I’ve been exploring Bristol by night, I am now a night time tourist of my own city exploring new and existing haunts to shake off the dust which has accumulated as I’ve sat in the office ALL DAY every day. In one week, I’ve been to two gigs, one art exhibition, one Victorian circus/night market and a lecture in one of the most amazing buildings in Bristol.
Luckily the moment I shut the office door I’m just metres away from Brewdog or 5 minutes away from the Rummer, the hustle and bustle is right on my doorstep but it just so happens that everyday this week I made the most of the hustle and bustle.
Monday – La Roux @ 02 Academy
5 years since the days of Bulletproof (days I spent in Reading bars hearing this song and dancing like the art student bum I was) La Roux has made a comeback tour with the latest album ‘Trouble in Paradise’. With Bristol ticket shop moving to the ideal location of three doors up from our office, I often come home feeling guilty as the weight of another pair of impromptu gig tickets sit in my coat pocket. The hefty cost of £19 for La Roux at O2 Academy was more on the expensive side of the spectrum when seeing a gig in Bristol but it was well worth it. Most of the bands I like are pretty obscure which almost always equates to a ticket for a tenner. All of my best gigs have been in Bristol, whether it was Jessie Ware getting emotional to Wildest Moments in the O2 Academy or St Paul and the Broken Bones giving it 110% at the Trinity Centre, the venues in Bristol give you the closest and most intimate access points to your favourite obscure band.
We went and got some food from Bao Wow before ambling over to the Academy – gig nights in Bristol are pretty chilled, no transportation costs, parking costs leaving all of that disposable income for an extra beer or two.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/159890807″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”150″ iframe=”true” /]
Tuesday – Wills Memorial Building
The Festival of Ideas has been feeding my love of general knowledge whilst making me feel like my IQ level is being benefited somehow.
Every year the organisers put on a busy schedule of daytime and evening talks held in the Wills Memorial Building which is one of my favourite buildings in Bristol. The other week I was listening to Jonathan Powell talk about talking with terrorists and establishing relationships with the IRA and working alongside Tony Blair and David Cameron = mind blown (his book is now on my Christmas list, not that I want to talk to terrorists but I feel like it could offer me some good negotiation skills). This week I was listening to Paul Gough talk about wartime artists Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer – a talk which felt very fitting considering we had just commemorated others in Remembrance Day.
The Festival of Ideas also hosts a wide range of talks designed to broaden your horizons, I recommend looking up What’s on before it wraps up later in November.
Wednesday: Singing in a public toilet as part of an art exhibition
Art is in an abundance in Bristol you just need to look out for it. Although we have major institutions such as the Arnolfini, Spike Island and Royal Academy of West England there are some incredibly exciting artists generating challenging and engaging artworks. Every independent cafe and restaurant boast a unique collection of artwork endorsed by local artists. Art is so prevalent in Bristol that even Bristol City council are letting out public spaces for artists to exhibit in a programme running right through to Summer of 2015.
As part of this council-led imitative I found myself in the Edwardian Cloakroom on Wednesday night listening to a sound piece by artist Ellen Southern. The sound installation was a collection of layered sounds recorded and edited by Ellen from when she was in the cloakroom earlier. Soon after the piece had finished, Ellen invited the audience to participate in the creation of these sounds. by singing. Somehow I got roped into this part of the performance and ended up singing quite a high pitched note with Ellen in quite a surreal twist of events.
Just round the corner the Christmas Steps gallery also had an opening night which attracted a huge turnout of people who flooded onto the steps sipping on their red wine discussing art and fun. I always love to walk up the Christmas Steps to get home in the hope I get to hear some of the sound snippets of conversations that tipsy bearded folk before progressing to the next pub/gig/art exhibit. Art, creativity and originality thrives in this city.
Thursday: meeting my favourite band, Submotion Orchestra
On Thursday night I found myself waiting nervously for Ruby Wood and her band of talented musicians to come onto the stage. Trinity Centre is the Holy Grail of awesome gigs, as a former church it is still used for religious ceremonies and many a times I have stumbled in to see an Afro-Caribbean birthday/wedding happening. After seeing Submotion Orchestra last year at the Fleece I knew I was in for a treat and after dragging a friend along who had barely heard any of their music I knew this was one of my best recommendations as a wannabe music buff.
Submotion’s music is described as ‘dubstep, soul, ambient electronica, jazz and dub’ which explains why I ALWAYS struggle to define their music. Their music is always well received with the Bristolians which is why they flippin’ love coming back. Ruby explained after the show how they first came to Bristol and stayed in a youth hostel playing in some grimey music venue, now they’re shows are sold out and their fan base are singing back the words to ‘All Yours’ – a reaction which the band are always profoundly affected by. Going to gigs in Bristol is always special because the musicians love playing here. Not to mention the fact that if you really want to – you can even meet the performers.
Friday : Victorian-Circus-themed night market at St Nic’s
On Friday, a very special Victorian circus themed night market came to Bristol’s most famous market at St Nic’s market. St Nic’s is my nextdoor neighbour at work, so I’m used to seeing the usual early morning opening of stalls each morning and lunchtime. This time it was the end of a working day and the market stalls continued to open their doors as members of the public stood enthralled at the dancers and actors who paraded around them. This is one of those things that my London friends say ‘is so Bristol’… and it is! At one very surreal point in the night I saw a man wearing a top hat and a Maestro suit eating a flapjack – infact, those in Victorian dress almost looked at me like I was the person from the wrong era.
Meanwhile on Corn Street (the outdoor extension of the market) there were a number of new and exciting eateries all offering food at a competitive price of £5 – we stopped off at Moorish who had a simple offering of two wraps, one with lamb one with butternut squash. Words cannot explain how delicious this wrap was – the wrap was doughy and freshly made infront of us, the lamb was tender and the cous cous complimented it perfectly. I want to see these guys permanently in Bristol!
Bristol…in a nutshell
This week has summed up why I frickin’ love Bristol, as a twenty something music enthusiast with the occasional thirst for art and art history I applaud Bristol for quenching my thirst for all of my passions. I can close the office door behind me and step out into a city that is constantly throwing new and surreal things at me. Things are never too crowded here nor overpriced, I don’t have to pay for transportation and my barista actually knows my name. I advise you to get researching, see what’s going on right under your nose and you may even catch a man wearing a top hat eating a flapjack!
Follow my adventures on Instagram…