They turned up and smashed, bashed and crashed their way through their captivatingly intense set; a sea of sweat fell from each revellers’ brow as Death Grips provided the sight to behold for the festival. A return to Boris ended up being an unlikely tonic.
And so as morning edged closer, we found ourself back within the confines of Lakota and Coroners Court. Here Evan Baggs, DJ October, Tim Sweeny and Dave Harvey guided us around the maze-style of the Lakota complex, through various inflections of house and techno. A surprise Italo set from Ostgut Ton's hero of the earlier hours Boris picked things up into lighter flavours in a room densely filled with disorientating smoke, before headliner Ben UFO brought proceedings back to the murkier, bassier underground, mixing jungle into techno into Four Tet's Pinnacles. Emerging into the hazy morning outside, the exhaustion was finally permitted to set in from what had felt like an entire weekend's worth of festival-ing, compacted into one long day. Simple Things took everything out of you, but in return gifted you with artists truly at the cutting edge of their field, in an exciting variety of venues nestled in all four corners of Bristol's rich musical fabric.
Words: Tai Kolade, Josie Roberts & Georgia Tobin