28th September | Exchange
Photos: Andrzej Zajac
“We will play for 45 minutes, during which you will see further evidence of why we are the best band in the world.”
Damien Sayell, vocalist in Bristol’s The St Pierre Snake Invasion, has never been shy in preaching the virtues of his band, albeit in a tongue-in-cheek manner. With the release of second album Caprice Enchanté earlier this year, though, there now feels like a genuine sense among the band that they have created something really special.
TSPSI are sharing headlining duties on this nine-date nationwide tour with Oxfordshire two-piece, Cassels. Themselves supporting a new album, The Perfect Ending, Cassels quickly endear themselves to the Bristol crowd with their sometimes-curious melding of heavy riffage, lo-fi weirdness and rampant experimentalism. Song structures have no boundaries here, and the musicianship is exceptional. Occasionally it feels like Cassels might be better served by a more conventional approach, but with some strong serious moments filed away nicely between the noisy bits, there is plenty to admire here, a bit of something for everyone.
Then on come the hometown heroes, and as with the album, tonight’s set explodes straight away with the breathless ‘The Safety Word is Oklahoma’. By the time second song, ‘Remystery’ is halfway through, the room is already a roiling moshpit, never to relent. The band respond in kind with an energized, fiery performance.
For ‘Casanovacaine’, the left-handed Sayell plays his guitar piece with an upside-down right-handed guitar. Why not just use a left-handed guitar? Just an excuse to show off, really. “If you’ve got it, flaunt it,” he says. We’d expect nothing less.
Album centrepiece, ‘Carroll A. Deering’, with its multiple sections and tempos, is also a highlight here. The flow of this song is masterful and exhilarating, a ‘Paranoid Android’ for the hardcore genre, a wild journey packed into under four minutes. For the breakdown, bassist Sanjay Patel ventures into the moshpit, just to fire everyone up that little bit more.
Sayell produces a melodica (remember those?) for ‘I Am the Lonely Tourist’. “This belongs to Adam Devonshire of IDLES. He’s not getting it back. He can afford a new one.” If there ends up being no melodica on the next IDLES record, now you know why.
There is a serious side to this band too, though. In his introduction for ‘Braindead’, Sayell bemoans the ‘Machiavellian shit’ that is rife in modern politics, and the band play the song with an anger that backs up the message. Sayell also rails against how the gentrification of his adopted hometown is destroying its character. “Make Bristol Shit Again!” shouts someone from the crowd. Everyone else in the room nods in agreement.
Sayell closes out the set with a walk across the Exchange ceiling, with turns perilously close to a head-first spearing into the Exchange floor. Disaster narrowly averted, Sayell contemplates the future. “If all the shows on this tour are as good as this one, I might be able give up,” he says. He’d better not, not when the world is just catching up to The St Pierre Snake Invasion’s brilliance. The band are playing with a joy and confidence that reflects the astonishing record that they have just unleashed on the world.
See the video for ‘Braindead’ here: