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Simple Things 2024

Celebrating its 10th anniversary and with a stacked line-up to go with it, Simple Things showcased the best in contemporary experimental music, in some of Bristol's best venues. Epigram Music had it all covered.

By Epigram Music and curated by Dylan McNally, Music Co-Deputy Editor

In all the best ways Bristol is a weird city. And that's certainly true of its music scene, which is home to some of the most exciting, forward-thinking bands in the country. Bristol's also home to a fair few festivals throughout the year, but Simple Things might be the one that reflects its state of being, and its music scene, the best. It is Bristol in a festival. Over the course of one day, spread over 10 stages, and with over 80 artists, its fair to say we had our work cut out. But here at Epigram Music, we don't back down from a challenge, especially one as enticing as this. So here it is, our complete review of Simple Things 2024:

Borough Council @ Rough Trade

Borough Council @ Rough Trade | Dylan McNally

By Susie Long, Music Subeditor

Epigram Music’s first act of the day, Borough Council, was everything that I wanted it to be. With little released music, and quite a small online presence, Borough Council feels like one of those “I knew them before they were big” bands (really, I have Dylan to thank for introducing me to them!), but it’s obvious that they’re going to go far. Blending simplistic, repetitive loops with Ackerley’s vocals works well for them, creating a mellow, yet post-punk feeling sound in a mesmerising way.

With so little music available to stream, a lot of the band’s Rough Trade set was songs I hadn’t heard before, but this didn’t make it any less engaging. Watching the band perform, it was clear that they are extremely passionate about what they do: it was refreshing to see Ackerley insist on restarting a track in order to fully “do it justice”. As their set drew to a close, I just felt that I wanted to hear more but, with broken guitar strings and empty pint glasses, it was time to go on to the next artist. Borough Council started the day perfectly for me, and the mysterious trio are definitely now on my release radar - I hope they release new music (and lots of it!) soon.

L’Rain @ Strange Brew 

L'Rain @ Srange Brew | Ifan Davies

By Bruno Bridger, Second Year English and Philosophy

Taja Cheeke has been given a litany of titles over her relatively short artistic career. Composer, curator, multi-instrumentalist to name a few. She was all of these things and more when watching her performance in the late afternoon at Strange Brew. Collaged sounds collided with the bands screeching electronics and jazzed out drums to create some strange beautiful amalgamation.

Before the performance the band asked for the audience to be entirely present, though in the end this did not seem necessary as the hypnotic rolling performance that bordered on krautrock left many remaining speechless after the last notes rang out across the Strange Brew dancefloor. After this performance I’m sure many local Bristolians are eagerly anticipating an L’Rain headline set in the near future. 


Wu Lu | Machine Operated

By Louis Amor, Third Year Zoology

South London’s Wu-Lu brought his multi-genre, uneasy sound to the mainstage to kick off the evening shows. I feel like his music resonates wonderfully with the attitude of Bristol, largely tired of the nonsense leading this country and the deterioration of local community. He would later go on to describe Bristol as an extended family, and I definitely felt that from the crowd, giving back the true high energy Wu-Lu gives in his performances. The set primarily consisted of tracks from his debut album LOGGERHEAD, resulting in an impressive diversity of sound, from moody, tense grunge to aggressive mixes of punk and rap.

At times, Wu-Lu would completely command the stage, at one point asking for almost all the lights to be off for his performance of ‘Ten’, in which he stomped around the stage with chants of “energy, energy, energy”. Wu-Lu has a special passion for the messages behind his music and that was exceedingly clear in his fiery performance of the closing track, “South”. This summed up the entire show, an effortless maintenance of high energy driving a fullhearted message of community and need for change.

Wych Elm @ The Lanes

Wych Elm @ The Lanes | Dylan McNally

By Susie Long, Music Subeditor

When I was checking out the setlist for Simple Things, Wych Elm stood out to me as one that I knew I wanted to catch. I’d first come across the band quite recently, when their track ‘Virgin Mary’ was submitted to our Top Songs of 2023 article (not a plug I promise!), and I loved what I heard. A Bristol-based, grungy indie rock trio, Wych Elm took The Lanes by storm. They were quite apologetic, explaining that it was their first live set since November, but honestly, you wouldn’t really have been able to tell. After taking a few minutes to settle in, the band played flawlessly.

