Mezzo Forte Monday – dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip.

Gig time!

Saturday evening (the 27th to be exact) saw myself and Mr Thomas J Bench Esq. returning to the place of our first meeting, the Academy (not exactly romantic but “so us”) in Bristol, this time to see hip hop/rap/spoken word duo dan le sac Vs. Scroobius Pip, supported by Sound Of Rum and B. Dolan. The headliners I had first seen at Glastonbury last year – and a marvellous performance it was too – but I hadn’t even looked into the two other acts. An unusual choice of gig, one may be allowed to think, considering my usual tastes, but this was one of the most enjoyable gigs I’ve been to in a long time, and it was rather rejuvenating (to my musical views) to attend something so completely different but still have an excellent time anyway.

The Academy is an odd venue I find – not exactly soulless but has the potential to be, being a chain and having a small range of drinks with big price tags – but the different levels (three or four to be exact) make for a dynamic space, and it’s actually quite nice to be able to choose your view, instead of having to stand behind huge people and act like sardines for the whole evening. I’m not a huge fan of sticking to floors, which is what happened as soon as we entered the building, or of finding vomit in the bathroom so early in the night (it was about 9pm!), but other than that, The Academy in Bristol is one of my prefered venues I think. That week it had also hosted Paloma Faith and Trivium, which, I assume, no one would want to go to (I’m only assuming this as I would like to assume whoever is reading this has taste as good as myself), but it is also good to find a venue that isn’t pretentious and appeals to a range of demographics. That said, they could have chosen slightly better musicians…

So. Sound Of Rum. Who are they? Where are they going? What are they… about? To begin with, it looked like some bird who hadn’t exactly dressed for the occasion with a guitarist who needed a haircut and a drummer who was a little out of sight. And then she started some spoken word piece, to introduce everything, and this is when you think “Oh god no.” HOWEVER, it was a very good performance. Rapper Kate Tempest started off a little apprehensive (it is a deceptively large venue methinks), but soon got into the evening and they had good tunes with some — things to say. I was particularly impressed by Ms Tempest, as usually females in bands can either be really good or really hideous (potentially a naive and sexist view but I’d much rather see a guitar played by Yan than by Abi, for a Sea Power example), but the front lady was most definitely the former. The only bad thing about it could be the speed of the lyric deliver and the level of volume of the sound meant the words couldn’t always be heard – and this, one surmises, is quite a large part of the whole rap thing – but aside from that there was stacks of energy, lots of enthusiasm, a well-together band and good feedback from the crowd. A success I feel!

Now. B Dolan is an interesting character. Another one of those “oh god no” moments occurred when some guy in a boiler suit, wearing a George Bush mask, strolled onto the stage, played a backing track and started rapping. But Mr Dolan does not seem to take himself to seriously, which is a blessing when it comes to music (or any art form really. Actually maybe life in general), so when he started a somewhat controversial number about his intense hate of Justin Timberlake (lyrics were absolutely genius here), and how he hoped “JT” caught Aids and died (he’s as abrasive as Nicky Wire! Although it seemed like he meant it more than Wire boy), the crowd was in stitches – not aghast or shocked – but laughing ridiculously large amounts. It was hilarious. (If anyone is interested, it can be found here: He, too, had stacks of confidence and looked like he was having a good time – another popular act methinks.

dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip, in all their prophetic glory, were awesome. Such entertainers, and with such chemistry between each other and with the crowd, everyone seemed to enjoy their performance. Scroobius Pip made a special mention to local music “legend” Jeff – if you’ve been to a few gigs in Bristol, he’s the chap who is always at the front with masses of curly blonde hair, not caring about potential brain, ear or neck damage. He is good for the Bristol music scene, as, even if you are the most unpopular of bands, Jeff will always be there having a good time at the front. Mr Pip even mentioned that if Jeff were to run for the local elections, he would be voted in. dan and Pip started with one of my favourites of theirs ‘The Beat That my Heart Skipped’, and played an excellent mix of things from their first album with things from their second. I find their second possibly a little more commercial (for once this is not a criticism), and I also think they are better in concert than on cd. Their personas are needed to bring the life into the music and lyrics, and this was so well done the crowd were loving it. I haven’t seen a crowd that good in years. They also played a track from their new album called ‘The Beat’, which I saw performed at Glastonbury, in which Mr Pip encouraged the entire crowd to “get moving”, and he found the Bristol crowd the most responsive to that track on the tour. This was potentially due to a couple becoming engaged just before, as one of them had asked the front man to ask the question. Again, not exactly romantic, but I would assume it’s very “them”, and there was a genuine sense of joy in the evening.

As usual, public transport cut short out evening of music, but I think we only missed a few songs. At a mere £12.50 per ticket, it was definitely worth it, and how often is it that someone enjoys a whole evening of a genre they barely know about, with three bands, two of whom they’ve never heard of? This is a rarity for me. Good job rappers and rapperess!


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