Snarky Puppy to Bring Eclectic Sound to ’Sco

Sam Rueckert

For double-degree fifth-year Matt Segall, one of the key players involved in bringing Snarky Puppy to campus next Thursday evening, the ’Sco is the perfect venue for the instrumental fusion band. “It has the best sound system on campus and the best vibe on campus for most styles,” Segall said. “They sell beer, which is really important.”

Segall, a columnist for the Review, explained that Snarky Puppy will be in the area through the collective effort of three organizations: the Oberlin Jazz Society, Professor of Percussion Jamey Haddad’s Performance and Improvisation program and the Cleveland Orchestra. After its show in Oberlin, Snarky Puppy will perform in Cleveland at the Fridays@7 Series, a Cleveland Orchestra program designed to draw younger audiences.

Snarky Puppy has a rotating cast of musicians, though according to Segall, they still maintain an identifiable core band. When the group appears at the ’Sco, its lineup will consist of bandleader and bassist Michael League, Shaun Martin and Justin Stanton on keys, Mike Maher on trumpet, Chris Bullock on woodwinds, Robert ‘Sput’ Searight on drums and Keita Ogawa on percussion. Haddad said they will play alongside singer Magda Giannikou. In an email to the Review, Oberlin College Concert Sound technician Sean Mair said the group will also bring its own sound engineer.

Both Segall and Charlie Kimball, College first-year and avid Snarky Puppy fan, are intrigued by how Snarky Puppy, a generally larger act, will maneuver in the ’Sco’s space. “It’s going to be interesting to see how they use the stage, because the ’Sco, while it’s not tiny, isn’t particularly spacious for the performers,” said Kimball. Segall is not overly concerned. “The worst thing that would happen is the horns would be off to the front or the side.”

The show sold out in only two days. Kimball said that the group appeals not only to Conservatory students but to all students who enjoys music. “You can look at them technically or you can look at the band compositionally and scrutinize all the stuff and be like ‘Michael League writes incredible harmony’ or ‘Everything they do rhythmically is really smart,’ … but at the end of the day all of their music is really, really fun and for the most part listenable,” said Kimball, a self-described “Snarky Puppy hype-boy.” He also said that he believed the audience would receive the set enthusiastically.

League also plans on teaching a master class and coaching the three PI ensembles while on campus. The PI program is Haddad’s collaborative effort with the Conservatory to create “a safe space for people to develop the language of their generation.” Kimball sees League and Snarky Puppy as being a good fit for Haddad’s program. “The fact that they are looking to different styles and looking to different feels is interesting. … A lot of the stuff is focused on feel and interaction between the group, and that’s sort of one of the key things for Snarky Puppy live.”