THE SLIP & APOLLO: PUSHING BOUNDARIES

Words by Gabriela Kerson

The Slip, Apollo Sunshine & Sam Champion :: 03.04.06 :: Red Square :: Albany, NY


The Slip by Zack Smith

The Slip recently celebrated their ten-year anniversary. Gone are the far-out teenagers whose only dream was to be in a band together. They've grown into three innovative, well-seasoned musicians. Brad (guitar and vocals) and brother Andrew Barr (rhythm) with longtime friend Marc Friedman (bass) have finally focused their sound. This year, the Barr Brothers moved to Montreal and went into hibernation, working on the mythical new album. Their welcome back tour is a riot of noise and adventure.

They hit the road on March 1st in Syracuse, NY, slowly making their way to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, on the 15th, with traveling companions Sam Champion out of NYC and Apollo Sunshine from Western Mass. I caught them on Saturday night in Albany at the Red Square.

Located a convenient and literal stone's throw from the bus station, the venue is similar to its counterpart in Burlington, Vermont. It has the same hot bartenders and odd red candles, and the wood floors in the larger space give it a homier feel. The mixed crowd started pouring in as the doors opened at 8 p.m. and didn't stop for an hour and a half.


Jesse Gallagher - Apollo Sunshine
By Dayna Keyes

Sam Champion's music crosses the decades - a little bit of folk, a touch of free love, a heavy dose of glam rock, a dash of alternative grunge, and a solid base of rock and roll. Noah Chernin's melancholy vocals filled the air, and by the second song, "I Can't Play Guitar," the foursome and their surprise mystery guest on keys (Matt Durant from RANA) had warmed the room and pulled the audience to the stage.

"Today is the Day" still rings in my ears, and actually, I believe it. Apollo Sunshine is catchy, loud, and explosive. Their lyrics, in contrast to the harsh volume of their playing, are insightful, motivating, and hopeful. They have soared to the top of media awareness with good reason. On the final song, Jesse Gallagher jumps from the stage with his double guitar and Sam Cohen on bass follows. Down with the audience, they jam together. Jessie reaches back for the mic, and unable to grab it in time, the audience, without prompting and relatively in tune, sings the chorus. "You will find, that it is, that it is."

During the set change, the girls in the crowd pushed to the front of the room, dressed for their band. People had traveled far since Boston, Philly, and New York City have to wait until April to experience the new Slip sound live.


The Slip by Jon Bahr

The Slip started with an instrumental, leading into "Even Rats," an old favorite with Slip fans and a new favorite with virtual reality guitar players everywhere. The band mentioned the hot video game, Guitar Hero. When asked where to find it, Brad Barr replied, "On your TV when you plug it in." Nice to know they'll only take advertising so far.

Brad's vocals create a rhythmic counterpoint to the guitar, bass, and drums. His voice is amazing. On certain selections he just sings; no effects, no reverb, nothing and the beautiful melody drifts through the crowd. But on songs like "The Shouters," he utilizes a cranked-up Alesis reverb unit that causes his voice to take on supernatural proportions and in many ways highlights the development of The Slip both musically and lyrically over the years.


Brad Barr by Jon Bahr

Andrew Barr was the star of the night. One of the most advanced drummers of his time, he uses an older kit. His bass drum is from the 1920s, and his cymbals are battered and tweaked to his taste. His mid-section stays completely still as his hands, feet, and rhythms fly in all directions. Drummers Ryan Thornton (Sam Champion) and Jeremy Black (Apollo Sunshine) watched the show mesmerized from behind Andrew's kit, joining in with percussive hand instruments on two songs. The expanded rhythm section highlighted how extraordinary The Slip's music really is.

Marc Friedman is the anomaly of this situation. Like most bass players, he's chill. He stays to the back of the stage. Head down, eyes unreachable, so physically still it's hard to connect the ripping bass lines coming out of the speakers with the minimal movements his hands are making. He balances the Barr Brothers' spastic energy, subtly adding his own wild and funky sound.

The sibling rivalry comes out during "Children of December." They know this song so well that Brad stands challengingly in front of his little brother, messing with him - staring down, strumming his guitar, one foot on the bass drum. He lifts Andrew's cymbal as he's playing it, higher and higher, one hand still strumming, until they have reached a physical and musical peak. The cymbal falls to the ground, and Brad retreats to his vocal mic.

Three awesome Surprise Me Mr. Davis songs, their collaborative project with Nathan Moore, end the night. It's a rough road they've set for themselves - 12 guys, three bands, ten shows. A woman near me calls out, "Anyone going to Syracuse?" This trip, I wish I had the freedom to ride.

JamBase | Albany
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[Published on: 3/20/06]

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Comments

noahjbeck Wed 3/22/2006 08:19PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

the slip is the best band in the world. thank god not everybody has figured it out . . . .