The Stokes Croft area of Bristol is an absolute hive of activity on a balmy Monday night. There is a noisy yoga class going on in an upstairs room of a bar, cafes are serving cups of tea with soy milk all night long, and people are literally hanging out on street corners.
Roughly 12 or 13 years ago I used to get the bus from Bath to Bristol and nervously walk up Stokes Croft to watch ska punk bands at the Croft (as it was called then). I never took my wallet or my phone with me as I was too scared of getting mugged. The venue has changed immeasurably. Like going back to your old Primary School, it always seems so much smaller. It’s now one of those bars with craft ale on tap and ambiguous male/female toilet signs (I was nearly caught out, but a fella near me was DEFINITELY caught out. Didn’t he see that there weren’t any urinals in there?).
Anyway, the music…DAVID LEACH played twee songs on his ukulele – one of which was about Accrington Stanley that probably won’t be sung on the terraces any time soon. SEAN MCGOWAN’S set reminded me of when Frank Turner played in rooms this size. Jamie T-esque ‘Neverland,’ and a pin-dropping ‘Patchwork’ were the pick of a strong set. And GRACE PETRIE’s headline set was greeted with near hysteria by some of the audience. “Why didn’t I think of having a group of drunk backing singers on the original song?” she asked after having every word sung back at her. GRACE PETRIE mixes politics and humour with a touch of the personal (check out ‘Ivy’ for the best example of that), and you never ever feel like you’re getting preached at.
ISN’T IT NICE TO GO TO A GIG WHERE YOUNG MUSICIANS ACTUALLY HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY?