4____ Kokomo City (£5-£11) (Until 10th) In frank & vibrant convo with black trans sex workers Watershed
5____ RRC, Prison Affair, Island Of Love... (£12) Warped & sulphurous egg punk Exchange 19:30
_____ Powder & 5ive (£7-£12) House as smoothly shifting as buttered rollerblades Strange Brew 22:00
6____ Mini Robot Wars - BBB: Subterranean Showdown 2023 (£5) Oh hell yeah! Loko Klub 12:30
7____ South West Improvisers Group (£6) At 11 members they’ll be improvising how to fit in Café Kino 19:30
10___ Beige Palace, M-G Dysfunction + OHTHEKINK! (£5/£7)Leeds is the Bristol of Leeds Exchange 19:30
11___ Cade: The Tortured Crossing (£5-£11) Don’t bring workmates, Breen's 4 bad film veterans Watershed 19:00
_____ Samurai Cop (£5-£11) Ok you can bring them to this BBFC 10th birthday crowd pleaser. Oh the wigs you’ll see! Watershed 21:00
12___ Cellar Door (£5/£6) See the headliners Foot Foot before they inevitably strike it big Louisiana 18:00
_____ Erratic Batting: Jungle Spesh x No Nation, 2QUID (£6) No Nation? Yes, Jungle! Crofters Rights 23:00
14___ Ryosuke Kiyasu (£6) Watch a man roll around with a snare drum for an hour! Exchange 19 :00
19___ Dead Space Chamber Music live: Temple Church ruins (£5/£6) DSCM giving the reopened ruins their inaugural haunting Temple Church Gardens 19:00
_____ Club Blanco pres. Daniel Avery (£15) Cavery to Avery’s savoury flavoury Strange Brew 22:30
22___ Deerhoof + Grandmas House (£20) Best band with deer in the name, fight me. (Deerhoof have immunocompromised members, don’t be a dick wear a mask) The Lanes 19:30
24___ PoiL Ueda (£6-£14) Been on all the AOTY lists I’ve seen, and deservedly so Jam Jar 19:30
26___ MC Yallah & Debmaster + ThisisDA (£8-£12) rap in 4 languages &~300 bpm, absurd. Strange Brew 19:00
_____ WRONG MUSIC X DOOMSCROLL (£5-£20) A head-to-head with DJ Bus Replacement Service?! Expect a good daft time Lost Horizon 22:30
Bristol has tons of great recurring events that often get edged out of the zine by one-off stuff. A quiet August is a great time to remind you (or introduce you to!) some stuff that is consistently great.
Improv’s Greatest Hits (PWYW) IGH lineups announce too late for the zine but it’s one of Bristol’s most consistent nights of experimental music, and fucking pay what you want too!! Credit where it’s due, Harrys (Furniss & Irvine) should be proud of the DIY space they’ve created for musical exploration, from new bands to old. Crofters Rights, Last Wednesday of the month
(See also: no clique at Ill Repute & Big Fuss/ Dolebury Warren residency last Sunday of the month at Louisiana)
Sacred Harp (£0-£3) Joining this group singing from a 19th century American folk/sacred songbook has been the highlight of my year. A welcoming community full of interesting people, where singing is a fun challenge without any fear of failure, and the music just sounds REALLY good. Faithspace, Tuesdays (singing school first Tuesday of the month)
Bristol Contra (£6-£15) What happened to ceilidh dancing when it went to America – faster, better spins, more dizzying. A welcoming and vibrant folk dance event with different brilliant bands each month, ungendered calling, and cheese at the mid-time break Faithspace, 3rd Friday of the month
Comedy (£0-£9) Standup works best in the local circuits, there’s a directness and a tension of abject failure that you don’t see on TV or in big crowds. However, there’s a stupid amount of it to navigate in Bristol and no single best night. Instead, with the help of local standup Alasdair Wallace, we’ve selected our favourites for almost every day of the week:
Ramshackle (Dareshack, second Mondays), Chops (Friendly Records, Tuesdays), Oppo (Barrelhouse, Wednesdays), Party (Watershed, ~third Fridays), This Next Act (Kingsdown Vaults, Sundays)
(Note only This Next Act is running in August as its Fringe)
Closer Each Day: The Improvised Soap Opera (£7-£12) Returning in September for its 27th season (after over 12 years and 200 episodes), this is a narrative full of unpredictably dramatic turns of events, and ridiculous hijinks The Wardrobe Theatre, every other week
