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Nia Archives unveils new subterranean venue 'The Underground'

The jungle sensation was accompanied by Bristol locals and friends for a celebration of a surge in the genre within a brand new space.

By Benji ChapmanCo-Deputy Music Editor

The now formally opened venue called The Underground has been used on and off by promoters such as Alfresco Disco since 2021, as a location for raves and various club events situated under the Galleries mall in Bristol's city centre. Following its recent official naming, the space has been appropriately christened and opened by some giants in the drum and bass scene: most notably everyone's favourite emotional junglist, Nia Archives.

The hype surrounding Nia Archives is palpable. Her position as a rising star in jungle signals an all-time explosion of the genre, the likes of which haven't been seen since its heyday in the 90s.

Jungle is unique in its beautifully rich and diverse history. As was said in the seminal Metalheadz documentary, Talkin' Headz: "I see dance music as a train… every couple of years it stops and it's all one music… drum and bass is at the front of this train at the moment."

This fact has arguably remained unchanged, with jungle -the precursor of drum and bass- signalling a point of convergence from many types of music: funk, jazz, soul, and hip-hop as well as several cultural identities, a style of music which crosses its sources of inspiration to the point of reaching something almost unrecognisably new.


Nia has arguably pushed this fact into more complex territory than ever before, incorporating Britpop aesthetics and style in her latest album, Silence Is Loud. This "new-gen" jungle sound has adapted into it a refreshingly new take on jungle, with its ballad song structure and sung narratives that pull on the heartstrings- hence the "emotional" moniker.

The opening of 'Cards On The Table' sounds straight out of an Oasis track (though Nia herself is more of a Blur fan): spacious, full of catchy guitar hooks and strings. This is a sound that permeates the record, though a poppier take on jungle has not undermined the intensity of its sound. The dubs off Silence sit very comfortably around the 170 bpm mark and are chock full of skittish breaks and menacing sub-frequencies.

Such frequencies could be heard with picturesque clarity and shakiness on the night of Nia's takeover at The Underground, emanating from the mighty Scotland Yard Soundsystem and its 'Goliath' stage, a workhorse of Bristol's club nights as of late. The night also featured a collaboration between the iconic forces Save Our Scene and Music Venue Trust, who distributed profits towards a UK grassroots fund.

Descending into the cavern of The Underground, the gigantic snake of a queue full of ravers wrapped around the city centre had something almost apocalyptic about it. Turning the corner and heading into the venue, we peered round to glimpse at the projections which were cast along the concrete walls of the stripped back venue- stuttering in response to the racket.

Passing security I realised how huge the place was. The car park was a rugged setting which perfectly captured the industrially brutal opening of the night from Artemis and DJ Flight, though proceedings really kicked off by the time of the particularly early 9 PM final entry time as Cheetah and Guido took to the decks.

Spinning ludicrous speed garage dubs, jungle classics and contemporary drum and bass tunes the duo led a playful and energetic set. It was a back-and-forth celebration of bass, each track jumping out unexpectedly from the remains of the last in a new way each time.

DJ Flight @ The Underground | Benji Chapman

By the time Nia took to the stage, the crowd was more than ready, though nothing could prepare us for the surreal feeling of seeing such a zeitgeist artist right in front of our eyes. As I soon realised was impossible, I had to withhold my fangirling when she greeted the crowd and began to play accompanied by lively waves and dancing.

Between the Bristol staple of 4am Kru's 'Bristol Girls' and some of her older tunes, Nia's microphone was raised. There was a tangible feeling of excitement which comes with seeing an artist playing new songs only days after their official release: a lightning-in-a-bottle moment, supported by the aptly named soundsystem that had now reached full power.

As members of the backstage area skanked the night away, Nia worked through the back end of her discography with thanks aplenty and huge shoutouts to her team and fans. No surprise from an artist so down to earth, it would only be a feeling that was only heightened when she joined us in the crowd for Sherelle and Clipz's sets, which ended the night.

Nia Archives @ The Underground | Benji Chapman

Dancing to the best of my questionable abilities, we joined Nia as she was showered with praise from all angles. On a dancefloor littered with headline newspapers boasting her face and name as "Junglist of the Year", the moment was nothing short of ecstatically surreal: though perhaps fittingly it was difficult to fully comprehend this fact amid the cacophony of bass.

Featured Image: Benji Chapman

Who are you most excited to see next at The Underground?