22nd October | various venues
Simple Things has had a monopoly on being the most anticipated weekend of each musical year in Bristol for a while now. As such, the Firestation is already a hub of activity by the time Rival Consoles opens up proceedings at the sober hour of 3pm, a one-in-one-out system already in progress.
The festival often seems like an event that splits the city in two, with dance-heads sticking firmly to the Island complex, while the Colston Hall finds room for guitars. The Big Moon are the second act on in the main room of the latter, and fill the space impeccably. Starting up with recent single ‘Silent Movie Susie’, the boundless fun never lets up, with unreleased track ‘Bonfire’ looking like it might be their best yet – an impressive feat when pitted against their existing earworms ‘Cupid’ and ’Sucker’.
Before heading out of Colston Hall, sound bleeds in from Bayonne’s set in the foyer, a stage which becomes a hive of activity over the day’s proceedings. Situated just infront of the main doors and next to one of the main bars in the building, it’s impossible not to be drawn in, and as a result, no set on the stage across the day and night is anything less than packed.
Jessy Lanza then unfortunately struggles over at SWX due to technical problems dragging her sound down from its thumping, brutal best. Dream Wife suffer no such problems in the cosy confines of The Gryphon, though, undoubtedly serving up the set of the day. Rakel Mjöll states the band are all “sick as fuck”, with guitarist Alice Go unable to add backing vocals due to a throat injury, but the energy and grit they provide over their half-hour set looks to show that the statement’s only true in one sense.
By closer ‘Hey Heartbreaker’, the room is completely on Dream Wife’s side, and if this is what they can conjure up while sick as fuck, let’s see what happens when they’re fighting fit.
Unfortunately, illness is something that also plagues Warpaint’s set in the main room of the Colston Hall, with bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg suffering from a migraine. She still remarkably makes it through the set, albeit with a chair to sit on, but without the songs to yell and scream their way through the pain like Dream Wife managed, it slightly dampens the show.
Nothing in the world could dampen Death Grips’ fire tonight though, taking to the same room after a hit-packed if slightly strange foyer set from Metronomy’s Joe Mount. The atmosphere for the half hour before Death Grips finally emerge onto the stage must be like little that room has seen since the days when The Beatles and Led Zeppelin entered its doors, and from the first note of the first song, the entire standing section are lifted off their feet, barely touching the ground for the next hour. The intensity doesn’t let up for the entirety of the performance, and while the performing itself is loose bordering on unhinged, the atmosphere created is unrivalled all day, and possibly all year.
Though Simple Things are masters of fusing together genres across a line-up, spilling out of Death Grips and into the jaws of Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon is extreme even for them. Luckily, the rabble began their set with a cover of ‘Closer’ by Nine Inch Nails, allowing at least a little bit of crossover.
It’s not long before the set becomes all-out pop though, with everything from Basement Jaxx to Amerie thrown in. It’s an impossibly fun set from a show that has become the talk of 2016 for its late-night debauchery.
As the crowds head off to the Firestation and Lakota, with some of the country’s best techno on offer until an eye-watering 8am, this edition of Simple Things has undoubtedly been the biggest and most extreme yet.
Watch Death Grips’ set back in full below.