Tim Snider & Wolfgang Timber played its first live performance Saturday in the Crystal Bay Casino’s sold-out Crown Room. It was quite a trip.
Snider addressed audience of 150 seated in chairs arranged in pods of two and four: “Do you guys feel like you’re on an airplane?”
The audience laughed and cheered at his apt observation about the feel of the Covid-era seating arrangement. He extended the metaphor saying, “If you choose to roam about the cabin, be respectful of your neighbors.”
The phenomenal band assembled around Snider appeared totally at ease and playful onstage all evening. Wolfgang Timber didn’t feel like a new band that only came together during quarantine. There were virtuosic solos from each player, even the rhythm and percussion members, eliciting midsong applauses throughout the night.
Many of the songs had extended jams with dynamic changes in volume to highlight one band member and instrument at a time.
The band would grow suddenly quiet in order to highlight, for example, the upright bassist, Zack Terán. Then the spotlight would seamlessly move to Chance Utter on percussion for a breakdown until the band would all come back in together with full force on a cymbal crash.
The songs played Saturday night were written by frontman Snider, who has released three albums in the last decade. Saturday’s show also featured three or four songs that he wrote during the quarantine.
Snider was comfortable and talkative on the mic last night. He talked about his 3-year-old daughter, writing love songs for his wife, visiting and playing music in Brazil, struggles with stage fright, unrealized plans for 2020 and his various travels and activism.
There was one small mention of Nahko and Medicine for the people, a band Snider has been a member for the past five years. Snider did say in a phone interview two weeks ago that he will not be playing with the band (Nahko) any time in the foreseeable future, adding it’s time for a change and he’s excited for this new group.
Tim Snider & Wolfgang Timber will appear at a festival in Ohio in June and Artown in Reno in July and plan to release and album in the fall, when the band goes on tour with “conscious music collective” Satsang. Meanwhile, Snider will open solo on a summer tour by reggae artist Mike Love.
The show also featured Bazooka Zac on the visuals, which made for a psychedelic backdrop of fractal-based and computer-generated images of the human outline and nature scenes.
Sounding more like Van Halen than Mozart, Snider is at his best when he is holding his bow.
His feverish violin solos were electric. He pulled frayed strands off of his bow throughout the evening. His use of pedal looping technology is seamless and effective, and he employs a mixture of bowing and pizzicato plucking as well as pedal effects such as delay and wah to build large soundscapes all on his own.
His use of loops also allowed him to pick up and play the acoustic guitar throughout most of the numbers and then set down the guitar quickly to play a solo on the violin. On the song “Sometimes This,” the band medleyed into Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” for a few minutes. Hendrix felt like an appropriate choice for Snider’s level of shredding on the violin.
The rhythm section – bassist Zack Terán and drummer Miguel Jiménez-Cruz – also play with Portland’s Latin folk band Y La Bamba and Reno contemporary pop group The Novelists, which appears to be on a hiatus as player work on separate projects.
Terán and Jiménez-Cruz were my favorites of the show. They created an intricate and shifting foundation on top of which the rest of the band members could play.
The drum kit of Jiménez-Cruz was perfectly tuned and mic’d. Jiménez-Cruz had a smile on his face throughout the evening as he played with sticks and big beaters on the drums, making full use of the whole kit.
Terán’s style matched his casual outfit and loose flowing shirt. His upright bass style was full of walking runs that added great texture to the group. Terán looked completely at ease as he played extremely technical bass lines. At times throughout the evening, he played the bass with a bow to dynamically help build certain atmospheric songs, especially at the beginning and end of the show.
Chance Utter added percussion with a large line of congas and other instruments as well as triggered samples that added wonderfully to the mix. His solos featured hand smashing cymbal crashes, much to the delight of the crowd.
The ensemble also benefited from the lean and neat solos from Lucas Arizu on the guitar. Arizu’s long head of hair could be seen bobbing many times throughout the evening like a lead guitar player from an ‘80s hair metal band. During the song “Vivian,” Lucas donned a flute to great effect and ability and his appearance transformed for me into one of the elves from “Lord of the Rings” movies.
Last but not least, the group’s sound was rounded out by the subtle and fluttery organ tones of Todd Holway on a real Hammond B3 organ with a Nord Electro 3 sitting atop. Holway’s solo moments were a little low in the crowd mix from my seat, but at the right volume the rest of the show. His low volume on solos could have been the nature of the room rather than a mixing issue.
Holway, Terán and Utter sang harmonies throughout the evening as well.
It was a fantastic evening of music that had a real hometown feel. If I had to find one criticism, I’d say that Snider talks a lot on the mic both during songs and in between songs. Sometimes this is to great effect and helps to explain songs and generally make the music more enjoyable. Other times, his loquaciousness took away from the crowd’s energy. I’d also say he wasn’t specific enough about the causes he supports when he began to talk about activism. But it was a hometown crowd and it applauded him through his stories.
Halfway through the show Snider thanked the audience for its cheers: “We haven’t heard an applause in a year!” Noting he has played at the Crystal Bay Casino many times,, namely with a former band, Reno-based Sol’Jibe, he received enthusiastic roars of recognition from the crowd.
The band piloted the Crown Room on that metaphorical airplane on a wonderful journey with seamless dynamic changes and shifts and satisfying roots- and world-influenced music. Snider said at the end of the encore, “So how was your flight?!” A hearty applause from a happy crowd followed.
Tim Snider & Wolfgang Timber
Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
Saturday, May 22, 2021
When the World Stops
I’ll Be By Your Side
Underneath It All
My Whole Heart
Down the Rabbit Hole
The Steeple (Snider solo)