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The Slip - 10-21-2005 - Higher Ground, Burlington, VT

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The Slip - Burlington, VT, Higher Ground

Saturday, October 21, 2005.

Show Review

By Andre Bouchard

Photos by: Mike Bouchard

see the rest on Flickr

The Slip

(courtesy of The Slip)

Something in the air felt very pure as I entered the Higher Ground this past Friday. The only other time I had been there I experienced The Slip's alter-ego band Surprise Me Mr Davis. Of the two rooms this venue has to offer, I never questioned that we wouldn't be in the smaller one. As we lined up with the other patrons, I soon realized this gig was being presented in the larger room that has recently hosted such acts as Ween and Ratdog. The sound, stage and perfect size gave me hope that this would be a fantastic show and The Slip - once again - proved their undeniable mettle. Considering the offshoot and the fact that two-thirds of the band had moved to a different city, let alone another country, the band waltzed in to the Higher Ground and proceeded to turn the place inside itself with a thoughtful performance.

DSC_0012 (Small)

Opening with the debut of a yet untitled new number, this first song featured Marc Friedman on the ukulele. It was a sublime instrumental that slowly led into The Soft Machine. The intricate layering of ideas and approaches confirmed that this was going to be an evening featuring some extremely tight and precise music being created. Sometimes True To Nothing was born out of an intricately beautiful intro that included a fantastic loop from Brad. After the first verse, Marc and Andrew aggressively pursued new avenues with an animated groove, staying focused while Brad's backwards guitar lines helped keep it all together. As this jam developed, Andrew upped the tempo to almost triple time which somehow slowed down again before surrendering to Even Rats. It was inspiring, to say the least.

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I Hate Love offered a chance to enjoy one of my favorite new songs. Simple in its creation, this song carries majestic weight as Brad Barr uses it as an emotional launching pad. Another new song, All I Saw Was You, was then introduced - a soft, slow ballad featuring strong three-part harmonies, accompanied mostly by Brad on guitar. I suppose my only complaint of the night occurred during said number, as I had to strain to listen since people were decidedly talkative during this mainly accapella number. They obviously were not familiar with it and preferred not to be. Moderate Threat > Cowboy Up was very blues-rich and a far deeper experience than one could experience on a recording. If I may beg your indulgence, I would like to include what was written in my scribbled notes: "This was dirty. Dirty as hell. Think strippers and poles only minus the strippers and poles."

The second set was proof that The Slip are one of the most original bands one can experience these days. Put some head-spinning improv together with energy and strong song choices and some of their best sets are born: this was one of those. Paper Birds opened, complete with a Sunday Bloody Sunday (U2) jam that had the appreciative crowd roaring their approval. DSC_0022 (Small)This was an aggressive beginning to the set and this energy carried through to the finish of Children Of December. A solo intro from Brad that had a decidedly Django feel to it began. It was stunning and precise while exhibiting a haunting lightness. Andrew and Marc eventually joined in and Cumulus proved to be the most traversed song of the evening. Suffocation Keep was a perfectly placed tune following the madness that had just ensued - this thoughtful and reflective version showcased the flexibility that this band seems to employ at every musical turn or idea. A short I'm A Man tease introduced Poor Boy and elicited the loudest cheers of the night. The entire crowd exploded into a dancing frenzy as the atmosphere shifted to that of a tribal stomp.

For the encore, Brad announced that they were going to do a song written by their good friend Nathan Moore. Now, just about any of his songs would have been a great choice as Moore is slowly becoming one of my favorite modern-day songwriters. As Long As There's One Of Us Standing (although, I am unsure of that song title) provided a unique perspective and allowed me to get excited about another Surprise Me Mr Davis gig in the future. Dogs On Bikes was the final song of the evening and the happy crowd rewarded the band with ecstatic dancing as the tune rightfully became another Andrew Barr polyrhythmic showcase.

Although there doesn't seem to be very many songs in the repertoire on this tour, the level of playing is high and is screaming with a tightness and intensity I don't get to experience very often, by any band. This evening at Higher Ground was filled with a warmth that will stay with me for quite some time.


The Slip

Higher Ground

Saturday October 21, 2005

Set 1

untitled - debut >

The Soft Machine

Sometimes True To Nothing

Even Rats

I Hate Love

All I Saw Was You

Moderate Threat >

Cowboy Up

Set 2

Paper Birds >

Sunday Bloody Sunday jam!

Children Of December


Suffocation Keep

Poor Boy


As Long As There Is One Of Us Standing

Dogs On Bikes

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