(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Concert review - That 1 Guy

2 January 2015 (Hodi's Half Note, Ft. Collins CO)

Superstition claims that whatever you do at the start of the new year will drive the rest of the year, so people fill up their cupboards, wear new clothes, and clear their debts to ensure prosperity. I'm skeptical, but I do think that doing the things you enjoy will help cement those patterns in place. So, I visited with friends on New Year's Day and made it out to Hodi's for the first available show of the year to see That 1 Guy.

014 That 1 Guy
The last time I saw That 1 Guy (AKA Mike Silverman) at Hodi's, he had Captain Ahab's Motorcycle Club (Cory McAbee) opening and his own show had grown to include a flashy dual-screen multimedia element (review). Last night's outing was a bit stripped down; there was no lead-off act and the screens were gone. It might have been nice to have someone warm up the audience, because the two hour interval between the doors opening and showtime had the crowd a little restive. We had to make do with Captain Beefheart's Safe as Milk and Frank Zappa's Apostrophe/Over-nite Sensation blaring from the club PA (along with a few tracks from David Bowie's "Heroes"). On the other hand, the simpler stage presence worked in That 1 Guy's favor. The animations and camera tricks had been fun, but without those distractions, Silverman held the audience rapt for more than two hours straight, making up for the long wait.

016 That 1 Guy
As always, That 1 Guy put on a stunning performance, juggling synth riff triggers, foot-tap drumming, and the mix of percussion and melody demanded by his one-of-a-kind Magic Pipe. Watching him play is hypnotic. He rocks from side to side as he lays down the drums, all while building a full harmonic sound on the strings mounted to the two sections of pipe. The mix ranges from bass heavy grooves and cello style bowing to distorted guitar-like tones and the warm feel of marimba. Putting this all together has to require crazy amounts of practice and concentration, but Silverman not only makes it look fairly easy, he throws in pantomime, clowning, and sleight of hand tricks to make it more entertaining.

011 That 1 Guy
This stage work key to Silverman's charm: a meaty slap sound effect accent for the song is illustrated by a mimed punch or flick of his hat brim or his duck puppet is voiced by a squeak tone from the Magic Pipe. This all fits together with the quirky nature of his music and lyrical themes. like "Step Into Striped Light", "Mustaches", or "Weasel Potpie". As silly and playful as it can get, though, the songs are never throwaway. The heavy poly-rhythms are perfect for dancing and the lyrics have plenty of hooks for the crowd to join in on.

029 That 1 Guy
As expected, That 1 Guy featured several songs from his latest release, Poseidon's Deep Water Adventure Friends (review), tweaked for live performance. In particular, his arrangement of "Whale Race" developed a rich character of synth-driven post rock that fit well with the exotic minor key scales of the piece. Of course, many of the crowd favorites made their appearance, too, from an intensely danceable "Ft. Collins remix" of "Buttmachine" to "The Moon is Disgusting", which he eased into slowly before letting it become the audience sing-along it usually is.

019 That 1 Guy
That 1 Guy was a perfect show to start the year off. Technically impressive, his show blended intellectual fun with insistent visceral grooves. Most of the crowd was already very familiar with his catalog, but he still managed to throw in some surprises. Playing in the moment, he reacted naturally to everything from song requests and losing a drum stick, to a woman's demand that he wear her tutu. Acquiescing to this last request, he might have been our puppet, but he owned it by incorporating it into the song. Most importantly, he reflected the crowd's energy with a grateful appreciation for our attention. We, in turn, were just as beholden to him.

036 That 1 Guy

More photos on my Flickr.

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