There are times when you go to a show and are struck by just how good the people on stage are at what they do. It’s that time when you leave a venue, walk outside, and realize what you just witnessed was pretty damn special. Fresh Snow is that kind of band.
Over the last couple of years, the Toronto band has been building up a reputation. They recently graced the cover of NOW Magazine and have gained traction with the help of excellent live shows and the support of the Wavelength Music Series.
Begun as an improvised project in 2010 with Brad Davis, Jon Maki, Andy Lloyd, and Tim Condon, Fresh Snow evolved and expanded, leading to last year’s release of their debut full-length, I. On Saturday night at The Silver Dollar, the instrumental band – a five-piece on stage with the addition of violinist Laura C. Bates – joined other Wavelength acts for The Class of 2014, the first (official) show in a series honouring the city’s best. And best is right.
It’s difficult, as an instrumental band, to hold attention for an extended period of time. A slight drop in tempo or a chattering crowd is all it takes for the mind to wander off. But there’s the sense that, with Fresh Snow, they’re willing to take that risk and to assume their crowd has the capacity for twists, turns, and an active imagination. There’s also a flair for the dramatic – the band hooded, flanked by black-cloaked figures with laser-pointer eyes, and playing beneath a haze of smoke and projections. Throughout their set, walls of feedback and synths met heart-palpitating drums, eerie violin melodies, and guitar parts crafted for the pure-purposes of following you all the way home.
That’s not to say it’s entirely dark and ominous. Yes, there are moments of foreboding (see: the build-up on “Your Thirst For Magic Has Been Quenched By Death!” – a song basically destined for Dexter Morgan’s iPod… even if he is [spoiler alert] currently deep in the Canadian woods,) but it’s offset by an understated optimism as well. “Helix Pass” is a prime example of the band’s ability to shift between both sides of the grim-to-hopeful spectrum, and it’s something they’re more than capable and prepared to pull-off live.
It was a set of songs massive in scope, seemingly endless in opportunity, and with ample room to shape your own cinematic vision to their provided soundtrack. Fresh Snow put on an output of intelligent shifts, well-designed intersections, and everything you’d hope instrumental music could offer. And, as the band ended with the long, winding album-closer “Saturation Complete”, it was also pretty clear said soundtrack was created by music fans, through and through.
So if you’re in Toronto, please don’t take Fresh Snow for granted. Get out there, support them, bring earplugs (because if you need to remember one thing, it’s that they’re loud and unrelenting,) and appreciate just how good they are at what they do. If you’re elsewhere, hope they eventually manage to expand their touring outside of the city. Otherwise – plan a road trip. It’s worth it.