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Review: Snow Strippers @ Strange Brew

From the opener's hardstyle remix of 'Heads Will Roll', the band's motto "nice bass bro" was quickly proven to be one which held true in their animated playfulness onstage.

By Benji ChapmanCo-Deputy Music Editor

Snow Strippers' 'SURF GANG' label has cultivated an intense following in recent years. The New-York based rap collective started out in 2017, soon becoming absorbed into an expanding cloud-rap sound that began to converge from separate ends of the globe as collectives such as Drain Gang flourished.

As trap, rage, drill and various other alternative hip-hop genres continue to appear, they stray further away from the origins of the genre yet offer new and fascinating ways of restructuring its foundational precepts.

SURF GANG themselves have jokingly tossed around the words "post-rap" and "post-music" when describing their sound, extending from their musical approach, run amok with jarring sound effects and an aesthetic that stems from the darker depths of the web a-la Death Grips and various other forerunners of abrasive hip-hop.

Like much of the music that blew up over the pandemic, the digitised designs and sounds of SURF GANG's work occasionally feel like they exclusively belong within a terminally-online cabal, however live Snow Strippers brought out die-hard fans alongside curious onlookers for a bassy night of sonic pioneering.

The Detroit-Based electropop duo Snow Strippers have more recently strayed somewhat from the SURF GANG collective to research their own style, garnering attention with notable producer credits on Lil Uzi Vert's Pink Tape in 2023.

Snow Strippers @ Strange Brew | Benji Chapman

Producer Graham Perez's co-founding of Snow Strippers with singer Taitana Schwaninger has been a creative endeavor which has co-meddled their respective loves of Hip-Hop with the larger-than-life glamour of J-Pop Schwaninger offers in her dreamy and powerful vocal hooks.

Their music wanders precariously through various internet sub-genres and niches, often words are thrown around which are only (in my opinion), a detriment to initial accessability for listeners.

Competitions to find the most applicable label from "electroclash", "rave", to my personal favourite, "witch house", may be entertaining but a fixation on their most appropriate point of use is somewhat unnecessary: a fact which members and associates of SURF GANG are probably conscious of themselves, as shown in their mockingly tinged "post-music" comments.

What is necessary for a Snow Strippers listening experience however is a tolerance for massive bass, glittering visuals and thumping electronics. Presenting something of a variation on the local drum and bass sound, embedded in Bristol's native sound system culture, Snow Strippers imported a foreign counterpart of the genre to Strange Brew which was playful, chaotic and rid of the conventions which the former determine.

Snow Strippers | Tyler Jones & Snow Strippers

Importing sounds from Detroit was bound to be a success- the city has bred historic legends adjacent to the group (think Juan Atkins, J Dilla), whilst Bristol was all the more gracious to witness a performance which hailed from the States. 

Strange Brew continues to host acts which are as left-field as they come whilst keeping bespoke standards high, and this was reflected by a persistently energetic crowd who sold out the show and left the dancefloor packed from the first track of the opener, a DJ by the name of Soltero.

The elusive sound of the group was one matched with their presentation onstage. It was hard to catch glimpses of the band members' faces once they took the stage, moving around within an ecstatic whirlwind of strobe flashes emanating from the lighting rig. Defining features of the night were frequent shoutouts to SURF GANG as well as countless gunshot and air horn sound effects, spammed continuously from the effect keys of Perez's CDJs between songs.

As me and my friends moved clumsily through the crowd we would clamber for a view at the stage's front whilst students and other young people less sober than us waved gangly arms in the air, reaching out to the triumphant group to touch their outstretched hands as they ended the show.

Snow Strippers @ Strange Brew | Benji Chapman

Lurching across the swarm, the duo returned from their mission amid an assailment of sweaty palms. The spectacle was one which only reinforced Snow Strippers' standing as a project which has gathered an intensely devoted following that spans globally, through the power of cyberspace and a mysterious yet blisteringly bass-heavy sound.

Featured Image: Tyler Jones & Snow Strippers

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