Thekla, the boat gig venue

Now this probably is one of the most unusual places, to have a music gig! That is right, this boat is the venue for many a bands playing to live audience in Bristol. While the audience gets to watch them, from the bilges of a moored vessel!

So I guess the first question is – how big is this boat that you can have a music gig here? – Up to 500 music lovers can climb aboard to listen to bands. Roughly 400 in the main area downstairs and, the remaining 100 in the bar above stairs – pretty decent!


So what can you expect to find here


Indie bands and alternative acts, can be generally found to be playing here. You can also listen to a lot of local talent, and the yet-to-be famous bands as well. Though, we should tell you this is not a place to hear candy pop music, the music generally teeters towards the more eclectic tastes. Some acts that have played here are Roachford, Jagwar Ma, 65daysofstatic, Laura Veirs, Poliça, Dismemberment Plan and Pere Ubu. Some of the acts you may recognise that have played here are Beth Orton, Squarepusher, Caribou and Patrick Wolf and Ash!

Apart from live band music, Thekla also puts together club, hip-hop, indie/alternative, house, garage, techno and bass music nights, on different days of the week. These are generally run in tandem with the band music, which means the live music has a 10 pm curfew.


Want some drinks


Don’t expect a sophisticated bar. They have Thatchers and Carlsberg on tap, and but of course Red Stripe (Bristol fav). However, if you would like to enjoy some lovely Ales and ciders, you can get a good selection. Your other standard, mixers and spirits are also available. Oh, and but of course they serve Rum! General prices £3.50 for a bottle/pint.


Zee acoustics


Well, you are essentially standing underwater, in a tin room to listen music. Given that, the acoustics are pretty good, and you get a regular night club like, clean music from the ‘tin room’. Though if you do hear the guitars twang out of tune, then blame it on the hot and sweaty room on crowded nights. Plus, it is not for the ‘faint eared’ i.e., the music can be loud. So if you are not ‘loud eared’ get some cotton for them!


A little bit of background


The captains of this novelty boat venue is, the husband wife duo of Viv Stanshall and Ki. In the early part of the 80’s it had a very interesting name – ‘The Old Profanity Showboat’. It used to be presented as a theatre on water routine. However, such eclectic tastes or superior branding were not recognised by the NME and they labelled it as a ‘floating toilet’. So the captain decided to overhaul the boat, with some uber cool looks, and rebranded the ship! Their efforts have now been recognised by the NME, and two years in a row (2011 and 2012) they named them the Best Small Venue in the South West.

A local Banksy has adorned the boat, with a rowing skeleton image. You can see it from the other side of the harbor.

So if you are planning to visit, here is a bit of those tiny details you may need to know!

• They have a cloakroom so no sweltering with the coat on or losing track of it in the crowd (or worse have someone drop their drink on it!)
• Well, they do have to pay the bills so they have an admission fee – GBP 6 – 13
• The local council frowns on using the local waters as a toilet. Hence, the venue provides you fully functional toilets. Though, we have heard from users, if you are drunk it may be hard to search for them!
• You do not have to bring bags of food, they will feed you at a price
• Snail Mail address – The Grove, East Mud Dock, Bristol BS1 4RB
• If you would like to find out if you can bring a lifeguard along call them – 0117 929 3301
• For those of you who want to know the latest without talking –
• How to get there via public transport: Bristol Temple Meads train station is a 10-minute walk away. Bus routes 24, 25, 50, 52, 75, 76, 90, 121, 902, 903 and 904 stop on The Grove, right by the venue.
• For those of you blessed with a car – there’s also a council-run car park outside; £2.50 to park all evening after 6pm.

Technically speaking, you can take a boat, and row over, given the Thekla is in the water!