The Snowdroppers
The Snowdroppers @ The Vagabond
11:30pm, Fri 24 Feb 2012
After leaving Tim McMillan earlier than I would’ve liked, I pushed through the seething sozzled mass in The Garden to The Vagabond. The line was, as I suspected, not yet moving; after all, it was only 11:49pm. I was expecting movement by 11:50.
Not so much.
Around midnight the queue started lurching forward. I’m now immensely irritated, because (a) I retrospectively know I could’ve hung around Tim McMillan for an extra 20 minutes, and (b) I’ve been standing behind a group of drunken fucktards, unable to escape the banal inanity they’ve been slurring to each other whilst they commandeered plastic chairs and created their own little seated area in the middle of the line. Still, they all head into the middle of The Vagabond, and I head to the back: the seating and elevated view is very welcome. I’m feeling dead-set resigned on having an awful time, and I take a moment to quieten myself down: remember, I told myself, this could be the show that changes your life. Open up a bit.
The Snowdroppers take to the stage. The crowd in the pit of The Vagabond cheer. “How the fuck ya going?” yells their pretty front-man. And they launch into a rumbling, snare-dominated, more rock than rockabilly opener. And the next song sounds pretty much the same, just with a little tempo variation. By the time they’re halfway through the first chorus of their new song, Devil’s In The Details, I’m becoming bored by its monotony.
The drums are way too hot, and that snare is so sharp that it’s starting to poke me in the eye. Guitar is well restrained lower in the mix, and alternates between some great chugalug and piercing leads. The bass is magnificent – fat and dirty and delicious. The rhythm section are pretty frugal with their movements, mostly rooted to the spot; the front-man roves the front of the stage like a wild animal, hip-thrusting through his songs and occasionally playing banjo to increase the rockabilly feel. He exercises great crowd control – not that it’d take much to herd that crowd of drunk lemmings.
But when he issues a call to arms – “let’s try and get everyone laid this evening!” – well, I feel completely out-of-place. About 25 years out, actually.
There’s a few familiar musical motifs that permeate the songs, and – truth be told – if you could drop the drums a bit, there’s some great grooves to be had from The Snowdroppers. But, as the exodus from the twenty minute mark showed, they’re not for everyone… and the blatantly sexual intent in their performance was quite off-putting for me. Still, when I read the Guide précis back now, I really should have expected that.