This Sunday from 4pm, The Louisiana will be hosting an all out celebration of home grown music and the body of support it creates in honour of its 30th anniversary. Over the years, the iconic live music venue has taken pride in providing up-and-coming artists with the opportunity to showcase their talent, giving both them and their audience the perfect communion.
Sparked by a fire at The Fleece, the venue was plunged into the music industry in 1996 when two local promoters asked if they could use their upstairs room as an alternative. Since then, the Louis’ has been a barometer for new bands, hosting the likes of The Chemical brothers for a jaw-dropping 50p entry, The Scissor Sisters, Florence and the Machine and The National, to mention a few.
the Louis’ has been a barometer for new bands, hosting the likes of The Chemical brothers for a jaw-dropping 50p entry, The Scissor Sisters, Florence and the Machine and The National
With the small venue now being a first port of call for many new bands doing a national tour, venue manager and head booker Mig Shillace recalls a few more big names that have stepped foot inside The Louisiana since his parents bought the family-run venue over 30 years ago:
‘We’ve been blessed with having some truly amazing bands play the Louisiana over the last 30 years. Highlights which include: Amy Winehouse, Jose Gonzalez, The Whitestripes, The Strokes, Ho99o9, Mumford & Sons, Coldplay, Muse and Black Keys, amongst so many other great bands that went on to be huge. We have also tried support the Bristol music scene as much as possible.’
To celebrate the milestone, The Louisiana has put together a cracking lineup with 10 of their favourite Bristol bands, from brand new acts to some slightly more established small bands, as they continue to champion Bristol’s emerging music.
Bristol is such a vibrant city; it was hard for us to only pick a few bands to make it onto our anniversary lineup
Louis’ booker, promoter and photographer Laure Noverraz explains how the lineup took shape: ‘Bristol is such a vibrant city; it was hard for us to only pick a few bands to make it onto our anniversary lineup. Bands like Lice have played their first show at ours, and so will BUBBA and Flag Fen (with members of Big Joan). Not to forget our not-so-guilty pleasures Oh, The Guilt! and Poisonous Birds.’
With a proven track record of booking musical acts on the brink of stardom and an increasing number of frenzied fans travelling from all over the UK to stand within spitting distance of the next big thing, the Louisiana plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy urban ecosystem as it has become an invaluable testing ground for new artists learning their craft.
the Louisiana plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy urban ecosystem as it has become an invaluable testing ground for new artists
Like many Bristol-based bands, the Louis’ holds a special place for IDLES who have gone from performing in the small, upstairs room to supporting Foo Fighters at London’s O2 Arena this year. Frontman Joe Talbot in particular has a soft spot for the venue, having worked there for four years.
He tells us: ‘The Louisiana embodies much of what Bristol means to me; there is a strong sense of community built through a determination behind new music, which in itself is a subversive act. There is an almost air of defiance through compassion and a love of music and the people that make it. As I worked there for four years, I became part of a family of people from all over the world that had a collective consensus to keep the fires burning and THAT is Bristol. Long live The Louis, the Schillaces, immigration and community through music.’
Long live The Louis, the Schillaces, immigration and community through music (Joe Talbot, IDLES)
We also caught a word with Adam Burrows from exciting new project Flag Fen that currently consists of himself and Keith Hall, both former members of Big Joan, who will make their debut this Sunday. ‘Keith and I played The Louisiana many times with our old band, and we’re really fond of the old place. It was also the scene of our last gig in Bristol, although we didn’t know that at the time. So it’s kind of fitting that we’re back there to unleash our new sound, which hopefully won’t disappoint those with longer memories. That said, anyone expecting Big Joan MKII is going to be disgusted. Our punk rock days are over.’
While most of us know we can trust the Louis’ to put on a great lineup, we’ve put together a quick run-down of the acts performing at the Louis’ birthday and it’s safe to say that it is bursting with musical talent.
Forward thinking, satirical art-punk band Lice met during their studies at Bristol University. Since then, the band’s first single Human Parasite has received airtime on BBC Radio 1 after its release on new label Big Score and they have performed knockout shows at The Crofters Rights, The Louisiana and Simple Things. The band’s complex and original sound can be placed somewhere between punk, acoustic and progressive rock and their live shows promise to be one hell of a performance. In keeping with the genre, the band have a spitting and snarling stage presence and sure know how to command a crowd.