With impressively intricate drum loops, booming bass riffs and frontwoman Caitlin Elliman’s powerful vocals, this band have perfected a rowdy, angsty sound, whilst still keeping an upbeat, fresh quality to it. Wych Elm’s music is often described as “scrappy”, and I can’t think of a better word to describe it. Their songs feel raw and angry in a way that I really loved, and it was obvious that everyone else in The Lanes felt the same. It’s simple, but brilliantly done, and it definitely got me in the right mood for the rest of the day.

Honeyglaze @ Strange Brew

Honeyglaze @ Strange Brew | Dylan McNally

By Dylan McNally, Music Co-Deputy Editor

Honeyglaze have always been a band that's hard to pin down. They operate amongst the realms of post-punk - The Windmill was their proving ground, and they’re currently signed to the home of UK post-punk in Speedy Wunderground – and yet their sound is not. At least for now. After releasing their quietly beautiful debut album in 2022, they’ve not been up to much. A few secret shows in London preceded their appearance at Simple Things, but other than that they’ve kept a low profile. But that seems set to change.

Their set at Strange Brew was more a peek behind this new curtain than anything else. Of course, there were cuts from their self-titled debut (‘Burglar’ will never not be brilliant) but it was the new tracks that were the most interesting. A much heavier sound seems to be the result of all that lying low. Lyrical vulnerability remains, but crashing guitars and strained vocals weren’t something I ever expected from Honeyglaze, and yet here we are. A festival like Simple Things prides itself on the ability to find something new, I just didn’t expect it to be from a band I already know. 

Gazelle Twin @ Bristol Beacon, Lantern Hall

Gazelle Twin | Matthew King

By Bruno Bridger, Second Year English and Philosophy

It is not often when going to see music the that I am as engaged as I was for Gazelle Twin. It was one of those performances where it was difficult to tell when it started and when it finished. The backdrop of the stage projected a typical English cottage distorted and oversaturated by purples and oranges. In front of it an empty armchair, all the while droning ambience played out over the PA’s, a synaesthetic nightmare of sorts. When Gazelle Twin, or Elizabeth Bernholz did finally take the stage, silently in an oversized suit, whose garish blues were illuminated by the turning on of a lampshade, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in terms of music.

Given the outfit, perhaps some sort of David Byrne tribute. What came instead was something that arguably bordered more on performance art . Harsh Industrial noise that made my skin crawl was communed with paganistic string arrangements, while Bernholz uttered operatic yelps and at times folkloric musings into the mic. My analysis of this sort of high art, as many, including myself would call it, is usually very poor, but the whole thing screamed weird England, wicker man, witchfinder general. An exorcism of the stasis of the English pastoral to reveal a dark and bewildering underbelly. Brilliant. 


KEG @ SWX | Ifan Davies

By Ifan Davies, Second Year English and Philosophy

Hailing from Brighton, KEG are a unique and refreshing band. Seamlessly switching between heavy crashing riffs to groovy intersections, their music never gets dull and this is only helped by the band’s unmatched stage presence and energy. Their enthusiasm was paired with a lively audience, which made the performance one of the most fun and memorable of the day.

DITZ @ Strange Brew

DITZ @ Strange Brew | Dylan McNally

By Dylan McNally, Music Co-Deputy Editor

The beauty of a festival like Simple Things is the expectation of the unknown. You are almost duty bound to find something new. For me, it was Ditz. And I’ve got to say I’m surprised and slightly ashamed about that. The Brighton band have been kicking up a fuss for a while now, but somehow they’ve escaped my radar. I was ready to leave Strange Brew after Honeyglaze but was persuaded to stay by some friends who were more enlightened than I was and knew what was about to happen.

