It’s easy to consider a city’s music scene and conclude that it is the bands and promoters that gives it it’s quality and identity. While to a certain extent this is true, venues are often much more significant. Bristol’s music scene is a great example. What makes Bristol’s venue structure work is a good spread of venue sizes, and this really is the key. Small venues like Mr Wolfs and open mic nights in Bristol provide the opportunity for new bands to get their first gigs. Once a little more established, mid-sized Venues like The Croft provide up and coming Bristol bands with support slots alongside national talent. Further headroom exists in larger venues supporting international artists.
As mentioned there are some great venues in Bristol to catch emerging, established and international talent. Gig venues are pretty consistent, however new venues seem to pop up now and again. Notable recent additions to Bristol’s fleet of live music venues include The Old Firestation (aka The Island and The Boneyard Bar) with occasional multi-room gigs and live music at The Canteen on Gloucester Road with bands every night.
Club venues in Bristol are much more transient. Every year new clubs seem to be opening and old favourites closing perhaps linked to the rapidly changing trends in dance music and a transient student population. That said, there are a few club stalwarts - most notably Lakota and the small, but excellent Timbuk2 (see whats on at Timbuk2). New (2009/2010) venues in Bristol include Crash Mansion (formerly Bar Latino) and Basement45. Of all the semi-recent club additions Motion is looking the most secure, with nights like Shit The Bed and Run promoting some of Bristol’s most big-budget line-ups for years.
When it comes to new djs looking for sets, things aren’t as easy with club venues as they are for gig venues. Generally, short of making fame as a producer, you’re looking at lots of 10pm, room 2 sets, hardcore networking or promoting your own events. For new promoters, small Bristol venues like Take Five and HushHush can be useful places to start. Summer can provide opportunities to promote clubnights in larger venues while many big promoters await the return of the students.