March 25, 2013

Todd Snider Livens Up The Haunt

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Todd Snider is a modern day cowboy. Donning a hat and bandana around his neck, his alt-country style made The Haunt come alive on Friday night. This was only the second time Snider has performed at the Ithaca venue, but the crowd made sure he didn’t feel like a stranger.

Although Snider’s career began in the South, he has gained a strong fan base in the Northeast in the past years. Fans traveled from all over upstate New York to hear Snider play.

A long-time fan from Oneida, N.Y. Ezra Addams, described Snider as “Americana folk with great storytelling.” True to Addams’ assessment, Snider’s most recent album, Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables, shows off his narrative ability. He tells stories about running away from home, his antics while drunk and almost anything else while shifting between song to spoken word. With his Southern style and fast-paced slurs, he sounds like a combination like Arlo Guthrie and Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock, and has enough wit to match them both.

As Snider took the stage and adjusted his microphone, he bluntly stated that he was going to give us all a “90-minute distraction from our impending doom.” He then warned: “I’m going to give you some of my opinions. You don’t have to have to listen to them because they’re smart, but you’re going to listen to them because they rhyme.” Throughout the night, he inspired almost as much laughter as clapping and screaming.

As Snider played songs from his aptly named album, Stoner Fables, he was not ashamed to profess his drug and alcohol use.  “Sometimes I don’t bring a band; I just bring mushrooms and shit,” he said to the crowd. In fact, that’s just what he did. On stage with Snider were a couple of two-foot tall, red and white mushrooms. Definitely not standard country music stage decoration.

But behind his dry humor and aloof charm, Snider really does touch on some serious, national issues. Songs like “Looking for a Job” and “Stuck on the Corner” tackle America’s unemployment and tragic economic state with touches of humor.

Surprisingly, the crowd didn’t have many young faces. There were some college students, but the majority of the crowd was over 30.

Not all shows at the Haunt are as well received as the one on Friday night, but Snider is one of a kind. It seemed as though almost everyone in attendance had already seen Snider in concert, though many had never been to The Haunt before. Rochester native Andy Sanderson was seeing Snider for the fifth time. What appealed to Sanderson, and most repeat concert-goers, was Snider’s gift to make life funny, “even the depressing shit.” Sanderson used the song “Statistician Blues” as an example, saying “77 percent of statisticians hate their jobs; I don’t know if that’s the number, but I understand it.” Snider has the ability to point out the irony in our lives and, although he can paint us as pathetic, he also gives us the fuel for change. This quality makes his music extremely relatable and almost impossible to dislike.

Original Author: Ashley Popp