Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip, The Copper Rooms, Warwick University, 25 April 2014
“Yeah, but, what’s their demographic?”
This was the second leg of the Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip tour, having sold out venues across the country in the first. Coventry provided more modest numbers and we had been forewarned via Twitter that Pip was losing his voice. He emerged defiant, swigging Lemsip from the bottle, and opening track ‘Stunner’ immediately set the tone for a night of intelligent, often dark lyrics set against a genre-defying blend of hip-hop, electro and industrial beats.
Despite the bad throat, Pip was on top form, his vocals sounding almost too crisp for a live show; every word he spat was clear and immediate. His only mistake was taking a seat for ‘Terminal’, a quieter meditation on a friend’s illness, and losing the attention of everyone beyond the second row. We were soon won back with the sing-along ‘Look for the Woman’ and crowd-pleasing ‘Gold Teeth’, which seethed with contempt for materialist, commercial hip hop, before support act iTCH returned to the stage for aggressive protest song ‘Stiff Upper Lip.’
The set list touched on subjects as far ranging as Britain’s youth, politics, love and death, with Pip’s trademark pathos and wit. It was during the slower numbers that he became less rapper, more performance poet, donning costumes for each of the characters in ‘Angles’ and brandishing a set of keys and a hefty book during ‘Porter’ and ‘You Will See Me’ respectively. The idea was to present Pip as storyteller, but it detracted from the power and sincerity of these stand-out tracks.
All six songs taken from the duo’s latest studio offering Repent Replenish Repeat were well received, but it was their early, Radiohead-sampling ‘Letter from God to Man’ which generated the most noise in the encore. Once again Pip stole the show, before leaving it to Le Sac to round off with a pounding ten minute solo set while he posed for photos and signed CDs at the merch stand.
The show was slick and accomplished – they’ve been doing it since January – and filled with confidence and conviction, but overall it seemed to lack a bit of the grit and impact I’d expected. The music was never too loud, the crowd needed a gentle nudge to “get rowdy” (though not too rowdy – a free t-shirt went to a guy who took the high road when his girlfriend was punched in the circle pit.)
With their unique blend of spoken word, electronic beats and capricious musical influences, Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip have matured from the novelty act they were branded by some in 2007 when they released ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill.’ This diversity, lyrically and musically, creates a surprising live experience that confounds attempts to pigeon-hole.