I’ve always been impressed by Red Snapper’s recorded work, the last couple of albums they have released Making Bones and Our Aim to Satisfy were highly original and innovative releases. Signed to Warp records they managed to sound like none of their label mates and created a jazz based sound that was neither the funk jazz sound of the Acid Jazz label or the more hip-hop cut up style of the Ninja Tune label. So it was with great anticipation that I went to see Red Snapper headlined one of the nights of the NME Carling Award showcases. To say I had a mixed reaction to the performance of Red Snapper and the whole evening is probably a fair summary of the evening. The evening kicked off with Zoot Women, the new side project of Jacque Le Cont of Les Rhythmes Digital. Too say they were awful would be giving them some degree of credit. I was expecting a band based around the cheesiest and funkiest elements of 80’s synth pop. Instead Jacque and cohort delivered a torrid set of songs closer to the soulless AOR of Hall and Oates. Kids avoid this band at all cost and sent abusive letters to NME for giving them so much positive coverage. Next up we had Bent a band whom though the most original in the world, still sounded like a revelation after Zoot Women. Heavily influenced by the sounds of early 90’s ambient techno and trip hop, Bent managed to create a beautiful and joyous wall of sound. The arrival of a female vocalist for the last couple of songs just added another level of gorgeous sound waves to their impressive and ornate music. How to follow a band of Bent’s fragility and beauty lesson one. You create the funkiest most mind-blowing sound this side of James Brown and you happen to me the mighty Lo Fidelity All-stars. The Lo-Fis although seeming to have disappeared from the face of the world for a few years are now back stronger than ever. Their funk charged skunk rock engine just keeps powering them forward. Tr
acks like Disco Machine Gun still kick more bottom, than a room full of nu-metallist searching for a hip-hop beat to steal. If you don’t own the album ‘How to operate with a blown mind’ I advice you to beg, borrow and steal to get the money to buy it. After the funk storm that was the Lo-Fis, Red Snapper had to come out fighting and indeed they did. Starting off with an opening salvo of a two very tight and groovy instrumentals, Red Snapper proved that Jazz based band can rock as hard and as heavy as any indie rock or metal band. The introduction of MC Det on the track ‘The Sleepless’ just added another level to the groove machine that is Red Snapper. However trouble was just around the corner. You see Red Snapper could not just leave their jazz origins alone. The set started to dissolve into a session of intricate jazz noodling, with songs breaking into weird time signatures, 7/8 anyone. It became more like a Jazz Club sketch than your average gig. Some of the songs were amazingly intricate and complex, leaving me stunned and bored within the same song. The best of the lot was an instrumental that reminded me of a Jazz Mogwai all droning sounds and hidden beauty. It fact it was ‘Nice’. After about 45 minutes I had to leave, partly due to time restrictions (trains to catch et al) and also the fact that I felt like my brain was about to melt. The thing is that Red Snapper were partly stunning, partly bemusing and at other times just a tad tedious and boring. If Red Snapper could just hold back on their jazz odysseys then they could be a really thrilling live group. They’ve defiantly got the talent and the songs, I just hope they can control their improvisational urges and producing live what they constantly impress with on wax.