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Review: Florist @ Strange Brew

Quietly celebrating ten years as a band and seven years since they last graced a stage in Bristol, Florist swooned the crowd in Strange Brew with their impossibly delicate and vulnerable songwriting.

By Jake Paterson, Co-Deputy Music Editor

Florist have typically made music for the most tender moments in a person’s life. Their songs have appeared on playlists for intimate moments shared with a first love, for exploring nature or for helping to soothe and calm after a period of stress.

What I was expecting was therefore a show of quiet catharsis; when the band came out either with a glass of red wine or flask of tea in hand, wearing socks without shoes, or the Pikachu plush on stage for moral support, I knew we were in for something special.

Florist @ Strange Brew | Jake Paterson

The band’s latest record, the self-titled Florist that came out at the end of last year, saw the conventionality of songs blur slightly as long periods of field recordings or instrumentals took the precedence over verse-chorus-bridge. Opening their set with ‘June 9th’, the gentle pulse of feedback guitar loops created something captivating and hypnotic whilst also being inherently patient at the same time. The band transitioned into ‘Red Bird Pt.2 (Morning)’ seamlessly, the acoustic guitar tones of which resembled Adrianne Lenker’s 2020 record songs.

Traversing more songs from Florist through the first half of the set, the tracks were at times almost imperceptible to those on record. Emily Sprague, the lead singer, brought this up later discussing the inherent quality of an album being a capture of the moment in time in which it was recorded, and instead of trying to recreate that moment to instead alter them slightly so that every show is representative of whatever was happening at that point in time – be it cars going past or people quietly talking at the back.

This set up a profound intimacy between us as listeners and the band themselves. None more so was this evident in the stretch of three songs that Sprague performed solo taken from the 2019 album Emily Alone. ‘Moon Begins’ was wispy, ‘Time Is A Dark Feeling’ delicate and ‘Shadow Bloom’ emotionally devastating. Before I run out of adjectives, this stretch of the show was beautiful, and Sprague had us entirely under her command.

As the band returned to the stage, the quality of the instrumentation was highlighted more than ever before. Drummer Felix Walworth managed to make every conceivable sound out of his drum kit - from gentle scrapes of the symbols to lightly tapping the metalwork of the surround – to create an ambience that felt more field recording than live performance. The extended outro jams for tracks like ‘Feathers’ were punchy and hypnotising. At one point Sprague even asked if the large disco ball in Strange Brew could be turned on, which was a little optimistic for such a mellow show.

Florist @ Strange Brew | Jake Paterson

Touching on some older tunes as well, from the likes of ‘1914’ and ‘Thank You Light’, the band closed out with ‘Vacation’, taken from 2015’s Holdly EP. “Have a wonderful rest of your life” Sprague said towards the end, rooting us back in the strange energy conversation that we give to performers. Although it has been seven years since the band were last in our city, I hope this wasn’t the last time I’ll see them before the end.

Featured Image: Jake Paterson

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