I’m only a little bit taller than 5 feet. When I got to the venue for Snail Mail’s Boston show towards the beginning of the night, I already had to fight to see. That’s how committed Snail Mail fans are. The house was packed, unlike anything I have seen since a Blake Mills impromptu jam session at a surf shop in Silver Lake. After weaving my way through the crowd, I stood next to a swaying couple and a die-hard, head bobbing fan, better understanding the duality of Snail Mail’s music: both the folk influences melodically and the punk roots musically.
Snail Mail is the solo project of Lindsey Jordan, only a couple years out of high school. Jordan cites an eclectic mix of musicians like Liz Phair, Joni Mitchell, and Lou Reed as influences, which is apparent in the band’s songs. The set was filled both with tunes familiar to the audience, like the guitar riffs of “Slug” or the grooving single “Thinning,” where Jordan makes a plea: “Haven’t felt good in a week / and I’m thinning out / and it hurts bad / I gotta get back,” as well as a batch of new songs, hopefully in preparation for a new album soon.
Equipped with two cherry red Fender Jaguars, Jordan gave an honest performance, as you could feel the pain written into lyrics like: “I’ve been down countless halls / and once you’ve seen one it’s like you’ve seen them all.” In juxtaposition to the intense emotion of the songs, the band is fun to watch, joking around with each other between songs and constantly adapting their set. It’s refreshing to see a band on tour that looks like they’re enjoying each night and making every performance something new.
Towards the end of the set, a front-row fan threw a t-shirt on stage that said “Static Buzz,” a song from the band’s EP, which Jordan put on before playing the song. What is so captivating about a Snail Mail show is that the audience went wild both when songs familiar to them were played and when Jordan tried out some new material. It seems as if at some of the shows I’ve been to recently, the fans are there just to hear what they can sing along to, so Snail Mail, this early in their career, being able to hold the audience even with new songs is a gift.
The crowd chanted for an encore and Jordan remained shyly on stage, explaining that the idea of an encore is new to them because they’ve always been an opening act. Then Jordan told a story of how a few nights prior, upon trying to collect the rest of the Snail Mail band members for an encore, she stumbled into somebody’s apartment instead of the backstage of the venue. It’s anecdotes like these that make a Snail Mail show forever feel like an intimate living room gig, even in a bigger venue setting. There’s this strong connection between the artist and the audience, which makes the music feel forever fresh. If Snail Mail is playing killer sets like this one at Great Scott, so early in their career, it’ll be exciting to see what the future has in store for this trio.
For more from Snail Mail follow head to their Bandcamp.
Featured image by Noise Floor Photo.