Leaving work early always makes me happy, but on Thursday April 5th, 2001, I couldn’t wipe the grin away as I knew my weekend with The Slip was just about to begin. This trio from Boston that had just ripped through the Midwest a month ago, was landing a return trip to the homeland with a stop in Madison, Wisconsin.
We arrived at the Café Montmartre and were shocked at the size of the venue and stage. By show time, the room was packed with an unruly crowd that had obviously seen the talents of this band before. This intimate show proved to be my favorite of the weekend. As had been said throughout this tour, the boys were on fire. Tight versions of “Don’t Foil the Mohel,” “Alsoa,” “Lucky Dragon”>”Air is the Body”>”Lucky Dragon” and the elusive “Eube” really put this show on a pedestal. The feed of the crowd along with the amazing musical connections of the band gave me even more reason to call in sick the next day. Throughout the show people went outside to watch the show from the large plate glass window. It looked as though The Slip were a zoo exhibit as countless faces came by staring in amazement. A great “Joe Higley” ended the show with the lights on and the crowd blazing.
After the show we decided to cut our drive down to Ann Arbor by returning back to the NW suburbs of Chicago. Although we felt a need for a long slumber, we seemed to forget about the time zone factor and so unfortunately that could not happen. As the band followed us to Ann Arbor we were eventually split due to the lovely Chicago rush-hour traffic. The band was well behind us and so there was no need to rush as we continued to Ann Arbor. I had always thought of traveling to The Blind Pig for different shows, but I have never made it until Friday, April 6th, 2001.
The Blind Pig is a great little club with good sound. After indulging in some brown liquor, we watched as Buffalo, NY natives, The Waz took the stage. They played a nice little set, but you could tell that the crowd was merely in anticipation of The Slip. They took the stage with a nice version of “Wolof.” After a furious “Johnny’s Tune” > “Yellow Medicine,” the band broke out a newer song named “Ambrosia.” It proved to be the highlight of my night featuring Brad Barr on a delicate slide guitar. The show rapped up with a crowd favorite, “Moral Decay,” and an intense “Rhythm and Gold” encore. This one-set show was shorter in comparison to the previous night, but it was the same band performing with similar grace.
After a dull afternoon at the Ann Arbor “Hash Bash,” we decided to get on the road to head to Oberlin, OH for the last show of our weekend. We arrived at the Harkness Co-op after following The Slip's troubled truck in town. Oberlin is a small town southwest of Cleveland that hosts, go figure, Oberlin College. We were greeted by the many of the same faces that we met the night before. The show was to be located in the basement of the Harkness Co-op. A rather good crowd enthusiastically waited as the band took the stage with the “Return of Mt. Fuji.” The band really seemed to be connected with the attentive crowd. A nice “Nellie Jean” > “Lucky Dragon” and the second “Mohel” of the weekend was nothing to complain about as the first set came to an end. The second set of this show will go down in history in my mind. The band didn’t seem to stop as they wove in and out of songs and in and out of the format within those songs. Clocking in at around 2 hours, this feeling of utter amazement filled every person – a feeling that only The Slip could accomplish. Highlights remained the entire set, but the “Spice Groove” > Jam > “Honey Melon” is what hit me the hardest. The feeling continued the rest of the night as the Harkness Co-op continued to inflate with happiness. Thanks to Ben Kamen and Colin Arnold-Thomas for their work and generosity.
I can’t force anyone to go and see The Slip, but I can try my hardest to persuade. The explosive talent is best witnessed with your own eyes and ears. The weekend was everything I thought it would be. Go see live music always, but if you are within 300-1500 miles, I say Go See The Slip!
JamBase Chicago Correspondent