So I was in the upstairs room of The Stag & Hounds - which I swear must have been somebody’s living room in the past - listening to the last gig of Crash Paris and looking impatiently at my watch. They were a fun band, but not the reason I came, and they were running over time. I kept looking behind me at the door, still wondering if Hunter Valentine would show up. One time I turn around, and right through the door I see no one else but Kiyomi, the lead singer, casually leaning against the wall and looking into the room with a slight smirk.
“Jenn, JENN, Kiyomi’s behind us.”
“Kiyomi. She’s behind us.”
I turn around again, and of course, Kiyomi’s not there anymore. Great. Now I look like a schizophrenic, which is incredibly not part of my diagnosis.
I’m not really into being the crazy fan type - being a creative person I know how people, be they performers, photographers or actors, get overly glamourised by the masses, and counting many pretty successful local musicians in my close friend circle I know better than most that they’re just people, and although some may like it, that kinda treatment is often alienating. But, I have to admit I was super excited. Hunter Valentine was a sort of growing up/coming of age band for me - when I started listening to them through a recommendation of a stranger who saw I loved the Distillers, I was still living with my somewhat abusive mother, I was 16 and miserable, and pretty much an emotionally unavailable train-wreck. Since then I moved out, loved, got my heart stomped over, discovered my passion for photography, had my first relationship, managed to get through college, got into uni, fell in love with Bristol, and most remarkably, fell happily in love and found a true partner and best friend in Jenn. It’s been one hell of a journey.
When I started listening to HV, they were a band of three: Kiyomi, Laura, and Adrienne, and it’s been two years since they released their first album. I was obsessed with their music and I remember thinking to myself “Fuck, there’s no way this small band from Canada is gonna make it to the UK. I’m gonna have to go to the States if I wanna see them”. But HV persevered and especially over the past couple of years, began receiving the kind of recognition I believe they deserve. And holy fucking shit, they were going to play in Bristol.
Back to the gig: so we were listening to Crash Paris, I just hallucinated Kiyomi, and Jenn turned to me:
“I’m gonna go to the bathroom. Don’t move”
I think Crash Paris managed to play two songs before my girlfriend was finally back.
“Come with me, NOW.”
I really wasn’t about to lose my ‘so close to the stage if I was a nut I could reach out and touch the performers’ spot - plus there was a chair behind me which I intended to climb to take some pictures when HV came on.
“I just met Kiyomi in the bathroom. COME.”
Okay, so maybe I was gonna give up that spot after all.
We leave the room and walk into the hallway and I see Kiyomi walking out of another small hallway to the side. She saw us and threw us a super casual:
Then we followed her back into the hallway where she was sitting with Leanne, the new bass player. We had a chat about their earlier gig in Candy Bar, she thanked us for coming out, asked if we want to take pictures, and we got out of their hair to slither back to the front before they started.
After one last song from Crash Paris, they finally made it to the front.
“Hey Bristol. So thanks for inviting us to your parents’ house… clearing the furniture… we are gonna have a house party -“
Whopping from the now filled to the brim room followed. She had a point, this honestly looked like somebody’s living room.
“Come on man, switch off the lights!”
Sound guy obliged and shut them off for a moment, leaving everyone in pitch black darkness. For a moment I thought they were gonna play in the dark, and I was super excited for the prospect, but then I thought about the implications of being in this tiny space and all the cables and equipment lying around.
Anyway, I won’t ramble on much longer as my attention span with a slight hangover isn’t so great - maybe I’ll add more later - but all in all, HV were fucking amazing. Kiyomi and Laura were especially great performers and they rocked the little space they were given. They sounded fantastic live and they were super funny, super charming, super nice, super hot on stage. Me and Jenn made it out with a T-shirt each and the memory of one of the best gigs we’ve been to.
THE END (for now)