Listen to The Slip on Rhapsody...

Words by: Dennis Cook :: Images by: Dave Vann

The Slip :: 04.27.07 :: The Independent :: San Francisco, CA

The Slip :: 04.27
We're well into the woods when I notice the Big Bad Wolf plush hat on drummer Andrew Barr. The opening moments of any Slip performance are a tactile audio smorgasbord, and I rarely experience them with open eyes. As a muggy day slipped into a crisp, clear night, the trio made sound wriggle and yowl as it hit the air. It took mere seconds for the room to crackle awake. The Slip taps into a roiling underground place where universal melodies and fables live. Often this face time with primordial creation is a soft slide but this night had teeth.

"Children of December" took up its frequent opening spot but introduced by a modal instrumental fantasia, seductive and lithe, something Paul Motian might have cooked up with Bill Frisell. By the time Winter's offspring scampered out, we found ourselves neck deep in a wholly different tune than the one that appears on Eisenhower. Kasey Knudsen (sax) and Rob Ewing (trombone) of Disappear Incompletely added beautiful curves on an arrangement that recalled Al Kooper's saucy work with Blood, Sweat & Tears. Ewing and Knudsen reemerged at irregular intervals and proved a model of tasteful, thoughtful playing that never failed to kick things up a notch or three.

The Slip with Horns :: 04.27
As many times as one sees The Slip or delves into their recordings there are always new faces to discover. They exhibit a fearless, maybe even a reckless, gusto for rearranging their catalog. Nothing is static, and despite studio versions and precedent, all is mutable in the minds of Andrew, Brad Barr (guitar, vocals) and Marc Friedman (bass, keys, guitar). To wit, crowd fave "Get Me With Fuji" was a sprawling mini-epic that began with Melvin Sparks black funk then veered into jittery Soul Coughing territory, which dipped into a reggae one drop before ending on Steely Dan jag. Older gem "Weight of Solomon" was transformed into a unique blues exposition powered by Friedman's Clash-like bass – a nice '70s punk element to join the swell Johnny Thunders rasp that permeated Brad's usually sweet voice this Friday.

Marc Friedman :: 04.27
Everywhere one catches an increasing rock vibe that snatches discreet bits from the genre's whole history. The Slip take dusty clichés and create a transmutative finger pop that could make ol' Chuck Berry duck walk like a youngster again. When they sauntered into AC/DC's "It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock 'n' Roll)" the very tuned-in audience freaked like American Bandstand kids getting a visit from Elvis. Brad scraped all the hard truth out of lines like "Gettin' ripped off, under paid/Gettin' sold second hand/That's how it goes playin' in a band." His keening falsetto stabbed the words like a prison shank while Andrew thumped with crucial authority around Friedman's humping bass attack. The trio was equally possessed on the evening closing take on Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker." Without a doubt, we're witnessing the full flourishing of a band to rival Radiohead, Wilco or any other genre-busting but still deeply rooted ensemble. It's groups like this that remind us of rock's near infinite flexibility, sui generis imaginations that remake the familiar.

During a steel drum led workout late in the show, a lexicon explosion went off in my head. It's something that usually occurs at least once at a Slip performance but I never know when it'll hit. With Brad moving like a spastic squirrel, pouring sweat into his headband behind the drums, Andrew pursuing his island soul inside the hard angles of the steel drum and Friedman dancing a one-man hurdy gurdy on bass pedals and keys, I fished out my notebook and scribbled the following:

The Slip are like good grass, one's favorite food, a baby's gummy smile, a new flavor extended on a most inviting Lick Em Stick, a crazily hued wet dream, an inner tube ride on the slipstream, Charlie Brown's magic Christmas tree, a Mardi Gras parade on the Yellow Brick Road.

The Slip :: 04.27
Where this stuff comes from I couldn't tell you but I know inspiration when faced with it. The Slip are restless creators that offer a curious mixture of comfort and experimentation. In lesser hands, it'd be sonic gridlock but worked with their chiropractic expertise the challenging becomes downright cuddly. Even as they carve out a more pop sound on Eisenhower and the uniformly great new material, there remains alluring shadows, parts hidden amongst the trees and moonlight. Lifting a glass of "Wine and White Soda," I toasted the idea that we'll likely never fully understand The Slip. This goes for both band and listener alike, for no one looks more shocked at what emerges than the three guys onstage. A happy happy surprise it is.

