Only two months into the new year and gig-goers can expect to be treated with a staggering variety of live music on offer this month. Niche acts are shaping up to fill smaller venues available with their cult fan-bases, whilst giants in their respective sound are coming to Bristol too: many of whom will be playing brand-new material only days after their official studio releases.
Lankum, 1st @ Bristol Beacon
The Mercury Prize nominated, Rough Trade (and crucially Cillian Murphy shortlisted) Lankum are fronting a resurgence to a previously unexplored doom-folk sound in the alternative mainstream. Heralding from Ireland the band turned heads with last year's False Lankum, a project that was striking in its fractured, eerie sound which utilised traditional folk instrumentation adjacent to modern studio trickery. The band have honed in on their capacity to produce an eclectic atmosphere which reaches from their Irish folk heritage above and beyond to new horizons.
SUS10SIONS: 10 Year Anniversary Show @ The Anson Rooms
Now on their 10th year of performance, one of Bristol's most esteemed a capella projects are reuniting members from years gone to collectively celebrate the genre with a night inside Bristol University's own Richmond Building. Graduates and students alike will be taking part in a celebration which showcases the group's respectively stellar choreography and vocal talents; wrapped up in their "signature shad of maroon." Class and festivities will be appropriate with the Suspensions innovative and timeless love of a capella's style on full display from all members, returning or no.
no_one 5th b'day: Djrum, Coco Bryce, Ikonika, 3rd @ Trinity
A stacked celebration of jungle, techno and all things sonically weird in an uncharted voyage into experimental electronic territory from London's independent no_one group, who are celebrating their 5th birthday. If this is a birthday, the trio of Djrum's jazz-influenced club music, Coco Bryce's contemporary jungle sound and Ikonika's glitchy dubstep are a spread of gifts which exceed all birthday wish-lists. It would be almost impossible to define what genre of club music the night holds, so come down to Trinity to find out for yourself in a celebration of some of the newest artists interrogating their respective sound with unparalleled levels of intensity.
This Is The Kit, 3rd @ Bristol Beacon
A Bristol made classic, and one of many noteworthy headliners at the Beacon this month, This Is The Kit have continued to produce music which feels quintessentially cosy. What better way to comfort the soul during cold winter months, than a heart-warming display of Bristol's home-grown music scene returning to the recently re-vamped venue. It's appropriate the band would come to play the venue so soon from its opening, as veterans of Bristol's many venues, developing their sound alongside the changing city. We can only wait to see eagerly how the band's newer material will sound in the vast acoustics of beacon hall, though there's bound to be some older classics in the setlist too.
The Jackdaw, City Dog, Paperboy and Emergency Exit followed by LDSXOXO, Ashanti007 & PLUDJ, 7th @ Strange Brew
If you like a ticket which is worth its value, and then some, this pay-what-you-can night at Strange Brew is one to pick up. The Jackdaw and City Dog are respective Brighton-based post-punk outfits promising to kick off the night with a noisy start before the five subsequent acts: Bristol's own Paperboy and Emergency Exit who exhibit a myriad of student talents. The University's own Emergency Exit make their debut at the venue following breakout success at The Fleece, and will be followed by a turn towards a danceable end to the night from three respective upcoming dance talents, namely LSDXOXO who brings a euphoric queer energy to their seductive club music.
A. Savage, 12th @ Thekla
Withdrawing himself from the joyful chaos of his main project, Parquet Courts, Andrew Savage has found the time more recently to devote his creative energies to the softer sound of his solo endeavours. Recording his second solo record in Bristol last year, Savage is returning to the place of the album's creation for an intimate show in Thekla to celebrate the album in all its musical nuance. A departure from the punk rock sound he blew up with, he ventures into more acoustic territory appropriate for the soft see-saw of Thekla's dancefloor.
Declan McKenna, 13th @ SWX
The quintessentially British Declan McKenna has compounded the UK's musical cannon spanning from The Beatles, T Rex and just a dash of Bowie for one of the UK's most glamorous yet thematically poignant rock projects yet. Declan will be unveiling his new album, What Happened to the Beach?, four days before an intimate show at SWX (presented by Rough Trade)- a venue far smaller than most on the album's tour. Ticket holders will be some of the first in the world to see the new songs live, getting their hands on exclusive signed vinyl in a uniquely personal club setting. Fear not if you can't get a ticket, since McKenna will be back in early April to play the larger Beacon Hall: but if you want mega-fan bragging rights this isn't one to miss.
Sea Power, 15th @ Trinity
Sea Power are another of the acts this month who seem to perfectly capture and challenge the British alternative sound. Triumphant in their style which has stood the test of time, heroes of the indie rock scene Sea Power will take to the idyllic church-hall of Trinity for a diligent display of each members' multi-instrumental talents that are only found in the bands which have had to reinvent and challenge their own sound across their career; whilst simultaneously maintaining their gaze on the UK's musical past which inspired them.
