Bristol Music Scene – Part One

A Thriving Music Scene

This month we take a look at the thriving music scene in Bristol. Is it as fast pace and engaging as London? We certainly think so. The music scene here in Bristol is different to what’s happening in London yes, but that’s not to say one is better than the other. There are many Bristol based musicians doing very well in the area and commuting into London as and when they need to. Over a two part series we will delve a little deeper into the best venues, recording studios, music retailers & educational services to visit in Bristol. What does Bristol have to offer its public and what really puts it on the map. I personally love living in Bristol due to its diversity and amazing music scene, I’ve met and performed with some of the best musicians in Bristol and that’s something I’m extremely proud of.

Living In Bristol

Bristol Music Venues 

Wherever you live in Bristol you’re never far away from great live entertainment and music, either at your local pub, social club or music venue. Some of the best musicians in Bristol continue to perform at pubs and clubs as they enjoy the thrill of performing. Plus it beats sitting at home in front the tele watching the X Factor. I can talk first hand about the pay not being something you’re going to retire on, but never the less its still enjoyable for any musician to perform to an audience wherever it may be. After all isn’t that why we all learn to play an instrument such as the guitar in the first place, we would all like to share our passion and achievements with others to enjoy. Let’s take a look at what the venues have to say about their iconic locations.

The Fleece

The Fleece is an established music venue for live indie music gigs in a former Victorian wool hall with a flagstone floor. Legendary live music venue situated in the heart of Bristol offering live music and club nights 7 nights per week since 1982!

The Fleece is a grade II* listed building, first used as a sheep trading market in the 1800s, hence the name! Since welcoming new management in 2010, the venue has seen a massive refurbishment, allowing for a 450-standing capacity, complete will full accessibility for disabled customers.

Bristol largest independent venue has hosted the likes of Radiohead, Idles, Oasis, Muse, Skinny Lister, Jeff Buckley, Coldplay, Amy Winehouse, Frank Carter & Rattlesnakes, Queens Of The Stone Age, The Darkness, Yonaka, George Ezra and Ed Sheeran to name few!

The Fleece, Bristol is the perfect venue in which to host bands and artists on the up-and-up as well as major acts. Our licensing allows us to accommodate for live music events between 6:00pm – 23:00pm, and club nights between 23:00pm – 04:00am. We can also accommodate all-day events on Saturdays and Sundays. We are fully licensed up until 04:00am.”

The Louisiana

“The Louisiana is a 140 capacity, family run venue that takes pride in putting on the best musicians and giving both them and the audience the perfect communion. This is something we’ve been working on for over 25 years.

There was a fire at The Fleece, Bristol in 1996, and two local promoters asked if they could use the room upstairs at The Louisiana instead. We said yes, and in the first week Placebo and Super Furry Animals played here… at the time, we didn’t even have a stage.

Gianni built a stage a week later, which was lucky because within weeks more promoters were involved and we were staging gigs on a regular basis. We’d get up-and-coming DJs in only charging people 50p entry; The Chemical Brothers played one of these and we even started doing club nights in the basement at weekends.

Over the years, The Louisiana has been seen as a barometer for new bands. The first time The Scissor Sisters played here it was as support to a Bristol band, but by the third time we had to escort them to the stage so they wouldn’t get mobbed. It was the same with Florence and the Machine, and The National – who first played here to 20 people and now they’re playing to 20,000. We’ve always been the first port of call for most new bands doing a national tour.”

O2 Academy

O2 Academy Bristol has been hosting quality live shows from the brightest new acts and classic performers, and nights from the biggest club brands, since 2001 when it opened with a sell-out performance from Ocean Colour Scene. The venue’s history stretches back to November 1966, when it opened as the ABC cinema as part of a huge entertainment hub called The New Bristol Centre and was also known as the ‘Rock’, Bristol’s super-club, for a short period before opening as the Academy.

Bristol is renowned for its vibrant music scene and O2 Academy Bristol has provided plenty of memorable moments and iconic performances to support this reputation. In the first year of opening the quality of artists playing spoke volumes with Faithless, Ian Brown, Gorillaz all performing and in May 2002 DJ Shadow was joined by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke for a live rendition of ‘Rabbit In Your Headlights’. Elbow, Kendrick Lamar, Foals, Arcade Fire, Amy Winehouse and Kings of Leon have all performed at O2 Academy Bristol over the years and some of the biggest club names and DJs have played to sold-out crowds. Annie Mac presents, One Nation, Bedlam and Sidewinder are regulars at the venue alongside resident club night Ramshackle, Bristol’s notorious weekly rave featuring guest DJs and an eclectic mash up of all that’s good in music.”

Bristol Music Retailers – ★★★ MGTB Top Three ★★★

PMT Bristol 

Right here in Bristol we are home to some of the best music retailers. Have you visited PMT in Bristol and gazed lovingly at the array of guitars on the walls? If you’ve not been here before then you’re in for a treat. Dont forget to speak with your tutor before you visit as we can get you the best discounts. With a huge open space catering for electric & acoustic guitars, Bass guitars, keyboards & pianos to studio equipment and PA’s. They’ve got everything covered and friendly staff to assist you with your purchase. Being a nationwide chain store PMT offer the most competitive prices and will price match reputable retailers online. Providing your item is cheaper and in stock at another store PMT will price match.

Stock Availability   ★★★★★

Customer Service   ★★★★★

Prices                        ★★★★★

Total                          ★★★★★

Verdict – This tends to be the place I start when looking for an instrument as there’s not a lot PMT can’t get hold of for you. Best for availability and prices. Only real negative I can say would be it might be too overwhelming for new musicians due to its size and it’s a busy store.


Situated on the corner of Stokes Croft and Gloucester Road is the lovely shop that is Mickleburgh’s. The upstairs is littered with top end keyboards and Pianos while the downstairs is full to the brim with guitars, amplifiers and accessories. I’ve always found this shop to be very welcoming and a great place to visit if you’re looking for something a little different and away from the hustle and bustle of busy PMT. This is also a great place to stock up on your educational materials, music books, guitar tablature, manuscript paper and even musical pens, its a great place to go looking for something to inspire your learning and it has a really relaxed atmosphere.

Stock Availability   ★★★★

Customer Service   ★★★★★

Prices                        ★★★★

Total                          ★★★★

Verdict – This is a great place to visit for something a little different and they also offer piano tuning and delivery services, equipment maintenance and rentals. Downside is the stock is not as affluent as in PMT but it’s a much more intimate place to visit if you want to try out a possible new guitar.

Heron Music 

Travel out of town a little further into Whitehall and you’ll stumble across the gem that is Heron music. This is where my parents purchased my first ever instrument so it will always holds a place dear to my heart. I’m also very happy this shop is still there as it’s situated out of town and not on a busy high-street. It’s the kind of shop you really need to know about to find as it’s not the sort of place you are just likely to stumble upon. If you’re looking for something a little different or to pick up a used guitar then this is the place to visit, a real Aladdins cave of equipment.

Stock Availability   ★★★

Customer Service   ★★★★★

Prices                        ★★★★

Total                          ★★★★

Verdict – Definitely worth a trip out of town to this gem. You might find yourself a bargain or something really rare you were looking for. They also offer guitar & amplifier repairs & rentals. Only downside is that it’s a very small shop, but that’s not to say it’s not packed with great things.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading part one of our Bristol Music Scene Blog. Look out for part two next month. Don’t forget to share this post with friends and family or anyone you might feel would enjoy the read.

Have a great month guys and I’ll catch you all soon,

Rich @ MGTB 

Director - Richard Hillyer - Bristol Musician

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