I, Jasper music editor Kyle Petersen, am a Todd Snider fanboy. That probably needs to be established from the get-go. However, even a neophyte to the world of the wisecracking folkie would have enjoyed themselves last night.
Snider, as usual, took the stage with nothing but a guitar and a couple of harmonicas, and just over 90 minutes later left the stage littered with dozens of those little memories that make live music so special. Here’s a brief list of just the ones I can recall:
1) Snider opened the show with “Is This Thing Working?,” a funny, deadpanning anti-bullying song that had the devoted crowd hooting and hollering like he was a preacher at the end of each verse.
2) A powerful rendition of “Too Soon To Tell,” one of his best new songs that takes a grim, satirical eye towards morality, religion, and mortality.
3) An impassioned, mid-song argument for how he never gets tired of requests, even of his dog-eared, pseudo-novelty hit “Beer Run.” I wasn’t really buying it, but it was an excellent spoken word bit to add to the performance.
4) Snider, as he is often wont, finished out the set with requests from the audience. I’m always amused by this, because eventually people holler out enough songs that he could probably still be working from a set list anyway. This time, however, he trotted out one of my favorites, the seldom-played “Lonely Girl” about seeing his future wife for the first time when he was in rehab, and a couple of other surprises.
5) The final song of the regular set was a request from the girl standing next to me that I was convinced Snider wasn’t going to play—the electric rocker “Cheatham Street Warehouse,” the last song on a rarities and B-sides comp—but then he sent his roadie back to van to retrieve his lyric book, and proceeded to give a mesmerizing reading of the song and make that girl’s night.
6) Finally, and perhaps most impressively, Snider took the stage in long pants and a flannel shirt with a long sleeve shirt underneath. It was, in fact, pretty hot in New Brookland Tavern last night (I think they cut off the AC so you wouldn’t hear it over the performance) even if you weren’t under the stage lights. The songwriter never tried to remove a piece of clothing, and the result was a constant stream of sweat coming down his arms and dripping across his guitar. While most performers have to deal with heat and sweat and the like, to watch a solo performer keep his poise in such uncomfortable conditions throughout a song was impressive.
Sweat, crowd noise, odd songs that even fans might not know—those are often the reason many people don’t like going to shows. But they are truly also some of the best reasons to go too.
Here's a casual performance of one of the aforementioned songs, "Too Soon To Tell," just for kicks.
Why You Should Go to Shows is a projected blog series that describes the specific joys of certain live performances rather than providing a strict review of the show in question or speaking of the joy of patronage in the abstract.