Bristol has a well-supported live music scene with many small venues putting on local and touring acts. The small venues are generally fine about allowing photography so it’s a great way to capture memorable images of up and coming bands.
Generally, unobtrusive photography is fine at small venues so you won’t need a press pass or special permission. Sadly, the best small venues are incredibly gloomy so dazzling ‘concert photography’ is not going to be possible. A sub-f2 prime lens or two is ideal for dingy gig photography. I usually go with a ‘plastic fantastic’ Canon 50mm 1.8 and 85mm 1.8 and a Canon DSLR. Two cameras can also help so you can have a wider lens and a longer lens for tighter crops, especially if it’s an elbow-crowded venue where it’s hard to move around freely
For gigs I shoot manual mode, or sometimes aperture priority where the lighting is more straightforward. I tend to be at around a shutter speed of around 1/160, a little more if I can get it, as that’s fast enough to just about freeze motion but slow enough to make a good exposure possible at high ISO.
Motion-blurred photographs a 1/50 or less are ruined shots to my eyes. I’ll usually spot meter the performer’s face. If you can get the face exposed you’ve got yourself a picture but if the face is too underexposed there probably won’t be much else of interest visible.
I’ll chimp the histograms on the back of my camera now and again. I don’t mind a lot of black in the images but want to see something at the highlight end.