The immediate history of The Crofters Rights in Bristol sees a fairly logical progression for the 300 capacity venue. Previously, The Croft, the pub/venue was forced to close in 2013 after an 11-year run that had seen small venue host gigs from the like of the Arctic Monkeys before their global breakthrough. The Pub is situated in, and gets its name from, Stokes Croft, the area of Bristol that saw a protest against a new Tesco escalate into a riot and boasts a Banksy mural depicting a Teddy bear throwing a petrol bomb at riot police. The area's resistance to gentrification is well represented, demonstrated by the formation of the People's Republic of Stokes Croft (PRSC) an activist organisation that promotes street art over development.
Thankfully, in 2014, the new owners of what became The Crofters Rights were more interested in music than they were redevelopment, though they put their stamp on the venue with 17 craft beers and ciders on tap and a pizza menu.
"To be a part of Bristol’s world-class music output is humbling and we do our utmost to support all the micro-scenes and sub-sub genres Bristol has to offer. Hosting 50+ events a month allows us to have an eclectic programming policy and affords us the dream opportunity to accommodate some brilliant events and bookings. Due to the intimate nature of the backroom, it is perfect for up and coming touring bands such as King Ayisoba, 30/70, Goat and Husky Loops and a stepping stone for local bands like This Is The Kit, The St Pierre Snake Invasion, Heavy Lungs and Ishmael Ensemble. By night the venue transforms into a haven for outernational tropical dance music, strips back for heavier house, techno, DnB and grime events and, with our huge mirrorball, we attract a good few disco club nights." - Nick O'Neill - Music Programmer, The Crofters Rights
It's worth noting that Stokes Croft's reputation for uprisings goes back further than a couple of Bankys appearing in the early '00s. A familiar-sounding tale in the age of venues succumbing to developers' noise complaints, in 1837 a complaint by landowners resulted in the annual fair being cancelled for fear of undesirable behaviour, resulting in another riot. The area remained dilapidated after being bombed in WWII while post-war reparations focussed on Bristol's more central districts, and as is often the case, the counterculture began to fill the void left by mainstream business and establishment.
As if to prove the resistance credentials of Stokes Croft, IDLES filmed the video for 'Great', from their album 'Joy as an Act of Resistance' at The Crofters Rights.
Recent bookings at The Crofters Rights include BABii, Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, Haiku Hands and Du Blonde, not to mention a host of bands from Bristol's thriving local scene. Live shows sit alongside regular club nights such as the energetic disco night 'Bodywork' with its '80s workout video vibe, and 'Erattic Batting' which as the name suggests celebrates the eclectic showcasing lineups of varied and niche acts and bands.
Loved by locals and visitors hoping to soak up Bristol's bohemian air, The Crofters Rights serves its community well. A meeting place, not just gigs but, also eating and socialising, it's held the threat of corporate coffee shops and homogenised pub chains at bay. A vibrant venue, reflecting the Stokes Croft populous and its reluctance to settle for mediocre high street blandness or neglect.