JamBase | California
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[Published on: 5/14/07]

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The1AndOnlyDJCT starstarstarstarstar Mon 5/14/2007 09:26PM
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Great review, The Slip is amazing! I can't decide whether to see them, or a second night of the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey this June 22nd in NYC.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/15/2007 04:40AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

I agree. this review makes me want to see it!!!
Good Job, very descriptive in a helpful way for those of us that didnt see the show..

dedhed6111 Tue 5/15/2007 09:29AM
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What an incredible review! I find it interesting how he notes the "children of december" is a different beast altogether live. it's the one track on eisenhower that I felt they didn't do justice. Live it is a raging epic, but they managed to distill it to a slick, bastardized version of itself. that being said I still love the album version, but live, its another thing altogether. the slip rock

toestothenose starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/15/2007 04:19PM
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Dennis - Let me say - to call you a great Rock Journalist would just be a slap in the face. You have taken yet another show and transformed it w/ words that embody the spirit of Rock Poet.

This line is wonderful-

The Slip take dusty clichés and create a transmutative finger pop that could make ol' Chuck Berry duck walk like a youngster again.

Thank-you for making me re-think about music and writing again and again.

stardragon starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/15/2007 04:52PM
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I couldn't have said it better myself! You are truly gifted.

Warehouse41 starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/15/2007 08:47PM
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This review is art in itself...

bluefox starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/15/2007 11:22PM
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Very well said. The first of two nights of extraordinary music from one of the best bands of our times! Brad's voice was a bit gritty though, he should lay off the cigs a bit maybe! It was a real treat to see these guys play two sets a night in the same venue for two days (and only repeat 2 songs!) They already have an album's worth of post-Eisenhower material! If they dusted off a few more chestnuts I'd be ready for a 3 night run! Heck, I'm ready anyway. Bring it on BAM!

jackiesoup starstarstarstar Wed 5/16/2007 06:49AM
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Interesting review.
Looking forward to Toronto on Friday...perhaps Hamilton on Saturday if I can't help myself.
These guys have really sourced a special sound.
The slip = the shit

Zarathustra024 starstarstarstarstar Wed 5/16/2007 08:34AM
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This is the most creatively articulated review I have ever read on Jambase. Nice job Dennis.

Fred T. starstarstarstarstar Wed 5/16/2007 06:43PM
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Fred T.

damn, dennis.

adelaid starstarstarstarstar Thu 5/17/2007 11:49AM
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Awesome article, Dennis...kudos.
being there both nights, like you said, was "a tactile audio [and visual] smorgasbord"....pure creative SPIRIT!
so grateful to know & hear this band...esp. 2 consec. nights of 2 full sets & encores in one's own town!

Ned8 starstarstarstarstar Sat 5/19/2007 08:41AM
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Very well laid out review. I dig the fact that the favoured band is the Slip by Jambase. Sure, their manager is one of the owner of jambase but it is true appreciation.

Ned8 starstarstarstarstar Sat 5/19/2007 08:42AM
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Very well laid out review. I dig the fact that the favoured band is the Slip by Jambase. Sure, their manager is one of the owners of jambase but it is true appreciation. The bands talent can't be denied

stlcross Sat 5/19/2007 05:42PM
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If a band can't change they can't grow.I guess some people just can't accept that.........oh well.

Ned8 starstarstarstarstar Mon 5/21/2007 02:25PM
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That should be looked at as a compliment... Jambase has gotten behind bands and they don't waver, in this case the band continues to evolve and offer more vantage to write from. Its beautiful fodder and composed the way the article lays out the matter, the band becomes the best subject of musical matter. Go back and look at a previous article; I believe it was an Ashville, Oregon show. Cool place for a show, cool band and obviously good Bleig-XXXXOOOO Fo Sho