You know it’s going to be an interesting evening when the frontman of the bad you’re about to see sidles over to Lampy, Grant the sound-man and myself who were nattering by the sound desk as the band unpacks their kit and asks innocently, “Is there anywhere I can put the inflatable?”

SuunsWith the CD racks already rolled aside to make room for the crowd that’s yet to arrive, the inflatable in question is unrolled across the floor. It’s huge. Its flattened form looking somewhat like you’d imagine some magnificent gelatinous deep-sea jellyfish, the sort of creature only glimpsed briefly through the darkness by some submariner glued to their tiny porthole of three inch thick glass on a scientific cruse in to an abyssal trench might look like. Well, what it might look like if it had been dragged unceremoniously from the depths, dried, squished, rolled up and shoved in a box. No-one’s quite sure what it is…

SunnsBringing the squid monster from the deep to life requires proximity to power sockets, and thus it is manhandled to the side of the room in front of the sound desk. A large boxy device with several tubes sticking out of it is liberated from the bands crates and Suuns frontman, Ben Shemie sets about deftly connecting the former abyssopelagic wanderer to the tubes sticking out of the boxy device while the rest of the band sound-checks. After a few minutes of tying up bits and unfolding others, Ben started the fans and stepped back to admire his creation come to life. As the air is pumped into the creature’s flaccid limbs it begins to come to life pushing out large white trunk-like tendrils. A little more air and some gentle manhandling and the monster takes on its true shape becoming huge, solid white letters spelling the word “SUUNS”!

Having set up her power-bricks, Lampy emerges from behind the inflatable Suun!

Luckily Lampy had just enough DMX cabling lying about to run a pair of her power-bricks (usually tasked with uplighting the drum kit) behind the inflatable so as the lights dropped in the shop for Suuns set to start the inflatable was back lit in red creating an unusually atmospheric setting for the show.


Suuns were originally due to play Rough Trade back in May to celebrate the release of their album “Hold/Still” but a clash of dates meant that the RT crowd had to wait to experience the at times pulverising, disorientating but fully enfolding wall of sound this band creates. There seemed to be a bit stiffness and tension in the band as the set began, but after the first couple of songs the band noticeably relaxed in to the set. Suuns music is deeply intense with thumping drone repetition sitting within the core of many of their songs. Their sound strips all that’s unnecessary out of the all too ubiquitous disorientating, fuzz-rich, psych “Wall of Noise” leaving the essential visceral rhythms exposed creating an altogether simpler but sharper more precise delivery. The music is crushingly loud, and I’m not sure that many of the songs actually went anywhere or followed a conventional musical logic, but they grab you all the same and drag you onwards into a shared dystopic darkness. The set is a relentless, pounding bombardment, yet also completely gripping and physically exhilarating. The final track “Resist” delivered, for me at least, a claustrophobic narrowing of the senses that was completely absorbing, but then I was looking through a lens focussed on the face of frontman and guitarist Ben spitting out his single lyric with an anger and vitriol verging on mania which may well have added to the intensity of my experience. So much so, that when the song ended and the lights come up it felt like coming up for air after holding your holding your breath underwater for far too long. Looking around I wasn’t alone in being completely mesmerised by this performance, many faces shared smiles of elation recognising the intensity of what we had all just got to experience…

Rough Trade East – 13/07/2016


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