On the first cool, breezy night of the fall season, hundreds of funk loving New Orleanians came buzzing through the Bywater neighborhood's famous Music Box Village to see the jazz-fusion superband, Snarky Puppy. Those familiar with the venue know that the Music Box Village knows how to put on a memorable show, with a series of instrumental structures that performers can incorporate into their set at will. Large columns holding the musicians - separated by instrument type - fenced the crowd into the middle of the venue. The sounds of each instrument met one another above the spectators creating a dome of acoustic sound. The horn section set up shop underneath a massive chandelier, the guitarist played from a balcony, the organist took the stage and the drummer laid down the groove from "the kitchen", a musical treehouse completely composed of pots and pans.
The band members weren't the only ones making use of the eclectic space - some attendees watched from treehouses above as others danced between the pillars of sound that the musicians were playing in. Before the show, the audience buzzed with excitement about what has been described by fans as, "one of the most anticipated events of the season", as they indulged in food by Naca Nica, a Nicaraguan pop-up serving tamales and other Latin fare (with vegan options).
As if the venue's steampunk-esque iron work wasn't enough to get the audience engaged, Snarky Puppy performed a dynamic show with genres gracefully blending between traditional jazz and synth-laden funk to modal world music. It's not surprising that a superband like Snarky Puppy is able to pull off such seamless transitions; having formed at the musically renowned University of North Texas, "The Fam" is comprised of up to 25 of the most talented jazz musicians the original group stumbled upon. When the members aren't playing together as Snarky Puppy, they're likely playing with music icons Erykah Badu, Justin Timberlake, David Crosby, Snoop Dogg and more.
The venue and artistry fed off of one another, unique from any other Snarky Puppy show was the interactive art installment that comprises the very foundation of the Music Box Village. Each section of the ensemble played about 20 feet apart from one another, enveloping the audience in what can be best described as the acoustic epicenter of the show. With the horn section playing from the left, guitar from the right and the drum groove coming from above, this show became a fully immersive sound experience. At one point, a train blared its horn from outside the Music Box Village walls in perfect syncopation with the drum and horn sections. Concertgoers laughed and cheered, both due to the organic way the sounds of the city complimented the music, and because they were so transfixed by the show that they had forgotten about the world that lie outside the venue's walls.
It's not everyday that such a reputable and creative band plays an equally dynamic venue, and this show certainly set a high standard for acts to come. With over 30 more dates on their international tour, Snarky Puppy will bring the funk to cities like Zurich, Munich, Paris and London. We can't help but think last night had that energy in the crowd only curated when the spirit of New Orleans brings that little something extra to a deserving band.