Bristol Refugee Festival: Addictive TV, 16th @ Strange Brew
Addictive TV are a musical project challenging the constraints of borders with their diverse and comprehensive project, Orchestra of Sample. The audio-visual experience celebrates cultures from across the globe, namely Senegal, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Colombia, Brazil, India among many more. The samples from each location feature improvised music preformed on a myriad of indigenous instruments, as well as atmospheric ambiance and visuals that coincide to produce a beautifully spontaneous tapestry of sensory experience woven from different heritages coinciding and colliding with a chaotic synchronicity. With a guest list available for asylum seekers, the event is an exemplary instance of one of Bristol's refugee solidarity from a grassroots venue we all know and love.
IDLES, 17th @ Marble Factory
Booting the second half of the month into overdrive, yet another of the UK's largest alternative acts will be coming to Bristol hot off the release of their new record TANGK. Alongside Declan McKenna the show boasts one of the band's first live performances in the country this year, showcasing new material in full during the third stop of the tour. Hearing new songs only a day after their official release- inside the band's home-city- is probably going to be one for the history books. It's likely you'll have to fight with an unparalleled determination to find tickets, but that should prepare you just as well for the ensuing carnage of the mosh-pit.
Courting, 22nd @ Exchange
Following the release on the 26th of January of New Last Name, the Liverpool based punk outfit Courting are returning to Exchange after their last headline show there, which came just after the release of their debut, Guitar Music, in 2022. The gig, which was sentimentally my first in Bristol, was full of hearty rowdiness that melded into a chaotic night within the basement of Exchange's small gig room. I'm curious to see how the band will sound on their return and whether they will embrace their more left-field electronic-pop influences, or their dramatic punk-rock sound with their new material live. Expect Charli XCX covers, ABBA and loud guitars (if the last gig was anything to go by) from a rising zeitgeist in the British post-punk explosion.
Ben UFO, Joy Orbison & SP:MC, Mantra 23rd @ Central Warehouse
Celebrating 5 years of GD4YA Records, the London based electronic powerhouse label will be offering up a quartet of various techno, dubstep, old-school jungle and garage acts blurring into a belter of funky yet unpredictable electronic enchantment. Alongside the headline acts playing are Hodge, El-B, Yaw Evans, Tales From The Southside in the silo room, as well as a DJ set from SP:MC who will be joining Joy Orbison for his main set later in the night. Certainly a late one, the night will require perseverance, but we can be reliant on the vivacity of the stellar acts leading the night to maintain energy levels till the last note is heard.
Simple Things Festival, 24th @ various
The first big day festival of the year will be Simple Things Festival, a colossal mish-mash of artists from all walks of music. Dreamy sounds from acts like Julio Bashmore, Evian Christ and Max Cooper, grime from the legendary MC Flowdan of recent Chase and Status/fred again.. fame and countless more electronic and rap acts will only be matched by the spread of post-punk on offer. Ranging from the shatteringly aggressive feedback and fuzz of Gilla Band and Fat Dog (to name but a few). The event will be starting at 14:00 PM, officially ending at 06:00 AM the next day as concert-goers manically dash from SWX to Strange Brew, Beacon, Rough Trade and The Sportsman. My tip would be to schedule in advance: time will be of the essence if you're trying to see your favourites before the day is done.
Psychadelic Porn Crumpets, 26th @ SWX
If the name wasn't enough to entice you, the grizzled psych-rock act from a bursting Australian scene have made it all the the way to Bristol for an evening of rapturously loud psychedelia that is only as striking as their curiously (in)famous name. Expect moshing, walls of noise and a witty attitude from a band that certainly knows not to take itself too seriously, but only manages to do so as a result of their esteemed skill as musicians.
Snow Strippers, 27th @ Strange Brew
Wrapping up the month in the cosy Strange Brew are Snow Strippers. One of the more esteemed acts playing Strange Brew this month, Snow Strippers have made their fame producing for the likes of Lil Uzi Vert as well as with their own "electroclash style", a haunting imagined recollection of pop music with bass-heavy aggression and chip-tune glitchiness. Openers SURF GANG are another attractive feature of the night, who will kick off the night in style before Snow Strippers take the stage.
Fever Ray, 29th @ Bristol Beacon
The closing concert of Simple Things, Fever Ray's headline show at the Beacon will end the month with a heartfelt celebration of both one of the most exciting new venues and staple day festivals that the year has to offer. Fever Ray's audial aspects are sure to be gripping, having made big moves in the alternative electropop scene, but their famous masks, body paint, costumes and on-stage theatrics will be just as powerful as their unique sound. Finishing with an explosion of sound and colour, live music fans can rest easy knowing the month is finishing with an extravagant style from some of the biggest rising names from around the world.
Who are you most excited to see this month?