I feel that this review perfectly completes my range of interaction with Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip for PearShaped. I’ve reviewed their album, previewed the gig, and even managed an interview with the man himself – so sharing my thoughts on Tuesday’s show seems like the natural end to this expression of my love for them. I will try and save my fangirling until the end of this review, but I warn you now, it will be tricky; this was, without a doubt, the best gig I have been to in a very long time.
Itch kicked off the night in the support slot and could have easily carried the gig on his own; his infectious, visceral brand of hip-hop drew a formidable crowd away from the bar and really set the tone for what was to come, despite the incredibly terrifying baby mask the guitarist was sporting. But in no time at all, the stage was set for the main event and – some extremely weird banter aside – it proved to be quite an experience. Le Sac vs. Pip kicked off the show with a moodier version of Stunner, the first single from third album Repent, Replenish, Repeat that turned out to be reflective of the night as a whole. Dan’s beats have matured in the time that the duo have been away and nowhere is this more obvious than in their live shows. Even classic tracks such as seminal single Thou Shalt Always Kill were injected with a heavier, and at times dubstep-esque beat, so much so that a mosh-pit actually formed during set closer Letter From God To Man. I didn’t know it was possible to mosh to Letter From God To Man – a song about how rubbish the human race is, and how it has to stop blaming its transgressions on a higher power, set to a sampled Radiohead track – but life has taught me otherwise. I even got an elbow to the head to prove it.
My unfortunate mosh-pit experience makes it sound as if the night wasn’t absolutely perfect, which is to do Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip a disservice. Yes, the sound system at times couldn’t cope with the audio abuse it was getting, but every Exeter student knows how inadequate the Lemmy speakers are, even on a normal Saturday night. The poor sound quality was most evident around the middle of the set, when the lyrics to Cauliflower and Look For The Woman were almost indistinguishable from the deafening feedback. Not that it mattered so much to me, knowing all the words like the crazy super fan I am. However Amy, my plus-one who knew absolutely none of their music beforehand, commented that the venue was the only thing letting the gig down.
Sound issues aside, the performance itself was tight, intense and exciting, with fan favourites such as Angles, The Beat That My Heart Skipped and Get Better mixed in with newer material. There was also an unexpected addition of Introdiction, from Pip’s solo album, Distraction Pieces. Surprise album hits Porter and Terminal provided the quieter moments which allowed the crowd (okay, me) to calm down and avoid hyperventilating from too much excitement all at once. I tend to find that, in a gig situation, it’s always the songs you pay the least attention to on record that make the biggest impact live. In the case of tonight it was the Itch featuring Stiff Upper Lip that provided the pinnacle, with the angry, revolutionary lyrics all but drowning out the beat and sending the crowd into a frenzy. Le Sac vs. Pip have always grasped the ethos of the angry protest song very well, even if that sometimes leads to controversy, such as with the appropriation of Stake A Claim by extreme right-wing group the EDL in 2010.
I considered attempting to pick my personal highlight of the night, but after quite a lot of deliberating I decided it was basically futile; I’m not sure there was ever a lull or, conversely, a track that stood head and shoulders above the rest. Each song was performed with such emotion and ferocity; an impressive feat considering that Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip are already half-way through their tour. It felt like the night had barely begun when the set was over and, in true form, a lack of any encore left the crowd in a state of hysteria and bewilderment, filing bleary-eyed out into the cold night and wondering what was meant to happen to them next.