28th September | Hy Brasil
Photos: Philip Hiscocks
Despite the apocalyptic rain, Bristol indie community gathered in forces to lift one last pint at beloved music club Hy Brasil. Master of ceremonies was Dublin psych-punk six-piece Thumper, on top of a rich bill also featuring Black Flies, Indigos, No Violet and five DJs.
When, around 9pm, I walk into the venue No Violet are delivering an impetuous set of tight grungy garage-punk. By 10.30pm everyone’s buzzed enough not to boogie to the exquisite funky-disco set before Thumper take the stage.
A woollen flat cap unsteadily hangs from Thumper bassist’s guitar head throughout the hectic chaos of a punk-edged garage number. Nothing could probably better picture the actual state of British live music; with apologies to Thumper’s proud Irish blood. Despite ecstatic mosh-pitting crowds and the flourishing of a widespread punk-oriented scene, venues constantly face the fear of closure under the asphyxiating pressure of gentrification.
This precarious balance, tonight, is mirrored by two other elements: the bassist’s yellow Buckfast tee, proudly displaying its ‘Tonic Wine’ contrasting motto, and Thumper’s two souls, the gritty punkers and the catchy psych-poppers. It’s a night of melancholic farewell but of excitement too. As soon as the Irish six-piece gets on stage, Hy Brasil turns into a frenzy. It only takes a couple of songs before band members free their chests from tops and jump off stage, joining the mosh-pitting audience. In the meantime, from the balcony a gentle shower of glitter and feathers wraps the crowd into a hazy, dreamy atmosphere reminiscent of the tale of the mythical phantom Irish island of Hy Brasil. No band could better capture the quintessentially Irish but mystic vibe of the island, said to be visible only once every seven years.
Just like Hy Brasil, Thumper have something magical about them. They can deliver the rawest of punk songs without sacrificing melody, generating an amalgamation of sounds that is simultaneously thrilling and dreamy. Two drum kits keep the beat wild and pounding, while guitar hooks sometimes turn every song into an uplifting sound experience. Think about an ecstatic blend of Fat White Family deranged punk (and mullet hairdos) and late 1960s psych melodies à-la Cream, Who or Temples.
In a battlefield of sweat, glitter and feathers, Thumper, acclaimed by the late-night revellers, have time for the encore before DJs take the helm for one last boogie. Just like in the Irish tale, mist will wrap Hy Brasil up again making it disappear from our eyes, but not from the hearts and memories of those who lived it. Bye Brasil!
See the video for ‘In My Room’ here: