Snarky Puppy brought an incredible vibe to York College in Jamaica, Queens. The only NYC stop of their current tour in support of the recent (and awesome) Culcha Vulcha saw a crowd of young and old music enthusiasts alike getting wild to the band’s proggy jazz fusion sound.
The night began with a few new ones off that record, “Tarova” and “Semente” before diving into some old tunes. The band’s huge sound and presence had the crowd screaming and head-bobbin’ in a way that felt out of context given the venue, the 1400+ seat Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center. It’s the type of place that was created for plays along with concerts, and last night was probably one of the wilder musical performances its ever seen.
While keyboardist Cory Henry wasn’t around for the first set, he came out at the beginning of the second set and it kicked things into high gear. Everyone stood up, and the younger portion of the audience literally flooded the area in front of the stage, turning up to the funk. It felt more like a late night at Bear Creek than anything performing arts centers usual endure. The crowd occupied the front for about 15 minutes before keyboard playfully sang for them to get back to their seats. I’ve never seen a crowd take kinder to being told what to do like that before.
Mixing new tracks with old favorites like “Lingus” and “Shofukan,” Snarky Puppy crafted an ultimate, career-spanning show over two sets. The energy was through the roof at certain points, while at others they had the crowd listening carefully to exquisite solos that showcased each members unique ability to communicate via their instrument.
Snarky Puppy smashes jazz virtuosity, youthful energy, and Grammy-winning composition together in a way that makes them unlike any other band out there. They can play a Phish late-night show, or a performing arts center and still rock it all the same. It’s so good and versatile that it doesn’t seem like there’s any slowing them down. The ~200 person line for merchandise following the show, full of mostly college students it seemed, was a good display of what they’re doing for bringing musicianship to the masses. Don’t call it pop music, but it is getting popular, and that’s the coolest part of it. This isn’t some niche thing Snarky Puppy has created, it’s becoming the new standard for what to expect out of your music.