February 1st | Louisiana
Bristol has long been a hotbed for musical talent and there is no better place to find evidence of this than at Chiverin’s Independent Venue Week mini-festival at the Louisiana. Across three stages, a handful of Bristol artists get the chance to show their stuff – many of them already close to being household names in the city’s music scene.
Pocket Sun are an early highlight. Their sound is vivid and playful; they often sound as though they’re siphoning music from an old SNES, their keyboards having a certain chiptune sheen to them. The group’s latest single, ‘Lucid’ acts as the centre-point of their set. It’s soaring and dreamy – as you’d expect from the name – the perfect soundtrack for floating through space. Equally impressive is their cover of the Korgis’ ‘Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime’. Pocket Sun do a great job of maintaining the melancholy of the original while mixing in their own hint of brightness.
Equally impressive are Langkamer, a band who contrast with Pocket Sun’s otherworldliness sharply. The group have a much more grounded sound, grappling with their instruments like animals or old machinery, driving spluttering howls from them. Tracks like ‘2CV’ and ‘The Distance’ have a manic, ramshackle energy to them that make Langkamer incredibly engaging to watch, while others like ‘Steel’ show off the band’s softer and janglier side. There’s a certain warmth present throughout the whole of the band’s set – which is more than welcome given Bristol’s current frozen state.
As the night edges towards its close, headliners Cousin Kula arrive on the Louisiana’s attic room stage. The room packs out as people rush up after Langkamer’s set, making the air-conditioning unit one of the true heroes of the night. The band kick-off right on time, plunging the audience into a pool of their R&B-infused brand of psychedelic pop.
One of the most striking things about Cousin Kula is just how tight they sound. Despite only having a couple of EPs under their belt, the band never sound like anything less than seasoned veterans. Partway through the set, lead singer Elliot Ellison-Holder addresses the fact that the band recently parted ways with their bassist, announcing that they’ll be moving forward as a five-piece. If you weren’t looking at the stage carefully, it’s something you could easily have missed, with the group’s pair of keyboardists doing a seamless job of filling in on bass duties.
The band blast through the highlights from both their EPs across their hour-long set, throwing in a couple of new songs here and there. One of these is their first written as a five-piece: a gnarly, neon-tinted disco stomper. The smooth R&B of ‘Jelly Love’ does a good job of serenading the crowd into a collective trance early on in the set, while ‘Working for It’ is a roaring psych-pop jam. Then there’s ‘Invitation’, which fittingly invites the crowd to bust out some moves with Chic-like guitar tones and 80s energy.
The group’s performance tonight is the kind that refuses to leave anyone in the packed room without a smile on their face. It’s hard to think of a better symbol of the current dazzling state of Bristol’s music scene.
See the video for ‘Jelly Love’ here: