Every now and again a gig comes around that seems to catch everyone’s imagination more than the usual and, a few months ago, when St James Concert Hall announced they’d booked the awkwardly but brilliantly named Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs (aka PigsX7), this was certainly the case — then when it was then announced Guernsey’s premier stoner grunge rockers Teaspoonriverneck were reforming for a one off as main support this only grew.
Before we got to either of them though two more bands filled out the line up both with enough of their own special reason for having a show tonight.
Track Not Found kicked things off making their first fully public appearance in Guernsey with new drummer Toby Beasley — they have played a Sound Guernsey event and completed a UK tour with him already though.
From the start they seemed to have more power than usual and the recent tour has once again added a new tightness and slickness to their performance while keeping all the things that have made them so popular up to now intact as well.
The trio’s set tonight focussed, appropriately, on the heavier end of their material with a lot of newer stuff along with a few of their more well known tracks and they went down very well with the already good sized crowd.
Marking the release of their third record, Ataraxy, Brunt filled the room with their unique brand of psychedelic doom rock being the first, but not the last, of the evening’s bands to push the volume to its limits.
Playing more obvious tracks rather than extended jams than usual their so-called ‘heavy mellow’ vibe was in full effect as they captured the attention of most of the crowd with heads nodding along around the hall.
After Blackbeard, three of the four tracks from their new record formed the central focus of the set, culminating with a gloriously noisy climax to Black Smoke, before their rounded off with Tales Of The Hideous Tricorn from their self-titled debut that brought the more rocking sounds back in preparation for the acts to follow.
It’s been a couple of years since Teaspoonriverneck last graced a stage, at the Vale Earth Fair in 2016, and even longer since they’ve been gigging regularly but, as they launched into their set with long standing favourite Blonde Witch, it was clear their reputation remains intact as the crowd pushed forward to the front.
For the next forty minutes or so the audience sang most of the words back to the band who didn’t seem to have lost a step, if anything, they were heavier and tighter than I recall — the extra heaviness fitting the night perfectly.
Their set drew largely from their self-titled debut album with Truck and Ribshacksupertwang being particular mid set highlights before a Cerberus like three headed beast of a climax with Crow In The Road from IV, Gideon And The Black Jaws from Craft Of Lisia and then, of course, Eaten By The Devil (complete with ‘hymn sheets’ and full singalong) left the crowd calling for more.
There may be a hint of nostalgia behind their reception but Teaspoonriverneck more than transcended that as the band played as well as ever and got, arguably, the biggest and certainly the most visceral, response of the night.
Before tonight’s show I had, somewhat intentionally, avoided listening to any PigsX7 so as to experience fresh and live with no preconceptions — beyond the voices of the many who said how good they were and how much they would be ‘my kind of thing’… whatever that is.
As they took to the stage the band looked like they might be any modern indie or punk band, with maybe a slight eccentric streak, but, as soon as they began playing it was clear they were something far more.
Over the following hour they unleashed a monstrous onslaught of malevolent noise that was a joy to behold, a slow, heavy force of nature channeled through five musicians.
Vocalist and synth player Matt Baty led the band as if invoking some kind of shamanic ritual as a pair of guitars locked into a kind of war of attrition of distortion and fuzz, powered by an all encompassing rhythm and groove from the bass and drums as their songs organically twisted into epics of crushing doom.
Between songs the band brought an uncharacteristically light feel with Baty having something of the demeanour of a slightly abstract comedian with a sense of humour clearly shared by the rest of the band, most obviously bass player John-Michael Hedley who was sporting a Wham! Christmas t-shirt for the occasion.
While many in the audience seemed a little unsure how to react to the music they remained captivated and packed in at the front with each song garnering a deserved huge reaction and, as curfew approached, they still wanted more rounding off one of the most successful nights of music at St James so far and certainly the best night of ‘heavy music’ the venue has seen in at least as long as I can remember.