Snarky Puppy Concert Review: Wolfisheim, France, June 27, 2019

Snarky Puppy arrived in France for an outdoor show at the Wolfi Jazz Festival in Wolfisheim, North-East France. This show featured some very energetic, creative and musical playing from everyone and heaps of the Immigrance material. Like the other shows from the Summer Euro tour, Louis Cato’s drumming brings a whole new energy, dynamic and feel to the band so the tunes we’ve all heard time and time again take on a new life in a sense which keeps things extremely interesting from a listening standpoint. This show has one of my absolute favorite versions of GØ in it. Louis’ drum groove during the solo section completely revamped the song and played host to a range of new ideas from the rest of the band. It’s amazing what having a rotating cast can bring to a show, and this particular gig highlights just this. Overall, this show was a bit messy due to some issues with Bobby’s clavinet and Louis not being as familiar with the tunes as the usual Snarky drummers, but this was still a really enjoyable show.


Coven – The show begins with Chris McQueen’s beautiful tune. Bob comes in with the Ebow just before the horns do for a change and he adds some nice rhythmic delay repeats to his strong pick attack alongside the drone and the horn harmonies. Louis picks up the groove at a nice faster tempo and keeps things nice and sparse. Mike’s bassline is super funky and Bob continues his percussive, rhythmic delay soundscape underneath the groove. Justin adds a nice high pitch synth drone with the Prophet just before the main harmonic riff begins with Justin switching over to the Rhodes and Bobby doubling it on the organ. Maz comes in loud and clear with the muted trumpet and Bob doubling the melody an octave beneath him, but an octave higher than he usually plays the line. The faster tempo gives this piece a new flavor. The B section sees Louis simplify his groove heavily and Bob uses the lower octave like he usually does for the melody. The synth and organ blend is just lovely here. Chris Bullock switches to the flute here for a change which is barely noticeable in this mix, but really helps to bring out that higher octave melody. The groove settles down in the solo section under Bob’s lush arpeggios (Justin doesn’t double them like normal) and Mike’s simple bassline. Louis and Justin get creative with their rhythms and Bobby plays weaving, rhythmically displaced and counter-arpeggios to Bob which adds a very elegant, background texture to this solo section. Maz takes the solo on flugelhorn and showcases his brilliant lyricism and mature use of space. Justin adds some reharmonized chords underneath Maz here. Maz uses lots of his lower register in this one and plays some beautifully flowing semiquaver lines. The interlude section is nice and spacey thanks to the keys section. Justin takes the solo afterwards here and gets chromatic. Sadly his solo is buried pretty heavily in this mix. Bob plays some arpeggiated chords underneath Bobby’s washy organ chords. Louis goes disco after the return to Bob’s melody. The outro fades away into a nice upbeat drum solo from Louis to bring in the following tune.

GØ – Louis experiments with a very prominent tom ‘melody’ and keeps time with some constant hi-hat clicks in the background and a ton of ghost notes on his snare drum. He starts swinging towards the end and then suddenly speeds up tempo wise and showcases his wonderful virtuosity before bringing in the main groove. He makes a quick pause between solo and intro and Bob sets things up with the guitar melody. An ecstatic audience member shouts ‘yeah Bob yeah!’ After the lush horn harmonies Bobby and Mike bring in the new bassline. Bobby uses a ton of overdrive on the clavinet and Justin plays the original version’s Rhodes riff, which fits quite differently over the new bassline. Bob adds some feedback just before the solo section where Chris goes nuts on the tenor. Bob doubles the bassline two octaves up on his guitar with a twangy tone. Chris’ energy in the solo here is intense and mirrors his phrasing in both ascending and descending contours. When the horns come in with their accompanying solo figures they displace the notes by a semiquaver (extremely challenging to do this) which completely revamps the feel of the solo. Louis and the crew bring things right down before the next solo section. At 4:23 into this song, Justin quotes a bit from Skate U with his Rhodes accompaniment which was a lovely surprise! The horn melodies are nice and staccato with Maz and Justin using the Harmon mute and Chris using the flute. Justin switches over to the Prophet to double the bassline here. Shaun gets lots of time in the spotlight here with his keys solo. He chooses a dry, smooth and 80’s polyphonic synth sound and goes mad with his chops and incredible lines. At 6:29, Louis and Mike reinvent the groove and it becomes very disco-inspired. Mike adds some chords to his bassline and Louis keeps things very straight and 2+4 based. Justin joins in on the Rhodes with this new groove and it gets funkier than this tune has ever been. Shaun doubles Justin’s Rhodes chords here at the end of his solo to bring them out more; incredible listening from his part. Things become more standard as the band nears the end. Bob takes the final solo and absolutely shreds using his extreme high register. Louis Cato simplifies the groove and it takes on a half-time-like groove. Bob solos a little longer than usual; Mike probably didn’t want his brilliance to be cut off too soon! The outro horn melody is nice and raspy. The tune fades out under some feedback from Bob, and Mike reintroduces Justin’s chords from Shaun’s solo on the bass. Maz adds some drone-like trumpet notes to the background and Justin takes a little solo. Mike is the last one to be playing and he uses this to segue into the iconic While We’re Young bassline. 

