Red Snapper – Live @ Rich Mix
aaamusic | On 03, Feb 2015
Friday 30th January, London
On another night that isn’t as miserable as it should be now that we are entering February, Red Snapper and fans congregate for an intimate and energetic show inside Rich Mix in Shoreditch. This, the launch event of their latest LP, Hyena, is met with a warm crowd that packs out the room, yet still allows each individual breathing and movement space. This becomes more important later down the line.
flies+flies introduce us to the night with the dark experience of their brooding electronics and effectively set the scene for Red Snapper’s part tribalistic, part Krautrock approach to forward moving funk grooves. Going outside for a breather (of smoke) between bands, I got deep into conversation with other members of the audience. So easygoing and engaging were these fellow gig-goers that I managed to still be standing outside Rich Mix as I heard the headliners ringing out their first notes from within the building. I quickly grabbed my +1 as we rushed to the stage and, due to the previously mentioned space in the crowd, this was actually possible. This is the point I realise I’m at a gig full of happy and friendly people, and while it’s generally hard to say that this reflects anything on the act themselves, no one can doubt that it contributed to a great time to be had by all.
After their opening number, double-bass player and vocalist Ali Friend welcomes everyone to the album launch and makes mention to the fact that it comes quite a few months after the actual release of Hyena, which was actually in September 2014. The flavour of this album was initially conceived from the inspiration Red Snapper took from their soundtracking work on the recent restoration of the 70s Senegalese film, Touki Bouki. Musically this translates to a product that is in every bit Red Snapper regarding their atmospheric and explorative tones but with a newfound Afrofunk sensibility. They find themselves somewhere that isn’t quite the tribalistic party of Goat, the bluesy yet worldly musings of Sun City Girls, nor the industrial intensity of Gum Takes Tooth, but a diluted mix of each, slowly leaning from one direction towards another through the course of the night.
In the appearance of wild and raving moments of cacophonous saxophone freak-outs, Rich Thair’s metronomic rhythms on the drums firmly link with the driving lines of Friend’s double bass. The sonic output and performance becomes evermore fervent and starts moving greater portions of the audience into an array of dances. Snapper then tone things down with some older material which is more vocal-orientated than the rest of what they’ve been playing up to this point. It forms a nice counterpoint to everything we’ve been dealing with up till now and encourages the audience’s movements to be less ‘mindless jiggling’ and more ‘engaged grooving’.
The trend of friendly smiles and happy dancing continues to grow though out the set. David Ayers’s guitar noodles and echoes in the background, playing some ethereal roles, but then the next song rolls on by and Ayers work becomes more solidly strummed and textured. Tom Challenger similarly changes roles though out the set, switching between saxophone, keys and clarinet, sometimes playing the meat of a groove and other times fuelling the chaos. What doesn’t change is the group’s excitement and energy throughout all proceedings. This gradually feeds into the crowd until it has accumulated to the point that everyone is kept happily jigging until the very end.