February 14th | Thekla
Photos: Naomi Williams
On Friday night, Philadelphia-born singer-songwriter, Alexander Giannascoli, or (Sandy) Alex G to most, stopped in Bristol to play his hotly-anticipated, sell-out show to a modest crowd of eager fans and cosy Valentines. The tour follows Alex G’s eighth studio album, House of Sugar, which has received waves of critical acclamation since it dropped in the autumn of last year.
The self-proclaimed ‘apocalypse party’, Pet Shimmers, lent support for the main event, just two weeks after the release of their debut album, Face Down in Meta. As if accommodating an eight-strong band, plus instruments on Thekla’s stage wasn’t enough of a squeeze, the group opted to form in a long, horizontal line at the feet of the audience. There was certainly something refreshing about this no-frontman approach, with a number of pleasantly-surprised mumbles from the audience affirming this.
Performing on home turf, the group kicked off the evening with the tinny instrumentals of ‘Super Natural Teeth’. Although limited to playing just a handful of tracks, Pet Shimmers managed to showcase their spectrum of pre-album singles, such as ‘Post-Dick Circle Fuck’ and ‘Tyson’ while throwing in some newer material too.
After the half-hour interlude passed, Alex G took to the stage, clad in ragged clothes to match his somewhat ragged musical style. The artist began his set with the haunting beat of ‘Gretel’, switching up House of Sugar’s order by playing ‘Southern Sky’, the track preceding ‘Gretel’, immediately after. Although the set list was heavily loaded with newer material, Giannascoli weaved in tracks such as ‘Bobby’ and ‘Brick’ from his 2017 project, Rocket, and ‘Kute’ from 2015’s Trick. Where ‘House of Sugar’ carries a looming undertone of mellow nostalgia, the varied set list enabled moments of sentimentally-charged grunge, performed by Alex G, quite literally though gritted teeth.
At half past nine, looking like an incredibly conservative finish, the artist announced he’d be playing his final track, opting for the recent album’s woozily romantic closer, ‘SugarHouse’ – a “song for the lovers.” Within moments of their stage departure, however, Alex G and his all-American band re-appeared. Swigging from a communal bottle of Moët, the artist began taking requests from the eclectic mix of polite late-twenty-somethings and yelling, angsty teens. The encore ensued for a good half hour, allowing Giannascoli to showcase a solid chunk of his remarkable discography.
Seeing a pioneer in the field of lo-fi bedroom pop, a comfortable showman and eager crowd-pleaser, and taking the uber-reasonable ticket prices into consideration, it’s pretty certain that few will have left Friday’s show disappointed.
See the video for ‘In My Arms’ here: