BRATTLEBORO - The southern Vermont-based indie rock quartet dove into the festival circuit and made a huge splash, playing several high-profile gigs and garnering accolades-and a host of new fans along the way. Their exhaustive itinerary included performances at The Cheshire Fair, The Upper Valley Music Festival, The Plymouth Independent Music Festival, The Guilford Fair, The Keene Music Fest, as well as club dates at Luthier's, Mocha Maya's, The Arts Block and The Whetstone.
I caught their jaunty set at The Taste of Amherst in July, where they played from 5 to 6 p.m, then raced over to the Iron Horse in Northampton just in time to open at 7 p.m. for Barrence Whitfield, a daunting task by any stretch.
Their dizzying summer tour was capped by the band's most prestigious gig to date: The sold-out Green River Festival where they shared the stage with numerous renowned national acts with well over 8,000 fans in attendance. Not bad for a band whose oldest member, singer/guitarist Dharma Rivera who is about to enter her junior year at Brattleboro Union High School.
Rivera, reflected on the band's wild ride. "This summer has been amazing in terms of gigs. Even though we seem to have had one every weekend, it still doesn't feel like enough. I love playing live, despite how horribly anxious I feel beforehand, I feel amazing afterwards and during.
Fifteen year-old bassist Nina Cates says she misses her hang-out time but loves the performing buzz, adding, "This summer's shows have kept me insanely busy and I wouldn't have had it any other way. There is no better feeling than playing at the Green River on day one and for the rest of the festival having people come up and tell us that we were one of their absolute favorite acts or seeing them walking around in Snaz t-shirts and having no idea who they are.
According to Rivera, the band was almost barred from playing the biggest show of their lives."When we first arrived the guards wouldn't even let us into the backstage, they didn't recognize us and said "there's no reason for you to be back here" we went and talked to our stage manager and he gave us passes. The guy who originally denied our entry spotted us later and complimented our set".
Those who have seen the group perform would not be surprised by the positive response of music fans and security guards alike. The Snaz create compelling songs backed by a distictive indie-rock sound, while exuding solid musical chemistry with a surprisingly mature presence onstage. "The Snaz approach to playing live is just do it." Said Rivera "We do exactly what we do in Mavis's (their keyboardist) basement-except sometimes faster due to adrenaline. We just sort of say ‘okay', get up, exchange a few dazed glances in the middle of the noise we're creating and try not to pause long between songs."
The group, whose youngest member is drummer Zack James (who joined two years ago in seventh grade), somehow found the time and energy this month to record a follow-up to their first EP release. Rivera is certainly pleased with the results, which she claims will be more complex lyrically and sonically from their previous work. "The theme of the album in mostly personal, reflecting upon dark months of 9th grade, first year of high school, difficulties being in the in-between spot of neither child nor adult, tough realizations that things you thought were perfect when you were young are more complicated. It's slightly dark, however it annoys me when people label our music as "teen angst" I think that dismisses a very important stage of life too simply. There is hidden hope tied in each song. I think it's the contrast that makes things beautiful, bittersweet."
The Snaz is far from done with outdoor summer gigging. They will be playing close to home in Putney this Sunday at 6 p.m. as part of the Twilight On The Tavern Lawn series, then it is onto their first Transperformance at The Pines Theater in Florence, Mass. on Tuesday, where they will cover One Direction.
The intense schedule doesn't phase Cates or her mates. "My favorite part of being a Snaz member is perpetually having something to look forward to" she said. "In cases where I just am having a crappy week, I'll be able to go ‘well, we have a gig in two days' and that always seems to do the trick . It's the best kind of busy there is".