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Simple Things Festival 2014 - The View From Far Out

We arrived just in time for the kick-off of Simple Things 2014. The first thing to become clear to us at Far Out is how Bristol is the South West’s answer to Sheffield. Everything’s aesthetically pleasing, the non-stop walking up and down steep hills, think Tramlines festival but during a colder, soggier part of the year.

Having no idea of where the day ahead would take us, it came as quite a shock to find ourselves at a converted fire station, weaving through a group of goth kids sniffing substances and staring wide-eyed at the festival goers they had unknowingly joined forces with.

We managed to make it in time to catch the end of Rejjie Snow – Ireland’s answer to a question nobody even thought of asking, ‘do we need an Irish Tyler, The Creator?’ No.

Perhaps I’m being unfair, Snow clearly has an ear for a good beat, sampling MF Doom and referencing the finer things in life, such as Gucci Loafers and Hennessy. Snow shows promise; unfortunately the whole thing on the night just reeks of clichés.

The reason we are here at the fire station, however, is to check out Sophie. One of the most talked about DJ’s at the moment, he doesn’t disappoint, playing a 45-minute set to the packed out fire station. Walking onstage to a wall of noise, gradually building up, Sophie keeps the crowd in the palm of his hand for a good five minutes before getting down to business, dropping future classics such as his remix of GFOTY’S ‘Friday Night’ and his own recent single ‘Hard’ to rapturous receptions.

Next up is the first band of the night we manage to catch, the often imitated but never equalled Black Lips, with their unique blend of garage rock. Black Lips are renowned for their chaotic live shows. But tonight is a different affair, showing a more mature side, blasting through classics such as ‘Not A Problem’ and ‘Noc-A-Homa’ like a well oiled machine. As great as that is, seeing roadies throw loo roll from the stage to the crowd in a bid to get them riled up makes me long for the old days when anything went.

Death From Above 1979 are another one of those bands you could lump into the ‘chaotic live show category, so it’s only right that an hour of garage rock would be followed by the blistering energy and power of the Canadian duo. Bristol Academy packs out for what is a 90-minute set of nearly every DFA track you would like to hear, ‘Dead Womb’? Check.  ‘Little Girl’? Check. ‘Right on, Frankenstein!’? Check.

Eventually a pit is formed full of sweaty, angry, young men with their shirts off, resembling a scene out of fight club. Drummer/singer Sebastien Grainger stops proceedings at one point to share a story about smoking weed as a kid and listening to Portishead, the crowd lap it up.

Due to the queue snaking throughout Colston Hall for Mogwai, we manage to make it inside the venue just in time to catch set closers ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ and ‘Batcat’ which are far louder and more intense than anticipated, assuring that punters would be ready for the early hours of Simple Things.

Worth the ticket price alone, Mogwai’s stage presence alongside their incredible light show makes for a special headline performance, a performance we shall all look back at as one of the defining moments of Simple Things when the festival inevitably blows up.

Back down in the foyer of Colston Hall, Leeds’ Menace Beach rip through a headline set, testing out new songs alongside big singles such as ‘Tastes Like Medicine’ and ‘Drop Outs’ to what started off as a small crowd and expanded with each song. Menace Beach have the lo-fi indie pop sound nailed, coming across as gritty and genuine, rounding off what was an incredible weekend of music in the city of Bristol.

Aaron Lewins