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Student Music Groups & Societies

Epigram guides you through the best student groups to get involved with as the year begins; from jazz improv and guitar jam sessions to orchestras and choirs.

By Benji Chapman, Co-Deputy Music Editor

The University of Bristol offers a plethora of organised bands, orchestras and collaborative musical opportunities alongside some diverse musical groups where fans can meet to delve deep into Bristol's rich musical history. Here's a rundown of some of the very best societies to get involved with.

Jazz Funk and Soul Society is a staple of the University's impressive and student-led collaborative music scene in the strain of all things groovy. The group is one of the largest societies where musicians can jam together and play on-stage at several venues complete with discounted drinks. Member Emily Bulmer, who played in the society during 1st year is enthusiastic about the scene for freshers: "The Tuesday open mic nights at Mr Wolf's are a great way to play with friends and improve your improv skills: they are really welcoming, letting everyone have a go!" The female-lead Soul Diva night and Clusterfunk events are equally spoken of as excellent opportunities to play in a live setting, particularly for those with less experience playing on-stage. Several of the more organised shows are collaborative concerts and tours that unite other groups like Big Band Society, and between the diverse collection of bands on offer the group is central in joining musicians and music-lovers between the many genres on offer.

In addition to the various bands and genre-related groups, Bristol uni's acapella groups are an alternative way of collaborating for some high-energy and varied preformances: the Bristol Suspensions boast "a variety of music, from pop to jazz to techno- you name it, we've sung it!" The Suspensions, now nine generations old, have released a plethora of EP's and albums, and in addition to studio work, they have competed and won in several competitions including Ireland's International A Capella Festivals, BBC 1's Pitch Battle and most recently, the group fundraised and competed at a sold out stage at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Rehearsals make use of the SU's theatre to meet and preform, and like all societies, the various acapella groups are an excellent way to make friends to explore Bristol itself with. The groups are all renowned for their energetic attitudes in a fusion of dramatic and contemporary musical influences and in a tight-knight choir setting that extend beyond the stage and into the larger acapella community.

For those of you looking to perform in a more traditional setting, there are plenty of groups that have your back. Bristol Uni Music Society (BUMS) offer a chamber choir, orchestra, brass band, flute choir and wind orchestra at both auditioned and unauditioned levels, BOpS is the University’s Opera Society, and Symphonia host both Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras.

As freshers will soon discover, the notorious chorus of Bristol's hipsters crooning "did you know trip-hop was, like, basically invented, on this one road in Bristol" is commonplace in the city. The beanie wearing mafia of the city will be sure to let you know that there's, like, totally so much more music to Bristol than meets the eye (have you even listened to Heavy Lungs?) Thankfully, the Music Appreciation Society meet biweekly at the cosy Barrelhouse for a night of vital preparation for such interrogations. If you've found an artist that you're begging to tell people you've been listening to before they were on Spotify, the group is for you. The pub is always full of a broad range of music played through a collaborative queue that everyone contributes to, and if you are keen to meet some gig-buddies, potential bandmates or discover some new music the cheery faces inside will be happy to accommodate with both in person meets and online ticket selling via WhatsApp that can, often, be the only way make a return on the gig you've only just realised you can't make anymore.

If you think that Swifties wouldn’t be welcome on aux, don’t fear as UoB has it’s very own Taylor Swift Appreciation Society - where club nights and pub meets are on the cards - and if you'd like to dominate the soundsystem completely, DJ Society might be up your avenue.

If its rock and alternative music you're looking for, UoB's very own Rock Society (RockSoc) is the perfect place for any budding rocker. Frequent pub crawls, quiz nights and jam sessions pair nicely with infamous (and heavily discounted) Thekla Thursday pres accompanied by some interesting dress codes. The society is one of the most welcoming on offer, a stellar committee of students ranging from early years to masters students. Members are addictively friendly and passionate: immersed in an environment where all walks of rock music are welcome to be shared in some great locations. Expect to frequent spots like metal pub The Gryphon and, if you're feeling brave enough, the Den and Terrace's karaoke room.

The society also sports one of the cheapest memberships at just £3.50 a year, a worthy investment for exclusive drink and club deals for alternative events like the metal Phuct night at the Lanes.

Featured image courtesy of RockSoc

Make sure to come along to the Welcome Fair on September 22 to get know each of the societies!