dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip – Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, Mon 14 Oct 2013
A slow-starting, ultimately triumphant small venue show from the hip hop upstarts
‘I think I know what the problem is,’ says Scroobius Pip, trying to figure out why initial audience reaction is somewhat muted tonight. ‘It’s because we’re in the pop charts now, and this is the first time you’ve seen genuine pop stars in a hundred cap venue.’
The ‘genuine pop stars’ comment relates to the fact that the pair’s latest album, Repent Replenish Repeat, has got to number 22 in the charts. This gig falls the night after the chart rundown, and DLS vs SP (as they’ve started styling it) are in a mood to celebrate.
The problem is, their new material is both unfamiliar and less immediately likeable than their previous work. Scroob’s vocal punches still hit home with a satisfying force – especially the hook in opening song ‘Stunner’ (‘I’m not saying I love you but I probably could... have’) – but le sac’s musical contributions are significantly less appealing, often consisting of little more than a beat and some dubious Skrillex-y sound effects. There’s very little of the melody that made ‘Look for the Woman’, ‘Letter From God to Man’ and ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’ so essential; when the lyrics are too dense to sing along to, you need something to hum instead.
Thankfully, after an opening salvo that the pair acknowledge ‘maybe did go too hard’, the rest of the set is deliriously good. The aforementioned singles are played out to very warm receptions, as are ‘Magician’s Assistant’, ‘Get Better’ and ‘The Beat That My Heart Skipped’. Granted, there are still numerous cuts from Repent Replenish Repeat, but they’re interspersed with extensive sections of chat between the two performers (including a biting and hilarious consideration of the ‘gentleman’s sauna’ that backs onto the gig venue).
The new album is almost certainly a grower, and has only been out a week, so it’d be unfair to judge it on its less-than-stellar reception tonight. If dan and Scroob can keep mixing a healthy dose of stagecraft in with each replay, their new material should easily earn a place in the audience’s hearts alongside the rest of their output.