Lead singer Lindsey Jordan.
Thanks to Georgetown University’s radio station, WGTB, the up-and-coming indie rock band Snail Mail performed at our very own hilltop on the night of Saturday, Sept. 22. The band was picked up my Matador Records, leading to the release of their debut album Lush back in early June. Since then, the band has seen an exponential increase in numbers of listeners and album sales, making their appearance at such a small venue a rare treat. This coming February, Snail Mail will be opening for the rock band Interpol at Madison Square Garden, a true testament to their rocketing trajectory towards stardom.
As it is not yet February, though, the four unassuming members of Snail Mail were crammed onto the small stage of Bulldog Alley in the Leavey Center. Almost 250 Georgetown, GW, and American University students packed into the University’s premiere standing-room-only venue. I found myself standing towards the back by two folding tables covered in WGTB merchandise and Snail Mail t-shirts emblazoned with a mustard-covered hotdog. Such clothing would make a fine centerpiece to any indie rock fan’s wardrobe, but seeing as I would not exactly consider myself much of an indie rock connoisseur, I chose to pass on any purchases. On that note, I should perhaps address the fact that when I say I am “not much of an indie rock connoisseur,” I mean I do not know anything in the slightest about the contemporary indie scene. I hope any readers that know more on the subject – which I am guessing is all, if not most of you – will understand where I am coming from, or at least give me the benefit of the doubt. If not, angry emails will always be replied to at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Liabilities aside, after entering the venue, I settled in, or rather, continued to stand and wait until the band arrived. As I stood, I tried to remember any one of Snail Mail’s songs, realized I had not actually listened to any beforehand, got annoyed at myself for not doing proper research, and before my mind wandered any further, the band arrived. Lindsey Jordan shone on the stage in a yellow sweatshirt and bright white overalls, flanked by her denim-clad band. After a quick introduction, the band took off, opening with a long instrumental followed by “Heat Wave.” For the next thirty minutes or so, one Snail Mail hit led into another with Jordan’s raw, ethereal voice guiding the audience through numerous emotional ups and downs. About two thirds of the way into the concert, the backing members of the band departed the stage, leaving just Jordan and her guitar for two solo pieces. Soon after, the band returned for a final song, and vanished into the night – or rather, the incredibly bright hallways of the Leavey Center.
As a new listener, I noted three things: first, Jordan’s voice was unlike anything I had heard before, and every slightly muffled word felt guided by pure, raw emotions and experiences. Second, when it comes to musicianship, the rest of the band (Alex Bass on bass, Ian Eylanbekov on guitar, and Ray Brown on drums) played a clean and tight set; at times they seemed a tad bored, but Jordan would casually walk over to talk to them and they would smile and laugh, causing an infectious energy to flow through the music. My third point could be construed as a partial critique of the show; again, with emphasis on my status of new listener, I felt that each song was a continuation of the one preceding it. On the one hand, this gave the entire concert what can only be described as a narrative arc, but at the same time I felt a bit bored or left wanting more. Yet as with the members of the band, Jordan only had to throw in a little joke between songs or have a casual conversation with an audience member and I would snap right out of that second verse-induced fugue state. That being said, I was not alone; the energy in the room was that of a crowd anxious to sing and dance and go wild.
This, of course, is where the moshing comes in, and is perhaps the best way to summarize the night at Bulldog Alley. Some twenty minutes into the concert, a call for a “tender mosh” went around, leading to a peaceful bout of jumping and synchronized swaying. Such dancing is what makes Snail Mail so special; clean, driving indie rock combined with emotional lyrics and substance can only make audiences want to rock along in the most relaxed way possible. A tender mosh has a slightly uncomfortable, slightly calming, but overall positive vibe to it, and nothing sums up Snail Mail’s performance in a better way.
Batterman is an Undeclared Freshman.
PC: Michael White