This is the first in a multi-part blog about my favorite band, Snarky Puppy. I was first encouraged to see the band by a young fan while attending a Lettuce rager at Terminal West (Atlanta). A quick check on the venue website revealed that the Pups were scheduled to hit the same venue three weeks later, which turned out to be my first show.
Upon entering Terminal West for that first show, I noticed the crowd was noticeably urban and was buzzing. I could literally feel the excitement and asked one fan why the group was apparently hip and relevant to the black community. I had checked out many of their YouTube videos and at the time, they seemed pretty mellow to me. His response was something to the effect “They’ll bring the heat. The band plays on many layers.”
Once the show started, I was mesmerized. The music sounded instantly familiar yet remarkably fresh. It was definitely reminiscent of old school fusion bands like Weather Report and Return to Forever. The horns were punchy like Tower of Power, the solos were improvisational wonders demonstrating the virtuosity of each of the players.The ‘layers’ of each tune was there – horns floating over keys or vice versa, waves of bass either as continual notes or thumping funk lines, and unbelievable percussion
I distinctly remember Shaun Martin’s solo (shown in the image here) and the crowd going wild. Someone mentioned that he was ‘famous’ and Grammy-award winning and I was impressed. The percussion duo between Nate Werth and I believe, ‘Sput’ Searight was the most amazing, intricate and musical drum break I had ever heard.
Throughout the entire show, glancing around I could see the pure joy on everyone’s faces. By the time Shofukan (click to hear live) was played (even though it hadn’t yet been recorded), I was chanting/singing to an instrumental song that I had never heard before but instinctively knew the feeling (which again sounded very familar to me).
Leaving the show, traveling with two other fans who were equally astounded by what we had seen, they told me that I had been “Puppified” and I’ve used the unforgettable term repeatedly as the band has indoctrinated more fans into the army.