I couldn’t be missing Ditz, apparently. And they were right. It might be a bit of a cliché to say that Ditz delivered a “storming” set, but they really did. Microphones and cans of Red Stripe ended up on the lighting rig, as did lead singer Cal Francis. And there wasn’t so much an audience as much as there was one collective, writhing mass – any pints were in serious danger. If any set could sum up Simple Things it might just be this one. A new find (for me at least), some of the best new experimental music and one hell of a moshpit. 

Evian Christ @ Bristol Beacon, Main Stage

Evian Christ @ Bristol Beacon | Ifan Davies

By Ifan Davies, Second Year English and Philosophy

Evian Christ was the highlight of the festival in my eyes. I initially discovered him through Yung Sherman's remix of his track 'Ultra', and he has since gone on to collaborate with Bladee. While these singles have put him in the spotlight recently, his solo works span much further back, and he has distinguished himself as a strong solo artist with his ambient, emotional takes on classic rave genres such as trance and jungle.

His live performance at simple things was an immense display of talent. The emotion of his music resonated throughout the venue as bright, colorful strobe lights washed over the audience, completely enveloping the room in  an all consuming sea of sound and light.  With a mix of emotional and soaring ambient interludes, and some fun twists on club classics and some Bladee songs, It was an unforgettable experience, and for me it has cemented Evian Christ as one of the most talented producers of our generation.

CASISDEAD @ Bristol Beacon, Main Stage

CASISDEAD @ Bristol Beacon | Ifan Davies

By Benji Chapman, Music Co-Deputy Editor

Unbothered in his swagger around the stage of the Bristol Beacon, CASISDEAD's performance was one full of curses towards the crowd and lighting team. An artist who isn't one to hide in fear of judgement for his brutally crude lyrics, this came across live as the grime veteran sauntered on the stage in his signature latex mask. The crowd were enthused rather than put-off by the jabs from CAS- who frequently mocked them for not moving around enough below.

Admittedly, the crowd was stagnant though this was a fact which was not going to stop CAS. Diehards at the front soon swarmed to chant and wave at the several MC's on stage, illuminated by  random flashes of light which filled the room as the Lantern Hall's main lights were turned on and off. The experience was unusual, but only spoke to the uniqueness of the day in its unpredictable nature.

Gilla Band @ SWX

Gilla Band @ SWX | Benji Chapman

By Benji Chapman, Music Co-Deputy Editor

I had high hopes for Gilla Band. One of my first gigs in the city was seeing Gilla Band at Trinity, a mosh-pit trial by fire. The white-knuckle aggression of Ireland's best post-punk offering for my money was one which felt just as tight as my inital experience. Stoked by the intense feedback and countless torrents of distorted chaos, the gig was full of tension which could only be resolved in some wholly brutal fisticuffs.

A whirlpool of sweaty bodies had soon opened by the third song, one which spread out to engulf anyone unlucky enough to stray into its reaches. Forget waiting for a song to start, the mosh was truly a free for all which had no rhyme or reason beyond what little control the band could assert through their music. An unquestionable highlight of the day for me, the performance only asserted that Gilla Band are continuing to keep standards astronomically high for a unique style of noise rock that throws convention out the window in favour of total, dramatic havoc.

Eades @ The Lanes

Eades @ The Lanes | Susie Long

By Susie Long, Music Subeditor

Regrouping with cheesy chips after Gilla Band, Dylan and I poked our heads into The Lanes to grab a pint and catch a couple of songs from Leeds-based band Eades - I’m so glad we did; their set was fantastic. Inspired by the likes of David Byrne and Lou Reed, Eades brought an upbeat and vibrant energy to stage, connecting classic British rock with a sort of surf-y, punk sound, which gathered a huge crowd inside the tiny Bristol venue.

This, to me, is exactly what festivals like Simple Things are all about: discovering bands and exploring different venues with friends and many pints along the way. Easy listening, and equally enjoyable to watch perform live, this bad is totally a new favourite of mine. I wish I could write more in-depth coverage of their set - but alas, Warmduscher was calling!

