31.01.24

Simple Things with Crack’s Tom Frost

Bristol’s critically acclaimed Simple Things Festival is back! The forward-facing festival of music culture is, as ever, leading the pack with its innovative programming across multiple venues in Bristol on 24th February.

We grabbed the opportunity to chat with the Director and Co-Founder of Crack Magazine Tom Frost, one of the faces behind the festival, to get his insight on what’s not to be missed. We talked about the history of the festival, the iconic Bristol Beacon and why the Crack Magazine team love calling Gather Round Brunswick Square, home.

Can you tell us about how Crack Magazine and Simple Things came about?

Crack was a bedroom project between myself and schoolmate Jake Applebee. I was a journalist, Jake was a graphic designer and fresh out of uni we thought we could marry our two professions. Crack was born out of the 2009 recession when there was nothing better to do! It’s definitely a labour of love that has long since morphed into a successful functioning business. We’ve been going for nearly 15 years and is still going from strength to strength. It’s multiple things now; a design agency, magazine, live events, and we have a big involvement in Simple Things festival. It’s been a wonderful journey.

Simple Things is a multi-venue festival that was actually started by Saul Minshall and Matthew Aitken, just the two of them, about 15 years ago.

After the festival had two successful years, I had a drunken conversation with Matt about how Crack could support the festival from a booking, design, ticketing and visual perspective. So that was how it began. Eight further editions down the line and we’re still here. Team Love is our production partner, they typically organise much bigger events including Love Saves The Day and Glastonbury’s Silver Hayes, so it all works really well.

‘Simple Things Festival is Crack’s musical pin-drop’

The way I describe Simple Things is that it’s the live manifestation of everything we have in Crack, the two are inherently connected. If you look at most of the bigger acts that play Simple Things there’s a very good chance they’ve passed through the magazine at some point. We see Simple Things as Crack’s musical pin-drop, loads of new acts we champion in the magazine play at the festival.

What is going to be the stand-out venue of Simple Things?

It’s hard to look past the Bristol Beacon being the standout venue this year. Because of the length of time it’s been under renovation and also because of our history there. Our biggest editions have always had the Beacon as the centre point of the day. That space rarely gets used in that way – you know, a whole venue takeover. A real celebration of music.

A lot of people’s most memorable Simple Things moments have been in the Beacon. The renovation, though costing a fair bit of money, is incredible and has transformed the building into a world-class concert hall. There are a couple of new spaces too, the biggest one being the new cellar renovation which we’ve earmarked for some very ravey business. It’s going to be an archway sweatbox for most of the day, so we are very excited to see that functioning. We’re the first promoter to take over the whole venue since the refurb and we’re really excited for it, and are keen to get back in there after a two-edition break.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the festival?

I think with Simple Things there’s always just this great mix of incredibly experimental, forward-thinking music.

I’m very excited about Les Savy Fav, a classic, really high-energy celebratory punk act that people die for. If you like them you love them. They hardly ever tour, and they are coming to the UK to play just two gigs, so that’s going to be a great afternoon headliner. On a more expansive, electronic level we’ve got Max Cooper who’s a must for people who like Jon Hopkins. He is in the main room with a huge, double screen and it is an amazing visual production. I’ve seen a sneak preview of that and it’s gonna be very big.

Flowdan in The Lantern is not to be missed, he has recently been working with Fred Again and FourTet and his voice is so distinctive and iconic. The night time programme sees the superb label Wisdom Teeth showcase at Strange Brew, which will roll to 5am.

Why did you choose to bring the Crack team to Gather Round?

The location is much more suitable than our previous office. Back there it was just one big room and nowhere to have meetings. We love the classic, higgledy-piggledy design of Brunswick Square – lots of little rooms and breakout spaces. After visiting Cigar Factory when they were building this space, we really believed in the vision of the venture. It is an upgrade for us on every level. We are keen to be a part of a community and have other creative people around us. It’s also beautifully decorated, great facilities and the people are lovely, we rate it!

Simple Things Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary on 24th February with a daylong programme of events across venues in central Bristol. All Gather Round members get a 25% discount!

Tickets are available here