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The St Pierre Snake Invasion, Black Sixteen, Death Koolaid – Camden Unicorn, 11th Of April 2015

Somewhat Damaged pic 4 St Pierre Snake Invasion
Somewhat Damaged is a regular alt-rock night hosted in Camden’s Unicorn pub.  I’m late and I’ve missed the opening act. I’ve said a few hellos to mates on my way to the stage and am primed to give Death Koolaid a chance to impress me.

I mentally list bullet points as they appear:

  1. Gwar on speed.
  2. Black handprints on the guitarists chest.
  3. Drummer’s in a mask.  Of course.
  4. Cover of Breath by The Prodigy. The collaboration between the sound man and whatever effect the bassist is going through ought to win some kind of live music equivalent of an Oscar.  Nicely done.
  5. Siren Sycho (dont know her real name, sorry) has a very good voice, screaming in tune old school style.  Think Courtney Love circa ‘Live Through This.

Death Koolaid utilise a dark punk rock sound and aesthetic to get people dancing.  Or stomping, rather.  Lead guitarist, Roy Darkwater, commands the crowd to stamp to the beat of a tune whilst the dude in front of me offers me a science beaker of some purple juice.  Nice of him, but I decline.  It’s only later during the set that I realise everyone’s been handed these drinks by the band.  Good gimmick, fun band – Death Koolaid.

 

Black Sixteen look good; gotta love red ties against black shirts.  But yeah, the music. Maybe I’m still in drum mode after watching Whiplash (again), but I have to commend Black Sixteen’s skin thrasher.  This is solid drumming, people; the beats are varied, layered and dynamic, and tribal even.  They hold my attention at the exclusivity of everything else. The last three songs give me what the rest of the set shot for, but didn’t quite hit.  My issue begins and ends with the vocals; they’re not quite where they could be, often reliant upon samey phrasing and the requisite screaming. Still, being a nice guy who routinely jumps off stage with a guitar can go a long way.  Amir Khan’s stage presence (which is sometimes a little awkward) is endearing, if not watchable.  The man spins, twirls, often strangling his guitar off and on stage as it suits him whilst second vocalist and lead axe plucker, Chris Campion adds a much-needed variance to the relentless sludge of post-grunge assault.  If used further, the call and response vocals in the last few songs could shove Black Sixteen into a musical space to match their front man’s performance value.  A solid B+ for effort.  

‘I’m Welsh, ginger, sweaty and eloquent,’ says the acerbic and very often funny Damien Sayell, front-man of the Bristol bred St Pierre Snake Invasion, a band who 1) NEVER take selfies of the crowd.  2) Jokingly ask us if we’re ‘having a good time,‘ and 3) Begin the set with something daring and unfamiliar.  The bottom end on their new track ‘Remystery‘ puts a shudder in my chest.  Thank you, Mark Fletcher, bassist extraordinaire – a sound bloke if ever there was one.  He’s endowed with a cheeky grin underlined with the authentic humility of a well-meaning monk.  Here is your well-earned piece of column space.  Top man!

‘Sex Drugs and Rock and Roll Workshops’ (‘a song about Ed Sheeran, or at least it should have been – D.S) is a lovely diatribe on the manufactured and bland elements of an industry that Damien makes no attempt to ignore.  It’s a wonder to witness the bearded Bristolian command a crowd with such ease, considering only three people scream an answer to his question: ‘Who’s seen us before?’ I swear, myself and perhaps two other people (a dude and a girl next to him) shout out drunken ‘yeahs!’  The stark contrast between those of us who’ve experienced the alt-rock peddling quintet and the happy wails of the recently converted is frankly staggering. 

‘Call the Coroner’, ‘Encore, Encore’ and ‘Jesus Mary and Joseph Talbot’   You need both hands to count the amount of solid tunes this group has.  The high-octane power chord surge of the latter has a chorus I ought to learn the words to as its catchiness elicits my best Sayell impression, every single time. ‘If The Only Way Is Essex You Can Kill Me Now’ is another crowd pleaser, mainly because it’s a kick ass, spiky, grunge monster, but also – and let’s be honest – Damien’s ace catchphrase of a title is a sturdy platform for people to exchange knowing smiles about what the ditty might be about.   

This is all I’ve ever wanted my whole life … but I haven’t done anything to earn it.  Oh, yes, a damning critique on a generation if ever there was one.  Nothing new in the year of 2015 but still, the passion is unmistakable, rendering the message fresh and full of vitality. The in-between stage banter knits well with the lyrical content to form a brilliant patchwork of personality.  They self-brand without the use of tired ploys and these guys are smart enough to showcase the song words by frequently employed, all important, instrumental breaks.  If only more bands were comfortable with silence.

The St Pierre Snake Invasion are an unstoppable charging train of self-assuredness; a tight unit of genuine charm you need to show off to your mates.  Or you could simply follow Damien’s advice and get on your phones to text your absent brethren that they ‘missed out.’  After a few songs, Damien jumps down into the mosh pit where he’s most comfortable, whilst the band pump out one musical powerhouse after another.

What else? A lot else: They assault UKIP (with a nihilistic bone-crunching rendition of ‘Braindead‘) with a cautious reminder as to what will befall anyone brown should they get in.  Oh, and there’s the usual pop at conspiracy theorists (‘anyone paid £126 to see David Icke talk about his book?’). Yes, The St Pierre Snake Invasion turn in a 30 second track which brings their uncompromising set to an end, thus managing to exceed the exuberance of their last London show (Jubilee Club at the Camden Barfly).  London promoters? Overlook this band at your peril.

 

 

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.