Snowden at Triple Rock Social Club, 2/25/13
Photo by Preston Craig
Snowden with Story of the Sea
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis
Monday, February 25, 2013
"Long time no see, Minneapolis!" Snowden's lead singer/guitarist (and sole constant member), Jordan Jeffares exclaimed. The now three-piece band got Monday night going with "Black Eyes" from their moody, atmospheric 2006 debut Anti-Anti and showed some fierce signs of life early on at the half-full Triple Rock.
They continued with the new "So Red" from the yet-to-be-released sophomore effort No One in Control out in May. "Counterfeit Rules" from their debut followed and the enormous amount of growth between the two albums was more than apparent. If their debut was the soundtrack to the most fun semi-secret, alley-entrance dance party you've ever been to, the new one promises to be the soundtrack to the comedown from that party. Your head is still a bit woozy but whirring with new thoughts. "Hiss," a new track, managed to masterfully toe the line between new and old, sounding both menacing and subdued all at once, like a souped-up Plymouth Roadrunner idling on the side of the road waiting to shoved into gear.
The light/visual show that accompanied the set proved to be kind of a bore and a bit of a nuisance, really, as it was set up on the only place viable to do so: the railing that borders the staircase down to the main floor. Its height coupled with the average height of the crowd meant that it went through the crowd at roughly eye level and the intensity was nearly blinding, it would have been a bit more excusable had it been more interesting but it was about as enthralling as the old Microsoft flying toasters screensaver. Had it been jettisoned entirely would have made no difference, as Snowden's music brings enough of a somber, contemplative mood to a room with the unnecessary accouterments. By the end of the set, its presence actually started to detract from the aesthetic a bit.
The set continued with the fantastic new "The Beat Comes," Anti-Anti standout "Filler is Wasted" and "Anemone Arms," which first appeared on 2010's Slow Soft Syrup EP, and with that passage any remaining "These guys are just Interpol Lite" accusations should have been laid to rest. In the now seven years since the release of Anti-Anti to what seemed like equal amounts of fawning praise and venomous scorn, Snowden has morphed into band that trades in more lush, complicated sounds and lyrics that are far more introspective and jarring than many of their peers, while still sounding unmistakably like Snowden; the staccato, grinding guitar riffs still there along with the thunderous bass, now courtesy of Yoi Fujita, everything fleshed out with a sampler and Mikey Jones' inventive drum work.
The hour-long set ended with a one-song encore, a, sadly, just so-so version of "Like Bullets" that would have fit better at the beginning of the set rather than the end (it very memorably, ominously opens Anti-Anti, after all) and with Fujita's bass too low in the mix, the song lost a lot of it's tendon-severing bite.
It was a little disappointing to see the set end on such a misfire but also showed that the band is still growing into themselves a bit and growth is never perfect -- missteps are part of the territory. Their second album isn't even officially out yet and Monday left a lot of wonder, in the best possible way, about what the third one might bring and that is a pretty enviable position to be in, overall.
Critic's Bias: Anti-Anti is easily one of my favorite records from the last decade and seeing these songs live--even the couple that left me a bit let down--was really great. That the new stuff is nearly as good, if fairly different, kept me happy for the vast majority of the evening.
The Crowd: Sparse, even for a Monday night.
Overheard In the Crowd: "SHHHHHH!" from a guy a few feet in front of me, mocking the very polite and quiet crowd between songs. It was so quiet that Jeffares heard him and made a few jokes of his own.
Notebook Dump: The DIY nature of this light show/backdrop thing is commendable but it's annoying as hell.
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