In Focus: The Slip Wrap Up First Tour in Nearly a Decade

The Slip, avant-rock trio from Boston, soundly finished their first mini-tour in a decade, playing seven shows over two weeks this November across the northeastern US. This was their first mini-tour since 2011. Brad and Andrew moved to Montreal in 2005, birthing The Barr Brothers. As The Barr Brothers ramped up, The Slip’s performances ebbed, playing only 7 times in 2011, then only twice at High Sierra Music Festival. Everyone wanted to know when they’d tour again.

the slip

The long-awaited Slip mini-tour launched at Higher Ground in Burlington, VT, where they’ve played over two dozen times since 1998 (lastly in spring of 2008). BAM started off with the ethereal Landing, prelude to the fiery fan favorite, Get Me With Fuji (a song named by long-time friend and one of the first Slip tapers, Jason Booth). After Fuji fired up the crowd, Brad donned his Danelectro for Nobody Waits That Long Anymore, a brand new song (debuted at Lockn’ Farm). Even Rats, their most-watched video, brought indie rock vibes to keep the first set lively.

The reflective rock classic, Sometimes True to Nothing, warmed the crowd in the first set. “The heart is a wilderness / with beauty and emptiness / that you endure”. The new rock song Motherwolf went into Chasing Rabbits, which debuted in 2003, but hadn’t been played since April 2007. Long-time Slip fans anticipated more good times from the wide mix of new and old songs in their tour opener.

the slip

The Slip flexed their jazz chops with their Coltrane tribute, Trane-ing, first played back in 1998 at The Living Room. They continued with an even older classic, Through the Iron Gate, which debuted in 1997 and hadn’t been played in 16 years! Heading back to recent times, they unearthed another gem from Eisenhower, Life in Disguise, then on to The Weight of Solomon, ending the single set with the oft-paired The Orginal Blue Air > Paper Birds.

The boisterous crowd cheered them on for a tasteful encore of The Band classic, The Weight, which The Slip has greatly rearranged, ending it typically with a Dogs on Bikes outro, and Autobody teases. Slip tour commenced robustly.

Thursday, November 11, 2021 – Higher Ground – South Burlington, VT 

Setlist Landing, Get Me with Fuji, Long Ways Back, Even Rats, Sometimes True to Nothing, Motherwolf, Chasing Rabbits, Trane-ing, Through the Iron Gate, Life in Disguise, The Weight of Solomon, The Original Blue Air, Paper Birds
Encore: The Weight*
Notes: * new version, with Dogs on Bikes theme

Their tour evolved at Fete Music Hall in Providence, a cool industrial warehouse converted to a two-stage music venue. Ryan Montbleau, a friend of BAM’s who has Marc Friedman in his current band, surprised us with a lovely opening set of originals on acoustic guitar. This hometown crowd was larger than the tour opener in Burlington. BAM started the set with Landing, but ended there, instead of the typical segue into Fuji. They continued into Trane-ing, Blue Air > Paper Birds, and saved Get Me with Fuji until after the commonly-paired song duo.

Brad announced to the audience they were about to play their new single, Superterranean Onlyness, The Slip’s first studio release since Eisenhower – flowing with harmonized vocals, and brilliantly engineered by Steve Albini. Here’s a fan-shot 4K video of the live debut. BAM then played Driving Backwards with You, a song which debuted in 2000 at Higher Ground, then Lockn’ this August after an 11-year hiatus (last played at Narrows 2010). Even Rats preceded another new song, Hit Song.

More songs came back into regular rotation, such as Chasing Rabbits, Motherwolf, and Sometimes True to Nothing, followed by the sublime Aptos* > Something Learned, which debuted at Bethel Fest in 2003, and was last played at Cafe du Nord in 2010. They delved back into Eisenhower territory with Life in Disguise, then treated their hometown fans with another old-time classic, Autobody Experience (debuted in 1996!). This led into their new version of The Weight, with Dogs on Bikes outro to close, ending with a tasty encore of Children of December (performed over 250 times!)

All the parents of the children of december have a clutch
because their birthdays are the hardest to remember
when you’re born on christmas or the day before new year’s
you can sing happy birthday but nobody hears it

Friday, November 12, 2021 – – Fete Music Hall – Providence, RI 

: Landing, Trane-ing, The Original Blue Air, Paper Birds, Get Me with Fuji, Superterranean Onlyness, Driving Backwards with You, Even Rats, intro, Hit Song, Chasing Rabbits, Motherwolf, Sometimes True to Nothing, Aptos, Something Learned, Life in Disguise, Autobody Experience, The Weight, Dogs on Bikes
Encore: Children of December

The Sinclair in Harvard Square was packed before showtime, being where they went to music school and have played more than anywhere. Ryan Montbleau opened again.

BAM started with Landing, then Brad launched into wild guitar playing & effects, then segued into a sizzling Get Me with Fuji, then the brand new ballad Nobody Waits That Long Anymore. They continued into Even Rats, Sometimes True to Nothing, and capped the first set with a fierce Motherwolf.

Set two started with the jazzy Trane-ing, The Weight of Solomon, followed by Hit Song into Aptos. They returned to Through the Iron Gate, into Life in Disguise, with  Lennon’s Jealous Guy teases (foreshadowing?). They teased Autobody Experience inside The Weight, following up with a Wolof jam and Dogs on Bikes outro to finish the smoking second set.

The most popular encore, Children of December, was well-executed. The weekend ended on a high note, and those attending all 7 shows were eager to see what they’d play next week in Philly and New York.

Saturday, November 13, 2021 – The Sinclair – Cambridge, MA 
Setlist: Landing, Psych Guitar, Get me with Fuji, Nobody Waits That Long Anymore, Even Rats, Sometimes True to Nothing, Motherwolf, Trane-ing, The Weight of Solomon, Hit Song, Aptos, Through the Iron Gate, Life in Disguise, Autobody Experience, The Weight, Wolof jam, Dogs on Bikes outro
Encore: Children of December

Originally scheduled for Tuesday, Nov 16th, their first show at the new Brooklyn Bowl in Philly was canceled. It was great to return there, having attended the venue’s opening night with Soulive. This brand new 900-capacity venue shoulders The Fillmore in Northern Liberties, with two floors, twenty lanes of bowling, dining room, stage, and long bars on both floors. Delicate Steve opened, with a straight-ahead drums/guitar rock duo.

The Slip began with Trane-ing, followed by You Might Say (not played since High Sierra 2008). Ernie Mickey continued, a fan favorite (House of Blues Chicago 2001). BAM continued with The Soft Machine, Hit Song into Motherwolf, into From the Gecko, and Something Learned. They busted into a hot take of Get Me with Fuji, where Steve Marion (from Delicate Steve) joined in on guitar, staying on through Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Proud Mary and ending the set with Sometimes True to Nothing. The Reddish Moon encore was calming, perhaps to prepare us for NYC?

Wednesday, November 17, 2021 – Brooklyn Bowl – Philadelphia, PA
Setlist: Trane-ing, You Might Say > Ernie Mickey, The Soft Machine, Hit Song > Motherwolf > From the Gecko, Something Learned, Get Me with Fuji% > Proud Mary%^ > Sometimes True to Nothing%
Encore: Reddish Moon
Notes: % w/ Steve Marion (Delicate Steve) on guitar and Charlie Hall (War on Drugs) on drums. ^ Creedence Clearwater Revival (cover).

As is usual in pandemic times, inter-city travel is capricious, so the Philly to NYC route was beset with numerous accidents and traffic jams, even after morning rush hour. The usual 2.5 hour ride to Brooklyn took over 5 hours, but I was lucky to have a booked hotel a couple blocks away to unwind before the show. The Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg is the first one that Peter Shapiro opened in July 2009. The Slip last played there in 2011, after another slow year in 2010 when they only played 4 shows.

To keep us on our toes, at the first Brooklyn Bowl show on Thursday, The Slip opened with Landing again, but instead went into Even Rats instead of Fuji. They played Superterranean Onlyness third, which was growing on us after a couple of live appearances. There was a quiet pause after, then we were treated to Invocation, first in 1999, last played in 2004 (17 years ago!). Stuart Bogie (tenor sax from Antibalas & Fela! Broadway musical) joined for a sizzling Yellow Medicine.

Brad went into The Weight of Solomon and then Motherwolf, Chasing Rabbits, Through the Iron Gate, into the Nathan Moore song I Hate Love, with Bogie returning on tenor through the set closer, Jumby. A Sometimes True to Nothing encore left fans energized. Few were ready to turn in, so we met for aftershow drinks at The Gibson, a favorite late-night watering hole a couple blocks away, where we discussed what the future may hold for upcoming Slip tours.

Thursday, November 18, 2021 – Brooklyn Bowl – Brooklyn, NY
Setlist: Landing > Even Rats, Superterranean Onlyness*, Invocation > Yellow Medicine%, The Weight of Solomon, Motherwolf, Chasing Rabbits, Through the Iron Gate> I Hate Love%, Jumby%
Encore: Sometimes True to Nothing
Notes: * new song, released Nov. 2021. % with Stuart Bogie on tenor (from Antibalas and Fela! Broadway Musical

Relix hosted The Slip for a livestream on their Twitch channel, at a top-secret location near my old apartment. Brad asked his good friend Jason Booth for his song requests. Brad smiled, then turned to the stream chat for viewer requests, joking that they “probably wouldn’t play any of those”. The livestream included their new hit single Superterranean Onlyness, followed by the scorcher, Sometimes True to Nothing, then Motherwolf, The Original Blue Air > Paper Birds to close the set.  Watch the stream here.

Friday, November 19, 2021 – Relix Studio – Manhattan, NY
Setlist: Superterranean Onlyness*, Sometimes True to Nothing, Motherwolf, The Original Blue Air > Paper Birds
Notes: afternoon set, livestreamed on Twitch – * new song

the slip

Brooklyn Bowl Friday saw the biggest turnout of this tour. Our night started off boisterously, with BAM being introduced by Brett Siddell, a comedian from their high school wrestling team. BAM opened with the classic, Aptos > Airplane/Primitive (only time played in 2021), the poetic Friedman song:

The airplane, the primitive, saw it and thought it was some kind of bird
it landed, he made up his mind – I can’t live knowing that there’s some other world
where men fly, up in the sky, trapped himself on the wing for a one way ride

and in the air above a cloud, there his soul stayed when his body fell down.

Before Wolof, Brad thanked the Brooklyn Bowl staff, and everyone who traveled to the show, saying “that’s not easy to do these days”. He continued, “So, if anyone bowls a strike during this song … you get a t-shirt, and a handshake from Marc.” This definitive Slip classic starts with Marc’s infectious bass groove, debuting at Valentine’s in Albany in 1998.

Bloodstone came next, another new song debut (only played at Brooklyn Bowl and Levon’s), followed by the raucous Hit Song. BAM cooled things down with the mellifluous Driving Backwards with You, last played at Narrows 2010. Panda  began with Brad spacing out with his pedals, applying feedback for Soft Machine. Next was The Shouters (cut short), which was only played once in 2021. The room exploded for the highly popular Get Me with Fuji (played 243 times), with a tease of Guns N’ Roses’ Sweet Child of Mine that drifed into a few measures of Moby Dick before returning to Fuji.

The band took a breather as Brad asked if anyone bowled a strike and got their t-shirt, then leveled with the audience:

I want to say it feels really good to be The Slip again. We’ve had such a journey, from our beginnings in high school when we were the jazz band … our friend Brett was not kidding. So when we moved to Boston and really became a band together … in the 90s and 2000s, you know, and coming up with all of you and starting to do the festival thing and really getting to know this really cool community of bands getting to know other bands like Lettuce and Schleigho, and Soulive, Marco, The Duo, … they all fit conveniently under the jamband umbrella. And then, at some point for us, for The Slip it became sort of a hard pill to swallow, because we related to maybe parts of being a jam band, but we really didn’t relate to whole other parts of being a jam band. And then there was … an identity crisis there in the mid 2000s and we made our record, Eisenhower, and that was so much fun to make and really felt like a success. But we still sort of had – you know – more than a decade playing together, and it was very hard to see…you know…sometimes it’s hard to see what’s great about you, as a group … and you start thinking of ways to change it, and then we did. And so we went into one identity crisis … beautiful and contorted … what I mean, it’s really good to be back here as The Slip … enjoying what was always good about being The Slip …  and having so much fun together up here, with you … and that means a lot to me

Brad’s pensive baring of his soul set the tone for Through the Iron Gate:

I get tossed like a bone into the dogs into the sky
the closing is a gathering a gathering of eyes
an i will look to you and you to me
in between the space we chase the tune we dream so lazily

Ruminating on what he had just shared, Brad continued into the soul-searching Life In Disguise:

The world is only a stage and I’m just a man
with a sound caught in his throat and a pick in his hand
but when the song comes tumbling out, you understand there’s no great demand
well it’s there under your breath behind your eyes
and you don’t have to say nothing cause I realize
that everything somehow in some way eventually dies

…and then Jealous Guy:

I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy

The introspective, sombre tone evaporated with the first beats from Andrew’s kit to kick off the funky Autobody Experience, while we processed what Brad had just laid on us. After a few measures, feet and hands started flailing as Autobody melted into the newly rearranged The Weight, with guitar pyrotechnics and rhythmic undulation. They merged into Dogs on Bikes organically and fiercely, going back into The Weight, mashed up and dangerous, as they are known for. Dogs kept going, with a blazing solo by Andrew, back into The Weight, Dogs, Weight, Dogs…and our minds will never be the same.

The fans were not ready to leave, and the packed house didn’t budge, cheering for an encore.  The Slip came back, and Brad warned us, “We all knew how this was going to end”, as they encored with a 9-minute Children of December.

Friday’s Brooklyn Bowl was the best of the tour so far; The Slip had rekindled the sacred fire.

Friday, November 19, 2021 – Brooklyn Bowl – Brooklyn, NY
: Aptos > Airplane/Primitive, Wolof, Bloodstone*, Hit Song, Driving Backwards with You, First Panda In Space > The Soft Machine, The Shouters > Get Me with Fuji@ > Moby Dick^ > Get Me with Fuji, Through the Iron Gate@#, Life in Disguise$, Jealous Guy!, Autobody Experience > The Weight+ > Dogs on Bikes (outro)
Notes: * new Brad song (working title). @ w/ Sweet Child o’ Mine tease from Brad and Marc. # w/ So What (Miles Davis) teases from Marc & Andrew. $ unfinished. + new version, rearranged w/ Dogs outro.

The Barn at Levon Helm Studios – final night of the tour

We arrived early to Levon’s to hang by the fire. It was wonderful to see so many dear friends, some from as far as California! The Slip played High Sierra Festival most often, garnering a huge west coast fan base to rival back east. We wondered  what they’d play tonight, and who might show up. Our anticipation was rewarded when Kt confirmed that Marco was arriving, which means he’d sit in. Other fans found out when they saw Marco’s Hammond inside the barn. A handful of fans had never seen The Slip before, but the audience was comprised of dear friends and music aficionados Levon’s sold out in a few minutes, so we all counted our blessings to gather at this special venue for our favorite band.

On the way in, we went to check out the merch. The new Slip tour hoodies have “216” on the front, a special code. 216 is Plato’s Number, which has references in ancient texts, the sum of 3 consecutive cubes (a “magic number”).

BAM opened with Suffocation Keep. This was another tour bust-out, last played at Sullivan Hall in 2010 (one of only 4 shows they played that year). This sombre song is about a relationship and introspection (lyricsvideo). Trane-ing came next, which was played in every city this tour, but had not been played since a Slip stealth gig at Matt Murphy’s Pub on Valentine’s Day 2006 (The Slip were billed as “The Lips”). Bloodstone returned, which debuted at Brooklyn Bowl Friday. The powerful Sometimes True to Nothing and Motherwolf ended the first set with ferocity.

Marco sat in on Hammond for most of the second set, adding depth and chops to the musical stew. They opened with the sing-a-long If One of Us Should Fall, one of their most popular tunes, last played at Lockn’ Farm this summer. A funky Chasing Rabbits came next, followed by Jumby and a sweet Yellow Medicine with a Zion intro. Marco took a break for Through the Iron Gate and Life in Disguise, returning for Lennon’s Jealous Guy, which BAM only ever played on this tour.

Teasing this song throughout the tour on preprinted setlists, The Slip finally satisfied fans with their most-requested song, Honey Melon. This song is an earworm – once the “Words go in, they don’t come out.” This ended the set with great energy, and everyone was on their feet by then.

BAM returned to play an blazing encore of The Weight (fan-shot video), which was even fiercer with Marco on keys. This version had both the Autobody intro and the Dogs on Bikes outro. Fans danced wildly to celebrate this last show of the tour, and we all hope that The Slip will return to the road again soon. 

Hugs and tears flowed as we processed the musical majesty of these last two weeks.

Saturday, November 20, 2021 – Levon Helm Studios – Woodstock, NY
Set 1
: Suffocation Keep, Trane-ing, Bloodstone*, Aptos, Sometimes True to Nothing > Motherwolf
Set 2: If One of Us Should Fall, ? > Chasing Rabbits, Jumby, Yellow Medicine%, Through the Iron Gate^, Life in Disguise^, Jealous Guy$, Honey Melon
Encore: The Weight#> Dogs on Bikes
Notes: * new Brad song, previously untitled. % w/ Zion intro. ^ the only two songs in second set w/o Marco Benevento on Hammond. $ John Lennon cover. # new version, with Dogs on Bikes outro and Autobody intro.

Comments are closed.