Admittedly, when I tuned in to the Harmony by the Bay Concert Series’ Facebook page for Sneezy’s live, virtual performance, I was planning on enjoying some background music while I made dinner. However, from the set’s first song, “Abacus,” Sneezy asserted itself as an energetic, center-stage band – even though that stage was beamed into my kitchen from Piranha North Studio in Sturgeon Bay.
It’s difficult to put a finger on exactly which genre Sneezy falls into. The band’s discography contains elements of pop, reggae, hip-hop and rock. Sometimes, as with the melodic references in “Gina” to both “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” and “Hakuna Matata,” the song is entirely in jest. At other times, as in “Life Is the Greatest,” the music is infused with an almost surprising earnestness.
One thing’s for sure, though: Featuring everything from offbeat ad-libs to harmonica solos, Sneezy put on a show that kept its virtual audience guessing and – most importantly – thoroughly entertained. In addition to the music, the antics and banter among the band members on stage gave the whole performance a lighthearted, upbeat vibe.
“When you go to a Sneezy show, we don’t even know what we’re going to do most of the time,” drummer Austin Koziol said. “People get to experience real, spontaneous creative energy. We really interact and connect with each other and the audience through music in a way that most bands are nervous to do.”
Given that, it’s been a challenge for Sneezy’s members to achieve the same level of energetic spontaneity when they perform virtually as they do during in-person shows.
“The virtual shows are so tough,” lead singer Brett O’Connor said. “From my perspective, I’m such an energy person, and it’s so hard to get amped up to play songs for a camera lens, but I know that’s the way the world is going, so I’m trying to get used to it.”
The band has been able to use the otherwise unfortunate situation to its advantage in other ways. Without the element of a live audience, the band members have focused on improved song execution during performances. Additionally, the pandemic has been a time of heightened productivity. O’Connor said the band has developed 40 new song ideas: “freshly squeezed music.” Sneezy’s third album will be released late this summer or early in the fall.
Sneezy is looking forward to returning to Door County sometime soon. In the past, the band has found the peninsula’s audiences to be especially appreciative of live music.
“People are so amped to see live music that there’s this palpable energy in the air. It makes for a good time,” O’Connor said.
Thanks to virtual options such as Sturgeon Bay’s Harmony by the Bay Concert Series, those in Door County can experience live music and support musicians while also staying safe. As Sneezy demonstrated, just because a concert takes place virtually doesn’t mean it’s going to be a low-energy experience. Who knows? Maybe the music will inspire you to grab a beer and dance around your kitchen like no one’s watching.
Visit the Harmony by the Bay Concert Series on Facebook to find details about upcoming series artists.