While We’re Young – Bobby brings the melody in with a highly volatile clavinet tone that seems to feedback whenever he stops playing. Very exciting stuff. Chris’ saxophone melody has lots of quick delay on the ends of his phrases. Bob takes his time with the last note of his slide melody by slowly sliding up to the actual note. Shaun creeps in with some lush, sustained Mellotron chords and Marcelo adds some nice offbeat percussion rhythms which really helps give this tune more of a driving feel. The solo section gets a completely new and ‘club-like’ bassline from Mike and Justin takes a very dissonant Rhodes solo using lots of Phygian flavors. Louis gets very interactive with Mike and Justin here and Marcelo plays lots of nice textures with his vast percussion rig. Justin’s sense of harmony here is just unreal. Louis switches over to a simpler, cross-stick heavy groove in the middle of Justin’s solo. Justin gets very chordal at the very end just before the horns return. Justin harmonizes with Bob’s slide melody on the Prophet with a very aggressive sounding patch. The energy here is staggering. Bob takes a little slide solo in between the spaces between the horn melody and it takes on a more ambient sound with some volume swells and a restrained, patient and minimalist sense of melody. Louis sticks to a ‘4 on the snare’ groove until the fade out for a change which brings out a funkier side to the band.

Bad Kids to the Back – The funk continues with Justin’s brilliant tune. Louis starts this one off with a different drum fill than usual, but things settle into a fairly typical arrangement with some very tasty drum fills and a slightly different groove. The B section gets some chicken-picking from Bob on guitar showing his country influence. When the horns play the backing figures, Mike plays the melody with some sub-octave and wah effects. Bobby takes the solo with a very traditional blues/jazz, percussive organ sound with some beautifully classic licks. Halfway through he gets quite chromatic and chordal with the use of the diminished scale. He pulls out the drawbars and then gets into a very Joey De Francesco style ostinato just before the end. Justin adds some very eerie Rhodes chords here as well and Louis goes disco once again with his grooves. The rest of the band come back in and the groove gets busier. The interlude melody sees Bob use his autowah pedal and Justin choose an acid lead synth patch on the Prophet. Bobby wails on the organ with his sustained chords. The band simmers down into the drum solo where Louis takes his time and gets polyrhythmic. Bobby selects a wobbly and reverberant Organ for the solo backing figures. When the horns enter at the end of Louis’ solo, he plays heavily between the pulse of the song and the vamp gets extended by about 6 times! The outro is very high energy and the crowd cheer wildly. Mike says ‘Merci’ to the crowd and makes a note that this is their first time in Wolfisheim.

Bigly Strictness – This one has a much stronger club or dubstep influence than other versions. This is largely due to Louis’ floor tom heavy groove and Mike’s sub-octave tone. Bob uses a very harsh, gated fuzz sound for the slide riff. Justin chooses a very groovy synth patch on the Prophet 6 and the blend with Bobby’s organ is just sublime. The intricate horn melody has more Maz than usual (volume-wise) with his low pitched wah trumpet, but Chris’ crazy effects sax is still very clearly heard. The first solo starts at a much quieter dynamic than usual and gets lots of interactive and playful comping from Mike and Justin. Bobby takes the solo on Moog with a ton of delay with a warmer patch than usual. Louis’ groove is infectious here and really helps to propel Bobby’s solo along. Maz takes the second solo and picks things up with his gated fuzz trumpet that we’ve heard on the original album version. His phrasing and note choices are nice and adventurous. Bobby’s chords go Green Onions by Booker T again for this version. Things fade away into the outro section under some beautiful ambient playing from Bob with his delay and reverb driven droney chords. Mike plays some chords here too. Louis uses a very small portion of his drum kit and plays extremely gently. Marcelo adds some rainmaker here and the horns come in with their distinctive melody with an ambient and modulated tone. Shaun takes the solo on Talkbox here and takes his time. His phrasing is as perfect as it could have been! He isn’t afraid to repeat himself as much as possible and to take his hands away from the keyboard. He restates the tonic note over and over again with some extremely fast and percussive, staccato rhythms at one point. After this, he outlines every chord more clearly and Bob comes in with some spectacular choppy, tremolo and reverb-heavy comping. Louis’ incorporates some more washy sounds and Shaun gets more out there. The climatic isn’t quite as dramatic as usual, but the subtlety of Justin’s Rhodes comping can be heard more clearly, and we also hear Bob’s tasteful atmospheric comping in more detail too. Mike introduces the Wolfi Jazz crowd to the Xavi polyrhythmic exercise and counts in French.

