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Live Review: The St Pierre Snake Invasion & Cassels w/ Hank & Twisted Ankle | The Exchange, Bristol | 28/09/19

October 7, 2019

 

It’s a bleak and dreary Saturday night in Bristol town, but within the confines of the Exchange, something weird and wonderful is brewing. Spinning abstract post-modern poetry via the means of obtusely jarring time signatures, the Bristolian trio Twisted Ankle (8) sound like something the poet Micheal Rosen would present if he had a strong penchant for Future If The Left, Shellac and rage inducing cocaine. With this in consideration they are the perfect openers for this evening of forefront progression, and yes, they are as alluring as they sound.

 

Another product of the innovative DIY scene Bristol plays host to, Twisted Ankle are deliberately jolting and methodically idiosyncratic, with the group’s math tinged noise dangerously flirting with elements of spoken word, acid jazz and post rock. With aficionados of all things weird and wonderful marvelling at their abstract craft this sodden eve, Twisted Ankle are a group that demands attention if you value your audible art forefront, discordant and eccentrically poignant.

 

Presenting a sound more conventional than their respective openers whilst still experimenting with clashing time signatures and seizing sonic patters, Hank (8) bristle and shine with unpredictable kinetic energy tonight. Performing material from their string of releases and demos, the Norwich quintet amalgamate coagulated grunge riffs and atmospherics with quick witted and contemplative time signatures in a fashion that makes these typically contrastive genres interweave fluidly.

 

Despite the group hailing from a city almost 250 miles away, it’s clear that the collective have established a fanbase within this regional scene from previous visits, with the borderline sold out crowd losing themselves within the molten heft which Hank sonically present. With enough metallic hooks to snare a leviathan, the group’s amalgamation of contrastive genres and stylistics is aqueous and void of the stagger that’s occasionally found when attempting to unionise these genres. In contrast, Hank place emphasise on the desolating heft within math rock and grunge all whilst refusing to comply with the binding conventions of either genres. With new material on the horizon, Hank are certainly an act that’s set to gain significant retroaction within the national DIY scene in the coming year.

 

With their jaws clenched, their muscles contracting with furious concentration and with sweat glistening on their respective musical instruments, Cassels (8) are an utter force to witness tonight. Whilst the Oxford duo have been renowned to perform with impassioned fervour since their origin, it appears Cassels have been volatility reinvigorated with intense fervency following the release of their phenomenal sophomore record The Perfect Ending. Explosively charging headlong through a setlist of material from their back catalogue, Cassels highlight their growth as musicians with exposed intensity, opting to perform under the stark white glare of the houselights in order to highlight their refusal to hide behind vague metaphorical lyricism.

 

Whilst it may be undeniable that the atmosphere within the Exchange this evening may be one of intoxicated joviality, Cassels bring the gravity of our sociopolitical landscape crashing down with craft from The Perfect Ending. Tracks such as ‘A Snowflake In Winter’ and ‘The Queue At The Chemists’ animate the subtle nihilistic misanthropy Cassels have become known to project live flawlessly. Despite the duo’s live dark humour still remaining, the sibling duo have grown into a force of contemporary intensity following the release of the their latest record, with their brilliant aptitude shining more intensely than ever. Even with alcohol being consumed on mass within the Exchange, Cassels are more sobering and culturally vital than ever tonight.

 

“Over the course of the next 45 minutes we will provide further evidence of why we are the best band on this planet.” It’s a statement and boast most arrogant and audacious indeed, but when it’s stated by Damien Sayell of The St Pieree Snake Invasion (8) it can be mostly forgiven. Why you ask? Because it’s mostly true. Blasting into the frantic haste of ‘Oklahoma Is The Safety Word’, whilst the Bristolian bruisers have been a dearly beloved staple of the south west scene for many a year, the past several months have seen the band go from underground heroes to regional trendsetters. Undeniably this is due to the excellence of their respective sophomore record Caprice Enchanté. However, even with the group’s stature within the local scene ballooning, it’s clear that St Pierre are still the embodiment of this venue; rough, corrosive and yet welcoming to those seeking musical pursuits at their most authentically thrilling.

 

Crashing through a setlist primarily composed of content from their aforementioned sophomore release, whilst this tour is being marketed as a co-headline run, it’s clear that the majority gathered tonight are primarily here to witness St Pierre. With the walls peeling with both sweat and misplaced alcohol, it’s another set of south western ferocity, with the now inebriated masses losing their intoxicated minds to the frenzied yet calculative chaos that’s courtesy of The St Pierre Snake Invasion. Even with the group having headlined The Fleece just earlier this year, there’s a celebratory atmosphere hanging low within the Exchange this evening, with tracks such as ‘Casanovacine’ ‘Braindead’ and the sporadic commentary of ‘Pierre Brassau’ simultaneously inciting jovial violence whilst displaying the aggressive and forefront intricacy that this band have recently become to harbour. As the primary charge of ‘Like A Rag To A Redbull’ signals the end of this evening of energised and experimental sonic assaults, whilst it may be a bleak and dismal evening in Bristol, within the walls of the Exchange there’s nothing but intense and vigorous pandemonium.

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