Review: Snider puts pedal to metal at Egg

Todd Snider’s performance in The Egg’s Swyer Theatre Saturday night was one of the rawest performanc

Todd Snider’s performance in The Egg’s Swyer Theatre Saturday night was one of the rawest performances to grace the stage in a long time, if ever.

The Portland, Ore. singer-songwriter, backed by a slamming power trio, roared through a mix of acoustic and electric tracks before the nearly sold-out crowd, with no shortage of energy and wry humor. Though much of his performing in recent years has been of the solo, acoustic troubadour kind, Snider eschewed anything remotely resembling a “low key” performance this night, keeping the volume pumped throughout the evening.

The raucous power trio setup is at least in part due to his latest album, the equally raw and rocking “Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables.” Bassist Eric McConnell and drummer Paul Griffith, who played on the album, made up the band for the show.

Fittingly, the group played a large chunk of the record, starting off electric with the talking blues of “In the Beginning” and moving to the bluesy “Too Soon to Tell.” Snider was in fine form right from the get-go, half-grinning as he delivered the lyrics’ numerous non sequiturs and punch lines in his gritty, throaty growl.

The bouncy, anthemic “Looking For a Job” kicked off the evening’s acoustic set, but the energy remained high throughout scathing numbers such as “Iron Mike’s Main Man’s Last Request” and the wistful “Just Like Old Times.” McConnell and Griffith laid back during these songs, providing just enough punch to the rhythms to keep Snider soaring over the chord changes.

“Precious Little Miracles” was one of the funniest songs Snider performed — an ode to kids in Snider’s hometown of East Nashville that didn’t mince words. The humor ran high throughout the evening, with Snider getting more than a few swipes at the louder members of the audience making requests (“We actually have a boss-me-around portion scheduled,” he quipped at one point).

The evening really took off when Snider strapped on his electric again for the back half of the set. Highlights included another new song, the savage “New York Banker,” featuring some fine interplay between Snider’s roaring guitar playing and McConnell’s snaking bass; and the thundering “Bring ’Em Home.”

“Play a Train Song” towards the end of the set was easily the best thing Snider and company played all evening, the loping chord changes brought home by the trio’s muscular power.

Kentucky singer-songwriter Ashleigh Flynn opened with a short set of her folk-country originals, quickly winning over the crowd filing into the theater. Like Snider, Flynn is a storyteller of sorts, singing about her homeland on “Hazard County” and the galloping set closer “Deep River Hollow,” and old family members on “Evangeline.”

“Much Too Proud to Be Your Fool,” a song she performed on ukulele, fell a bit flat, but it was the only one that didn’t seem to jibe with the rest of the set. A powerful version of “American Dream,” the title track from her latest release, quickly set her back on track.

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