Monday, 21 December 2009

York Cafe

I'm not going to lie to you. Bristol is a city, and therefore does have its fair share of the homogenised predictable bull, the corporate money-spinners and the tired and tested. There are the international fast food holes and cheap chain stores. They're always going to be there, they're in every city, so you just ignore them.
But when you come across a hidden gem that's actually owned and run by local people who can give you good quality produce, you remember it doesn't have to be like that, and a city like Briz is big and clever enough to keep itself interesting.

Such is breakfast's best-kept secret: York cafe. Quiet and unassuming from the outside, this award-winning haven of builders and students is a British soap opera writer's dream - red Formica tables, a huge neon clock and the best fry-ups for miles around - and a personal favourite of mine. The lovely staff have got me through many a hungover lunch break with quick service and delicious grub.
It's never going to win Heston Blumenthal's prize for innovation, and describe themselves as 'trapped in a time warp around 1960-something', but they do all the classics from morning porridge to Shepherd's pie, mostly under a fiver.

Nestled just behind Broadmead on Bond Street - just around a bit further from the McDonald's on the corner - York 's moved from a place in Clifton two years ago, establishing loyalty with the Cabot builders, and now the Cabot staff! Not to mention the halls nearby, various department stores and so on.
I was in today enjoying a veggie bap and looking out at the snow, and nearly hit myself on the forehead for not thinking to mention them on here sooner. Hooray for the greasy spoon!!

It's been snowing!!!!

Bristol looked so lush in the snow last night! Sadly I didn't have any photo-taking capabilities a we wandered down Gloucester Road enjoying that weirdly blanket-like silence and peace that comes with the great white stuff, but much christmas-y merriment was had singing the pogues and the snowman theme tune.

In fact, at one point just by the Arches we turned and looked at a beautiful little side street undisturbed by human feet except for a couple kissing underneath a Victorian-style lamp post. SO LUSH!


Sunday, 6 December 2009

White Lies

@ Academy 02/12/09
Support: Asobi Seksu

I had to work later on Wednesday, so I could only get to a packed-out Academy half-way through the support set from the sublime and interesting Asobi Seksu.

A New York four piece fronted by Yuki Chikudate, who often sings in a combination of Japanese and English, giving their lushly textured rock an even dreamier quality.

Her naturally high range and tiny frame couldn't betray the rough'n'ready raw chords of guitarist James Hanna, and with Larry Gorman and Billy Pavone on drums, synths and bass, Asobi Seksu crafted a delicately cool slice of art-punk into the one of the biggest, crashing-est crescendos the Academy has ever seen.

After a quick, over-priced and watered-down pint from the soulless bar, we fought tooth and nail to get anywhere back near the stage for the main attraction. (Here would be a good point to apologize for the awful quality of the photos, but I was being jostled by that many tall elbows that just holding on to the camera was an achievement.)

As soon as the boys from Ealing took to the stage, all minor Academy irritations were forgotten. Launching hell for leather into Farewell To The Fairground, they proved immediate comparisons with Joy Division/Editors (dark yet strangely uplifting), though vocalist/guitarist Harry McVeigh, bassist Charles Cave and drummer Jack Lawrence-Brown had a stage presence that put them comfortably in their own league.

Harry's voice sent shivers down my spine, being technically note-perfect, sounding exactly as haunting and remote as on every track of debut album To Lose My Life.

You've probably guessed it already, but I find the Academy quite impersonal - a bit underwhelming as a venue - but White Lies suited that cold environment, took the cavernous black space and made it their own.

After a slightly pretentious double-encore, including a good cover of a Talking Heads track, the crowd were satisfied. I ended up enjoying White Lies so much I only took two photos during the whole set.
One of which didn't come out.


Monday, 30 November 2009

How To Do A Christmas Shop Window

If any shop in Bristol (and Cabot no less) is going to embrace Christmas in all its camp, magical glory, it's gotta be Harvey Nics.

Normally popdock wouldn't profile a shop like HN, but these sparkling windows are so jaw-droppingly gorgeous in the flesh - especially walking through Quaker's Friars in the evening, that it was worth a mention.

As they're the first serious investment windows wee Briz has ever really had, these photos hardly do them justice, especially since they were taken in the dark (anyone remember that thing that used to live in the sky? Me neither...) on a standard digital camera, but you'll get the idea - think Disney-like golden swirls, floating life-size pixies and fairies wearing only strategically placed baubles, and other lovely delights...


Chew Lips

@ Louisiana - 25.11.09

Support: Nova Robotics

These guys are going to be massive. You know when you can just tell? I hate to say wanky things like "yah, huge for twenty-ten, I was there at the beginning of course..." but when Chew Lips painted the town all sparkly-purple on Wednesday, bringing their catchy electro to a busy Louisiana, the excitement in the air was of the palpable sort that only comes when seeing a band on the cusp of greatness.

Starting things off was one man and his trusty laptop, Bristol's own Nova Robotics, who pushed out some choppy electro bass and big beats, and topped them with live lonely guitar chords, perfecting the shy-bedroom-mixer-type, whilst acknowledging other genre-benders like Bloc Party/Explosions In The Sky/Errors.

Keeping his hoodie firmly around his ears, Mr Robotics kept the crowd captivated with his instrumental, expressive combinations of heavy dancey synths and instinctive, yet delicate melodies over the top.

It's music to ponder something to, alone on a train going through a city early in the early morning, or walking back from work in heavy rain. (You know, that sort of built-up pace but with a melancholy edge.)

Unfortunately, his laptop died on him (we've all been there) in the middle of the set, but things quickly got back on track after a technological shuffle and a few apologies.

We spoke to him later when buying an EP (a bargainous £3) and he was such a lovely guy. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for future performances.

Kitsune's Chew Lips then took to the mircokorg-laden stage in a strange whirl of tweed and sequins, the whole room seemed to fill with energy. Comparisons with Yeah Yeah Yeahs and La Roux immediately sprang to mind, but there was something very likeable and unique about frontwoman Tigs.

All of a sudden there are some very cool girls on the music scene, doing their own thing and trying to out-crazy-outfit each other, and don't get me wrong -that's better for music than the uniform bikini dance routines of a couple of years ago... but it's all happened so quickly that it can sometimes be a little like 'Which one are you again?'

Tigs and Chew Lips, however, will have no such problem - she's gorgeous and stylish - but perhaps because fame is still relatively new, she's much easier to relate to than the usual popstar.

With a glittery arrow drawn on her face and buckets of charisma, she roared through a wicked set with bandmates James and Will at the electro-pop helm, telling us we were a wicked crowd when fans sang back to her during singles Solo and Salt Air.

The band later changed their facebook status to "Bristol was the best night of the tour, nice one peeps." Which was quite nice.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Give us your support | England 2018 Bid site

For all fans of the big game out there, Bristol is getting involved with England's bid to host the 2018 Football World Cup! So if you fancy seeing Peter Crouch getting his robot out on College Green then show your support and sign up below, and don't forget to click on Bristol as host city!

Give us your support England 2018 Bid site

There are games, downloads and loads of information, so check it out!


Thursday, 12 November 2009

In Remembrance

Yesterday, Bristol was silent to honour the brave men and women from the area who have fought and fallen for their country, with services at the MOD at Filton Abbey Wood and the Memorial Stadium.

After a fitting tribute parade through the centre on Sunday, the city again acknowledged the sacrifice of thousands at 11am with a two minute silence, marking the end of the first World War.

It's a difficult time for many with relatives serving right now in Afghanistan, but I've been proud to see so many poppies adorning chests, and see how many people really are aware, and grateful, to men like the late Harry Patch, one of the last surviving WWI veterans who died earlier this year, and was originally from Somerset.



The stock-check is finally over! Woo! I can now have my life back and devote my time to popdock once again. The day job includes Cabot-Circus-based retail mundanity, and every so often I have to work even longer hours...but I'll be doing loads more posts now I have internet and time, (not just dragging my cold feet through the front door long after the sun has set, too tired to even think about making tea) so there'll hopefully be some good, varied Brizzle shizzle up here!

If there's anyone out there doing anything interesting - whether you're a band, a troupe, a collective of any sort, or a ker-azy individual with something fun or lovely to share - then get in touch! I'd like to do a few more profiles - you just have to be loosely Bristol based.

Hope the cold isn't getting everyone down too much. Go check out the Broadmead German Christmas market - which looks set to be going live soon enough- it's enough to make Ebeneezer Scrooge don a pair of reindeer antlers with gay abandon! Pics up soon - for now all I'll say is: rotating two-storey Nativity scene... oh, yes.


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

gig no.2

Oxjam, Start The Bus

Yep, popdock did two gigs in one night, and we'll say it was a deliberate, well-timed effort rather than a happy accident after one too many pints of Thatcher's Gold... but no matter!

Start The Bus's juicy leg of the Oxjam celebrations culminated with a rather wicked performance from Bristol's own lil' legend Kid Carpet, and who else should have been there but the wonderful Jeff! (Blue beard explained later...)

In case anyone doesn't know, Kid is the ultimate geek-chic-bedroom-DJ: a connoisseur of children's toys - mashing plastic Fisher Price instruments with 80s casio keyboards to make his unique brand of 'shit-hop', as it was once labelled. Never afraid to take the piss, he launched into a brilliant remix of an old (crap) local radio advert for the "Bristol! Car-pet fact-ory!" mixed excellently with Starship's We Built This City.

"We built this city - Bristol! - We built this city - Bristol! - We built this city ..." music cuts.

Kid - "...on slavery."

And sadly, he's got a point.

