Does one song give you enough information to write an entire concert review? No, it doesn’t. But can one song give you enough information to get ridiculously excited about a band? You betcha.
The plan was to make it to Gallery 5 in time to catch my first glimpse of The Snowy Owls, who were participating in this past Saturday’s “WRIR and The Commonwealth of Notions Presents: Volume Two” — a 10-band sampling of the Richmond music scene organized by WRIR’s Shannon Cleary. Unfortunately, I spent the majority of The Snowy Owls’ set eating trail mix while driving east on Monument Avenue, because I failed to leave on time AND forgot to eat dinner. Not my finest moment. The silver lining to my gold-star-worthy failure was extra shiny, however, because I made it to Gallery 5 in time to pay the $10 admission fee, snag a beer and settle into a spot near the back of the room as the first few notes of set closer “Yr Eyes” were starting up. In the four and a half minutes that followed, I learned a few important things…
Thing One: The Snowy Owls’ guitar-driven melodies are extraordinary. I already knew I loved the lead guitar line that opens “Yr Eyes,” as well as the one that answers it in the second half of the verses, but hearing the song at Gallery 5 made me realize just how deeply those notes had wormed their way into my brain. The first few notes hit my ears with a surprisingly strong (and entirely pleasing) sense of familiarity, meaning they must have been working some serious overtime, bouncing around my consciousness since I first heard them a few months back.
Thing Two: Matt Klimas plays like a man possessed. The band was performing in the ground-level area in front of Gallery 5’s main stage, and because I was standing near the back — a just punishment for my tardiness — I couldn’t see much. But what I could see of the group’s frontman through the people forest in front of me spoke volumes. Hair flying. The headstock and neck of a Fender guitar flashing in and out of view wildly. A truly impassioned performance is impossible to mistake, even when you have to crane your neck to the left and right to get a view of it, and that’s exactly what I witnessed during those fateful four and a half minutes.
Thing Three: I’m bonkers excited to hear the album they’ve been working on. A few weeks back, I ratcheted up the anticipation by compiling some of the tweets they’d been posting during the recording process, and seeing them live has me even more riled up. I even went for an all Snowy Owls run the other day, shuffling exclusively the 4 tracks that appear on the split 10-inch record they released with White Laces earlier this year (while we’re on the topic of White Laces, they performed not long after The Snowy Owls finished up, and holy hell do their new songs sound amazing).
The moral of the story is twofold — I should heed my own advice about showing up early to concerts, and The Snowy Owls are as exciting to see as they are to hear. I encourage you to indulge in the latter by previewing “Yr Eyes” and “Could” below.