On Tuesday night (13/5/14) my boyfriend and I went to see a band called Snarky Puppy at Band on the Wall in Manchester. The venue was packed out and the atmosphere was great. We saw them there last July at the Manchester Jazz festival, and on both occasions they were amazing. They are difficult to define under one genre but I would describe them as Jazzy/Fusiony/Funky awesomeness. The reason I wanted to talk about them is because I think they embody enterprise.
Snarky Puppy are a large band who’s players interchange throughout the gigs they play, on Tuesday night there were 9 of them on stage, the usual band that tour and even they struggled to fit on the stage, but in total they consist of about 40 musicians. Their leader is Bassist Michael League, who formed the band in 2004, and when they perform on stage every performance is new. They improvise, develop and change their melodies, play solos and have little performance battles. When we saw them last year they had been running a master class with young musicians and they got every single one of these young people up on stage to perform the music they had composed with the band. These musicians consisted of singers, violinists, percussionists, such a wide variety of instruments and I cant think of a better experience than working with such an excellent band and hearing your work performed live to an appreciative audience.
One thing has changed since we saw them perform last year. In January, Snarky Puppy won a Grammy for a song they had premièred at their performance in July and with such a huge, prestigious award I wondered if their ethics, their performance and their stage presence would change. But no, they still got up on stage and looked like they were having the time of their lives, interacting with the audience, appreciating each other’s solos, and they are one of the only bands I’ve been to see that have come off stage at the end to have a chat with the audience. Amazing. When they were on stage, Michael said that people often ask him what was the moment when they realised they had “made it” and he said, that moment will be when we don’t have to carry all of our equipment ourselves. But he mentioned the first time one of their Youtube videos had gone ‘viral’; it was at a concert in a casino where there was only a small audience of about 15 people, and an old man danced in front of the stage and was caught on camera. Michael said getting those views on Youtube was one of the first times he felt like they had made it….and then everyone forgot about them for another three years. Musicians have to work hard at what they do to make a living at it, but sometimes in cases like this, it really does pay off.