North Street Games Night (£2) Way better (and cheaper) than a board game café. Loads of games, nice pubs; play with friends or get matched up with games and players by the super knowledgeable host Various locations, Various days (see Facebook page)
Bluescreen (£3) Bristol has to be one of the few places in the country with enough creatives and supportive spaces to have a monthly short film open mic. A delightful mix of the genuinely brilliant, to the delightfully idiosyncratic. Equally beautiful, and incidentally hilarious. Cube Microplex, Last Wednesday of the month
Jake Healy (check out the album Eggs in Purgatory) and Aron Ward (too many projects to name) threw a mystifyingly poorly attended all dayer. I say mystifying because it was cheap as hell and brought together just about every local band I’d been eagerly meaning to see. There was plenty of variety and almost every act I caught performed a great smooth set (particularly Foot Foot. They’re hard to google but I swear catch them now while they’re still cheap). I say almost every act because of the one notable exception, Punchcutter.
Now if any members of Punchcutter read this I’m sorry. I swear I’m not trying to be ironic or a contrarian I realise that everything that could go wrong went wrong. But partly in spite of that and partly because of it, I loved it.
Things started late as the tech tried to work out why the guitar was soundless, why the pedals were functionless, why the vocals were crackling, and why nothing was coming through on the monitors. Rather than admit defeat, Punchcutter pressed on to produce the only true kind of improvisational music. The kind where you improvise how you can play more so than what you play, and where it feels all the more (a)live for technically being a train wreck.
Songs were seemingly cut and pasted on the fly to skip past heavily pedal dependent phrases, sections that required tight coordination became desynchronised due to the lack of monitors, and through it all the giddy frustrated panic came through in a tensely hilarious way.
Now any of my stand up friends will tell you I am the worst audience member, I am inattentive right up until the point things fuck up at which point I am gleefully keen. But what is a live show unless the tension of winging it is there! And there as here, I genuinely find that great things are produced. Punchcutter’s sound lends itself to a discordant, desynchronised no-wavey noise, punch-tuated by melody. The sound issues may have notched that up a fair bit but it still sounded commendably good! It was a totally engrossing type of show that I hope they never have to endure again.
Eat Up’s Very Unofficial Pride Afterparty was an absolute, unequivocal joy. From pop-rock about wrestling and cats and wild swimming (a particular fave) to Barbie Girl lipsyncs to Bon Jovi karaoke belted into the night, moments of the ridiculous built to a sublime sense of togetherness, and freedom, and joy.
No-one embraced this sense of the ridiculous more than Wendy Miasma. Bristol’s pop robot from outer space introduced her set with Horse Bench, a song mainly involving repeating those two words while holding up little models of them, and proceedings only got more absurd from there. There was a frantic search for a missing kelp, a raincoat covered in googly eyes, and rainbow chard thrown into the audience (cuing much eating, waving of, and photoshoots with said leafy green). It was like They Might Be Giants doing 80s synth, directed by a cabaret clown. The band succeeded in that hardest of high-wire acts – being whimsical without being annoying – thanks to bizarre lyrics, excellent musicianship, and a real energy and commitment. It’s hard to find something twee when it is so obviously so much fun. Even before Miasma’s moving paean to crossing borders (Penis International) one thing was clear – she must be our next Eurovision entry.
