The Slip, Tonic, NYC- 11/5
It's surprising that Friday night's Lower East Side show was The Slip's first appearance at Tonic. The House of Zorn, laboratory for Ribot and Medeski, has an ethos that speaks to the heart of the trio's music, and the gig was a meeting, too long in coming, of the weighty yet soaring sounds and the brick, plaster and high ceiling. A fantastic show from start to finish, it was the first of two sold out nights in NYC, and the band glowed on stage, producing two sets of music tied together by a deep, golden tone. The first set featured the new instrumental pair of Moderate Threat > Cowboy Up unveiled at the Halloween gig. There is a fun, quirky 50's Rock n Roll section in there somewhere, another example of how The Slip is able to allude explicitly to genres while maintaining their own vision and sound. A nice Even Rats with solid swells of energy preceded an intensely cultivated Paper Birds, replete with sonic intricacies and curly cues.
A thinned crowd returned for the night's second foray into the fog, an excursion that trumped the already deep probing of the music previously produced. Proud's climb to a chorus brought the set to a high plateau right away, and set the groundwork for a popping, shiny, swirling intro to Fear of Falling. Political discourse and Brad's sense of pendulums, weight and defeat colored the shuffle back of Old George- also shouts at Cheney, Halleburton and waving that pistol around.Back to the instrumental work, the trio hit with Fuji- an expansive, breathtaking version with an extended barrage of concussive blasts and rending shrapnel- something akin to the Yellow Medicine at Northampton, but smoother, more refined and maybe more frightening. The peak having been surmounted, the band hit a late show stride with December's Children. The bustling energy of the song gave was to a warm, nubile jam, winding lower and lower- the trembling press of the slowest sex. That vibe resurfaced during the exiting jam of If One of Us; in fact, both songs followed the same vague trajectory, even if their presence and ornamentation differ so.
The heat and heft of the show, the transcendence, could be epitomized by any number of tunes, any of the tunes really, so focused and consistent was the performance. Yet somehow the tone was more concentrated, dense, in the Cumulus encore- a grinding, throbbing dub space- a perfectly hazy way to end the night and disperse the revelers with struts and smiles.