Xavi – This is a nice medium-up tempo Xavi. Louis’ groove again is very different to the original songs so it brings out different things from the band. Chris comes in the flute melody like usual with Mike on bass, but this time Bob joins in with some very subtle chords. After the 2 bar guitar break. Bobby comes in with the bassline with a very intense and aggressive clavinet sound unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. I think he was having problems with the clav on this show as it seems to want to feedback as soon as he stops playing something on it. Chris switches over to the sax for the melody with Maz on muted trumpet. The B section gets a semiquaver heavy drum groove from Louis and Justin screeches with some C6’s on the trumpet! Bob takes the first solo and shreds. He channels his inner Jimi Hendrix and gets very experimental. Halfway through he turns on the Autowah and starts playing lots of very fast lines with a ton of note bending. He gets chordal at the very end and starts using his Whammy to great effect. Mike cues the B section back in and we once again he Justin’s insanely high trumpet playing. Someone in the audience starts screaming a tri-tone, and I think I can make out him saying ‘Baaaab’ (probably Bob). Very funny, but also quite annoying for the band. Maz uses this note in his solo and Louis’ starts smashing his cymbals heavily to try and drown the guy out. Maz then settles into a very funky solo with the wah and Fuzz. Bob and Shaun get super funky here with their chordal stabs on guitar and synth respectively. Bobby continues doubling the bassline on clav. The B section is played again and the song starts to slow down quite a bit. Things fade into a few measures of Marcelo and the crowd. Mike comes in with Bullock on flute to bring in the outro melody. Bobby, Justin and Bob creep in with some lush chords. Justin takes the solo and the song speeds up a little. Justin absolutely hammers down the groove here, and he’s the soloist! He plays a ton of semiquaver heavy lines and also uses lots of dissonance where needed. Louis responds to this on the drums by using his washy cymbals to pick up the intensity as much as possible. The outro is funky and the melody sounds heavier than usual as everyone except Mike in the rhythm section doubles it on their respective instruments. Maz and Chris nail the rhythmic horn lines here. Mike and Mason Davis (drum tech) play the krakebs here to outline the 4:3 polyrhythm.

Thing of Gold – Justin starts this SP classic off like usual on the Rhodes. Chris joins in with a highly reverberant, altissimo sax melody and the percussion section play lots of lovely and driving rhythms. Bob chooses a beautifully sparkly bright tone for his accompaniment. I’ve always loved his approach to this song with the capo on the 10th fret and his delicately plucked, jangly melodies. The B section is nice and lush also. Shaun plays the melody on the Moog here instead of the audience singing along. Bob plays some nice arpeggios reminiscent of Flood. Louis and the crew pick up the groove after the original section returns. Bob continues his tasty trading with the horn melody using his extreme high register. The reverb-heavy horn section sounds super lush. The chorus section gets a few new bass notes from Mike, some high pitched chords from Bob and lots of two-part harmonies from Maz and Chris. Shaun plays the melody on the Moog here just before the solo section (he’s sadly buried in this mix). The solo section gets super funky and Bobby uses his distorted (and playing up) Clavinet to good use. He decides to play continuously to try and negate the feedback issue as much as possible. Louis’ groove is really heavy is the perfect stomping ground for the soloist. Chris takes a high energy sax solo here and uses his full range and immense chops. Bob finds a twangy single note melody to play alongside the bassline here. Chris plays lots of detached, swung semiquavers here. The chorus section emerges once again and gets super washy thanks to Bob with his ambient chordal playing. Shaun picks up the intensity hugely with a beautiful and intervallic Moog solo. Mike reharmonizes the bassline and Justin follows on Rhodes. Shaun continues his brilliance for a solo Moog outro performance. He brings in his Korg Kronos keyboard into the mix to highlight some changes in harmony. The crowd loved every minute of this performance and can’t let go. Bob uses his tremolo to great effect on the final chord.

