A NIGHT OF JOYFUL CHAOS WITH THE SLIP

The Slip | 10.20.02 | Wild Duck | Eugene, OR


Photo by Matt Earhart | 10.25.02 LA
It’s clear these guys have been living inside one another for the majority of their lives. Brad Barr, on the guitar and lead vocals, and Andrew Barr on the drums and percussion, are brothers; and the bassist, Marc Friedman, is their childhood friend. The timing, rhythm and cohesion of The Slip's music is beyond what can be taught, read or learned. It’s fun to watch. Their diverse styles are among the most varied I’ve encountered. Some songs are beautifully poetic and mellow, others seem ideal for popular radio stations, some explore and destroy the depths of jazz, while still others create spacey, flowing unique sounds that meld together every other style imaginable. At other times without warning you can find two opposing styles folding into each other with vocals and drums playing hard and loud, while the guitar and bass gently weave a mellow tune. For example, one song in particular seems to be a sole outlet for them to mess with each other, seeing who can produce the oddest noise and challenge the others to come up with something more completely inappropriate.


Photo by Matt Earhart | 10.25.02 LA
Brad looks as if he’s in horrible pain half of the time, trying to pry out a giant red gumball from up his nose. As each note reaches for a higher, more demented, awkward, perfect sound, his face paints the music with wrenching distortions. Perhaps I should take up the guitar to perfect my quizzical look. He mouths words or sounds, silently, revealing schizophrenic tendencies, almost continuously, as if various people are attempting to free themselves from his body. Perhaps the face distortions are his attempts to keep them at bay. They play intensely; it’s only the second song (though I think these guys have a twenty minute minimum standard) and already red, green and pink sweat droplets flee from their bodies into the light show on stage.


Photo by Matt Earhart | 10.25.02 LA
The vibrations of their music convince me that anatomy books are all fraudulent; that nonsense of intestines, livers, stomachs, gallbladders and the pancreas are all elaborate fabrications, hiding the simple truth that we’re all composed entirely of pudding. The music jiggles straight to my gut, filling me with the yearning satisfaction of the ultimate back scratch—engulfing the itch, heightening every sensation until surrender to the tingling pleasure takes over.

I can’t stop watching the guitar strings dangle off the top where they’re clearly the loved, leashed pets of the tuning knobs. They jiggle and bounce faster than my eyes are equipped to see. I imagine the Wily Coyote just strapped the ACME rocket on backwards and plummeted to a dust bubble in the canyon below, leaving only the shaking strings as evidence of his journey.


Photo by Matt Earhart | 10.25.02 LA
Through it all I dance. They’re so well connected, the distorted and varied sounds somehow fit together in a Monet style, sounding good as a whole, from a distance. I stopped trying to dance after the first five minutes, and have been flailing, wiggling and gyrating ever since. Though, I did stop dancing a few minutes ago when the music got pretty spacey, it fell into a rave style and I could no longer pretend I was a gypsy. I’m just standing here watching the band create odd sounds in awe...was that a finger? Where’d that knee come from? Damn, as an honest writer I have to now retract my former statement and admit that I am apparently still dancing. The extreme change in the music style has neither hindered nor prevented my body from moving around joyously. Thank you gentlemen for teaching me I can be as versatile as your music.


Photo by Dee | 10.23.02 SF
I see Brad’s lips moving and hear sound from his microphone but can’t make out a single word he's saying. I fear there’s just been a major shift in the universe and we’ll all begin spontaneously speaking in tongues. I can only assume Brad is leading this expedition into the new breed of language; if I listen long enough I’m sure I’ll soon understand. Or perhaps his schizophrenic tendencies are finally breaking out and exploding in sounds from his lips. There’s no poetry of the last song, or coherent words for that matter. The noises that need to come out are simply surfacing. Whatever it is, there’s a sense of oneness with the instruments working in complete harmony with the body and spirit. But just in case this is the first sign of a grand cosmic chasm I suggest you all invest in universal translators.

Marc the bassist is beginning to look as emaciated and tired as I am after about three hours of music without a break. There goes the strap, a bow. Thank goodness they’re stopping. There’s no way I can leave while they’re still playing, it’s too good, but gravity’s starting to win out and I can no longer trust my joints to hold me upright. That’s odd; I’ve never seen a band just stay on stage this long after bowing and removing their instruments. They can’t just be taking a break. Holy shit, here they go again. This is amazing, no use holding on now.


Photo by Dee | 07.10.02 MV
Finally, they’re leaving the stage. I wonder if that last song was the encore. Well they weren’t gone long; I suppose that answers my question. A mellow jazzy start to my final lullaby perfectly folds the evening’s close. Hey fellas, there’s a tall guy peeking his head out through the curtains behind you. He’s not toting an instrument; he must be fixing something on stage, or giving them a time frame update. Why is he grabbing Brad’s microphone?

There are so many things wrong with this scene, I’m convinced we are definitely experiencing a grand chasm in the universe. First off, this tall, white, hip-hop linguist seems to have fallen onto the wrong stage, at the wrong time, to bounce around rallying the crowd to “get up, get up” for the last song of the otherwise uniquely, experimental jazz show—with a Jamaican accent no less. I did praise The Slip for their versatility earlier, and appreciate their dip into yet another genre, but I don’t want to go home with this taste in my mouth. I can vaguely hear their instrumental talents, concentrating hard to ignore the boisterous rambles in front, but they’re drowning amidst this newcomers exploding energy. Andrew finds a way to join and balance this new onslaught with an impressive beat-box. This hip-hop guy just keeps going and going, forgetting the other guys on stage have been there for the majority of the night already. Ahhh, the microphone returns to its slumber and the boys play a few more chords to send us on our way. It's not what I would have chosen for an encore, but there is a certain magnitude of cheering that comes with relief and removal of a splinter that doesn't quite compare with sheer cries of enjoyment. Savor this energy guys; it's well earned, regardless of its roots.

Reanna Feinberg
JamBase | Oregon
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[Published on: 10/30/02]

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