Better than a shot of espresso, the Philly-based brass band Snacktime brought enough energy to rival an elementary school on the last day before summer break. The seven-piece band played a selection of tunes from their upcoming record Sounds from the Street: Live and concluded with a grandiose rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain.”
Snacktime started during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, which put many musicians out of work. But that did not stop sousaphone player Sam Gellerstein — he called up his friends and assembled a brass band to play out on the streets all around the Philly region. With their infectious energy, it was inevitable they would make a splash so early on in the band’s life.
They started with a three song medley of “Sweet Treat,” “Snack MF Time,” and “Littenhouse,” a tribute to the Rittenhouse neighborhood they frequently played and (sometimes encountered various threats to call the police). Their improv-focused arrangements gave way to many special moments of interplay and interaction between the members. While their sound was massive, the majority of the time nothing that was being played seemed frivolous: when it was someone’s turn to solo, they would all seamlessly take a back seat. The quote from blue guitarist Luther Allison, “Leave your ego, play the music, love the people,” was not just practiced on stage, but mastered.
All together the group sounded tight; they played at blistering fast speeds care of drummer Austin Marlow, all moving in unison without any noticeable hiccups. During their tune “Gotta Get Funky (While YOu’re Takin A Shit!)” they easily stuck together even during the most head spinning musical runs. Between the various cryptic hand gestures and signals, there was no chance for someone to fall behind or get lost in a song. Even during “Purple Rain,” when Gellerstein seemingly signed the wrong thing to guitarist Larry Monroe Jr. and headed into a ripping solo, the rest of the band easily adjusted.
This summer Snacktime has a full plate, with their debut album releasing on July 15 and a release party happening the same day at the Brooklyn Bowl Philly with guests Max Sawn, Taylor Kelly, and DJ Xtina. But that is not all: Snacktime will be joining WXPN at our XPoNential Music festival this September 17 at Freedom Mortgage Pavilion. Get tickets and details at XPNFest.org.