Shofukan (Encore 1) – Bob sets this one off at a faster tempo than usual with a faint higher octave and delay heavy tone. The horns come in with some harmonic accompaniment from Shaun on keys and some washy cymbal work from Louis. The song settles into the tempo and Justin showcases his wonderful lead trumpet playing. Louis picks up the groove when Bobby switches over to the clavinet and Bob plays the power chords. Bob’s guitar melody is accompanied by Shaun and the crowd shouting. The band simmers down into a very quiet solo section. Justin takes a trumpet solo with a very warm and mellow tone. Bobby’s organ comping is busier than usual and he uses a more wobbly tone. Mike keeps the palm muting going and Louis’ groove is simplistic. Justin’s range is massive and his high notes are played with such clarity. About half-way through the solo, Louis drops out leaving Mike to play a bass fill. Justin arcs up and plays more dissonant lines with some syncopation. Bobby’s organ comping gets more intense and Justin resolves this section with a piercing high note. After the rest of the band come back in, Mike plays a sub-octave, disco like bass groove and Louis follows with some sweet syncopation. The band enters the final section with the classic bassline. Bob hangs onto a drone note for a while here before playing the regular, overdriven arpeggios. The audience gets a go at singing the melody on their own. Shaun brings in some Celebrity-like piano chords and Louis goes mad with a very cymbal heavy groove that is very punk in character. He and Marcelo get some time alone to show off their mega chops. They go swinging temporarily, and Bob and Mike joins in with some low pitched drone notes. Bobby plays some insanely fast melodies on the clavinet before Bob brings in the arpeggio’s once more. The crowd continue to sing over him, but they don’t quite get the rhythms right! When the horns and the rest of the rhythm section come in, Mike adds a heap of syncopation to the bassline. Things fade out under the horn melody and Louis’ deep floor tom rumbles.

Chonks (Encore 2) – The audience can’t let go and so the Pup’s emerge from backstage once again. The crowd starts singing the Shofukan melody and when Mike eventually makes his way to the stage he harmonizes with the crowd with some gently plucked bass chords. Louis’ adds a bit of a groove before beginning the Chonks drum intro. Bobby’s clavinet is still having troubles, so Shaun doubles him on the Moog before playing the melody. Things are pretty standard here apart from a different Moog sound and a slightly different feeling drum groove. There seems to be more interaction from the rhythm sections parts in this version. The horn melody is very washy with lots of reverb being used. Shaun turns on the Mellotron and takes everyone back to the ’80s. The B section gets some smooth counter melodies from Shaun on the Moog. The first solo section gets a solo from Bobby on his slightly broken clavinet for maybe the first time ever! He plays constantly to stop it from feeding back. Justin and Shaun double the bassline on the Prophet and Moog and Bob gets funky with his chords. Bobby plays some lovely bluesy melodies here. After the B section, Bobby and Shaun play the bassline heavily out of time for a bit of fun. Louis was probably freaking out here! He brings it back in cleverly with the opening drum riff. Shaun asks for some crowd interaction with offbeat shouting just before the breakdown section. The breakdown gets some new chords from Bobby which blend nicely with Justin’s prophet chords. Bob turns on the Fuzz Factory for the outro bassline to give it an amazing amount of energy. The horns are screeching here. The solo section gets another clavinet solo from Bobby and this time he somehow manages to play even faster and harder than usual. He uses his broken clavinet to create some truly amazing sounds. The band drops out and he goes mad with a wall of distortion and wah! This gives this solo section so much more aggression than usual. The final horn melody is almost drowned out by Bobby’s feedback! This was a really fun version of Chonks to end a very fun show.


  • Chris Bullock – tenor sax, flute, and alto flute
  • Mike “Maz” Maher – trumpet and flugelhorn
  • Justin Stanton – trumpet and keyboards
  • Bobby Sparks – keyboards
  • Shaun Martin – keyboards
  • Bob Lanzetti – guitar
  • Michael League – bass
  • Louis Cato – drums
  • Marcelo Woloski – percussion

Sound Crew:

  • Matt Recchia – monitors
  • Michael Harrison – engineering and sound (front of house)
  • Nic Hard – mixing

About the Reviewer

Howdy readers. I’m Simon. Since 2016 I’ve slowly become enveloped in the world of Snarky Puppy. My obsession started a few minutes into the first song they played at the Melbourne 2017 show (Flood); my first live Snarky experience. Since then, I’ve spent countless hours listening to their albums, live shows and various interviews/articles with/on the band.

What really stuck with me after seeing them perform live was just how powerful – sonically – a large band can be when everything is orchestrated in such a way, especially with three keyboardists on stage. What also surprised me was just how much fun everyone appeared to be having on stage; I never ever expected so much jamming!

On, I will primarily be writing reviews of my vast and growing Live Snarky and album collection in hopes that my writing will inspire some purchases along the way. All of the money spent on or will go directly to Snarky Puppy’s members, which will in turn support them while they can continue to do what they do best. And… hopefully fund Family Dinner Volume 3.

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