I was driving down the curving and winding Rt.8 for about thirty minutes or so wondering when the hell I would get to Floyd. I finally found the Sun Theatre and actually passed by it two times. Needless to say Floyd is nothing more than a spot on the map but hey I’m a sucker for small towns and a sucker for music. I had just ditched out of class early and was on my way to see The Slip for the first time. Unfortunately I hadn’t really heard much of the band’s music other than what my friends have played for me and a sample of their new album Angels Come on Time. Loving what little I heard I was eager to take what turned out to be worthwhile trip to go see them.

I entered into the venue just in time to catch some of Rhesus set, who I caught on Halloween two weeks before, and incidentally they put on an outstanding show. Walking towards the stage I remembered thinking that the place reminded me of a junior high school dance. There were about thirty or so people kind of milling around in a big gym sized room, a concession table with sodas and cookies and a circle of friends playing some hacky sack in the middle. I didn’t know what to do with myself at first, there was no one dancing and nowhere really to sit other than some plastic lawn chairs in the middle of the floor. Just as I got situated Rhesus ended their set. I said hello to the band and just sat around for a little while until The Slip came on. With only about forty people there, the band hit the stage at around 10pm.

Oddly the lights stayed on through the beginning of the first song, "Nellie Jean," a song that explores (to my count) five or six different kinds of music. Finally the lights dimmed during the song, ending the “junior high” feeling I had and the atmosphere changed drastically. The wallflowers began to emerge and creep towards the stage. Their bodies began to move and jiggle to the sounds filling the room. It seemed as though they were almost scared of the band because no one got closer than twenty feet of them for the first half of the show, maybe a little shy.

I was amazed at how “whole” The Slip sounds. They really filled the music up by strategically and methodically placing notes in all the right places. I expected them to sound a little hollow but they pulled it off quite nicely. What also really impressed me was that they had a perfect balance of power, no one was the lead. In many trios the guitar is the main focus but not here. Each player took his turn at the spotlight momentarily but only to reconvene back to become a solid unit again. They really feed off each other well and know one another’s moves just before they happen. This is evident in their jams because they always seem to come to a mutual agreement in their musical conversation at just the right time which makes for some smiles and elation from the crowd.

Historically I’m not big on trios but single handedly this band has turned me around. They hit jazz, rock, funk, a touch of bluegrass and plethora of world beats to name a few genres. I was amazed at how each song sounded completely different from the next, rebuilding the band and changing any preconceived notions you had leading up to that point. One song, "Get Me With Fuji" sounded like John Scofield joined the Funkadelic. Another, an untitled song, took me to the big band jazz era with soulful bounce and dazzling musical precision. Then they hit us with "Else," a Built To Spill cover, which I could see being on the next Radiohead album, if they owned a little more jazz and jam in their playbook.

The band ended their one set show after about two hours with a middle east sounding encore called "Dogs on Bikes." The crowd was a little weak I must say and I know they had many more shows to go for this tour, so I don’t blame them for cutting it a little short. I am just thankful I got to see them in such small un-crowded place and there is no doubt that I will see them again. I’m currently in the process of obtaining more of their music because I don’t think I can wait until the next time I see them to hear those wonderful sounds again. I advise all of you to go out and see them as soon as you can, even if it means driving down a long winding road in the middle of nowhere like Floyd to do so, GO SEE LIVE MUSIC!!

Joe Pestka
JamBase | Virginia
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 11/19/02]

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