Concert review: Amyl and the Sniffers w/ Die Spitz | 10.25.23, The Pageant (with photo gallery)

Aussies Amyl and the Sniffers have gained quite a buzz over the last few years. Their second LP Comfort to Me is a phenomenal mash of straightforward hard rock and early punk, with some surprisingly strong lyrics from vocalist Amy Taylor. While the other members of the band tend to get their due credit, it’s Taylor’s powerful stage presence, unique looks, and distinct vocal delivery that often takes focus. After seeing Amyl and the Sniffers in concert, I can definitely see why they’re considered to be one of the best live acts on tour right now.

When this show was announced, I was a little surprised to see it was at The Pageant. The Pageant is a great room, but the draw I assumed Amyl and the Sniffers would have in St. Louis would be better suited for the smaller Delmar Hall next door. Both venues share the same owner and promoter. My guess is there was a hold for the same date at Delmar Hall that ended up falling though after this was confirmed, or something along those lines. That all being said, I am glad it was at The Pageant, as it ended up being a closed balcony show which typically has a more intimate vibe.

Die Spitz, a fierce four-piece from Austin, Texas, started off the night. Singer and guitarist Ellie Livingston and drummer Chloe Andrews were dressed in outfits which I can only describe as the Pussycat Dolls if they were really into Corrosion of Conformity, with bassist Kate Halter and the band’s other singer and guitar person Ava Schrobilgen looked decidedly more tomboyish. Looking at photos from other stops on this tour, the members of Die Spitz appear to be big fans of that thrift store chic that you can only really get away with while you’re still on your parents’ health insurance. They had a completely different look two nights before in Chicago. Friends long before starting a band, the members of Die Spitz are not even of drinking age and the outfit itself hasn’t even been around for two years, yet they have played with such notable acts as L7, OFF!, and, well, they’re now on tour with Amyl and the Sniffers. That’s pretty fucking impressive, and their set put a lot of more seasoned bands I’ve seen to shame. Livingston and Schrobilgen can each muster a growl that is as impressive as their guitar playing. Andrews does a stellar job at being a human metronome as well as being entertaining to watch, and Halter runs around with her pointy-ass bass like she’s trying to get the most out of her sugar-free Monster before she crashes. Sounding something like a much heavier interpretation of the Coathangers, Die Spitz have got the goods. Their recently released EP Teeth is worth your time.

Amy Taylor came out looking a little glam, wearing a sheer hoodie with black, furry fringe and vaguely chunky sunglasses. From the first song “Control,” there was no shortage of energy coming from her or her bandmates, the switch was flicked “on” and it would stay there for the remainder of their set. The crowd near the barricade was energetic, rarely getting into “going off” territory but there was, at times, a respectable pit taking place in the middle of the dance floor. There was at least one crowd surfer. Taylor herself had set some ground rules to us all before performing: If anybody falls down, you help them up. Don’t touch anyone who doesn’t want to be touched. The den mother had spoken, and it appeared that the cub scouts had listened. The outer rings of The Pageant trended older, with a demographic that looked equal parts former Streetside Records keyholders and union welders.

Drummer Bryce Wilson’s riser was stationed to the very back center of the Pageant’s stage, while guitarist Declan Martens’ Marshall stacks and vocal mic set far stage right, with bassist Gus Romer’s Ampeg rig and vocal mic set the same on the opposite side. Now, the stage at the Pageant is a relatively generous size, and I am not exaggerating when I say that Amy Taylor danced, crawled, and ran across just about every inch of it available to her. To add, with all of the energy she was expelling, she never sounded out of breath or off-key. The lady’s cardio routine must be insane. Early in the set, she had a frozen drink with her, I assume it was some sort of daiquiri or slushie. At times, it was left in the middle of the stage, and for all of her antics, not once did I see it knocked over. What an absolute fucking pro. I don’t know what else I can write about Taylor’s stage presence that hasn’t already been said, but it struck me as somewhere between Iggy Pop and Karen O.

It was only during the final song “Knifey” that Amyl and the Sniffers’ blinding energy tapered back. It’s a slower song about gendered violence, and expresses a viewpoint that I imagine is well trodden for some of us by now, but still needs to be heard by many more. It was during this song that Taylor’s vibe changed. Center stage with a hand firmly placed on her mic stand, she looked dour as she sang. For all of her outward toughness, this was a strikingly vulnerable moment. The world, in ways big and small, finds opportunities to roll over strong people all the time, and the narrative of “Knifey” illuminates a fear I have heard expressed by many women who otherwise seemed unfuckwithable. It is the pointed lyrics of Amyl and the Sniffers that really ties everything else they do into something particularly special, and they chose a prime example as their closer. For their first time here in St. Louis, these four Australians left quite an impression. I know I couldn’t be the only one who couldn’t wait to see them again. | Bryan J. Sutter

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