Review & Photos: Snarky Puppy At House Of Blues Boston

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Words & Images by: Andrew Bruss

Snarky Puppy :: 5.4.16 :: House Of Blues :: Boston, MA

View Andrew’s photo gallery below his recap.

Whether your tastes gravitate towards jazz, jam, fusion or funk, Snarky Puppy is the be-all end-all of instrumental improv in 2016. Their 90-minute set before a near capacity crowd at Boston’s House of Blues was a master course in taste, technique, tone and tempo that should have every jam band this side of Red Rocks taking note.

The night’s setlist focused heavily on their last two studio albums, 2014’s We Like It Here and the recently released Culcha Vulcha, with the first half of the night focusing on the former and the end of the night zoning in on the latter.

Throughout the duration of their performance, at no point in time did I notice any of the nine members on stage miss a change, skip a beat, play out of key or execute musically in a fashion that was anything short of total precision. The brilliance in the compositions executed by bassist/band leader Michael League lay in the subtle fluidity with which they stray off the path most jam bands rarely deviate from.

But you can’t exactly dance at a Dream Theater concert, their complexity takes too much beat-counting and thought. That said, for as irregular as some of Snarky Puppy’s time signatures are, they’re a lot like the rapids of a river: neither predictable nor symmetrical but entirely natural and gravitationally sound. No matter what direction the band went in, it felt as though they were all driven by a singular kinetic energy that physiologically kept them in-synch with each other as they gained momentum.

The only negative was the absence of synth/organ wizard Cory Henry. If Snarky Puppy’s extended membership format was compared to Wu-Tang Clan, with League as the RZA-esque, steady-handed visionary at the wheel, Henry would be the group’s Method Man, the breakout star oozing with the charm, skills and charisma to draw attention to the whole crew. But for as much of a negative as Henry’s absence may have been, it underscores one of the positives in the Snarky Puppy experience: with such a wide network of members and collaborators, when you buy a ticket to see this crew live, you never know what lineup you’ll get. In addition to hoping to hear your favorite tune, you might be crossing your fingers that the drummer you like is on deck that night, or that they’ve got two guitarists slated for the set instead of one.

They belong on stage at the Brooklyn Bowl just as much as Lincoln Center and for members of JamBase Nation who gravitate towards instrumental music, Snarky Puppy is the Rolls Royce concert experience you’ve been waiting for.

Photos

Setlist

Snarky Puppy at House of Blues

  • Flood
  • Grown Folks
  • Semente
  • Tarova
  • What About Me?
  • Tio Macaco
  • Lingus
Encore
  • Shofukan

Tour Dates for
Snarky Puppy