Whilst it may be relatively early this Friday evening, with the majority of Bristol’s workers now jovially descending upon the many drinking establishments of the city centre, The Fleece is already packed to the rafters for the Bristol based singer songwriter Lonely Tourist (9). Authentically rustic and wonderfully charming, Lonely Tourist reels tales of urbanite southwestern life with sun kissed Somerset hospitality. Certainly, the work of Bristol’s own Lonely Tourist is a far cry from the predatory and erratic tendencies of tonight’s headliners, but by beautifully and earnestly performing tracks from his past four records he radiates the magnetism and charisma that the entire lineup as a whole has become locally acclaimed for.
It’s becomes transparent on why The St Pierre Snake Invasion have devoted a track to this local hero; Lonely Tourist radiates warmth and courteous charisma, with tracks from his most recent offering Remuneration being cider tinged tales of genuine wanderlust and neighbourliness tonight. It’s a wonderful set of pastoral pop folk that’s performed with grassroots sincerity and a sunny disposition. Whilst this wonderful human has been a lauded figure within the Bristolian grassroots scene for many a year, it’s clear that he has made a some new close friends and followers tonight.
“We are John, good luck finding us on Google”, states John, vocalist and drummer for the London duo John (9). If witnessing Lonely Tourist live is to be encompassed within the warmth of an alcohol blanket on a warm summers eve, to witness John live would be the sonic equivalent of being trapped within a sandpaper lined straight jacket in a dystopian cityscape. Of course, such a statement is by no means a criticism or a negative comment, far from it. As per the norm, the duo are utterly electric and captivating this evening, with the group’s abrasive and discordant textures swathing the Bristolian populace tightly. A set dedicated to a commentary on the isolation and delusions of modern life, this performance is a violent and intricate soundscape of voluminous groove and suffocating reverb.
Material from their forthcoming sophomore record Out There On The Fringes is utterly arresting and asphyxiating, with the recently released ‘Future Thinker’ hinting towards the record’s inevitable greatness, with the track and it’s respective companions weaponising the sandpaper textures of their intrametropolitan dirge for phenomenal effect. We’ve previously attested to the brilliance of John, but if anyone within this venue was previously skeptical of their brilliance prior to tonight (not likely), such absurd scepticism has only been sandblasted away this evening. It’s a corrosive whirlwind of a performance, one that perfectly demonstrates the prowess and creativity John harbour and display within their craft.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a true celebration of alternative Bristolian art without the dearly beloved contemporaries in No Violet (9) being present. Lifting the brood and unease from timeless grunge before amplifying it to distressing levels and surgically transplanting into a more artistic and DIY sound, No Violet have swiftly become famed in local circles, and for good reason. Slyly romanticising thoughts of alluring melody and tentative groove, this is a set of captivating appeasement. It’s a fantastic demonstration of South Western innovation at it’s finest, one that seamlessly skirts between genres and revels in a sound that defines stereotypical convention.
The piercing bellows and falsely pacifying croonings of frontwoman Ellie Godwin dance wonderfully with the lucrative and deeply considered melody within the group’s signature sound, with tracks such as ‘Behaviour’ and ‘Lemons’ seeing the group flex their creative and musical muscles with effortless ease. As tonight proves, No Violet are masters in conjuring an asphyxiating and alluring atmosphere of cold comfort and welcome unease. Along with their headlining peers tonight, No Violet fantastically the display left field invention that’s nationally renowned from this pocket of the country.
Before we deluge into our review of The St Pierre Snake Invasion’s (10) headline performance a history lesson is needed. For those who flunked through GCSE Geography, St Pierre is named after the town and commune of the same name, a French settlement that once stood on the Caribbean island of Martinique. Despite it’s beautiful scenery and idyllic landscape, this quaint exotic settlement became known as a town wiped away by total annihilation. Following it’s foundation 1635, in 1780 the town was levelled by a hurricane so severe it still holds the record as the most severe storm to ever grace The Atlantic. Even despite the near total destruction of the town and a death toll of over 9000, the township persisted and rebuilt the settlement on the waterlogged mass grave of the majority of the population.
For a century or so the town remained unhindered and the population blossomed. However, the powers that be seemingly perceived this reconstruction as both a challenge and a damning testament to the timeless arrogance of humankind. Driving the message home this time, the town experienced it’s second and final natural disaster in 1902, where the island’s resident volcano, Mount Pelèe, erupted. Well, to say it was an eruption would be a significant understatement. In the blink of an eye the entire mountain detonated, eradicating the town almost instantly. The pyroclastic surge not only levelled every structure on the island, the almost immeasurable heat ignited anything that could be combusted, humans included. Out 28,000 inhabitants, only two people survived. Following this biblical level of destruction the town was abandoned for there was simply nobody left on the island to repopulate it, yet alone rebuild.Tonight, within the confines of The Fleece, The St Pierre Snake Invasion embody that apocalyptic power and energy.
To return to the analogy of Mount Pelèe, the signs and warnings indicating the inevitable eruption of The St Pierre Snake Invasion have been evident for quite a time now, with many predicating and awaiting the group’s anticipated outburst for years. However, tonight serves as that prophetised eruption. Certainly, as many can attest to, the group are a formidable force live. Yet tonight they are something else, something new and freshly reenergised. Performing their phenomenal new record Caprice Enchantè (mostly) in full, it feels like the group as a collective entity have the molten hellfire of Mount Pelèe running through their veins, with the sudden impact and shockwave of ‘Oklahoma Is The Safety Word’ being the musical equivalent of trapezius ruining case of whiplash. Despite the record not even being 24 hours old at this point, the packed out attendance have clearly studied the record before making their way down tonight, with the room instantly becoming the scene of jubilant hedonistic violence.
As the group rip, tear and lacerate through their most recent offering it becomes clear that the age of St Pierre being an overlooked artist is at an end. Whilst Caprice Enchantè may be a near flawless record in itself, the group lift such material from the restraints of the record tonight, further animating the album’s tracks to an exhilarating degree. It’s impossible to pick out certain stand out points from this set simply due to the fact that this performance as a whole is essentially perfect. It’s a wonderful corrosive performance of musical punk destruction; St Pierre’s much deserved celebration following years of turmoil and trials. Yes, in the true essence of this band, things do go admittedly wrong; a string snapping during the tornado of sound that is ‘Cassanovacine’, some stubborn tech issues and ‘Things To Do In Denbigh When You’re Dead’ being dropped due to time constraints. But the band bulldoze through such issues, not letting them impact the set – let alone giving them a degree of thought or concern. All such issues are instantly forgotten anyway as every single human in this room is haplessly observed into the life affirming chaos that is this album launch performance.
As far as album launch parties go, this may be one of the best The Fleece, nay, Bristol as a whole may have ever experienced. It’s not just the celebration of a new fantastic album, it’s the ushering in of the next phase of this incredible band, a baptism of the future that awaits the group’s career. With the impromptu climax of ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Workshops’ bringing this performance to a thunderous close this set will be one that will be chiselled within the book of local scene legend. If you’re yet to experience the band post launch of Caprice Enchantè you better brace thyself; The St Pierre Snake Invasion have arisen and are here to impose their will on the national alternative scene, with this set proving that nothing or nobody could stand in their way.