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Published: 2004/11/07
by Dan Alford

The Slip/The Duo, Northampton, MA- 10/31

Halloween with The Slip has the air of a 60's style acid freak out, or some neo bohemian art happening. Maybe that seems clichgiven that many, if not most, of the bands in jamnation aspire to such a goal; but then again, few are able to actually achieve the homespun, Bread and Puppet creepiness and humor of such an event. Last year, the witching hour celebration took place in Boston with an aggressive gorilla, Baba O Reilly and Brad Barr, demonic in red and a bunny mask- an image that still haunts me. This year s festivities in Northampton involved ventriloquism (sort of), a procession through the audience and a host of shadow dancers, each hinting at sensuality without quite achieving it. Still, the writhing shadows, strobing lights and cacophony of sound, not to mention the drunken angels, rockets, ghouls and cowgirls, created a distinctly bacchanalian atmosphere. It was no surprise, then, when during a December s Children, which has gone from great pop tune to Slippery anthem, encore, Brad fell onto the waiting arms of the crowd and continued to play horizontally.

In fact the whole show bubbled with rowdiness, from the crazed, though not particularly jammed out version of The Shouters in the middle of the first set, wherein Brad stalked the stage pleading into the microphone and shredding out a single, raw, sustained note at intervals; to the bombastic version of Yellow Medicine that reached new levels of power. There were moments near the end, tremendous tsunamis of sound that made Kimock's Moonpeople look like a bunch of green cheese faeries. The second set was likewise packed with similar, if a bit more refined, energy, such as in the opening Double Trouble style Mud Slide. But the raucousness returned soon enough, aided in no small part by the addition of Marco Benevento. The Duo had opened the show with their own set of loud, often distorted, progressive grooves. Mid-set they dished a nice pairing of Love Song and Scratchitti, and to close, Marco and Joe were joined by Metzger and Dreiwitz for a Zep incarnation that include The Song Remains the Same and Heartbreaker. With The Slip, Marco worked the Rhodes at jaw-dropping speed, egging on Brad, who could only pretend to keep up. The keyboard player remained for a fantastic rendition of Sometimes True to Nothing, steering the finale into new territory. The jam swelled beyond its boundaries to become a long, throbbing Slip moment, finally quietly closed by sharp rimshots from Andrew. Along with Yellow Medicine, it was a noteworthy peak of the performance.

The success of The Slip Halloween celebrations is undeniable- they are in their element when things are just slightly off, just slightly creepy, or just slightly warm. Hopefully it will become a tradition.

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