WASHINGTON, June 27, 2013 —Snowden—no relation, BTW, to the guy who swiped NSA secrets—is the brainchild of musician Jordan Jeffares. It’s the kind of band designed by a single artists but constructed in such a way that it needs other moving parts to succeed. Hence, the actual band behind Snowden. It’s not just Jeffares alone, because he could never do what Snowden accomplishes as an ensemble on stage.
That being said, this band for all intents and purposes is a Jordan Jeffares production. With that in mind, you’d logically conclude that he’d be the absolute focal point of Snowden’s recent live show at the Rock and Roll Hotel. Snowden did after all just release a new album, No One in Control, the first full-length album by Snowden in seven years. So, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Jeffares front and center on stage, soaking up the audience’s gaze in light of his recent accomplishment. That wasn’t the case on the first floor of the Rock and Roll Hotel, though.
Instead, Jeffares was positioned slightly off to stage right – admittedly partially due to the stage design at the Rock and Roll Hotel – with the backlighting displaying his person very much like a virtual silhouette that seemed to be playing guitar in complete anonymity.
“Let the music do the talking” is a frequently used cliché, but it feels less so after hearing Snowden’s live set. By obscuring the rest of the band on the stage by means of back lighting, the audience is literally encouraged to focus only on the music, which is the exact atmosphere Jeffares wants to create in a Snowden live performance.
Snowden’s musical premise is a modern update of the post-punk sound that bands like Joy Division and the Cure made popular in the ‘80s. It’s a sound that’s all about creating a mood. There really aren’t any hooks in the way the band plays. Instead, they opt for a consistent flow distinguished by swirling and twisting guitars. Everything Snowden puts together creates a low hypnotic hum resulting in a light, melancholy atmosphere that pervades their set. The mood is further enhanced by Jeffares’ vocals, which fit right in with the band’s thick bass background making them feel as much a part of the sound rather than as something independent of it.
The mood of Snowden’s show is ultimately dark and gloomy, but one senses catharsis within it. The music isn’t necessarily self-centered. But it seems at times claustrophobic in the sense that it describes and inspires introspection. This is expressed outwardly, but is supposed to be absorbed by the audience and turned inside, so that it can linger in their individual thoughts. It is music meant to be shared, but in an understated introspective silence that relies on the music as an internal soundtrack.
That’s why Snowden doesn’t choose to appear up close and personal during their set. If the band, visually, became a set of personalities, much of Snowden’s content would lose its overall mesmerizing effect. Instead, what the audience sees on stage is the ghostly suggestion of a band, barely perceivable in the dark, but still able to transmit that dark, introspective mood on an audience that’s encouraged to look inward for answers.
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