showcasing the best of the south west
Bristol's Music Scene

Bristol's Music Scene

With cities containing a large music heritage such as London, Liverpool and Manchester, it isn’t easy for everyone else to claim a share in the UK’s music industry. However, Bristol has made its name by producing some strong musical acts. Massive Attack, for example, are Bristol natives and were formed in 1988 - even being accredited with the founding of the ‘trip-hop’ genre, an experimental reworking of hip-hop beats and electronica with vocals forming the lyrical content.

Portishead is another establishment in trip-hop, formed by Geoff Barrow, Beth Gibbons, and Adrian Utley in 1994. Interestingly, Geoff Barrow worked on Massive Attack’s debut as an intern tape operator at Bristol's Coach House studio when the album was recorded. Their debut album Dummy, won the Mercury Prize back in 1995 and is ranked No. 419 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Nowadays, there are a huge proportion of amazing acts to listen to, from Bristol or otherwise. However, music streaming services like Spotify have made this task considerably easier, collating countless tracks under one roof. Although there is a free version of the service, it’s also possible to pay for a premium option, which will remove adverts between the songs, and give overall better quality audio. Spotify also recently teamed up with the unique online payment option called paysafecard which doesn’t even require the use of a bank account. 

Music Venues in Bristol

Finding a location full of character is fairly easy in Bristol. From revered concert halls, to indie hangouts, to gigs afloat in old German boats - Bristol’s music venues cater for all tastes. 

<p>The Colston Hall plays host to some huge names in pop, rock, world, and classical music, as well as stand-up comedy, light entertainment and local orchestras. Major renovation works in 2009 made The Colston Hall architecturally significant in Bristol’s skyline. Back in the day, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and David Bowie took to the stage here, more recently Emile Sandé, Damien Rice, and Jools Holland have played to loving crowds.

<p>Once a German ocean-going timber vessel, the Thekla sailed to Bristol in the 1980s and was recommissioned as a cabaret theatre by a couple of eccentrics. Nowadays, the line-up is perhaps less subversive and bizarre than it was, but Thekla remains the biggest and best of Bristol's floating venues – her metal hull acting as a unique, if acoustically challenging, chamber for noisy gigs. Great in the summer for chilling on its wide wooden decks, with Bristol’s multi-coloured, sparkling harbour as a backdrop. 

A former seafarer’s hotel, The Louisiana’s balconied exterior was apparently styled on an 18th century paddle-steamer and is more reminiscent of classy Clifton Village than Bristol docklands. The exterior is almost smugly picturesque, and the interior justly boasts the venue's proven skill in booking indie acts on the brink of stardom. Emerging bands are increasingly willing to curve their tours via The Louisiana, and many serious fans from London or the north will make the trip here for the chance to stand within close range of potentially the next big thing. 

Share this article: