“I hope they got the roof screwed down tight!” proclaimed Squirrel Nut Zippers’ frontman Jimbo Mathus. With that, the band launched into their punchy frolicking brand of old-timey meets good-time in a booze-soaked alleyway of New Orleans’ French Quarter.
In fact, it’s hard to watch a SNZ show without images of New Orleans flashing in your head. Because despite the band’s origins in North Carolina, it seems to be the Crescent City’s flamboyant revelry, ecstatic blues and flair for the theatrical that the band incarnates onstage.
Packed tightly onto The Saint’s corner stage, between the Zippers’ nine members (including organ, stand-up bass and three-piece horn section) and the sold-out crowd packing the dance floor, there was not much room to not get swept up in the movement from the band and the sweaty floor where cocktail dresses and dapper suits swirled and swung.
Playing a mix of songs from their albums dating back to 1995, including a couple new ones from their forthcoming album, “Beasts of Burgundy” the band seems to have refined their set to bring out the most reaction from their crowd – with second vocalist Cella Blue disappearing and re-emerging in different outfits every couple songs, while the rest of the band moved in time with the building energy until the band’s most well-known songs, “Hell” and “Ghost of Stephen Foster” capped the set to raucous approval from the room.
Finally, concluding a four-song encore, the band carried instruments in marching band formation as they walked offstage and created a circle in the center of the crowd with everyone continuing to play and dance, before ultimately making their way to the back of the room where the last of the music ended, surrounded by crowd standing on tables and dancing in front of merch booths with hands in the air. The Squirrel Nut Zippers put down their instruments, and still sweaty from the 90 minute show, proceeded to shake hands and hang out with everyone who stuck around.
Full of energy, costumes and maniacal get-down old-timey songs, the Squirrel Nut Zippers concluded their set on one final note reminiscent of their Mardi Gras-esque muse, that being that the band and the party are one and the same, and to end their set amidst the crowd in handshakes and raised glasses only stoked the tinderbox of The Saint, definitely giving cause for another drink!