It’s not unusual for it to rain in Bristol, but – comparatively – it rarely floods. Yet the same weekend Submerge Festival came to town, Bristol did indeed become completely ‘submerged’.
Did this new hybrid arts and music festival act as Bristol’s rain dance and invoke some kind of ritualistic weather modification? With blood being shed in a church as part of the festival programme, you never know…
This year’s festival theme was ‘fathoms’ and it represented a metaphorical journey to the bottom of the ocean and back. The event ran from Friday to Sunday, and what followed was an un-holy amount of water that stopped trains, busses and even planes. The flash floods even wrote off 15 cars in Whitchurch, as they sunk under 5 feet of liquid, and it became almost impossible to reach or escape from Bristol via the M32.
…But maybe the ‘escape’ had already occurred. Maybe the festival organisers idea of taking one giant deep breath and diving into the dark waters of our drowned world was actually closer to reality then we realised. There’s no denying that 2016 has proved to be one of the shitter years in history, so maybe it was about time we allow ourselves to be immersed in expressive art, and the rain that came at the forefront was just a grounding reminder that extra traffic and minor damage is, on the whole, an insignificant problem.
We will say however, that although Submerge festival featured some top audio and visual artists, elements of it delved slightly beyond our comfort zone. Once again that might be what Bristol needed, though you can make your own mind up about the goings on at the Church of St Thomas. The event Ghosts has been described as almost ‘sacrilegious to watch’, and featured two artists chained together via multiple body piercings. They start off in a close embrace, then gradually move apart until, well yeah… That’s when there was blood.
Even that though held a certain beauty to the eye of the beholder. Every element of this festival captured a sense of our own lost souls, and opened our eyes to art often hidden by the materialistic harshness of a celebritised reality.
One event that was a bit more easy on the eyes was Dive at Colston Hall. It featured one of our favourite producers Koreless, a giant mirror and hundreds of lasers. It not only gave you a complete sense of euphoria as you were sucked into a dark but ever so beautiful black hole, supported by the most soulful electronics. But also created a water world in which you could evaluate your own existence while staring up to the rippling surface of water.
This truly was an eye-opening festival, in which every event completely enthralled its audience (good or bad). The floods that followed may have just been a coincidence, but it allowed us to open up our eyes underwater and truly see the beauty of our world, despite the many grey clouds that hover above it.
Photo credit: Paul Blakemore