Snarky Puppy played two shows at Irving Plaza on New Year’s Eve. The first one ushered in the new year, and the second show was a late-night Phish after party. The jazz-fusion outfit has grown huge in the jam scene over the past few years, and a packed-out room of wide-eyed phans proved to be a fun, unorthodox crew to watch a jazz show with.
I entered the room just before Snarky Puppy hit the stage. “Elevators” by Outkast was bumpin’ through the speakers as everyone settled in, exchanging hugs and pleasantries with their friends during the first moments of 2016. By the time the big band hit the stage, it was about 2:15am on January 1st. The New York City crowd, most of them coming from Phish, was ready to keep their night going, and when the first notes of the uber-danceable “White Cap” a full-on disco party began.
The talent of Snarky Puppy is the main attraction. The band mostly records and plays instrumental music, relying on their musicianship and compositions to do the talking, which is usually done via HD videos on their YouTube channel. When they’re on stage together, you can feel the love and see the connection between members of the band. The three-piece rhythm section could not have had a better time up there, and same could be said for the horn section which had their own little dance party on multiple occasions. Snarky Puppy blazed through the new original “Shark Tank” before settling into a fine groove on the more familiar “Binky.”
At this stage in the game, everyone was properly fucked. Your typical 3am post-Phish hippy crowd is usually raging away to a cover band, side project, or third rate jam band by this point, but this is New York City. Instead of Pink Talking Fish, we have Snarky Puppy playing. (Pink Talking Fish might have been playing somewhere else in the city actually, I’m not sure.) It’s a major perk that this city is so damn snobby, because we get top-ranking acts playing til 4am on New Year’s Eve.
Magda Giannikou came out for the one sung song they’d play all night in the form of the tropical “Amour T’es Là,” off their Family Dinner Vol. 1 album. “Shofukan” ended the set on a worldly note, and the crowd got sufficiently weird with the eastern vibes that the track brings. A “What About Me” encore capped off the show, with a bunch of smiling faces flooding into the Manhattan streets just hours before the first sunrise of the year. Luckily, there were no shortage of options to keep the party going in the Big Apple…
Setlist via @songbirdthejewel on Instagram