The mysterious BUBBA comprises of three sound engineers from the Louisiana plus venue manager Mig. They will be playing their first ever show on Sunday, so be sure not to miss out! They’re the first Country Doom band in the world (as far as we know), embellishing their muse with popcorn keys and manic moments – imagine Jim Morrison fronting The Specials.
Posted by BUBBA on Wednesday, 8 November 2017
Last Hyena consists of three music graduates that moved from Cornwall to Bristol with the sole intention of forming an instrumental post math-rock outfit. Their sound combines modern hip hop, jazz and math-rock with a big dollop of post-rock on top. Their influences include bands such as Black Peaks, Toe, Snarky Puppy and Delta Sleep and they recently released a self-titled EP this year that undoubtedly proves the trio have bucket loads of talent between them. With Josh Clowes on guitar, Max Ellis on bass and powerhouse Rory Mapes on drums, their heavily jazz inspired live set promises to have you all transfixed.
Dreamy rockers Human Bones played their first headline show at the Louisiana earlier this year and are making quite a lot of noise in the city at the moment as one of Breakfast Records’ most prominent acts. Their sound is characterized by a kind of garage rock that takes over all of the senses with its sun-kissed lyricism accompanied by guitars.
Oh, The Guilt
A three-piece post-punk band that delivers explosive live shows and dramatic songwriting. The band have already made a name for themselves on the live circuit and have obtained a loyal following locally, with their sound that combines cold atmospherics, rousing crescendos and a hell of a lot of volume sure to make your ears bleed. Drawing on the likes of Joy Division, A Place To Bury Strangers, Bauhaus and Slint, the band respect their lineage yet desire to transcend their influences to creative an original and distinctive sound.
The elusive Flag Fen is an exciting new project currently consisting of music duo Adam Burrows and Keith Hall, with further plans for expansion. Louis’ anniversary will be their first Bristol show and they will be curating sounds from tools including an Electribe Sampler, drum kit and negativity (but not pessimism). The duo were previously members of Big Joan and performed at squat parties, post-rock festivals and punk all-dayers throughout the land. As a favourite of the Louisiana, we can only assume that they are headed for great things.
October Drift have become a major success in the independent circuit with multiple sold out tours all over the country, as the band sure know how to win over an audience. With shows at BBC 6 Music Festival, Dot to Dot, Tramlines and Glastonbury, the band’s immediate future is looking particularly bright, as they remain something of an enigma. Their music is characterized by guitars, soaring vocals, urgent drums and minimalist post-punk verses. The rising indie four-piece have a reputation for delivering shows with a bucket load of energy.
Bristol’s Barry Dolan is known under the moniker Oxygen Thief and has shared stages with the likes of Frank Turner, Jonah Matranga, Mongol Horde and Ben Marwood. Barry performs with as much passion, intensity and volume as any band and his relentless touring proves that he is far from indolent. His sound embodies a ferocious punk tone and it is Barry’s voice, with his southern accent and staccato delivery, that makes his music truly original and distinct.
The duo’s sound is a myriad of dystopian electronics with moments of exceptional beauty, with multi-instrumentalist Tom Ridley’s mellifluous vocals cloaked in post-rock, electronica and industrial overtones, accompanied by percussionist Finn Mclean’s visceral rhythm. Using live loops and sequencing, the duo reinterpret material for the stage and promise to deliver an expertly crafted live performance. Their colourful debut EP Gentle Earth garnered a lot of attention locally, and its electronic vibe is simply mesmerising.
Ghost of the Avalanche
A snarling, spitting noise-punk duo from Bath who push the boundaries of what two people can achieve with bass, drums and vocals. Their sound derives from their love of listening to 80s punk tapes and watching old horror movies, with their live performance consisting of catchy tunes played at blistering speed with a strong socio-political charge. Nick Wiltone and Mel-Per-Hour are nothing but compositionally tight, raw, intense and powerful and will be sure to rattle those ear drums. If you enjoy music that stirs the soul as well as the body, then this is for you.
With such a full on lineup, it’s well worth getting down there earlier to check out the whole spread of talent. And since it’s their birthday, The Louis’ is in particularly high-spirits and will be offering the first 30 guests that wish them a ‘happy birthday’ a free pint of Guinness or Smirnoff vodka + mixer. See you there!
Words by Georgie Partington
Photos by Simon Holliday and Emma Swan