Warmduscher @ SWX

Warmduscher @ SWX | Dylan McNally

By Dylan McNally, Music Co-Deputy Editor

2024’s iteration was a return to Simple Things for Warmduscher, having played the festival in both 2017 and 2018. This time, however, their name was not buried in the small print. This time they had both a full hour and all of SWX with which to play with. And whilst Simple Things doesn’t really work like this, they were the de facto headliners. And we all knew it. We were lucky to have them too, given this is one of only a handful of dates that Warmduscher are playing all year.

It could’ve been a draining one for the crowd, given Gilla Band had immediately preceded this and I got the impression that not many had left. But there were no tired legs here. It was chaotic, it was frenetic. Warmduscher seemed to spark a crazed sense of joy throughout the crowd at SWX. It’s hard to describe it in any other way, but it was just fun. Above all though, it felt triumphant. Warmduscher are a band who have been at it for years, Simple Things itself can attest to that, but it feels about right that they’re finally getting their just rewards.

Fat Dog @ Bristol Beacon, Bridgehouse Stage

Fat Dog @ Bristol Beacon | Susie Long

By Dylan McNally, Music C0-Deputy Editor

After the chaos of Warmduscher (who themselves were preceded by Gilla Band) you might’ve thought that it would be a good time to call it a night. Not for me, though. And certainly not when Fat Dog are next on the bill. The London band are one of the most exciting bands in the country right now, so any opportunity to see them is always going to attract a crowd. And that, somewhat inevitably, included me. But Bristol is a city that seems to attract Fat Dog too, having played a number of times in the city in their fairly short existence.

They won’t have played the Beacon before though. And given that they were on the makeshift Bridgehouse stage, in what was essentially the foyer, it made for an interesting set up. A mosh pit inevitably erupted and enveloped its immediate surroundings. The only respite, if you were after such a thing, were the surrounding floors and balconies on each side. From the pit, looking up at four towering floors, with a crowd on each one looking back at our mess of bodies below, it all felt a bit gladiatorial (at one point security had to step in). But in the midst of battle, Fat Dog persevered, delivering a characteristically brilliant set of their techno fuelled post-punk. I would say it was brilliant way to end Simple Things, but we weren’t done yet. 

SCALER @ Bristol Beacon, Main Stage

SCALER @ Bristol Beacon | Susie Long

By Louis Amor, Third Year Zoology

Late into the night, the energy was still high, as Bristol’s very own SCALER performed a relentless set to close the mainstage. It feels like SCALER were made to perform past midnight, their industrial, forward-thinking sound combining metal influences with some of the most high-octane, mind melting rave tracks you can possibly experience. To add to this, their dense sound is supported by a fleet of flashing lights, and insane visuals which complement the progression of their tracks. Despite being in a room packed with thousands of people, the combination of their intense sound and psychedelic visuals created a tight atmosphere, like being in a bunker deep underground. 

Impressively, there were very few breaks during the entire site, the four-piece effortlessly transitioned between tracks which spanned the entire course of their discography. For a band making such left-field leaps in the world of electronic music, their range is surprisingly expansive. Their debut album Void primarily focusses on maintaining an almost hallucinogenic flow between tracks, yet live, the band effortlessly maintain fluidity whilst transitioning into tracks which would normally break this steady pace.

This includes their much harder-hitting earlier work, with ‘Cloudburst’ being a standout track for me during the show, the energy of this song live was mind-blowing and seriously riled up the crowd almost out of nowhere; light headbanging turned into full-blown dancing. This movement of the crowd was facilitated by their new tracks, such as the dance-worthy Loam’, in which SCALER take a new stop towards a focus on rhythm.

The ability of SCALER to combine these inspirations and link them together in a seamless performance was mesmerizing, and alongside the almost overwhelming visuals, was a fitting end to a daylong celebration of live music here in Bristol.

Featured Image: Ifan Davies

Who was your favorite act at Simple Things this year?