Small Black @ Kilby Court 04.01 with Snowmine
Mother Nature, you drunk bitch, you and Kilby Court almost ruined this show for me—dumping freezing rain on us while we waited outside only to find out that the show is running an hour late, and they aren’t opening the doors until everything is about to start. I almost said “Fuck it” and went home right then and there, but I decided to stick it out since I had already made the drive down there. I get it, shows are pretty much always late, and Snowmine apparently had to have their van towed from Idaho Falls to get here. That’s fine, I understand, but don’t leave 50 people freezing their asses off outside while it rains sideways, only to have to deal with a bitchy door girl on top of it. Not cool. In fact, I’m pretty sure I now have pneumonia from standing outside trying to shield myself from the torrential downpour and wind. Needless to say, I was pissed when I finally got in.
Rarely do I find myself equally excited about both the bands on the line-up. Up until this point, I had only heard a few songs from Snowmine, but what I had heard, I really liked. I’ve known of Small Black’s existence for a while, but only recently have I fully explored their entire catalog. I was excited to see how both groups would recreate their elaborately processed and effect-laden sounds to the stage. Spoiler alert: they both nailed it! Snowmine opened with “To Hold an Ocean,” the “intro” from their February release, Dialects. To simply call it an intro would be an understatement and would undermine the ethereal, oceanic composition into a category typically associated with fillers and tracks everyone skips over. No, this was truly art coming alive on stage and, judging by the looks of awe on everyone’s faces, I wasn’t the only person who thought it was magical. This daze of wide-eyed disbelief continued throughout the band’s entire set, peaking during the dream-pop “Let Me In,” making the environment beautifully subdued and surprisingly pleasant. So thank you Snowmine, for bewitching us to the point where everyone could truly enjoy themselves and no one was annoying. I didn’t even end up with some dancing drunk girl’s hair in my mouth, and it was glorious.
I’m sorry for fangirling, but I can’t help but feel giddy when I think about how much fun I had. Their musical prowess and playful energy were so amazing to be around, so much that Snowmine has officially become my new favorite band—Dialects has been on repeat since that night.
After a surprisingly quick change, Small Black jumped on stage and launched into “Free at Dawn,” a slower yet danceable track from their 2013 release, Limits of Desire. It took everyone a minute to get in the groove of things, but they quickly settled into their element, with three of the four members alternating through guitars, a bass and two keyboards, depending on the song.
As the band continued into their 13-song set, I noticed an increase in the amount of people dancing around me. The crowd was getting rowdier, which was appropriate given the harder, harsher sounds and the upbeat nature of songs like “Despicable Dogs.” When they played “Real People,” however, things started to get a little weird (in a good way). For those who aren’t familiar with the track, it features a lot of intensely expressive electronic sounds, which were now amplified in the live setting. After frontman Josh Kolenik quipped that the song was about aliens, they tore into it, with lights spinning and flashing, Kolenik dancing and swaying, essentially making the crowd freak out. A kid next to me had his ear literally pressed to the speaker, screaming “SMALL BLACK I LOVE YOUUUU!” until his voice cracked, occasionally pausing to sit on the ground with his head between his legs, shaking his head in awe. There was the teenage couple fully making out beside me, and a sweet lesbian couple slow-dancing with each other. It surprised me to see everyone’s vastly different reaction to the music, with some people chilling out, some flipping out and some sharing tender moments with their significant other.
The set wrapped up with “No Stranger,” a cute, upbeat, indie-pop song that solidified everyone’s collective state of calm bliss—that kid screaming by the speaker being the exception. They followed up with two encores before retiring, which left most everyone, including myself, pretty satisfied and content.
Despite the fact that the weather was shit and I was cold the whole time, both of the bands completely blew my mind. I was apprehensive about how their recorded sound would translate to the stage. Needless to say, my worries were eased almost instantly, and I ended up feeling connected to not only the bands, but the people around me. Everything ended up being really fun and offered an extremely close and inclusive atmosphere, which is something that never happens, and I’m so glad I got to be a part of the entire experience.