I’m a big proponent of Wednesday night shows, the perfect midweek pick me up from the bullshit of real life if you ask me. And if you want a really good pick me up, then a band like Snapped Ankles is who you need to see. Making their US “maiden voyage” (or “first contamination” according to lead singer Austin from stage), they hit NYC on their way to SXSW and put on a spellbinding show. There’s a lot going on in both their music and their live performance and there’s really no other way to describe them other than weird….but weird is how I live and breathe in this world and what I thrive on so I was in pure heaven. But first, let’s hit upon the openers of the show, Gloin, who were a wonderful surprise.
I’m always on time for shows, not only to secure a good shooting spot, but because despite going to shows for more than 25 years of my life now, I’m still not (that) jaded and a pretty big nerd so I really like to see the openers. I’m glad it’s a habit I have stuck by because I’ve discovered some incredible bands over the years, Gloin being a perfect example of this. I had not even heard of them until the morning of the show when I checked into who the opener was going to be. I put them on in the car while driving around for my second job and was immediately enthralled. Soaked with hazy synths and reverb, their sound is heavy and bombastic at times, slinkier and more lilting at others. And while the firm influence from noise rock and post punk is evident, they still craft a sound that is unique to them. They are based in Toronto which isn’t all that far, but it feels far enough, and I am hoping it won’t be too long before they can make their return to the States.
And then there was Snapped Ankles. Oh how I love you Snapped Ankles and that love was made even deeper after finally getting to see them live. And while I say there’s no other way to describe them than “weird,” that somehow doesn’t feel right either because there are many other terms you can ascribe to them that each feel in some way fitting. The easiest comparisons are of course to Krautrock and other motorik, dance driven genres like post punk. There are also currents of noise and synth punk and some kind of strange hybrid glitch jazz all at the same time. (I don’t even think glitch jazz is a real genre/term, and I certainly do not mean acid jazz either because they are not that, and maybe it’s just me, but I do hear and feel elements of some kind of distorted jazz influence in their sound.)
This being the bands first foray to the States, they were met with a not quite sold out venue, but still a pretty decent sized crowd for that room. And every single person there was in rapt attention and an established fan of the band; it was clear that just about everyone came to dance (I even got into it and I notoriously doooo noooot dance). And dance they did while the band grooved through their set dressed in ghillie masks and jumpsuits which certainly made for interesting stage attire (with some serious Yellowjackets cult like vibes). The set was peppered with the bounciest songs from 2019’s Stunning Luxury and 2021’s Forest of Your Problems plus a few odds and ends including their latest single “BBQ In Brazil,” which is not a song about food as it may first appear, but rather social commentary on luxury travel and “instaconsumerism.” (I’ve also wondered if this may also have undertones of vitriol against the vile Bolsonaro regime and the practice burning the rainforests to create farm and cattle grazing land, irreparably damaging ecosystems and ancient growth in the name of capitalism. That was my interpretation but it does seem right in line with the band’s politics and themes.)
As there was no late show at the venue, the band didn’t seem to adhere to the strict structure of the songs as they are recorded and extended and ran many of them together to stretch out the set. Band leader/singer Austin was in and out of the crowd several times while the rest of the band remained steadfast, locking in with the various samples and loops, melding mesmerizing bass lines perfectly in time with various synths, drums and the clank of tree branches outfitted with triggers and attached to effects pedals routed to synths. At the very end of their set, as they exited the stage, they left several of the loops playing as the crowd yelled in vain for more; the band did not return for an encore. As the crowd began to disperse, the sound tech came up to figure out where to turn the gear off, and somehow managed to turn the percussion loop off first, leaving an eerie vocal loop playing for several moments longer making for one of the most fitting ends I could have hoped for from this night.
Snapped Ankles is truly a sight and sound to behold. And I’m confident as they become more known in the States, it really is only a matter of time before they are commanding audiences from much larger stages here.
Snapped Ankles is responsible for one of the best and most interesting takes on Fugazi I have ever heard. Their version of “Give Me The Cure,” came out last October on a comp called Silence Is A Dangerous Sound on Ripcord Records and it is a drastic reworking of the seminal track from 13 Songs. I highly recommend the rest of the comp as well, as it is packed full of artists doing their own takes on the legendary band, but this was a major stand out for me.
Scroll down for more pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)