By James Currie
England has been a leader of the electronic music scene for decades now and London’s latest import, Snapped Ankles, is keeping that stance alive and well. For over a decade, the East Ender performance art rock band has been making a name for themselves with unique visuals accompanied with Krautrock beats all the while hidden under various nature themed costumes and custom modified instruments. Tonight, the bring their party vibe to Chicago as they embark on their first ever US Tour.
It takes a lot to get people out on a school night. On top of that, a global pandemic still looming around every corner and right at the tail end of a cold winter’s night. All that didn’t seem to matter as Snapped Ankles packed the house at the Empty Bottle like it was a Saturday night in the summer, albeit under a vaccine mandate and mask order. The stage littered with cables and small electronic devices like a disheveled spider web.
Snapped Ankles, the mysterious masked musicians from across the pond, took the stage late, around 10:30PM, after two opening acts – Gloin and Tim Kinsella & Jenny Pulse. On this Thursday night show in the Ukrainian Village, most are home in bed watching the late night news reporting about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, readying themselves for the last day of the work week. But not for this crowd. Fans gathered around the stage and readied themselves for a night of woodland mysticism and therapeutic dancing.
Just as I was pleasantly surprised to see the turn out, I think the audience who didn’t know about Snapped Ankles was equally surprised as they danced, cheered and grooved along with the music and followed the direction of the lead singer as he frequently jumped off the stage and roamed the crowd with his electrified driftwood shaman stick.
The band itself, as we soon learned, was a mix of members who’ve been around for the last few years to brand new as tonight showcased a drummer on his first gig with the band. Apparently he was up for the challenge as his background as an English Jazz drummer gave him proper stamina. His skills put to the test as this band is known for giving the beatmaster a workout.
Snapped Ankles played a mix of tracks from their debut LP “Come Play The Trees”, to latest “Forest Of Your Problems”. They kicked off the show with “Rhythm Is Our Business”. A get up and go song that sets the mood for what’s ahead. They also played fan favorites, “Tailpipe”, “Jonny Guitar Calling Gosta Berlin” and newest release, “Barbecue in Brazil”. My favorite live being, “Rechargeable” off their 2019 album, Stunning Luxury. This is a fast track to gets people moving and keeps them going. The energy coming off the stage from the band was as strong as a Tesla coil let loose in a faraday cage.
It was great to see Snapped Ankles live right here in our own back yard, but since I’ve been following them I was hoping for a little more on the showman side. The music was on point. Even with new members, they kept it together and sounded great. My only complaint was I wish we would have got the full Snapped Ankle performance with projection of movie clips and full costumes vs the subpart lighting of The Empty Bottle and simple jumpsuits with the band name on them atop loose ghillie suit masks. With the dim lighting and most not knowing what they do live, it still worked, but could have been just that much better as it all ties in to what they’ve become known for. Knowing this is their first US tour, I’m sure there was limitations on transportation as well as possible COVID restrictions. No matter, that will just make the next time they come through even better as we’ll have something more to look forward too.
If you don’t already know about Snapped Ankles, check them out. You can watch music videos on the usual online streaming outlets as well as support the band through sites like Bandcamp. My best description of what they sound like, is a mix of CAN with a little LCD Sound System and a dash of Wayne Coyne from Flaming Lips, all while making quick wit comments on modern Capitalism from the forest to the concrete jungle. As good as they sound on their various media releases, nothing beats them live. Go see them now while you can America as they embark on this inaugural journey.
For more, including tickets to the US shows, click here
For photos from the Chicago show at Empty Bottle, click here