Snarky Puppy LIVE!
Arriving at the Plaza LIVE in Orlando, I knew that this show was not like many of the others I had been to before at this venue. The Plaza is a somewhat small venue but possesses the charm of a vintage theatre with its outstreched marquee, popcorn light bulbs, and heavy ornamental fixtures. I've played in this theatre before so I was impressed when I was unable to locate a parking spot within the first lot, then the second due to the overcrowding of people. It seems that when I left Orlando, the word of this theatre spread to many, many other individuals who appreciate instrumental music.
Once I parked and christened my new Liberty 503 chillum, I ventured inside the crowded theatre. I was hoping that through random coincidences I would be able to bump into some of my old friends from my undergrad. I pay the $23 good-time-tax (whiskey and ginger ale) and turn to my left to find one of the greatest tenor saxophone players in Orlando and old personal friend Alex B. She introduces me to some of the new Orlando music royalty, of which she has seemingly entered by performing in the Sam Rivers Big Band, Universal and Disney Parks bands, and countless others. We briefly catch up, run into our old saxophone teacher, and head into the theatre to see the show.
As the lights dim, I immediately notice that the entire band is already up on the stage. Generally, there is an opening act to get the crowd warmed up for the main group to take the stage. The bassist, and figurehead, grabs the microphone and begins to tell the story of Snarky Puppy's musical success in the field of producing and recording and how the opening act would feature Snarky Puppy as a side-man to Magda G. As a very ostentatious young woman firmly takes the stage with her accordian, I can't help but think how badass she is throwing that massive instrument around.
She commanded the band and the audience with such a great presence that I went on a hunt for everything Banda Magda once I got home, but, after her appearance the group took a short intermission. I quickly hustled out and grabbed my token t-shirt to wear at some other group's concert so I look cultured. The lights dim again and I'm inside surrounded by new people but all collectively enjoying what's washing over us.
Chord after chord of complex construction being stacked like jenga bricks surely to tumble but instead weave into a new instrumental concept unheard until that moment. There was an ebb and flow to the crowd that would rave when the band was playing loudly but would calm when a soloist was expressing themselves.
This is not to say that the musical exposition was without flaws, as the keen musician could clearly spot ways to add and riff on the idea. It seemed obvious that part of the reason this style of music has not caught on to the masses is that the live presentations of the music often leave the listener wanting a more grandiose experience. Electronic genres have known for years to synchronize lights and even fog to convey a musical emotion - why is this music any different?
Overall, seeing one of my favorite bands live was an exciting experience and I enjoyed every minute. Do I think this band is going to continue to refine and renew its live performances? Absolutely, I do. I plan on seeing them again in the coming months at the Aura festival and we'll see what exciting new additions they have made.