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Sound Stage

The Snacks at The Underground, Jan. 9.

1/16/2013

Mike Pfaff and Jeff Karnowski of The Snacks.

Mike Pfaff and Jeff Karnowski of The Snacks.

“Thank you for coming. You. Specifically.” The Snacks — Mike Pfaff and Jeff Karnowski — are talking directly to me because, at the moment, I’m the only person in the bar. It’s a slow night for Des Moines’ hardest working novelty act. Any city worth its salt has a show like The Snacks: a lounge act performing sets of mostly cover songs on a regular night somewhere cool. Seattle has Jerry Zimmerman at Vito’s; and the film “Swingers” immortalized L.A.’s Marty and Elaine at The Dresden. Much like those acts, it’s hard to argue that Pfaff and Karnowski have chops. Pfaff and Karnowski had some minor success as “the members of Dirty Little Rabbits who don’t have their own Wikipedia pages,” and the songs they perform tonight show a clear level of musical dexterity and inventiveness. As mentioned, the typical Snacks set is laden with covers. It’s partly due to the types of shows it books (“We do a lot of weddings and parties,” Karnowski told me during a set break), but mostly it’s because the songs amuse them. And one thing that becomes apparent from watching the band perform is that The Snacks is there as much for its own amusement as yours. And while all its covers are entertaining — on this night the boys cover everything from the above mentioned Rabbits to Snoop Dogg to The Verve — the duo really shines in the rare moments when it pulls out an original tune: “Gettin’ Too Old For This Shit” is clever, poppy, funky and fun. While I’m there, the crowd eventually balloons to as large as six people, but The Snacks take it in stride.                

“Some Wednesdays it’s packed shoulder-to-shoulder,” Karnowski said. “Sometimes it’s like tonight. But The Underground is a good place, and we have fun.” CV

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