Headlining the night and bringing that sublime feeling to its height was R. AGGS mixing violin, electronics and guitar into a gorgeous wash of music that felt like it was soundtracking a climactic moment of bliss in a coming-of-age movie. It might have been raining all day but they instantly summoned a sunset on a beautiful summer’s evening, an expansive green space, a group of friends. Complex overlappings of sequences combined with sweeping melodies and sincere lyrics about hope and self-love that were sincere without ever becoming saccharine. R. AGGS as a performer had that kind of mix of self-assurance and modesty which belies their skill while still assuring you you’re in safe hands. Nothing could capture the evening more than the fact that when half the crowd burst into a spontaneous macarena, AGGS seemed genuinely moved.
There’s a moment in this dance workshop that I find myself on the verge of tears. There’s the sound of an empty record, crackling and sputtering in the air. I’m sitting against a stone pillar, taking a moment to look at the whole room as we wind down from 15 minutes of improvised dancing. It’s been a constellation of meetings — people decisively introducing themselves to each other through touch, negotiating their shapes and weight, maybe even lifting one another off the ground (there are many ways to do this), then parting with the same ease they’ve met.
Without explicit instruction, we’ve found ways to play within this framework. At times there are bigger groups of 4, 5, 6. People echoing each other from across the room. A string of people on the floor, slowly rolling across the width of the space like a noodle being stretched, while others hop and skip in the gaps between limbs. It’s been excitable, fizzy, playful, and now everyone is slowing and finding stillness. How often is it that you meet someone by carrying them and being carried, before even having spoken a word to each other? It’s just beautiful.
What catches me off guard is that I’ve seen this very dance before. In Jo Fong’s durational dance piece, How Shall We Begin Again? (which we reviewed in March’s issue), punctuating a series of improvised solos every two hours or so were group dances like this. They took my breath away then — they felt free but composed, professionals and untrained dancers together and sharing aesthetic space without hierarchy. You could sense they were following a score, but I didn’t know what it was. Then to arrive at this place, unannounced, in the workshop; to suddenly find myself in this dance. A magic trick!
I come away marvelling at Jo’s skill in holding space like this. She has very gently, very subtly, very naturally guided us to a place of openness, comfort and willingness over the two and something hours we’ve been together. Facilitators often verbalise to a group what kind of space they want a workshop to be (‘Here are some principles I’d propose might guide how we work together today’; ‘Feel free to take yourself out and rest if you need to’). Nothing wrong with that at all, but Jo simply makes these permissions evident. The invitation is to be as wholly yourself as you can be.
And I love how much she loves this work - How Shall We Begin Again? and its associated workshops - which she describes as a cross between portraiture, protest and prayer. ‘I love this piece so much!’ she blurts out mid-workshop. To say so doesn’t feel self-congratulatory, because the piece is the people in it, is the process. It’s very special to have this space where it’s all allowed, where we can practice being together in ways we don’t normally get to do.
A marketing genius of a dealer announcing to much fanfare his special “mystery key” deal outside St Pauls
A Buckfast warrior at pride unable to comprehend that you can’t vape an ocarina
The entire Bristol office of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs being turfed out by bailiffs for unpaid debts (and scurrying straight off to the pub)
A person trying valiantly to cook a pizza on the Turbo Island fire before being dragged away from their sooty cremation
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We are three housemates in Bristol, and we go to see lots of music / theatre / dance / art / film / comedy etc. It’s usually stuff at the margins of these forms, where more is shared between them than distinguishes them. This is a zine of events in the next month that we think we might go to, and reviews of events from the past month that we liked. It is: inexhaustive, biased, of debatable trustworthiness. This is a picture of us.
Front cover original images:
Unknown artist: Hoku Bucho, Fukuyama mascot
Jan Desmond & Gaye Dixon: ‘98 $4.10 Zimbabwe bee stamp
Unknown artist: ‘22 20 Sen Japanese Mt Fuji & Deer stamp