Oxfam were at The Bus in force, using Oxjam to keep everyone aware of current global issues and what can be done to help for the future- which is why almost everyone had a bit of blue on their face... you know... climate change, cold....

A wicked little mash-up, with a good cause.


Monday, 2 November 2009

gig no.1

Camera Obscura - Thekla

Again, apologies for getting behind with posts. We're all go with t'interweb now, so regular updates from hereon in, I swear!

So, last Sunday popdock enjoyed a sweet, soulful treat aboard the beloved Thekla, from the likes of Camera Obscura and support, Magic Arm (below).
Despite a good cover of LCD Soundsystem's Daft Punk Are Playing At My House - keeping a lot of the original's coolness - there was a bit of awkward tension between songs, and the audience started to feel a bit restless.

Manchester based multi-instrumentalist Marc Rigelsford could certainly work his loops and pedals, but it seemed a little too confused - acoustic guitars and trumpets clashed with with electro synths - and it was difficult to get into, but by no means unpleasant.

The boat then began to get Busy, with an influx of folkies of all ages eager to hear the lush Parisian-style tones of the Glasgow five-piece named after the latin for dark room...yep, Camera Obscura!

Fronted by the effortlessly cool Tracyanne Campbell (below) their chic pop, akin to a sixties girl group that could play their own instruments and buy their own drinks, soon got toes a-tappin'.

Think Belle and Sebastian meets Nouvelle Vague with plenty of strings and catchy tambourines and you're halfway there. There's just enough British eccentricity in the group's dynamic (Campbell had a pair of heels brought on about five minutes into the set) and the bittersweet heartbreak lyrics to bring home how refreshing this smart, unique band are.

After just a little while, the quick stage banter, beatiful melodies and pretty dresses got everyone carried away enough to take part in the handclaps, shimmies and sways, or at the very least walking home kicking the Autumn leaves like they lived in a Chanel advert... Altogether lovely!


Thursday, 29 October 2009

Just to let y'all know, I don't have an internet connection at home at the moment- but this is being sorted as we speak! Expect major, mammothian style posts on Sunday!

I swear I haven't given up/forgotten popdock.....


Sunday, 25 October 2009

why don't you come on over, gallery?

FriendAndCo - 23/10/09

The space that once existed as teen rock haven The Level is now, following extensive refurbishment, possibly Bristol's newest and smallest gallery. Nestled in Park Row beside barbers du-jour Mack Daddy's, the guys at FriendAndCo threw their doors open to a considerable crowd not put off by that annoying piffly October rain. The show ranged from bright block colour collages to intricate pen illustrations from the likes of up-and-comingers Eine, Mr Jago, Mudwig, Will Barras and Xenz.


above 3, Mudwig

Mr Jago
below, the movers and shakers

A vibrant, exciting show, and from the numbers spilling onto the pavement for last night's opening (though there was free booze) it looks set to be a hit. It's on for a few weeks - I'll definitely be popping back in for a more detailed look around when it's less busy. Don't miss it!
xx p.d.
p.s. cheers go to Grant for Mudwig photos!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Quite Ignorant

Ended up accidentally going to two pub quizzes in one night... First at The Bank, which we were slightly too late to join and then at The Mother's Ruin, which we were on time for (and massively lost.)

A few too many pints of cider and an argument with the quizmaster about Popstars The Rivals later, a good synapse-exercising, quiet-ish night was had by a very small quiz team who did't even bring their own stationery.

Quiz sheet
I really like The Mother's Ruin - apart from the great name and pretty Hogwartsy St. Nicks location, it's an old-fashioned rock'n'roll kinda place. The decadent dark wallpaper and rock icon photos match the heavy soundtrack, which is really refreshing in these days of corporate chain-pubs and cheap chart bars.
The guy closing up came outside to take in the blackboards, and just looked at us, taking a picture of the sign. Some people, eh?

Monday, 19 October 2009

Street Style

Clocked out and about in Bristol today...
Queenie from Shrinking Violet
Bright accessories
Sweet cardigan
Just imagine the owner...
No socks.... and couldn't stop him on the phone!
Pink prints and shades in October

Saturday, 17 October 2009

much in the way of sniffles

Sorry! I've been pretty out of it with the stupid bug that's going around, so haven't done much worthy of blogging.

In the meantime, you can check out the Bristol Jam , the first festival in the whole of the U.K solely dedicated to improvisation - music, comedy, arts - you name it, they'll be making it up on the spot.

The new directors of the Old Vic Tom Morris and Emma Stenning came up with the idea, and enlisted a multitude of performers from beatboxer Beardyman to female clown Angela de Castro to start the party.
They said the festival is: "A tiny riot of improvised performance in some of the art forms which flourish across Bristol. There will be drama, music, dance, games, jazz, film, beatbox and other things which as yet have no name..."

Keep your eyes peeled until the 24th for some spontaneous fun around the city and at the theatre, and maybe even unleash the improviser locked deep within...

xx p.d