Review: Simple Things – 25/10/14

Credit: Kane Aaron

We review Bristol’s premier electronic and alternative music festival, Simple Things…

How To Dress Well – Colston Hall 1

The Colston Hall has an unwelcome habit of swallowing up anything that steps inside it; it’s no secret that it takes something, or someone, special to counteract its consuming capabilities. Tom Krell is an unassuming man, not the sort you’d expect to kill a crowd’s chatter with a mere ditch of the microphone. He does, though, and the outcome is beautiful. How To Dress Well’s spine tingling fusion of RnB and electro-pop might be wasted beneath the dull persistence of chatter, but for those who know why they’ve congregated, it’s the performance of the festival. CM

Eagulls – The Lantern

Regardless of what comes out of your mouth when you sing, if you can pull off a turtleneck and high-waisted jeans, you’re good in my book. Lucky for Eagulls, however, lead vocalist George Mitchell teams his unparalleled fashion sense with a voice fit to bowl over the eagerly awaiting crowd, landing him in the good books of at least 300 other people. The Lantern is packed, and Eagulls’ offering of catchy post-punk ditties does more than enough to keep punters away from secret headliners and DJs galore on this expeditious evening.  CM

Credit: Kane Aaron

SOPHIE – Red Bull Music Academy Firestation

There’s a strong argument for PC music being shit, a strong argument that a lot of people agree with. No one wants to listen to a conglomeration of samples from early 90s video games mixed with the vocals of a squeaky-voiced girl babbling all too enthusiastically about lemonade, do they? Well actually, yes, yes they do. SOPHIE’s midafternoon soiree might not be the most diversified 40 minutes that Simple Things has on offer, but it is certainly one of the most enjoyable; cares are forgotten and dancing shoes are donned for this sugary sweet shindig. CM

Death From Above 1979 – O2 Academy 1

They’re the headliners that everyone has been waiting for, the coveted Canadian duo out on the back of their first release in 10 years. Death From Above might have been keeping it quiet for a good while, but they certainly haven’t been resting on their laurels. A stellar performance proves that even the most tried and tested of formulas can be as impressive as they were upon first airing, and despite taking up residence in only the second best venue of the night, DFA take it all in their stride. CM

Zomby – Coroners Court 1

Zomby is a total mystery. Forget about the mask and the rumours, The Coroners Court is more concerned with what on earth a Zomby set consists of. There’s no misty alleyway of dance music left unexplored by his scattered career; from minimalist dubstep to 90s rave and break-beat house, Zomby has crafted every genre, sub-genre and sub-sub-genre he can get his hands on. Tonight pays homage to the rave scene of the 90’s, The Coroners Court’s dank halls making for the perfect environment, and with a sprinkling of more modern sounds, it’s far from a grasp towards something lost. CF

The Haxan Cloak – The Lantern

It’s getting late and most people have either collapsed on the last bus home or made their way away from Colston Hall and towards the dance venues for further debaucheries. Not everyone though; for a few expectant stragglers in The Lantern, a storm is brewing. Toying with the boundaries of drone music and the dark shadow where electro meets metal, The Haxan Cloak is mesmerizingly powerful, jarring to your very bones and as strikingly gifted as he is terrifying. This expansive wall of sound is not one for the faint hearted, but it is earth shatteringly impressive. CF

Credit: Kane Aaron
Credit: Kane Aaron


The crowd at Colston Hall’s balcony bar have ditched the Red Stripe for cocktails as we settle into evening proper and await the ‘very, very special guest’. A slightly cheeky build-up as DJ Sprinkles, who, legendary status aside, is already on the bill for a slot some three hours late, takes to the stage. Though, it’s difficult to identify her at all; attracting one of the bigger crowds of the festival and playing more funk and soul numbers than fans of her electro-house output would expect, it seems Sprinkles is an act better enjoyed at a later, headline billing. JD

REJJIE SNOW – Red Bull Music Academy Firestation

When Rejjie Snow approaches the front of stage and asks ‘Give me a word’, he’s left without a response and the reaction to his attempts at a ‘Snow’ chant are muted and self-conscious, but he just laughs it off. He seems to be loving his performance, casually dipping in and out of his Rejovich EP and a new album, which he talks about with boyish excitement. His enthusiasm warms the shy crowd, and after delaying his exit, Snow leaves to rapturous applause and a few illuminati symbols from misguided men in bucket hats. JD

Credit: Shot Away
Credit: Shot Away

LIARS – Colston Hall 1

Frontman Angus Andrew spends nearly all of their Colston Hall performance in a hooded orange raincoat and a long fringe covering his face; his unnerving vocal, ranging from a warble to a wail, is made all the creepier by disguising its source. It’s a great bit of theatre, and once adjusted to the shock you start to sway to the LA trio’s unique brand of unsettling electronica, honed over 14 years. An effect that is slightly ruined, though, when a friend texts you halfway through to say “Hasn’t Kenny from South Park gotten edgy?”. JD

BLACK LIPS – O2 Academy 1

Hearing songs from as recent as 2007 and getting a sense of nostalgia, is an odd sensation, but becomes the central appeal of Black Lips’ show. Despite having released three albums since – including this year’s Underneath the Rainbow – the band draw heavily on ‘07s Good Bad Not Evil, to the delight of the fans. As the ‘unmistakeable’ bassline of ‘O Katrina!’ starts up, a roadie throws reels of toilet paper into the crowd, a girl drives a stiletto into my foot and another spills her beer down me, a third falling out of the mosh pit, punching me in the balls. Blinking back the tears, I remember it’s not 2007, and leave to get a beer. JD

Credit: Shot Away
Credit: Shot Away

MOGWAI – Colston Hall 1

It was hardly going to disappoint, was it? That is, of course, if you had the sense to arrive half an hour early, which is when Mogwai became one-in-one-out admission. The patient are rewarded by a typically razing performance from the Glasgow post-rockers that could still be enjoyed in the rattle of your ribs and eardrums the next day. In an hour and a half set they span a career from recent synth-heavy ‘Remurdered’ to the mournful classic ‘I’m Jim Morrison I’m Dead.’ The masters of building to an awesome crescendo, it becomes hard to imagine booking anyone but Mogwai to close a festival. JD