7th October | Colston Hall
To celebrate Colston Hall’s 150th anniversary, a show dedicated to the lasting endurance of the city’s own music scene is presented within the floors, halls and foyers of the substantial venue. A day of rich variety, it’s an equivocal day with thankfully many highlights.
H. Hawkline is a warm, glowing opener. Lilting harmonies and wonky, odd-ball pop sounds full and spritely. A more focused, concise style, Hawkline’s guitar springs brightly, his band jaunting to illustrate the vivid narratives of his music.
ThisisDA delivers heavy, exploratory, urban electronica that bounds and flusters in equal measure. A lone figure and a Roland synth, the artist enchants, even from 5.30 in the evening he is able to illicit an enduring atmosphere. It encapsulates the arriving nightlife, the twilight turning and the city bustling into life. Not circling within one particular motion, the hooks consistently modulating around a deep, gritted, singular beat, all the more minimal and richer for it.
Alpha provide spacious, atmospheric trip-hop. The songs, albeit perhaps a little lethargic for this Lantern crowd, retain an absorbing quality, the vocals of Wendy Stubbs and Hannah Collins, lingering and passionate. It would be interesting to see them incorporate a full-live band, but the minimalism of the set suited the venue’s mellow glow.
Immediately following them, EBU delivers a highly interactive, animated performance that embodied the abstract, ethereal balance of her music. Synths clash and congregate in equal measure, EBU’s voice murmuring but sharp within the altered dynamic that washes over it. Melancholic, sentimental tones bubble under the clatter of keys, a sentimental heart buried within the blur and disorientation of the slowly cascading synths. Arty, indescribable and enigmatic, EBU paces the stage with a bold grace, swinging to the constantly evolving tempo of the music. It’s an exploration human and artificial feeling, and is a highlight of the day.
Oro Swimming Hour retained the stripped-back, minimal aesthetic of their record Penrose Winoa for this evening’s performance, so it’s fitting for them to drawn everyone into an intimate corner within the gargantuan space of the venue’s first floor. Overthrown weighs with an intensity, both members’ eyes glued to their watchers on as they deliver with atmospheric clarity, their pounding utterance of “night swim baby” adding an extra element to the tracks tender moments. It’s an engaging set that is sadly let down by an obtrusive audience, perhaps the Lantern being a more suited position to allow for less interference to the duo’s wonderfully subtle melodies. Oro Swimming Hour are excellent all the same, delivering a set that explored the hidden depths of their already enigmatic record.
Girl Ray are a particularly fun live band, but when given the chance to really play a deserving full set brings out something so much more. Their songs, whether you know them or not, fill a room first with acknowledging excitement and then communicative enjoyment, all ringing guitars and tender melodies interweaved and channelled into something a little more raw and spontaneous than their wonderful debut record. Tonight, on the ground floor of the pretty spacious Colston Hall Foyer that they successfully fill, the set they have curated wrings of well considered enthusiasm, yet what dampens the mood slightly is the quality of sound, the vocals not able to reach quite far enough within the space to fully hit home.
The headline billing of the main hall for This Is The Kit is a ten-year pay off, warrant on the basis of tonight’s performance, is thoroughly deserved. Kate Stables brings a 9-piece with her for this evening’s full and undaunted performance, featuring long-time members and firm friends who were involved in the making of their last record Moonshine Freeze. It’s a cause for celebration, and Stables’ music offers that, a rich spectrum of journeying themes that are brought to life by the rich musical width of the band on stage. It’s again disappointing to find that once again the sound has a negative effect on the proceedings. Bringing out the 40 plus-piece Fantasy Orchestra to close out their set should have carried the songs to their excelling climax, but sadly due to the muffled and unintelligible vocals of the choir, it’s difficult to see where the altering difference in sound was being made.
Nonetheless, This Is The Kit have blossomed into a fantastic live proposition, full of passion, gentle imagination and open compositions, something that also comes to describe Bristol’s own music scene of which the band habituate.
Check out the live session of ‘Moonshine Freeze’ below.