Gig Review: Under the Hill Launch Party
by Tom Stockley
After their debut at Brixton's Hootananny, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang arrived in Bristol on Friday with a line up of live jazz, funk and DJs at the infamous Attic Bar.
Here to get us in the mood for the upcoming Under The Hill Festival, self-made DJ and promoter Rich Hale AKA Mista Trick delivered a perfect line up of local legends and touring talent. In typical Stokes Croft fashion, the crowd were late to the party; giving first act Mr. Fitz some time to play around with his line of "funk, swing and everything in-between". Fitz dipped our toes into a tranquil hour of instrumental hip hop with his signature scratch technique (the perfect remedy to shake off those memories of a working week) before upping the anti and spinning tracks from the likes of 'Funky DL' as well as his own meticulous mashups. By the time he was finished, Attic Bar was a sea of bouncing snapbacks - pretty impressive for the mellow side of midnight.
The sophomore star of the night was Bristol's own China Bowls - a rapidly rising name and well worth the hype. One of the current names in Bristol's burgeoning jazz scene, the young neo-soul singer has already been snapped up by Saffron Records and Electric Harmony. With a full backing band (featuring Snazzback's Chris Langton), it's clear that China (real name Lucy) is one of the hardest working musicians in town right now. Their set was an uninterrupted ride through 2016's blues-tinged Talk EP as well as more recent tracks like 'To Belong' - a step towards the smooth pop of Lianne La Havas or classical jazz greats like Etta Jones. It's clear that China Bowls is not so easily pinned down though - Lucy occupies the role of composer, guitarist and conductor as well as lead singer, and with a vast collection of influences ranging from Chilli Peppers style funk to R&B and House, we recommend seeing her live as soon as you can (if not sooner). If 'making a baby at a public venue' is on your bucket list, this is the music to do it to.
The penultimate pleasure-makers of the night were Crinkle Cuts, another Bristol-based act. Promising a blend of "tantric funk, smooth reggae and new-wave latin", the septet didn't fail to deliver a sensual display of ska-based aural antics. Although the spectacle-wearing collective haven't released anything since 2015's Bigger Than Patrick, it's clear that they've been anything but quiet in the last three years. Chatting to the band before their set, they alluded to a recent attempt to push their sound towards a more intense abyss of brass-led funk - citing influences as heavy as Skindred. Although songs like 'Two Shoes' offer a saccharine escape from the real world of the 9 til 5, it seems like the Crinkle crew are digging deeper both lyrically and musically - pushing the boundaries of various genres and experimenting more as performers. Friday's show saw solo breaks from just about every instrument at hand (including the finest jazz flute since Ron Burgundy) from a band who were enjoying the show with as much abandon as the audience. Ones to watch this Summer and beyond - they release their debut album next year. We especially recommend Crinkle Cuts for anyone who's on the lookout for jazz songs about testicles.
London-based DJ Fizzy Gillespie closed the night with a set of swing-tinged Drum 'n' Bass. No stranger to Boomtown, Cirque Du Soul, Global Beats and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang itself (and heralded by Dutty Moonshine as "balls to the wall fun times") Fizzy appears at this year's Under The Hill Fest. For the well-below average ticket price of £45, you can make your first festival of the Summer one to remember with a line-up including A. Skillz, Tankus The Henge, The Undercover Hippy and DJs like Fizzy across two days ( May 25th - 27th). Volunteers and emerging artists can get involved via the festival website.
This article was originally published on We Are Uncollective, On the Beat are delighted to republish this review with permission from Tom.
Tom Stockley is the founder and creative director of We Are Uncollective. He currently lives in Bristol where he dabbles in spoken word, artist management, workshops and event management. He's a Creative Producer for Under The Hill 2018.