Photos (c) Laure Noverraz

Mondays suck – Mondays in January suck even more – Mondays in January when David Bowie dies is the suckiest of the suck. So, it’s a relief that Art is Hard are hosting one of the best Bristol line-ups 2016 will ever see: Two White Cranes, Bruising and headliners Diet Cig. That’s a line-up that will make this sucky Monday turn into a beer swigging, butt-swerving, favourite Monday.

Two White Cranes rarely plays alone these days; often accompanied by a few band members, it’s a rare treat to witness Roxy Brennan showcasing the songs in their truest, stripped-back form. Everyone hangs on her every word, Brennan allowing us insight into her world, if only for a poignant moment.

Her lyrics are so personally affecting that you can’t help but put down your beer and take notice; with melodies as catchy as she makes ’em, you find yourself nodding along instantly, “So much water, so close to home” ringing around your head hours after you leave the venue.

Touring with Los Campensinos and playing slots with Girl Band, Menace Beach and Alex G is going to get you noticed. 2015 was, as they say, a ‘break-out’ year for Bruising and rightly so – their songs evoking a punk sensibility but with beautiful, poppy melodies.

Tonight, they play a set featuring recent(ish) tracks ‘Honey’ and ‘Emo Friends’ – the latter with lyrics like “I feel alone when I’m with you” cleverly juxtaposing the happy-go-lucky instrumentation. It’s the kind of set that, even though you’re feeling crappy about stuff – exes, jobs, no-hope-for-the-future-with-our-kinda-government-sadness – Bruising make the blow a little softer; a reassuring arm around your shoulder as you jump around to yet another catchy chorus.

Diet Cig are just plain adorable. It’s instantly noticeable how chuffed the two-piece are to be in our country, with vocalist and guitarist Alex smiling from ear-to-ear from the moment she faces us. That smile never falters and neither does the energy; with two-pieces, it’s always a cliche to say “Wow, you sound much fuller than I thought you would” but these two seriously ~kill~ it. Noah’s relentless bashing providing the perfect backdrop to Alex’s crisp, stay-in-your-head-for-days melodies, she constantly encourages the crowd to loosen up and get weird.

And get weird we do – there’s a lot of times during shows, especially shows featuring ~cool~ bands where people tend to just stand around and ~look cool~ but with Alex basically giving no shits and having the time of her life, you can’t help but join in. Arms waving, butts shaking, we all shout “I just waaaaaaana daaaaaaaance” during the finale of ‘Scene Sick’.

This little two piece created an atmosphere of absolute unison – the kind of joy where your face hurts from smiling too much, your throat hurts from singing along too hard and your feet hurt from dancing ’til you can dance no more. Sweat dripping from the ceiling, soaked into the carpet and flung from swishing hair, it’s a set that rid the crowd of their every day woes, transporting them into a world where no one gives a damn about what you wear or how you dance.

Check out ‘Scene Sick’ right here: