There was a time in the early millennium when The Slip had a small but fairly rabid following in Ontario and Quebec. The Boston trio spent a bit of time touring around these parts and it was starting to pay off as several carloads of fans started following them from venue to venue.
On May 27th, 2004 these very carloads pulled into Montreal for a show at The Cabaret Music Hall in Montreal. It seemed like everyone was staying at the same hotel, an Econo Lodge or some such place across the street from the venue. We all ended up on the same floor and the pre-show festivities took on a distinct party vibe.
Grand Theft Bus opened the show. Such a fantastic band from the East coast, GTB had a pretty solid following in central Canada themselves and I doubt anyone missed their set.
The Slip were always brilliant musically. Nothing was played by rote – the musicians were fiercely behind every note they wrenched from their instruments, be it in beauty or in fury. They spread a musical intensity over the audience that was always a privilege to be part of. Vocally it tended to be another story.
While intensity was always a part of Brad Barr’s vocal style, consistency was not. Alternatively sublime, transcendent, or barely listenable, Brad just didn’t yet have the experience to confidently hit the right register night after night. But we didn’t care. There was always a diamond in the rough, and sometimes it was all diamonds, all night.
I seem to recall this show being rather bling-heavy.
The goings on after the concert were nothing short of epic, as the entire floor of the hotel partied ’til sunrise with an open-door policy. Every door save one, that is. There was one poor, unfortunate family up there with us, and they were having an utterly impossible night. I saw them lugging their hastily-packed suitcases down to the lobby around four-thirty in the morning and I can vividly recall the flashes of consternation and mad anger flickering on their faces. They simply had no idea what was going on. I always feel bad about these sort of unfortunate hotel bookings; I’ve seen it before and I’ve seen it since, it’s always ugly and when it happens I always seem to be in the middle of having a really, really good time.
I suspect The Slip really enjoyed their time(s) in Montreal. Two-thirds of them eventually moved to the city and started a new band. With The Barr Brothers Brad has learned to be much more consistent with his now-fantastic singing and the band has enjoyed success way beyond their Slippery beginnings.
Though there must be a reason why we don’t follow them around anymore.